This past sunday was another chapter in the history of BlackGirlsRock! The second year has come and gone. Yes, as a black male, I will admit that BlackGirlsRock! is becoming a new staple in the African-American Community. Especially in an era where you don’t hardly see black women doing work. Other ethnics, it’s time for you to get a grade lesson on why there is a need for a BlackGirlsRock! And plus, could there be an idea for a #BlackBoysRock?
Dear #BlackGirlsRock, and those who despise it:
It’s me Stephen. I’m a black guy blogger from Milwaukee. Yeah, that city.
For the second straight year, I’ve had the opportunity to see the #BlackGirlsRock! show on BET. I’ll bet many women of color and some men of color had the chance to view the singing and the awards that were tremendous. Of course, yes Janelle Monae did her thing and many others. Even to see Queen Latifah doing her thing. Yes, I know she came out part of the LGBT angle earlier, but her work is still doing good things. For those like Ameena Matthews and the work she’s doing is good in an Activist fashion. Plus even though she’s Muslilm, but hey, she’s doing the work that she is called to do. Plus the old school vets like Patti La Belle, and Marian Wright Edelman for their work in music and of course laying the framework of Head Start plus Civil Rights is all inspiring. No question. Even though the thought of it is best and important to recognize. From my own, black man’s perspective, in this day in age, yes there are black women doing the thing. I’ll admit that. Black women, who are readers of my blog in all, you have been rocking since day one. Not just yesterday. But since day one. Many of you had been honored in many other ways, but yes, you rock. You may rock, externally. You may rock internally. You may rock behind the scenes. You may rock in the board rooms. You may rock in times of war and peace. And you may rock in many other fashions. But still, yes you rock. Even the black women that I know personally, Rock EVERYDAY! Nevermind your good looks. Nevermind about them shoes. Nevermind your favorite dress. Nevermind your hairstyle you rocked with. Or still rocking. The work you put in everyday itself, ROCKS! And when the work rocks, YOU ROCK! Understand that.
Now. I got to comment against those who once again that feels Black Girls Rock is sooooooooooooo racist. Those who say, that Black Girls Rock is negative all because there isn’t a White Girls Rock. This morning I was on the Huffington Post website. And I was reading a post about this article: “Why I’m not here for WhiteGirlsRock.” And check this, it’s coming from a white person who gets it. Oliva Cole in her blog which was very written well, puts into her perspective about the legalities of why Black Women are not morely seen and yes, White Women or white folks are mostly seen. She writes in a few examples:
- Black Girls Rock! is necessary because when you Google “beautiful women,” this is what you see.
- Because when you look at the covers of Vogue, this is what you see.
- Because when Vanity Fair printed their Hollywood issue, they put the black actresses on the back cover.
- Because when a dark-skinned woman is put on the cover of a magazine, this is what is done to her.
- Because Pixar has never made a movie featuring a black cartoon character.
- Because a black actress has never won a drama series Lead Actress Emmy. (Although Kerry Washington will change that, I am certain.)
- Because in 39 years, only three black women have been part of the cast of SNL.
- Because, until Scandal, the only real place you could find black women in leading roles on television was The Real Housewives of _______.
- Because the “first black Disney Princess” was a frog for 95 percent of the movie.
Also she points out a few more examples:
What it comes down to is that black girls are missing representations of themselves in positive contexts. When they turn on the TV, they are missing. When they are looking at the cover of magazines like Vogue and Elle, they are missing. When they go to the movie theater, they are missing. For black women’s faces to appear in mainstream films, it seems they must be either wearing a maid’s apron or chains. So when Black Girls Rock! appears on the scene, ready to uplift and empower the girls who are so tragically neglected in American media, ready to showcase women of color who are smart and fun and beautiful and accomplished and positive, I am so here for it.
Does that make any other sense? What about the white folks who constantly comment about a #WhiteGirlsRock, per say?
