All Articles Tagged "black girls rock!"
As 2013 comes to a close, we can look back and see a mixed bag of a year for Black women’s representation in the media. A handful of pop culture events tell the tale: the public shaming of Rachel Jeantel during the George Zimmerman trial, the appeal of Olivia Pope, and the mic drop that was Beyonce’s stealth album. Jeantel represented one of the common tropes you see in media when it comes to Black women. As ESSENCE points out, there are often a few stereotypes that are overrepresented in media—negative imagery of Black women is seen twice as often as positive images. These images include Baby Mamas, Angry Black Women, Unhealthy Black Women and Uneducated Sisters. Sound familiar at all? You can find these tropes throughout a lot of our pop culture today. On their own, there is nothing wrong with a character possessing some of these traits. But when it is a constant theme throughout various movies, shows, etc, that is when it becomes a problem.
Read more about black women in media at Essence.com
Last month we told you that #whitegirlsrock became a trending topic on Twitter during the airing of the annual Black Girls Rock! awards show. The shocking trend of racial commentary included comments like, If there were a #whitegirlsrock special on TV, it would be declared #racist. #politicallyincorrect #hypocrisy,” and “That #blackgirlsrock show is so racist. Where is the #whitegirlsrock show? Oh right, NAACP would be all over that.” Just plain ole’ foolery at its finest. Black Girls Rock founder, Beverly Bond, recently addresses the insulting hashtag in a blog post for The Root and well, she pretty much echoes how we’ve been feeling about this craziness all along.
“When I heard about the “#whitegirlsrock” hashtag that trended on Twitter, my immediate reaction was, ‘Well, duh! Of course white girls rock. Are they unaware?’ White women’s beauty, talent, diversity and worldly contributions are affirmed everywhere: on billboards, on television, in magazines and in textbooks,” Beverly began.
Though she admits that she had no real issue with #whitegirlsrock becoming a trending topic, what bothered her was the insulting commentary that came along with it.
“As a humanist, I believe that we all rock. My issue is that the commentary that followed the “#whitegirlsrock” hashtag was not even about affirming dynamic white women. Instead, it was about critiquing or even punishing black women for having the nerve, the audacity and the unmitigated gall to love and affirm ourselves!” she wrote.
Beverly adds that platforms such as Black Girls Rock! forces people to realize that things like white privilege do exist, which of course, causes “anxiety” and results in hurtful social media wars such as #whitegirlsrock.
“I also think the anxiety that people have about Black Girls Rock!-ing reveals the blind spots associated with white privilege, including the inability to acknowledge that the privilege actually exists, a lack of accountability for prejudices and an overwhelming deficit in cultural competency. So whoever is offended by Black Girls Rock!-ing and whoever thinks that black empowerment threatens their own power should confront their own racism.”
“It’s insulting and quite nervy for a social media mob to attack a platform that affirms positive images of black women and girls in an attempt to belittle a movement that uplifts and celebrates our lives and legacies—yet to also remain silent about the plethora of damaging media messages directed toward black women and to blatantly ignore the social issues that black people endure.”
Read Beverly’s full blog post at The Root. Thoughts?
If you’ve ever gone to a PWI (predominately white institution), you know the struggle of trying to have a gathering or event for black folks and having white men and women say, “But it would be racist if we had a white homecoming, right? That’s so hypocritical!” But you would think that in everyday life, if folks want to have black awards shows and event to show love to people who don’t get their just dues in the mainstream media, it wouldn’t be a problem. But alas, with Twitter, there’s always a platform to complain and bash just about everything and make it trend for attention. Such was the case with folks going in on the Black Girls Rock event that aired on Sunday night on BET, with white folks (and even some black folks) deciding to push a #WhiteGirlsRock hashtag that was pure foolery:
And the Tweets went on and on with folks basically saying the same thing: If white women had a show solely praising their accomplishments, black folks would be up in arms. But of course, these Tweets were met with responses from black individuals who reminded everyone that when you’re in the majority, you will always see positive images of yourself (and just more images in general) on television and in the media, so would you really need a White Girls Rock show? Folks are always looking for a reason to pit one group of people against another these days. Writer Dream Hampton, a producer for the event, even decided to share the real:
Soon as white women show up at a runway show and ask ‘Why is this show totally white?’ I’ll pay attention to #whitegirlsrock
And it continued from others:
If you want #WhiteGirlsRock just check out the shows on CBS, NBC, ABC, MTV, FOX NEWS, Lifetime, HBO, Showtime, TNT, USA Networks…
It’s a shame how many black dudes are protesting for a #WhiteGirlsRock platform. Do their capes for their snow bunnies ever come off?
