Taraji P. Henson Launches Mental Health Program to Help Black Students Combat Racial Bias in the Classroom

Taraji P. Henson | CREDIT: SCOTT MIDGETT

Taraji P. Henson is expanding on her mission to connect Black Americans with the mental health resources they need with a new campaign to help Black students combat racial bias in the classroom.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the actress announced the launch of The Unspoken Curriculum, a mental health campaign that provides a safe place for children to discuss mental health issues in the schools and aid them in combatting distress in classrooms from racial bias. The inspiration for the six-week program came to the actress from the devastating events of the past year — ongoing instances of police brutality, the mounting number of racist attacks, and COVID-19’s tragic impact on Black communities.

“We’re in a state of emergency right now,” Henson told People. “But it takes us to change it… we can’t hide the ugly, you’ve got to deal with the good and the bad if we want to see change.”

Henson, who was a substitute teacher before she made her acting debut in 2001’s Baby Boy, helped design the curriculum with her firsthand experiences witnessing racial bias against Black students, in mind.

“I taught a special education class, but all of the students were Black boys who had all of their mental and physical capabilities. These children came from traumatic home situations, and the school labeled them ‘special ed,'” she recalled. “These students were only in the 4th grade and they would grab my hand and say, ‘Ms. Henson! Ms. Henson! There was a shootout nearby last night, look at the bullet holes in the wall,’ and laugh. That’s trauma — that’s not something to celebrate or normalize.”

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SOURCE: Entertainment Tonight, Mekishana Pierre