When Beverly Bond first thought of the slogan “Black Girls Rock!” she planned for it to be little more than a T-shirt slogan. Today, the slogan is a nationally recognized motto that represents an empowering nonprofit youth organization aimed at getting young women of color interested in the arts while uplifting Black women all across the globe.
What Black Girls Rock! Inc. grew to be is obviously much more grand and far-reaching than its original sltated purpose.
It boasts a message that is so desperately needed in today’s media landscape as Black women in America face the struggles of media attacks, institutionalized racism and so much more.
It’s also a message that may have never been quite as prominent as it is today without the hard work of the first woman who dared to boldly declare that “Black girls rock.”
And indeed they do.
Back in 2006, however, Black Girls Rock! founder Bond, a prominent DJ, realized that while this phrase should be redundant that was far from the current reality in America.
“I knew this type of message needed to be shared, especially for young girls who might need to hear this from a unique perspective,” Bond told NBC News. “At the time, there weren’t too many positive influences or solid messages that were demonstrated through the media. I also decided that it needed to be a mentoring program and an awards show because I felt that there weren’t enough examples of role models on TV for young Black girls to emulate.”
With that perspective, Black Girls Rock! came to fruition and created a positive organization, voice and platform for Black girls in the mainstream space.
It’s clear why such a program and platform is so necessary for Black girls and Black women across the globe. As Bond pointed out, the mainstream space rarely honored and celebrated Black women who were accomplishing amazing things.
Not to mention the way a vast number of new studies are highlighting how young Black girls are being targeted by racially biased institutions in America that sometimes place them at a greater risk than their male counterparts.
Despite the clear necessity of Black Girls Rock! it still has a plethora of critics who attack the program and its nationally promoted slogan. So it may come as no surprise that these same critics found issue with first lady Michelle Obama proudly exclaiming “Black girls rock” during her appearance at the 2015 award show.
Bond has always been dismissive of these critics, however, and this year was no different.
“She is a Black girl and she does rock,” Bond said about the first lady’s involvement in the show this year. “It’s the truth! I don’t know why anyone would be offended. It shows the blinded privilege that some people are living with. They don’t even acknowledge that there are any issues with discrimination and race association.”
Bond added that most of the people who openly criticize Black Girls Rock! display “cultural ignorance” that blatantly ignores “the condition that Black people have been left in due to oppression for so long.”
Either way, those negative and misguided comments will never bar Bond from expanding the program, the show and the beloved slogan that has impacted so many Black girls in an amazing way.
“This year we decided to launch our new leadership conference Black Girls Lead, which will host a dynamic group of young women at Columbia University from July 13-15, and it will be a great way to extend our program while taking full advantage of Black Girls Rock’s increasing growth,” Bond continued. “It’s a strong leadership, technology, art-based and educational three-day intensive. The girls will have various speakers that will come speak to them about college prep, media literacy and the pillars of what it takes to achieve success.”
In more ways than one, Black Girls Rock! has become one of the essential tools to reshaping the narrative often presented to Black women about their own potential and capabilities.
So while naysayers may never understand and critics will continue to spew negativity toward the empowering program, the effectiveness of the brand won’t be diminished.
Thanks to Bond’s hard work and years of perseverance, Black girls all across the country will be encouraged to proclaim that they, like all other Black girls, truly do rock.