All in all, it’s just a shame that something folks CLEARLY didn’t watch and give time to before making a judgment was getting attacked for celebrating women who do great things and influence young black girls everywhere. And when you have people on Twitter steady trying to bring you down and ask why sistas even deserve an event to show love to one another, it makes such a celebration all the more necessary. Haters.
It’s a reunion!
This past Saturday night, every fabulous black women in the entertainment industry gathered together to celebrate something we all already know, “Black Girls Rock!” On top of our good fortune of just being in the presence of these exceptional ladies at the award ceremony, we also got to chat with a few on the red carpet — including our favorite “Girlfriends.”
Yup, Joan, Maya, Toni, and Lynn were all there; or should we say Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones, and Persia White? We had the chance to catch up with each woman and ask them about one of our favorite shows in television history, and we even caught Tracee and Mara Brock Akil, creator of “Girlfriends,” reunite on the carpet. Check out the video below as we chat with the girls about their favorite “Girlfriends” episodes and why the sitcom was the best thing ever in the early 2000s.
From Hello Beautiful
The exact same weekend we try to uplift our young Black women with the star-studded event Black Girls Rock, the Internet erupts in a racist firestorm with the offensive hashtag: “#StopBlackGirls2013.” This judgment-drenched hashtag littered Twitter timelines on Sunday with photos of various Black women — many of them being compared to zoo animals — with the object of said photos the target of offensive comedy. Black girls weren’t the only victims of this racist hashtag as others targeting Mexican girls, Indian girls and more popped up during the frenzy, but it was the #StopBlackGirls2013 hashtag that had the longer shelf life.
At first, it skyrocketed to the number five trending topic and within 20 minutes, it was second. An hour later, #StopWhiteGirls2013 was born and landed in the sixth spot for trending for a short stint, and then it was completely void as a trending topic altogether. This proves one thing: making jokes at a Black girl’s expense is a lot more fun for ignorant folks than any other race. What’s worse is that Black people started participating too!
Read more at HelloBeautiful.com
For the last few years that Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson has been on the scene, we’ve seen her bedecked in a range of wigs and hairstyles. But just this past weekend while showing off her svelte figure in a form-fitting black dress at the Black Girls Rock! soiree, Hudson showcased a chic short cut that we’re used to seeing on the likes of Nia Long and Halle Berry. Short on the sides with a little length at the top, the cut definitely shows more of Hudson’s face, and if you ask us, actually gives her a more youthful look as opposed to the lengthy lacefronts we had grown accustomed to seeing her wear over the last few years. Hudson wore a short wig for her work in the film Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, so maybe she was inspired to try something new. Either way, it’s the perfect look for a woman we’re used to watching transform in front of our eyes. We’re calling this one a winner, but what about you? Check out more images of the new JHud below and let us know if you’re loving her look.
Every year we find ourselves encouraged and inspired by the partnership between BET and the organization Black Girls Rock. The annual award show, which is being taped today, and will air on November 3, highlights the black women who leaving their mark in the world and inspiring other black girls and even us grown woman along the way. We caught up with the founder of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond, to talk to her about her role models as a child, why she started the organization and the impact it’s made so far.
MN: Who were the black women you looked up to as a child?
Beverly Bond: First, of course, my mother, my grandmother, the women within my family. I think those were the women that had the most influence on me. But my mother was also very conscious of making sure that we understood the contributions of black people and that we were aware of people like Shirley Chisholm. I’m a Sci-Fi junky so I loved the actress that played Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) something about her being in space was so progressive. As a kid, to see her in that role made me see possibilities. Angela Davis certainly. Many, many, many women inspired me. I don’t know if I was conscious that I was being inspired by so many, great black women.
At what point did you realize there was a need for Black Girls Rock?
I don’t know if I knew that there was a need for Black Girls Rock (BGR) because I didn’t come up with a sketch. But I knew that there was a void. I knew that there was a problem. Even from being a model, you go on go-sees and they would tell you, straight up, they already have their ‘black model.’ And I would always think, is that legal?! Can they say that?! And that was just something that always happened. But then when I became a DJ, I became more conscious about the content that was in music and entertainment. Being in the entertainment industry and watching the blatant sexism and the blatant degrading content in even sometimes of the people in the industry who were unaware of the messages that were being sent to our young girls, I kept thinking to myself how are our children ingesting these very toxic messages? How are our young girls relating to this?
