Taraji P. Henson has launched The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging African-Americans to talk about mental health in the community.
“It was like looking for a unicorn, and the reason that happens is because we don’t talk 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,” Henson told Variety. “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?”
It’s also a personal cause for Henson, whose son struggled with mental health after his father was murdered in 2003. The organization is named after her father, who died two years later.
“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 earlier this week. “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”
He isn’t the only one dealing with mental health issues, though. Henson said there’s a “misconception about celebrities that [they] have it all together and [they’re] perfect.” But Henson said that’s not the truth. “We’re suffering and struggling just like the regular persona and money doesn’t help,” she continues. “I thank God I can pay for the psychiatry bill but it doesn’t necessarily take away the problems.”POST CONTINUES BELOW
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 will reportedly 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.”
More information on the foundation can be found here.