Taraji P. Henson Talks About Strong Black Woman Term

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Over the years, Taraji P. Henson has played some of the fiercest characters in TV and movies.


20th Century Fox Licensing / Everett Collection

Many have associated the Oscar-nominated actor with the image of a “strong Black woman” and with being “Black girl magic,” however, Taraji recently shared why she has “issues with titles like that.”

In an interview with Essence, Taraji explained, “It started off as an empowerment saying…because [Black women are] always neglected, we’re always at the bottom of the totem pole. We’re the least respected on the planet.”

She continued, “And so, it came as a [saying] to empower us. But then, as years [went] on, we’ve been ignored because of that very statement. It dehumanizes us. It dehumanizes our pain. It belittles our tears!”

“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. And that’s just not true,” she clarified.

“I have issues with titles like that, and Black girl magic because we’re not fairies. We don’t magically rebound from pain. We hurt and suffer just like others,” she said.


Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

“I just always felt some kind of way about those titles, once I became aware of what they were doing to us,” Taraji added. “The damage that it was creating for us and the stigma around Black women to implement that we are strong enough to get over anything.”

The actor then recalled Serena Williams’ near-death experience while giving birth to her daughter as one example of how Black women are often disregarded in the healthcare system — especially when speaking out about the pain they experience.

“We have to be careful with that. Very careful with that term,” she warned.

Taraji also touched on the misconception that strength comes from “bravado.”

“Strength is in being vulnerable,” she said. “And that’s what I want my people to understand. 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.'”

Check out more from Taraji’s interview with Essence here.

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