Black Girls Rock is an award show on BET founded by Beverly Bond. The purpose is to unify, celebrate and show case black females who are succeeding in different walks of life and supporting their community.
I didn’t think I would be this emotional watching Black Girls Rock, but for some reason I find myself tearing up just at the sight of this award show. I am only a couple minutes in, but I am overwhelmed with emotion seeing a room full of black women who are gathered because they are accomplishing something great in different area whether it be business, law, entertainment, leadership, civic engagement or any other area. Seeing a room full of lace fronts, corn rows, sew ins, twists, slicked buns and afros being celebrated and honored GAVE ME LIFE!
Two weeks ago, I went to my family reunion where we traced my family history back to 1836. Seeing my lineage being taken back to slavery really forced me to face the realities of the disparity that black people have experienced and are still experiencing in the United States of America. My family members and I had as much information as we could find about our lineage, but there were still important details missing. A lot of the information about the women in my family history was missing or incomplete.
Being a black woman means that we are a double minority. Black people and women have been looked down on, discriminated against and persecuted. We have been historically and intentionally underrepresented in many arenas including business, education and of course entertainment. Things are changing now, but specifically on television and in the media, black women are represented as poor, overly loud, hypersexualized and other derogatory stereotypes. Because of that and many other reasons, seeing this celebration of how hard we have worked and how far we have come is so important. Representation matters! It was awesome to see Issa Rae honored because she intentionally uses her platform in the media to represent those black girls who aren’t “black” enough for their black friends and definitely are not white enough to fit in the white community comfortably. She was given the Star Power Award for her show Insecure that airs on HBO. I definitely can relate to this group of black people as my friends often say I’m not “black” enough because I’ve never seen Friday and don’t listen to Tupac. This inspired me as a 25-year-old woman, and I pray that it inspires all people, especially young black girls.
Speaking of youth, one of the youngest awardees was Yara Shahidi. She is the epitome of black excellence at the early age of 17. She was given the Young Gifted and Black award. She is an actress on the hit show “Blackish” and has her own spin off show as well. It is not surprising that she was admitted into all 8 of her choices for college when realizing that former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote one of her recommendation letters. She has decided to attend Harvard. She is very vocal and active in the fight for equality specifically speaking out against the Muslim ban.
Also in the realm of black excellence was Suzanne Shank. She was highlighted because she is a 2 trillion-dollar business woman. Although she has offices in New York she chooses to live in Detroit because she wants to be where she feels there is the greatest need in the black community. That type of servant’s heart is absolutely beautiful.
Black women have defied so many odds and I was so happy to see some of them highlighted on Black Girls Rock. Like when Haben Girma was honored as the 1st blind and deaf person to graduate from Harvard law school. Since graduating, she works to provide more access for people with handicaps. Her resiliency is notable. No handicap or barrier will get in her way of achieving success.
And of course, one of the highlights was honoree Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Affectionately referred to as Aunty Maxine, after she resonated with many when she passionately communicated the message of reclaiming her time. She received the Social Humanitarian Award. In her acceptance speech, she addressed issues that a lot of black women face, which is being labeled as too confrontational, too tough and even too black. She combated those lies by saying that none of those are true, and she is just a strong black woman. She encouraged everyone listening that “we can do things that others have told us that we can’t do”.
It was motivating us all to make sure that we all play our part to walk in our passions and give back to our community. Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award went to the Black and Missing Foundation. This foundation addresses the disparity of black people who are missing in the United States. Black people make up 40 percent of missing people. Even though there are still over 650 missing black people they have brought home over 200 people of color.
Of course, my favorite part was when my girl, Tasha Cobbs, got up there and WORSHIPPED! I am so happy that they had a true believer in the show who brought glory to God. I know that as a black woman what has kept me grounded, motivated and frankly sane is the love of God and walking in my calling as His daughter.
Overall I loved the award show black girls rock. I am thankful for unifying hashtag and movement as it represents women of color in a beautiful positive light as we should be!
My name is Taylor James and I am a black girl who rocks!