Taraji P. Henson is concerned that her son may have a run-in with police that end in tragedy.
The “Empire” star revealed earlier this year that her son has been approached by cops a couple of times in recent years. At first she believed that he was being racially profiled both times, but she apologized for one of those accusations when video of her son having a fairly easy traffic stop surfaced.
With fall out from Freddie Gray’s gripping Baltimore and dominating national conversation, reporters wanted to know her thoughts about it during the American Black Film Festival.
“It’s sad. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s very, very scary. I’m the mother of an African-American young man,” she told Us Weekly during a festival event where she was honored this week. “It’s very scary, the times we’re living in. I mean, it’s almost like it’s The Twilight Zone. Because look at how well we’re getting along here and then you turn on the news and it’s like a reminder of how bad things really are.”
“[It’s like] he’s not allowed to have a bad day. If he gets pulled over by the cops and you know he’s been pulled over one too many times and he’s like, ‘Why are you messing with me?’, like Eric Garner, he could get choked out on the sidewalk, just for voicing an opinion. Just for being a human and having a bad day. Not breaking the law. You know? Just because he answered the officer wrong, he can have his life taken and that scares the s—t out of me.”
Perhaps the most confusing thing for Taraji is how the relationship has changed between the police force and the people they’re sworn to protect. Images of cops manhandling civilians now just don’t match up with the police that came to schools during her childhood.
“I remember when I grew up, we used to refer to police officers as Officer Friendly. They would come into the public schools and talk to the kids and say ‘Don’t do drugs’ and ‘Go to school and learn,’ come to school and talk to the kids,” Taraji recalled. “So there was a certain trust. Then when crack got dropped off and the war on drugs, it all changed. And it became mostly military, it was very military. What are the officers doing with the same weapons that you’re using overseas on citizens of the United States? I don’t understand.”