Taraji P. Henson recently opened up to PEOPLE’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle about a topic that never leaves her mind: her fears associated with being a Black mother. Taraji's son is 24-year-old Marcell Johnson who she describes as a young man with "a really good heart" but the thought of society turning "him into a monster at any given moment" is something she truly fears.

“That’s something that I carry — I think every black mother does," she said. "All parents worry about their kids, but then when you see the news and you see people getting off for killing innocent children with no weapon it’s like, that doesn’t exempt my son.”


Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

The topic of racial slurs came up and Taraji recalled a time she was called to her son's school after he got into an argument with another student who called him the n-word. The Dean listed off the names that were used in the debacle and explained to the actress that her son gave her a learning moment. 

“Then she got to the N-word and she said, ‘The poise that your son showed, he taught me something,'” Taraji explained. “[The Dean] said, ‘Was it the N-word?’ And Marcell said ‘No, that’s just a word. It means you’re ignorant and that has nothing to do with the color of my skin.’ “