"Black Girls Rock!" Awards Highlight Women of Color
by Olivia Gauthier
On April 5th, BET (Black Entertainment Television) hosted its annual Black Girls Rock! Award show. Founded by Beverly Bond in 2006, Black Girls Rock! has recognized the accomplishments of exceptional women of color for ten years. This year’s show saw a number of honorees including Rihanna, Shonda Rhimes, and Amandla Stenberg.
Formerly a model, Beverly Bond initially got into the music business as a DJ. Her impressive skills have put her in the company of many celebrities such as Erykah Badu, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jay Z. Bond founded Black Girls Rock! in 2006 as a youth empowerment mentoring organization. From its start, it has promoted the arts among young women of color. The nonprofit also encourages conversation and analysis about the portrayal of women of color in the media.
In 2010, the first ever Black Girls Rock! Award show premiered. Partnering with BET, Bond was able to spread her message of empowerment to a vast audience. The premiere attracted the attention of a staggering 2.7 million viewers, earning itself the number one spot on the chart for black households. The show earned itself a NAACP Image Award for outstanding variety series or special.
This year’s show was hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross, actress in the hit show Black-ish and daughter of Diana Ross. The evening began with Tracee donning a number of different wigs and accessories as she paid homage to various black, female musicians including Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, and her own mother.
A number of speeches with uplifting messages were made. Different women spoke about “black girl magic” and the pride they felt in themselves and in other women of color who made strides before them. Gladys Knight spoke on difference, stating, "our differences, our colors, we're like a garden. We're all beautiful." Shonda Rhimes spoke to girls of color everywhere saying, “You already rock.” In addition to speeches there were musical performances by Monica, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, and others.
A particularly memorable moment was an appearance by former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. As she stepped out on stage to introduce Bond, she received a standing ovation. Viewers at home did not share in the excitement and took to social media to accuse Clinton of taking interest in black culture solely for garnering support during the presidential race.
Black Girls Rock! is a time to honor women of color who may otherwise not receive recognition for their work in the arts. “I started Black Girls Rock! because I love us and I believe in us,” said Bond as she addressed the audience. The award show celebrates trailblazers and showcases role models for young women of color. This award show proves that #blackgirlmagic isn't just smoke and mirrors—it's the future.