Taraji P. Henson opens up about anxiety, mental health, menopause, and the myth that black women have to be strong at all times, in a new cover story for Self Magazine.
In one portion of the interview, Henson explains how Trayvon Martin’s death served as a turning point in her mental health journey. “All my life I've been bubbly and the life of the party,” said the Empire star. “Things started to shift for me when Trayvon Martin —when that happened.”
Martin, 17, was gunned down in 2012 on his way home from the store. His killer, George Zimmerman, was later acquitted of second degree murder. Adding insult to injury, Zimmerman recently filed a $100 million lawsuit against Martin’s family.
Henson’s son, Marcell Johnson, is close in age to Martin. “That's when I noticed anxiety started kicking in,” she says explaining a fear that many black people face daily.
“They're not going to [recognize] Taraji's son out here on these streets,” added Henson. “It's me that is the star. He's not.”
Henson fears are shared by her 95-year-old grandmother. “She worries about her children, her children's children, and her great-grandbabies because she knows that at any given moment you can be picked on or killed for the color of your skin.”
Later in the interview, Henson talks about depression and explains how generational trauma carried over from slavery, everyday racism and the current political climate, can be overwhelming for black people. “[It’s] 2019, going on 2020, with even more microaggressions against us every day that we got to see on the news…and we're supposed to be okay. It's a lot.”
Henson, who launched The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation last year, has been an advocate for erasing the stigma around mental health in the black community.