Last night BET aired its annual awards show Black Girls Rock! According to its website, Black Girls Rock™ Inc. is a nonprofit organization that has been “committed to enriching girls through leadership, education, and positive identity development since 2006” and “builds the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons and providing tools for self-empowerment and efficacy.” The organization was founded by DJ and philanthropist Beverly Bond. Black Girls Rock™ Inc. carries out its mission through conferences, camps, scholarships, and other programs designed for young girls of color.
The annual Black Girls Rock! award show celebrates influential black women represented in the media and throughout the country with the Change Agent, Living Legend, Rockstar, Shot Caller, Social Humanitarian, and Star Power awards. The show also celebrates M.A.D. Girls, young girls who are doing extraordinary and innovating things throughout their communities. This year’s show was hosted by actresses Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross, and included musical performances from artists such as Ciara, Fantasia, and Jill Scott and featured appearances from other celebrities such as Janelle Monae, Will Smith, and MC Lyte. First Lady Michelle Obama also made an appearance at this year’s awards and delivered a speech.
Overall, the show is simply inspiring. I look forward to it every year. Seeing black women celebrated and uplifting one another is so rare and very much needed. Its that one special time of year and one of the few award shows where you can find nothing but positivity.
But of course, no matter how great a thing is, somebody somewhere is bound to find an issue with it. The show has been criticized for years for only celebrating black women. A show called Black Girls Rock! criticized for celebrating black women. Imagine that! People who disapprove of the show argue that all girls rock. They question “what makes black girls so special that they get their own show?” “What about ALL other girls?” “Why isn’t there a show called White Girls Rock!? I’m sure we’d be called racists if that happened!” And its not just white people who are outraged. These arguments come from a variety of different races and ethnic groups, even other black people. #WhiteGirlsRock even became a hashtag on Twitter. Michelle Obama’s appearance on this year’s show added even more to the backlash, with critics complaining that her even simply being there was inappropriate and blatantly biased and disrespectful. They felt that she, being the First Lady, shouldn’t have been so “out” about supporting her own race.
So many people fail to realize the importance of the Black Girls Rock! telecast. Yes, all girls rock. And yes, we are more than fully aware that #WhiteGirlsRock, considering the fact that we’re subtly reminded of it when we turn on the TV, go to the movies, and flip through magazines. But when are we reminded that black girls rock? It’s certainly not when we’re being stereotyped as angry, neck rolling hood rats. Or when we’re constantly being put down by our black men for having too much “attitude.” Or when society is teaching us the lighter you are the righter you are. Black girls have a greater need to be shown they rock. Black girls also need an avenue where they can be taught to uplift, celebrate, and support one another. Hate is so rampant in the black female community its sickening. Its time to reverse the curse and start teaching and showing young black girls how to support and be positive towards one another. Lastly, what those who oppose Black Girls Rock! fail to realize is that they can learn so much from the show. Don’t let the words “black” and “girls” in the title fool you. I encourage all gender, races, and ages to watch this awards show in the future and look more into this organization. It’s cool to learn more about the women you see in the media and those unsung heroes who are making a difference in their communities and OUR nation.
I’ve been watching this program since I was about 15 and just celebrated my 21st birthday yesterday. Though I’m getting older, I still find so much inspiration and pick up so many things from this show that I challenge myself to take on in my personal development not only as a black girl, but as a human being. The fact that I’m a black girl who rocks is just a bonus. 🙂
Here are some of my favorite moments from each of the honorees’ and Michelle Obama’s speeches last night:
“I subscribe to five doctors. Doctor Sun, to make sure we get enough vitamin D. Doctor Nutrition, making sure our vital bodies are clean and healthy performing up to its highest ability. Doctor Exercise, at least 15 minutes a day. Doctor Spirit making sure that you communicate with the highest part of yourself, the highest form that you can imagine. And Doctor YOU, making sure that you take time to take care of you.” – Erykah Badu, recipient of the Rockstar award
“God fashions each of us with gifts and talents and abilities that I have been blessed to use, and I use them to empower children. So the daily question that I ask myself and that I will ask you is, what are you doing with God’s gifts? How are you changing the world? And how are you making a difference in the lives of children? – Nadia Lopez, recipient of the Change Agent award
“When girls and women gain voice, they become empowered. And when that happens, everyone wins; families, communities, nations, and ultimately our world. Thank you for reminding me, and all of us, that when black girls rock stuff happens!” – Dr. Helene D. Gayle, recipient of the Social Humanitarian award
“When I’m feeling shaky, I go into a leading lady stance, a heroine stance. I hold my head up, I put my shoulders back, I close my eyes and I think to myself “Lights, that’s my spirit. Camera, that’s my mind. Action, that’s my life.” Lights, camera, action, onward.” – Ava DuVernay, recipient of the Shot Caller award
“Black girls rock! We rock! No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful, you are powerful, you are brilliant, you are funny. I am so proud of you. My husband, your President, is proud of you.” – First Lady Michelle Obama
“We are the women that marched from cotton fields into fields of medicine, politics, law, education, entertainment. We even found a way to march ourselves into the White House as the First Lady of the United States of America. Any achievement that any woman makes is an achievement for us all.” – Jada Pinkett-Smith, recipient of the Star Power award
“If you can be black and live in this world, you can be anything you want to be.” – Cicely Tyson, recipient of the Living Legend award
Take care of yourself,