The beloved actress headlined Marie Claire‘s annual Power On summit, which was held virtually due to the pandemic. The former “Empire” star, who first came to fame almost 20 years ago in the cult classic Baby Boy, was asked about the unique obstacles that Black women often have to negotiate during their lifetimes.
Henson, 50, then admonished the public about reflexively reverting to the terms of “strong Black women” and “Black girl magic” because African American females cannot shoulder their loads alone in life.
“I understand the notion behind or the meaning behind ‘strong Black woman’ or ‘Black girl magic,’ I get it — it’s to lift us up. But you have to be careful with that term because what it does is it dehumanizes our pain. You know, we’re not fairies. I can’t rebound from pain, or the loss of my son to the law, and nothing’s being done about it,” Henson explained, according to Marie Claire.
The ever imitable @tarajiphenson on #BlackGirlMagic: "It lifts us up. But we have to be careful because I'm not a fairy. It dehumanizes my pain." In conversation with @marieclaire EIC @sallyholmes at #MarieClairePowerOn virtual summit. pic.twitter.com/l0n9iCYKTz
— Rachel (Reichblum) Rosenzweig (@rachreich125) October 8, 2020
Henson admitted to Marie Claire that she resents the fact that “I have to be quiet and forgive and be nice and, you know, that’s not fair to me. I am human, and I hurt. And I think those terms like that are the reason why Black women die in the emergency room or [while] giving birth because we are known to be strong … ‘Well, she can deal with that pain.’
“You know, you don’t understand how other people take that term, and maybe take it out of context. Or maybe go, ‘Oh, they really are strong. They don’t need as much, you know, help.’ You know, so you have to be careful with terms like that. And so I’m speaking out about it. That’s what I’m doing.”