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Exclusive: Black Girls Rock! Founder Hits Back at Insulting #whitegirlsrock

Posted by on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM
  • 27 Replies

(READ THE ARTICLE BEORE MAKING SNARKY REMARKS.)


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.

However, the breadth and depth of the beauty, intellect, work and legacy of black women is often marginalized. The cultural, intellectual and social contributions made by women across the African Diaspora are a part of human history and should be valuable to all people. The participants in the #whitegirlsrock hashtag, who heralded accusations of reverse racism, fail to acknowledge the history of racism in media including the perpetual absence of diverse stories and representations of black women. They also fail to recognize that this absence impacts the way women and girls of color, around the world, see and value themselves.

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!

In an article in the Huffington Post, Olivia Cole, a white girl who most certainly rocks, points out the exclusion of black women in various public spheres. In response to the white community that was offended by “#blackgirlsrock” Cole writes:

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.”

Like Cole, 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.

I started Black Girls Rock! to honor the many amazing women of our past and present whose unique leadership, strength, resolve, wisdom, talent and spirituality has catalyzed the advancement of humanity, yet who are often left uncelebrated or have gone under the radar in mainstream media and history. The affirmation Black Girls Rock! does not mean other girls don’t rock, nor is Black Girls Rock! an ornamental phrase used to cloak ourselves in vanity. Saying that we rock is a response to the tremendous neglect that black girls feel when they grow up in a society, or, as Mara Brock Akil said in her 2013 Black Girls Rock! acceptance speech, “where they grow up in a home where their picture is not on the wall.”

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.

I started Black Girls Rock! because the overwhelming social disparities within black communities and the toxic media messages targeted toward our youth has yielded a generation of black girls crippled by a lack of critical literacy, self-worth and positive identity development. I started Black Girls Rock! because I knew that we needed to hold our sheroes up as shining examples of excellence so that future generations of girls can continue to see positive role models who are proof of the dynamic women that they can also become.

From the suffragist movement to the civil rights movement, social change organizations and programs have been born out of sheer necessity. Because of the severe need that I observed, I created a platform where black women across the world can be seen in our beautiful and rich complexity. It is a space where black girls can rock in remembrance of our sheroes like Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Bessie Coleman, Lena Horne, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks and Nina Simone! 

The show Black Girls Rock!, which airs on BET, salutes those who stood on the frontlines and who endured unfathomable horrors while fighting for liberation. We celebrate the women warriors, past and present, who are crusaders for justice and champions of our people, our communities, our families, our race and our gender. And like the dynamic legends of our past, I know black girls will continue to rock because, as Iyanla Vanzant said in her 2010 Black Girls Rock! Awards acceptance speech, “We have no other choice!”

All are welcome to take part in this celebration of our history and our contributions to mankind, but know that our empowerment does not limit your own power, purpose, potential or worth. There is enough room for all of us to rock together.

Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock! will be hosting a think-tank panel discussion and town hall on race, gender and media messaging in the 21st century. The Black Girls Rock! panel will be held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, N.Y., at 135th & Lenox on Dec. 11, 2013, 5 to 9 p.m.  For more information, please visit: www.eventbrite.com/e/the-black-girls-rock-think-tank-presents-checkin-our-fresh-registration-4449971986.


by on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM
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Replies (1-10):
billsfan1104
by Jules on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM
1 mom liked this
I understand where she is coming from, but to me this just divides people even more.
VooDooB
by weird cheese on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Hashtags are stupid. So is twitter. The end.

GLWerth
by Gina on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

So, do you also believe that "White Girls Rock" is divisive?

Quoting billsfan1104: I understand where she is coming from, but to me this just divides people even more.


Mommabearbergh
by Gold Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM
1 mom liked this

I never got the use of twitter personally it just seemed like a shorter facebook.

Quoting VooDooB:

Hashtags are stupid. So is twitter. The end.


billsfan1104
by Jules on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM
2 moms liked this
Yup and stupid too.

Quoting GLWerth:

So, do you also believe that "White Girls Rock" is divisive?

Quoting billsfan1104: I understand where she is coming from, but to me this just divides people even more.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

I really can't get in to all the twitter nonsense and the hashtag crap. 

Seems some took offense to that BlackGirlsRock and did not want to feel left out so they started their own.   That feeling they had...........they should remember it well as many Black women have felt that excluded for years.


tiffyhamm
by Gold Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM
3 moms liked this


Quoting FromAtoZ:

I really can't get in to all the twitter nonsense and the hashtag crap. 

Seems some took offense to that BlackGirlsRock and did not want to feel left out so they started their own.   That feeling they had...........they should remember it well as many Black women have felt that excluded for years.


Given all the images we see on a daily basis, it's pretty much assumed (to many of us) that White Girls Rock.  That's the whole reason BlackGirlsRock was started. We are bombarded with images of beauty we will never attain, we are constantly being felt as though we are not good enough or pretty enough...not only by white media, but by some other black people as well.  "You aren't light enough...your hair is too thick, too nappy....your lips are far too big...your hips too wide, etc."  You see and hear it so much, you begin to think it.  I have to do a search to find images that mirror my own, they aren't just out there for me to see, I have to seek them out. And knowing how hard it was for me growing up literally hating the skin I was in, I know how so many other girls have it now.  I understood why BGR was started and I think they do great things.  I think they have done a lot to improve the self esteem of so many young black girls.  I WISH there was something like this when I was growing up.  I just started loving myself these past few years.  My husband loved me before I loved myself.

