The annual show on BET, which garners nearly three million viewers every year, is so popular that — much like Scandal! — its viewers tweet at a high volume that makes the social media engine take notice.
This upset the progenitors of #WhiteGirlsRock, who took to Twitter to lambaste a television program created to celebrate the achievements of African-American women. The substance of messages linked by #WhiteGirlsRock demonstrated that these opponents believe the organization stands for uplifting black women while downgrading others.
Black Girls Rock! serves a need
“I started Black Girls Rock! because the overwhelming social disparities within black communities and the toxic media messages targeted toward our youth has yielded a generation of black girls crippled by a lack of critical literacy, self-worth and positive identity development,” Bond wrote. “I started Black Girls Rock! because I knew that we needed to hold our sheroes up as shining examples of excellence so that future generations of girls can continue to see positive role models who are proof of the dynamic women that they can also become.”
Opening her essay with the affirmation that white girls definitely rock, Bond said her problem with the #WhiteGirlsRock hashtag was not the pride it could have expressed in these women, but rather its use as a tool to tear black women down.
“My issue is that the commentary that followed the ‘#whitegirlsrock’ hashtag was not even about affirming dynamic white women,” the DJ and former model elaborated. “Instead, it was about critiquing or even punishing black women for having the nerve, the audacity and the unmitigated gall to love and affirm ourselves!”
Bond detailed the dire need for black women to grant themselves a celebratory space in a society that tends to ignore their achievements and render rare popular representations of African-American women in stereotypical strokes.
All invited to join vital cause
In fact, far from excluding white women, the social activist invited them and everyone interested in her inclusive message to join the cause.
“All are welcome to take part in this celebration of our history and our contributions to mankind, but know that our empowerment does not limit your own power, purpose, potential or worth,” she asserted. “There is enough room for all of us to rock together.”
The #WhiteGirlsRock backlash was discussed in depth on Wednesday night in New York City during the first panel in a new series produced by the Black Girls Rock! THiNK TANK. Titled, Checkin’ Our Fresh: Black Girls Rock! And You Ain’t Even Know It, the discussion was led by NBC New York on-air personality Jacque Reid and featured Brown University professor Tricia Rose, documentary filmmaker Shola Lynch, Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemieux, and Huffington Post writer and poet Olivia Cole. (Cole’s rebuttal to #WhiteGirlsRock was a powerful moment in this ongoing controversy.)
A keynote speech by Bond and a performance by poet Queen GodIs preceded this lively discussion.
Growing movement to empower all women
I also participated on the panel, which focused on how black women and girls can empower themselves against the negative voices that can erupt when black women celebrate themselves.
Black women need to remind themselves and society that they represent much more than the downtrodden demographics, or outrageous reality TV characters, that constantly proliferate our airwaves and computer screens.
Beverly Bond and Black Girls Rock! are here to provide a platform for re-balancing skewed attitudes about black women, a service to our entire community that will ultimately make us a better human race.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb