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USC Reviewing Taraji P. Henson Profiling Claims

Officials at the University of Southern California say they will investigate claims made by Empire actress Taraji P. Henson that her son was racially profiled while on campus. During an interview with Uptown Magazine, Henson stated that she plans on sending her 20-year-old son to an HBCU so he will not have to endure racial profiling by campus police.

Henson’s comments resulted in several responses from fans and media outlets. Her remarks also prompted the National Action Network to call for an investigation into USC’s police department. USC’s Department of Public Safety Chief John Thomas also responded, taking to the school’s website to address the matter. Below is his a statement:

I was deeply disturbed to read news reports about a prospective student who felt profiled on or near campus because of his race. We encourage reporting of allegations of bias and I hope for the opportunity to have a conversation with the young man and his mother.

I would like to look into this matter further and better understand who was involved and what took place. As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution.

It is not clear to me which police departments were involved. Any allegation of bias or unequal treatment by university officers would trigger an investigation that I would supervise along with the university’s Office of Equity and Diversity. It is my expectation and that of the university that our department uphold the highest standards of constitutional policing, affording equal rights and respect to all persons.

Thomas, who is African-American, spent 21 years as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department prior to joining the staff at USC. While it’s good that officials are being proactive in this case, rarely does an “investigation” generate publicized results. Hopefully this case is different.

Props to Taraji for speaking up about the very real experiences of young black men and women in everyday America. The injustice will not be tolerated.