As a grown woman, I can navigate through that space. I can deal with it. But what is happening to the minds of our children and our girls? How are they feeling about themselves hearing these messages that are degrading them or making them feel that they’re not pretty enough or beautiful enough or even important enough as all the other girls in the world or that the only way that they can be recognized for anything is if they are showing more than they need to and focusing only on their physical bodies and how sexual they can be. And then I thought also about boys and how this affects how they see women and girls and what that’s doing to those relationships. How are these girls and boys turning up in our community? They cannot be friends. These messages are not teaching them to be conscious of being good friends and having great relationships from a very early age. This kind of warps the perception in your mind from a very early age. And I thought that was just so dangerous. And when I came up with the idea for BGR, I knew that I had to use this– I don’t know if you know but this was originally just an idea for my t-shirt line. And I recognized quickly that the affirmation was just something that was so important. I realized that our girls and our children needed to have this affirming message in their lives. I guess that’s where I became more conscious about why it was necessary.
Our favorite award show is coming up next weekend and with the women slated to be honored at Black Girls Rock! 2013 we can tell there are some great things in store for this year’s ceremony.
The two-hour show will once again be hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King and will tape on Saturday, October 26 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center before making its network TV premiere on BET on Sunday, November 3 at 7pm EST. BET, in partnership with Beverly Bond, the creator of Black Girls Rock! announced that the following phenomenal women will be recognized this year for, well, rocking:
Patti Labelle: Living Legend Award
Queen Latifah: Rock Star Award
Mara Brock Akil: Shot Caller Award
Venus Williams: Star Power Award
Community organizer Ameena Matthews: Community Activist Award
Misty Copeland: Young, Gifted & Black Award
Children’s civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman: Social Humanitarian Award
In a news release, Beverly Bond said of this year’s honorees:
“Each of the women, whom we are celebrating this year, epitomize the champion’s spirit as applicable to their respective fields. They are anchored by a fierce commitment to their craft or cause; they have shown the ability to navigate multiple sectors and industries successfully; and they are conscious about the role they play in enriching our society and culture. They absolutely Rock!”
We definitely agree. Will you be watching Black Girls Rock! 2013?
How My Black Is Beautiful’s “Imagine A Future” Documentary Proves The Cycle Of Self-Hate Can Be Broken
I’ve always had much respect for Proctor and Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. After all it was started by six black women at the company and they do good work. And while the campaign seeks to uplift black women, I also realize it’s a way for P&G to continue to make money. Now, I’m not mad at them. We all want to make money. But since they are trying to make money, I’ll admit that I process their media differently than I would other P&G advertising. I’m constantly watching to make sure it’s still honest and that we, black women, aren’t being further exploited by another huge corporation.
And I can honestly say I haven’t seen that. The campaign has been run quite nicely. And that track record of fairness didn’t falter when they released a documentary entitled “Imagine a Future.”
Directed and produced by filmmaking heavy hitters like Lisa Cortes, Academy Award nominated for her producing role in Precious, directed by Shola Lynch, director of Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners and executive produced by “Black Girls Rock” founder Beverly Bond, the film had the right people behind the project.
And all of that came across in the story which follows Janet Goldsboro, a high school student who struggles with beauty and self esteem issues. Throughout the documentary we watch as Janet transforms when she visits South Africa to learn about the historical and societal context associated with being a black woman.
During her trip Janet learns about beauty standards that vary and are similar to the ones she’s been grown up with in the U.S. Her South African friend tells her that nobody wants to be skinny in South Africa but when she goes to the market, she sees how many places sell skin bleaching cream. There she learns about the earliest human ancestors, found in Africa and learns the tragic story of Sarah Baartman as she visited her gravesite.
After her trip to South Africa the change in Janet was visible. She went from a girl who was insecure about her looks and self confidence to a young woman who actively sought the standards of beauty that best matched her own. She started researching the history that was left out of her school’s curriculum so by knowing the truth of her past she could take pride in the young woman she is today.
Interspersed between Janet’s inspirational story, we hear black women like Gabourey Sidibe, Michaela Angela Davis, Tatyana Ali, Melissa Harris-Perry and Gabby Douglass talk about achieving their own self confidence and what makes them beautiful. It may sound cheesy but it was powerful. So powerful in fact that my mom leaned over to my sister and I and asked “why our black was beautiful?” We had to tell her not to ask the stranger sitting next to her because it really is a loaded question. The film really makes you think about your own levels of self confidence and beauty standards affect your everyday lives.
I walked out of the filming feeling hopeful and uplifted. Not to use one to tear down another but in many ways “Imagine A Future” filled the holes that “Dark Girls” didn’t. It talked about the lack of self esteem, the beauty standards many black women don’t meet but it also showed how that cycle can be broken. How these feelings don’t have to be permanent. And how, at the end of the day, we can be the solutions to our own insecurities.
Check out the trailer for the documentary on the next page.
