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Taraji P. Henson launched a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring Black Americans

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 9/24/2018, 2:06 p.m.
Taraji P. Henson has launched a non-profit organization that is...
Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson has launched a non-profit organization that is dedicated to inspiring Black Americans to openly talk about mental health issues in its community, reports Complex.com. The Boris Laurence Henson Foundation is a personal cause for the award-winning actress, currently one of the stars if “Empire,” who has a son who struggled with mental illness after his dad was murdered in 2003. The foundation is named after her own father, who passed in 2005. “It was like looking for a unicorn,” Henson told Variety. “And the reason what happens is because we don’t about it in our community: it’s taboo. It’s looked upon as a weakness or we’re demonized for expressing rage for traumas we’ve been through. I have a lot of white friends and that’s what got me going. They say, ‘You don’t talk to anybody? Girl, I’m going to see my shrink every Thursday at 3 o’clock.’ So I was like why don’t we do that in our community?”

Henson remembers the problems her dad experienced. “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken and received little to no physical and emotional support,” she said in a press statement last week. “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are Black.” Henson also said there’s a “misconception about celebrities that [they] have it all together and [they're] perfect.” But that's not the truth, she said. “We're suffering and struggling just like the regular person and money doesn’t help. I thank God I can pay for the psychiatry bill, but it doesn't necessarily take away the problems.”

For one of the organization’s first initiatives, Henson hosted a fundraising event that allowed guests to buy her personal dresses, shoes and purses. The money was to go to bringing art to inner-city schools’ bathrooms. Henson said she chose this because the bathroom is “where fights happened, jumps, that’s where you got bullied because the teachers weren’t in there.” So instead of having a place of negativity, she decided to “flip it.” She continued: “You go there to get your head together and instead of seeing hate stuff or whatever madness kids put in there, we decided to turn it into art.”