When he’s not on stage during the Jimmy Fallon show, or touring with The Roots, Tariq Trotter aka Black Thought is making a difference in the lives of young girls through the GrassROOTS Community Foundation. Along side, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, a long time friend and Sociology professor at John Jay College, the GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) is a health advocacy group geared towards promoting healthy lifestyles in young girls.
GCF is based in Philadelphia, and currently active in Newark, New Jersey and Greensboro, North Carolina. GCF plans to expand to seven other cities, and eventually international.
In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, Trotter, reflects on what motivated him to create the organization.
BlackEnterprise.com: What is the GrassROOTS Community Foundation and what inspired you to start the organization?
Black Thought: The GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) is a health advocacy organization that supports, develops, and scales community-driven solutions to the health challenges facing women and girls. I was inspired to start this because of my friendship with Dr. Janice Johnson Dias who I have known since 1996 when she was in graduate school at Temple University. Dr. Johnson Dias, who is now a Sociology professor at John Jay College, had been working on issues of health of women and girls — and in 2010 — asked me to join her in raising awareness about what is going on in our communities about health. She laid out for me the ways in which women and girls were dying from breast cancer, suicide and other chronic diseases and explained to me that these things were all connected to obesity and physical inactivity. It was her vision that if we merged the power of hip hop with social science, we can change the way things are. I was moved by her vision especially since the communities that she was talking about were communities that I had lived in, communities where I still had family. 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. Janice made the issues real for me and though I suspect she would have done it without me, I am glad we decided to do it together. We are the co-founders of GrassROOTS, and with the help of our friends, colleagues and loved ones, GrassROOTS is helping to make communities healthy one city at a time.
What motivates you to give back to the community?
My motivation is simple: I am the people we serve and I am from the communities where we do our work. 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.
For more information on the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, visit: http://www.grass-rootsfoundation.org/.