Olivia Pope And The Depiction Of Multifaceted Womanhood: Why We Love Kerry Washington And Her Honest Portrayals Of Women
I haven’t heard this much criticism of a television character… ever. Kerry Washington’s role in the hit prime time drama Scandal as Olivia Pope, the boss yet internally conflicted “fixer”/mistress to the President of the United States has EVERYONE talking. And when I say “everyone” I do mean everyone. On Thursday nights at 10 pm EST, my Twitter timeline is rockin’ with Scandal hashtags by family, friends, politicians, athletes and actors alike, raving about the twists, the turns, the brilliant writing, the fashion, the flashbacks, the very different funky 70s soundtrack… Every aspect of the show seems to be something of a phenomenon, especially since it’s the first primetime drama with a black female lead role on a major network in years. Some of us see progression in that. Some of us see off-the-charts talent and entertainment.
Still, the show has its vehement critics. Those not unlike CBS, Atlanta reporter Mo Ivory who breaks down Washington’s role as “no different than Joseline from “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” or Kim from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – she just has more expensive clothes, a higher paying job and tighter security.”
I don’t agree or disagree with Ivory’s thoughts. I’ve been so focused on Washington’s accurate portrayal (no matter how messy) of just a WOMAN in general that I haven’t had the time to bust down a list of the horrible characteristics.
I watch Kerry beast through her performance as Olivia Pope every week and think to myself that I have NEVER seen such a consistent powerhouse performance in primetime, week after week. As Pope, Washington peels back the layers of a very human woman who can clean up anyone’s, EVERYONE’S mistakes and hiccups around her but is just barely holding together the steadily unfolding mess that is her own life. I don’t see a black woman who is a mistress when I watch Olivia Pope. I see a woman in general who has issues just like the rest of the world and is trying to get clarity and peace of mind in the midst of a crap storm of confrontation and seemingly buried secrets. Kerry Washington executes the human-ness of the role flawlessly. That’s what I’m tuned in for.
Is she playing a mistress? Yes. I know, I know. That sets black women back hundreds of years and blah blah blah. I don’t agree with all that simply because for years, blacks have had to fight with screenwriters and directors and producers to allow us to be human beings on screen. Not caricatures. Not trumped up stereotypes. Not ALWAYS Mammys and drivers or harlots and drug dealers. Just everyday, normal human beings, whatever that entails. For this particular role, Kerry Washington unfolds a woman’s struggle with loving someone she cannot wholly have, being strong for everyone else all the time, working almost ‘round the clock, trying to cover past mistakes with present goodwill. Who of us haven’t dealt with at least one of the above?! She plays a human being, people! She shows the multi-faceted womanhood that many of us try to deny by criticizing roles like this or even everyday people like this.
About a month or so ago during her interview with Oprah, Washington drew parallels between Olivia Pope and her character of “Broomhilda,” a slave woman in the deep south spaghetti western Django Unchained, which opened as a box office hit with very mixed reviews. She expressed that her goal as an actress is simply to honor humanity by telling these stories in as real a way as possible. Washington also stated that she felt honored to play both roles because it showed how far we had come as a nation. Her ability to be able to play such a multi-layered character like Olivia Pope essentially was an answer to her character Broomhilda’s prayers that one day that kind of freedom would be possible for a black woman. She talked about the timeline of black acting, citing that in the beginning, everything was stereotypical if you wanted to be a black actor. Then, there was the era of “black perfection” where all roles taken on by black actors had to be pristine, no flaws. Now, we live in an age where we are beginning to be allowed to simply be human. Flaws and all.
That idea struck a chord with me as I reviewed Washington’s body of work from Save The Last Dance to Django. She has always chosen roles that some might say have made black folks “look bad,” yet they offered an honest look into the lives of honest characters. And what is a serious actor if not an honest vessel?
During her acceptance speech at the 2012 Black Girls ROCK! event, Washington said, “I get to honor humanity. We are all valuable human beings and all our stories deserve to be told.”
We, as freethinking human beings need to stop being so quick to judge the black artist. What Kerry Washington and Viola Davis and countless other black actresses are doing is monumental if we change our outlook. We cannot whittle down the idea of black art only to what makes us feel comfortable. Was Viola Davis’s role as a 1960s maid too painful a memory for some of us? Is Olivia’s role as a mistress (no matter how classy and fierce) too telling of many a modern day reality for some of us? I see Washington as a brave soul for pushing through and bringing a truth to television that has long been airbrushed to ease internal tensions. I see Washington as an example of the versatility black women have not been allowed to exhibit for so long. The honesty we have not been able to speak on or to portray without feeling some sort of way. I celebrate her courage to honor humanity even in the face of such opposition. If we’re more fixated on the flaws of the character rather than the honesty those flaws bring to entertainment, perhaps we need to do a bit more soul-searching and a little less judging.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.