Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Taraji P. Henson Says ‘Strong Black Woman’ Label ‘Dehumanizes Us’

Taraji P. Henson

*Taraji P. Henson is ready to retire the “strong Black woman” label because the phrase belittles Black women’s pain.

The “Empire” star explained in an interview through Essence’s Wellness House that the “Strong Black Woman” descriptor “dehumanizes our pain. It belittles our tears. It belittles our pain. We’re supposed to be able to watch our brothers and sons and fathers get murdered in the street but we can take it because we’re strong.”

“We can deal with it, we can handle it,” she continued. “And that’s just not true.”

Henson added, “We’re not fairies. We don’t magically rebound from pain,” she said. “We hurt and suffer just like others.”

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She referred to the complication that Serena Williams suffered in 2018 after having an emergency C-section. Henson noted that the superstar athlete “had a near-death experience because what? She’s looked at that she’s tough, she’s a strong Black woman.”

Williams spoke out two years ago how the hospital refused her requests for a CT scan and blood thinners despite her history of blood clots.  

One the doctors finally relented, the scan revealed blood clots in her lungs and she was given blood thinners. 

“We have to be careful with that. Very careful with that term,” Henson said, and a big part of why is because of this misunderstanding of what it means to be strong. It’s not physical strength or a suppression of emotions or fearlessness.

“Strength is in being vulnerable, and that’s what I want my people to understand,” she said. “The strength is in being vulnerable and being honest with yourself and saying, you know what, I’m scared right now. Or, I honestly don’t know what to do right now.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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