You are in everything. 99 percent of Hollywood movies feature your faces. 99 percent of magazine covers are covered in you. The Emmy Awards and Oscars are almost entirely you. If you Google “beautiful people” the screen is covered in white faces. Black girls (and boys) are taught from birth that there is one version of beauty, and it is you. Many black girls go their entire lives thinking they are ugly, thinking they need to be lighter, straighter, whiter in order to have value. Everything that you see every day that reaffirms your whiteness; every commercial that has a nice white lady embodying the perfect “mom;” every magazine that has blue eyes and bone-straight hair; every Hollywood blockbuster that has a leading lady with skin never darker than Halle Berry… all of these things are reinforcements of your identity that you take for granted.
You may be fat. You may have hair that curls up at the ends. You may even have acne. But your face is everywhere. Your people are everywhere. What in your heart recoils when you see Black Girls Rock? What bone in your body sees empowerment for black girls and thinks “that’s not fair”? Where is your bitterness rooted? What do you think has been taken from you when women of color are uplifted?
All of the things you take for granted are what you’re protecting when you shout down Black Girls Rock: your whiteness, the system that upholds your face as the supreme standard of beauty, your place in the center of a culture that demands people of color remain hidden in the margins, present but only barely and never overshadowing the white hero/heroine. Your discomfort with black girls who rock tells me that you prefer the status quo: you prefer for black faces to remain hidden, you prefer for America’s heroes to have white faces, you prefer for black actresses to wear aprons and chains.
You know what, part of what Oliva written here, I almost commented this on MySpace years ago. Ranging from NBC, ABC, Fox, ESPN, Oxygen, Lifetime, Adult Entertainment, Politics and many other things that are mostly white seen, but not barely black seen. The same folks who complain about having a BET, TVOne, BounceTV, Aspire, and even NewsOne Now, Ebony, Jet, Essence, and many others that are mostly geared to African-Americans in a positive stance, there will be haters who won’t understand. Sort of like Black History Month. I’ll bet many are saying “Oh, where’s a #WhiteGirlsRock, or a White History Month?” Folks, let me say this: I’ve heard white folks in Milwaukee and even on Facebook, talk about their ancestors from various places of Germany, England, and many others. Immigrants mind you. And yes, they talk about them ALL THE TIME. Even the Holocaust. I’m not being negative about it. I’m just telling the truth. Plus also, when a historical context of slavery comes up per say, here’s the many talked about comments of getting over it and we’re all supposed to be equals. And many others. There’s no need to call things African-American related.” Oh, Really Now ?!!! When the 110th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson happened in Milwaukee, I picked up the cover of the Bikers Guide Book, I saw many of the Motorcyclists who are Harley Riders, but there were NO BLACK PEOPLE reppin the H-D! And when the IronElite Black Biker Jam happened, there were some uneducated folks who had to comment on Facebook and on the Milwaukee Fox 6’s Page, stating that it was racist all because of a Harley-Davidson Anniversary Event that was catered to African-Americans. Also they were from Milwaukee. But other folks of ethnic culture came out and did the Wobble dance.
And this supposed to be a post-racial society?
We black folks need to tell our stories and have a commentary. Many of us are doing this now. But there are others who are still waiting in the wings. No matter what it is. Even for our black sisters who rock. Black men, we need to rock the house. More often. Maybe if someone at BET or TVOne, or BounceTV makes a show about honoring black men in aspects of Activism, Sports, Science, Entertainment, Politics, and many others of not being called N*gger everyday, then we’ll see a positive light. Sadly, there are those who think black men are the enemy. Told that you have to be afraid of them, some go towards marrying white women and not enough black women, and if you see them growing up, they might be going to Prison instead of College! Or they can’t get a job because of a criminal record that goes back years and years. Or is it that credit report? Not enough education? Time to change the culture! Plus also the perspective that can be positive about black men like myself that wants to work hard, and gives back is morely NEEDED!
But for this, in regarding #BlackGirlsRock!, from a black man’s perspective, everybody rocks. Even black women.
- Olivia Cole: Why I’m Not Here for #WhiteGirlsRock (huffingtonpost.com)
- Black Girls Rock 2013: Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond talks new show airing 7pm Sunday on BET (thegrio.com)
- Black Girls Rock! delivers stunning performances from Janelle Monae, Jennifer Hudson and more (thegrio.com)
- ESSENCE Poll: When Did You Recognize You Are a Black Girl Who Rocks? (essence.com)
- Black Girls Rock Awards: 2013 Highlights (guardianlv.com)