The Roots' Black Thought educates women and girls about health

theGRIO REPORT - Black Thought may be better known for his music with the The Roots every night on the 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' stage, but the MC, whose real name is Tariq Trotter, is carving out a lane for himself in philanthropy...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Black Thought may be best known for his role as The Roots’ frontman every night on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon stage, but the MC, whose real name is Tariq Trotter, is carving out a lane for himself in philanthropy.

Trotter joined forces with longtime friend Dr. Janice Johnson Dias in 2010 to found the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, an organization that advocates for women and girls’ health.

In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, Trotter said he was inspired to help Johnson Dias with the project because the communities they would be reaching out to were similar to the ones in which he was raised.

“But I must say what really made me say yes was the fact that she kept talking about girls, and I have a daughter now, and the week before my wife Michelle and I were just talking about how important it was for us to give back,” he added.

The organization’s programs target ten cities where women and girls experience high incidents of obesity, breast cancer, suicide and HIV/AIDS. This year, GrassROOTS has launched three of its programs in Newark, New Jersey. The initiatives educate women and girls about health literacy, self-esteem and overall wellness.

When asked about his thoughts on the current state of the healthcare system, Trotter answered, “I think poor folks are the only people who cannot afford – financially and otherwise – to be sick. I think we need more community health programs and we need to develop programs that are low-cost.”

GrassROOTS has developed such programs and they are available for free to the communities it targets.

“We want to inspire folks to claim their health so they can build new systems of care,” Trotter said.

His purpose is simple. “I am the people we serve and I am from the communities were we do our work,” he said. “If it were not for community based programs like these, I would not be here today. I give back because that is what I was taught and it is what I believe.”

To read the full interview, visit

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