#WhiteGirlsRock? That’s what some tweeted during the Black Girls Rock! awards show on BET last Sunday.
As the #BlackGirlsRock hashtag trended in response to the show, a group of users tweeted their displeasure with it.
— Red Stater (@DPRFOZ) November 4, 2013
Many similar tweets erupted during show, although not all were accusatory — and not all were made by whites. Several black users tweeted similar sentiments — although with perceptibly less venom. One white man shared a sweet response to the cacophony of ire.
— Mark Henderson (@Wretch_Redeemed) November 4, 2013
For the most part, reactions were skewed to the extremes.
Eventually, #WhiteGirlsRock was taken over by those sharing their exasperation that the hashtag had been created in the first place. You can read the ongoing conversation here.
A white woman supports Black Girls Rock!
One white woman took the conversation further. Olivia Cole’s essay, Why I’m Not Here for #WhiteGirlsRock, published on The Huffington Post, explains why Black Girls Rock! is necessary. She reminds us of how scarce positive images of black women are.
“You are in everything,” Cole directed at white women. “99 percent of Hollywood movies feature your faces. 99 percent of magazine covers are covered in you. The Emmy Awards and Oscars are almost entirely you. If you Google ‘beautiful people’ the screen is covered in white faces. Black girls (and boys) are taught from birth that there is one version of beauty, and it is you. Many black girls go their entire lives thinking they are ugly, thinking they need to be lighter, straighter, whiter in order to have value.”
Her piece has been liked on Facebook, tweeted, and otherwise shared over social media over 68,000 times.
Black women face yet another attack
From black women’s perspectives, the negativity directed at women of African decent is nothing new.
“Ironically, only last week, the topic #stopblackgirls2013 trended,” reports black women’s web site Clutch magazine. “Several black men used the hashtag to tweet humiliating and degrading images of black women. They posted hateful statements dismissing black women as a group. It’s the proliferation of attitudes like this that makes Black Girls Rock! absolutely necessary.”
It is impossible to know the identities of the people behind that trend. Yet, events online such as these confirm that black women are too often perceived through the lenses of extreme stereotypes. This has also been determined by the Essence Images of Black Women in Media study.
Black Girls Rock! is one of the few pockets of American culture that fully showcases the wide breadth of beauty and achievement of African-American women with full abandon.
Black Girls Rock! meant to empower all women
When I interviewed Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond about the show she said it germinated from crossover appeal.
“A lot of the people that helped me in the beginning were not always black women,” Bond told theGrio. “We’ve had white women, we’ve had white men, we’ve had black men. This movement is really a women’s movement. It’s really a youth empowerment movement. And it definitely is a community activists’ movement in order to help people progress and get to the next level. When you recognize any type of injustice, certainly you are going to be able to draw in people who have that humanitarian spirit, and believe in just causes.”
In this case, the just cause is helping all people see and appreciate the contributions black women make to contemporary society in order to inspire us all. Ultimately, we can all rejoice at the sight of any woman succeeding, especially those who typically remain excluded and degraded.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.