“Black Girls Rock” captures prowess of black women
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Celebrity DJ and philanthropist Beverly Bond has been busy celebrating black excellence.
Her Black Girls Rock! movement, non-profit organization and mentoring program is at full speed, along with the Black Girls Rock! awards on BET. For her role as a social innovator, "Ebony" magazine has named Bond one of the most influential black women in America for the past five consecutive years.
Bond's most recent homage to black womanhood is "Black Girls Rock: Owning Our Magic, Rocking Our Truth," a collection of essays with photos showcasing 69 notable women from all over the world.
"I think of it as an encyclopedia of amazing black women," said television host and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Carla Hill, who led a talk with Bond last Friday at the Books & Books in Coral Gables.
"When we were younger we saw these images of black women only here and there. This is a reminder to the women in our community that there's somebody out there who looks like them and is doing great things."
In Bond's view, the book is all about the reaction it engenders, whether it be self-love, empowerment or healing. By featuring women who have shaped the world, from former firstlady Michele Obama to singer Rihanna to model Lupita Nyong'o, Bond said that one of her goals is to counter the misrepresentations of Black women in the media and the limits they had to deal with for so long.
"I only included women who are nothing but complacent. These are women who seem to cause trouble," she said. "Before we were all having these conversations about the absence of black women in the media or them being stereotyped or objectified in videos as this hyper sexual glamor being in our own community. Black women were sort of a joke, we just didn't own it."
Bond herself felt she didn't carry through all that she might have in a culture with less racial bias. "I made this space for myself as a DJ, I owned it, I knew my music, but even in my accomplishments there was no space to celebrate."
It was that frustration that prompted her next move. Black Girls Rock! started as a T-shirt slogan and gained traction to become something bigger than she thought she could ever achieve.
"I didn't know I could make a difference. You know how you believe in your vision, but you don't really believe in it? That's how it was for me."
With leadership programs that educate young girls on entrepreneurship, technology, arts and cultural literacy and a Black Girls Rock! Africa platform in the works, Bond said that the main goal of the movement is "to give black women another chance. As grown women we can navigate spaces but little girls can't. I tell them:You can't be cool as me, you haven't had experience, you don't have a job, you can't be instantly cool as social media makes you think you can be. But you can prepare yourself well now to be that person."
Asked by an attendee about the resurgence of black women empowerment and feminism and the intersection between the two, Bond said that "to create that intersection we have to do the work and make sure that the voices in our community are not silent. If people don't know about us, they won't talk about us."
Another attendee asked Bond how the black community should work to make sure that the new "Black Renaissance" won't be taken for granted by the young people.
"Movements help you know that people did things before you and instill the notion that history should never go backward, but look what's happening now," said Bond, arguing that black life and culture are still being interrupted by violence and prejudice.
"We took for granted this dormant racism to be inexistent. But the new generation is facing the racist America that our parents saw, they are starting to see injustice."
BLACK GIRLS ROCK!