Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Responds To Claims Son Of Empire TV Actress Was Racially Profiled

The actress says her son was stopped by police "for having his hands in his pockets." USC says it is disturbed by the news.

Update Friday, March 27, 2015 | 10:30 p.m.: Four days after this story was first published, Taraji P. Henson apologized publicly to the Glendale Police Dept. on Instagram. She had previously alleged that Glendale police racially profiled her son during a traffic stop.

Taraji P. Henson posted this apology to the Glendale Police Dept. on Instagram. (Instagram)
Taraji P. Henson posted this apology to the Glendale Police Dept. on Instagram. (Instagram)

About a month ago, actress Taraji P. Henson claimed she would not send her son to USC because he was racially profiled while visiting the University Park campus. On Monday, the university's Department of Public Safety (DPS) responded to those claims saying "it is deeply disturbed."

The Empire actress said in an interview with Uptown Magazine that "police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets" while on a visit to the USC campus. "I'm not paying $50K so I can't sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus," added Henson. 

DPS Chief John Thomas sent the following statement to ATVN:

"I was deeply disturbed to read about a prospective student who felt profiled on or near campus because of his race. 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."

Before USC's statement, Henson also said she would rather send her son to Howard University, a historically black college.


I know John Thomas personally. He is intimately familiar with racial disparity and bias. He has NO tolerance for that.

The article refers to police profiling. John will get to the bottom of it.

It is NOT clear what agency contacted her son. If it was USC's Department of Punlic Safety, then John is well equipped to address it. If it was a police officer, John has the connections with the local police to ensure that is investigated by the involved police agency (LAPD, LASD, LAUSD).

Even though USC DPS have no police employees, they do have a sufficient number of employees with strong relationships with local agencies.

I am all for attending HBCUs. However, she should give John the opportunity to identify if it was USC DPS or a police agency that contacted her son and what specifically occurred.

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.