‘I find the phrase strong Black women’ dehumanising’ – Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P Henson

Taraji P. Henson finds the phrase “strong Black women” to be “dehumanising”, as she says it “belittles” the “pain” Black women have been through.

The ‘Empire’ star has said she takes issue with the popular phrase – which is often seen as empowering and complimentary – because it “belittles” the “pain” Black women have been through.

She said: “It dehumanises 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. And that’s just not true.”

Taraji says the phrase can make it seem as though Black women “magically rebound from pain”, and believes it is dismissive of emotions.

She added: “We’re not fairies. We don’t magically rebound from pain. We hurt and suffer just like others.”

The 49-year-old actress wants people to be “very careful” when using the phrase, and insisted that strength comes from “being vulnerable” rather than being impervious to pain.

During a discussion with Essence’s Wellness House, she explained: “Strength is in being vulnerable, 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.

“Maybe if we fix how we define strength and weakness in people, it can stop being a potentially damaging, diminishing or even life-threatening descriptor for Black women.”

Meanwhile, Taraji has also been offering aid amid the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months, as she recently said she wants to help the Black community with their mental health amid the outbreak.

She said: “When Covid happened, my heart went out and I just knew that people were suffering and they’re suffering alone in isolation. I’m blessed. I can call my therapist. I can pay for it without thinking about it, but what about those who can’t?

“My hope is that we eradicate the stigma around mental health in the black community.”