Black Girls Rock is the only awards show that I’ve seen this year that didn’t miss any marks. It was wonderful to see a show for women who are often marginalized and unfairly stereotyped, because we are not a monolith and contrary to popular belief, there are several Black women and girls who are making exemplary contributions to the world. Beverly Bond and BET are amazing for putting this show together. The moments of genuine sisterhood and solidarity were heartwarming, and I’m happy that in talking about this awards show, I only have positive things to say.
Here are my eight favorite moments from Black Girls Rock 2013:
Ameena Matthews’ Rousing Speech
Ameena Matthews is a Chicago-based anti-violence activist who has dedicated a lot of her life’s work to peace building and social change. Her speech was so humbling and genuine and it moved me to chills especially when she said, “Look at this gold tooth and this scarf and I’m talkin’ about Assalamu alaikum” in making the point that if judging based on the superficial one would assume that she isn’t doing anything worthy enough of an award like that yet there she stands in all her glory.
I’ve been toying with the idea of cutting my locs off for a few weeks now. Then I saw Ledisi, my sister from another mister (since people sometimes say we favor each other), in all her curly loc’d glory and changed my mind. YAAAAASSSSS! I got the urge to grab some loc loops or pipe cleaners and get to rolling. She put on a killer performance too!
Kelly Rowland and Sevyn Streeter Performing
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Sevyn Streeter back in my JET magazine days. She was so gracious and down-to-Earth. She’s also very talented. She has written hit songs for quite a few big names (including Kelly Rowland). My fondness for Kelly Rowland started in the Destiny’s Child days (second album) and has grown more ever since. This grown woman version of Kelly is killing me softly. Not to be cliche but she embodies that saying about aging like fine wine. What’s dope about Sevyn Streeter and Kelly Rowland performing is that they mirror each other. Kelly is the big sis who paved the way for Sevyn Streeter to start coming up as an artist and they put it down on stage in solidarity and even incorporated a mini bellydance routine. I lived.
Mara Brock Akil’s Moment
Honoree Mara Brock Akil and her husband give me hope that Black creatives can make it in Hollywood without resorting to coonery or to the moral/faith-based message overload that seems to plague Black art (it’s not always a negative thing but the overkill needs to stop). There are a lot of us who are somewhere in between and Mara Brock Akil summed it up when she said, “I see you even when no one else does.” She really does see us as evidenced with Girlfriends, The Game and Being Mary Jane. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store.
Girlfriends was definitely one of my favorite shows back in my more formative years for obvious reasons. It was beautiful to see the cast reunite about five years later looking exactly the same.
Marian Wright Edelman’s Style
Marian Wright Edelman won the Social Humanitarian Award for her advocacy for the right of kids as president of the Children Defense Fund. Her work goes back to the Civil Rights Era. Since then she has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a MacArthur Genius Fellow and she’s responsible for launching the head start program across the country. I am a product of head start. I attended school named after Addie Mae Collins, and it was a safe (and free) place for me grow and learn while my mom was at work. Aside from the epicness of Marian Wright Edelman’s work, can we talk about her style? She is 74 year’s old and still sharp! That red blazer and beaded necklace was very Bohemian grandma chic. Ovah.
You all know how I feel about the Queen by now!
I’ll stop there but Venus Williams and Misty Copeland killed it too. I’ve never had the pleasure of attending but I hope to be there next year. Anyway, did you catch Black Girls Rock last night? What did you think?