I don't know about the twitter wars, I don't understand twitter, I hate twitter. I do enjoy the hashtags though, lol.  I think the founder should just leave it alone, there was criticism from many when they first started from people who didn't understand it's purpose.  That won't go away, is she going to spend time on every single person that voices their disgust or starts a group or hashtag in response to her program?  It's wasted energy on her part.  She started this to let us know that we are worth something and that we are beautiful and smart and have something to offer the world, she doesn't have to get into "wars" with people who don't understand that her BGR isn't a tool to divide us from white people, but a means to empower and uplift young black girls.  I would focus on my program, my organization, and all the young girls she has helped.  Everything else is just clutter. 

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:44 AM

yup

Quote:

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!


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting tiffyhamm:


Quoting FromAtoZ:

I really can't get in to all the twitter nonsense and the hashtag crap. 

Seems some took offense to that BlackGirlsRock and did not want to feel left out so they started their own.   That feeling they had...........they should remember it well as many Black women have felt that excluded for years.


Given all the images we see on a daily basis, it's pretty much assumed (to many of us) that White Girls Rock.  That's the whole reason BlackGirlsRock was started. We are bombarded with images of beauty we will never attain, we are constantly being felt as though we are not good enough or pretty enough...not only by white media, but by some other black people as well.  "You aren't light enough...your hair is too thick, too nappy....your lips are far too big...your hips too wide, etc."  You see and hear it so much, you begin to think it.  I have to do a search to find images that mirror my own, they aren't just out there for me to see, I have to seek them out. And knowing how hard it was for me growing up literally hating the skin I was in, I know how so many other girls have it now.  I understood why BGR was started and I think they do great things.  I think they have done a lot to improve the self esteem of so many young black girls.  I WISH there was something like this when I was growing up.  I just started loving myself these past few years.  My husband loved me before I loved myself.

I don't know about the twitter wars, I don't understand twitter, I hate twitter. I do enjoy the hashtags though, lol.  I think the founder should just leave it alone, there was criticism from many when they first started from people who didn't understand it's purpose.  That won't go away, is she going to spend time on every single person that voices their disgust or starts a group or hashtag in response to her program?  It's wasted energy on her part.  She started this to let us know that we are worth something and that we are beautiful and smart and have something to offer the world, she doesn't have to get into "wars" with people who don't understand that her BGR isn't a tool to divide us from white people, but a means to empower and uplift young black girls.  I would focus on my program, my organization, and all the young girls she has helped.  Everything else is just clutter. 

Again, thanks for taking the time. 

You have put things in a different perspective and what you have explained makes perfect sense to me.  I can understand, even more, why and how BGR can be such a positive thing for many.


tiffyhamm
by Gold Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting tiffyhamm:


Quoting FromAtoZ:

I really can't get in to all the twitter nonsense and the hashtag crap. 

Seems some took offense to that BlackGirlsRock and did not want to feel left out so they started their own.   That feeling they had...........they should remember it well as many Black women have felt that excluded for years.


Given all the images we see on a daily basis, it's pretty much assumed (to many of us) that White Girls Rock.  That's the whole reason BlackGirlsRock was started. We are bombarded with images of beauty we will never attain, we are constantly being felt as though we are not good enough or pretty enough...not only by white media, but by some other black people as well.  "You aren't light enough...your hair is too thick, too nappy....your lips are far too big...your hips too wide, etc."  You see and hear it so much, you begin to think it.  I have to do a search to find images that mirror my own, they aren't just out there for me to see, I have to seek them out. And knowing how hard it was for me growing up literally hating the skin I was in, I know how so many other girls have it now.  I understood why BGR was started and I think they do great things.  I think they have done a lot to improve the self esteem of so many young black girls.  I WISH there was something like this when I was growing up.  I just started loving myself these past few years.  My husband loved me before I loved myself.

I don't know about the twitter wars, I don't understand twitter, I hate twitter. I do enjoy the hashtags though, lol.  I think the founder should just leave it alone, there was criticism from many when they first started from people who didn't understand it's purpose.  That won't go away, is she going to spend time on every single person that voices their disgust or starts a group or hashtag in response to her program?  It's wasted energy on her part.  She started this to let us know that we are worth something and that we are beautiful and smart and have something to offer the world, she doesn't have to get into "wars" with people who don't understand that her BGR isn't a tool to divide us from white people, but a means to empower and uplift young black girls.  I would focus on my program, my organization, and all the young girls she has helped.  Everything else is just clutter. 

Again, thanks for taking the time. 

You have put things in a different perspective and what you have explained makes perfect sense to me.  I can understand, even more, why and how BGR can be such a positive thing for many.


I've always got time for you ma...I'm doing a few more posts today to see if I want to jump right back in, I don't know yet, but we'll see.

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