Pharrell Williams and Taraji P. Henson are discussing the Black-American experience in a new feature.
Williams and Henson land covers for Town & Country‘s summer “Philanthropy” issue. Pharrell, who started the non-profit Black Ambition, touches on the Black experience in America and serving its community.
“As a Black person, when you’re born in this country, you immediately feel a much heavier gravity,” Pharrell explains. “The gravity is one that we see in our rules and regulations and laws. We see it in the lack of options. We see it in what we’re fed, what is marketed to us. We see it in broken educational systems.”
“I never really know where I’m headed until I look back over my shoulder and go, ‘Oh, wow, okay. That seems to be a line, so I must be going that way.’ Even still, I wasn’t gifted with that foresight. Do I know where I’m going? I do not,” he said of his efforts to help the Black community. “I know I’m meant to serve.”
Henson identifies the obstacles Black women face.
“We have to take the veil off of that for the strong Black woman. I understand why we needed that because we’re always at the bottom of the totem pole, and we need to feel validated. That’s the thing about Black people: Joy is our freedom. We will always tap into that.”
“But then people can take that and manipulate it. They think, Oh, a Black woman, she’s strong, she doesn’t need medicine. So she ends up dying in the emergency room or dying giving birth. It’s deep for us.”
The “Empire” actress wants to create a foundation to support Black people’s mental health and wellness.
“The reason we don’t have many culturally competent therapists or therapists of colour is because we don’t talk about it at home. My children don’t even know it’s possible to study this field in college. Something has to happen—we’ve got to talk about it and make some changes.”