Community organizer DJ Jordan is fulfilling his vision of celebrating Black culture and unity. As the executive producer of the first-ever Black Power Awards, Jordan put together an event unlike any other African-American ceremony.
Inspired by the necessity to tell Black narratives, Jordan broke down the community lifestyle.
“What is our quality of life? What do we look like? What do we eat? What do we dress like?” he told Atlanta Black Star. “I looked at the fact that being Black in America was a brand. It’s kind of like a poor brand right now.”
Jordan spent the last two-and-a-half years creating an event meant to celebrate the best of the Black community outside of the typical media portrayal.
“Let’s go for the apex of what it means to be a Black person, a progressive-thinking person, a conscious person,” Jordan continued.
Inspired by Black Autonomy
The Black Power Awards’ 19 categories showcase a slew of talent from not just the domineering entertainment professions but education, justice, health, science, activism and business. White media typically does not highlight these specialties.
The basis for each category came from The Blueprint For Black Power by the late Dr. Amos Wilson. A highly respected psychologist, Wilson’s book described how necessary it is for Blacks to have economic ownership to gain control. His view served as the inspiration for the ceremony.
“The [award show’s] subtitle, ‘a celebration of Black excellence,’ is really a way to package it in a way that inspires us to be more than who we currently are,” Jordan shared.
Because of that, the producer wanted to show Black children that Black adults are not just athletes and rappers. They also “form the backbone of our community.”
Creating Our Own Celebration
As the ceremony’s early planning stages began to close, Jordan said the ball got rolling during the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in January. That’s when Jada Pinkett-Smith called for a boycott of the movie celebration. At the 88th annual ceremony, organizers effectively snubbed Black actors of any nominations. As a result, an all-white nomination ballot emerged.
“I thought, ‘Why are we hell-bent on forcing ourselves into other people’s situations?’ ” the 44-year-old said. “If they don’t recognize us that’s fine because that’s not what those institutions were initially set up to do anyway. Why do we always have to try to kick in somebody else’s door when we’re clearly not wanted?”
Yet his moment of clarity came at the end of October when Jordan realized the banner of Black excellence could bridge together the community regardless of differing ideologies and cultures.
One way the business owner sought to push that was by encouraging attendees to ditch the typical suits and designer dresses for traditional African formal wear. Ahead of the event, the Black Carpet Affair will give guests – especially women – the chance to show off their looks.
“I don’t use frameworks given to us by Europeans,” Jordan explained. “Because I’ve come to realize that those don’t work for us. We achieve greatness and success in this country when we understand our culture and we embrace it.”
The New Orleans native said he puts his philosophy this way to youth: “When the Kente commands as much value as the Gucci, then it’s a new day.”
The Big Reveal
As for what guests can expect from the ceremony next weekend, Jordan says the Black Power Awards – hosted by MCs David Banner and The Goddess Sa-Roc – are heavy on performances. Featured sets consist of traditional African dance, hip-hop, spoken word and reggae.
Planned tributes include honoring revolutionary hip-hop group Public Enemy, scholar Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Haitian historian/humanitarian Bayyinah Bello. And, an after party will give guests the chance to dance and mingle with one another.
A Stellar Institution
Ultimately, Jordan shared he hopes the Black Power Awards becomes an institution that allows Black entertainers, scholars and everyone in between to unabashedly celebrate themselves.
“You can be yourself. You can be your Black, authentic self with us,” he noted. “And no matter what your economic status is you are [with] your brothers and sisters. And we celebrate you as [a] family.”
The Black Power Awards begin at 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 in Austell, Georgia. Tickets start at $60 with the Black Carpet Affair at 2 p.m. A live stream of the program will be available online for $30.