“Black Girls Rock” cap­tures prow­ess of black women

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JU­LIANA ACCIOLY Spe­cial for South Florida Times

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."



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