Black Girls Rock made it a point to make every Black girl or woman watching feel important, necessary and free to be who you are. The ladies behind HelloBeautiful interviewed a few beautiful black Queens on the pink carpet entering Black Girls Rock and asked them what it meant to be a Queen.
Michelle Williams said a Queen in three words is resilient, honorable and victorious. Erica Ash pointed out that a Queen is aware of who she is and where she comes from and is one that helps others. Queen Latifah herself defined a queen as one who owns their identity, power and is confident in her womanhood, "Being a female and being proud of it".
As a Black Girl who Rocks, I am a Queen because I believe in the strength and power of who I am and I am unafraid to go after my goals and dreams.
Every so often, BET airs programs that actually help the Black community and one such program aired tonight, Black Girls Rock. Each year as it did this year, Black Girls Rock inspires and empowers Black women all over the world.
Honorees this year included "Living Legend" Patti LaBelle, "Rock Star" Queen Latifah, "Social Humanitarian" Marian Wright Edelman, "Star Power" Venus Williams, "Young, Gifted & Black" Misty Copeland, "Community Activist" Ameena Matthews and "Shot Caller" Mara Brock Akil.
"Creative Visionary" Mara Brock-Akil left a special message to Black women in her acceptance speech. As a writer and producer of shows like "Girlfriends" and "The Game", this business woman creates shows that validate the real lives of Black women. She stated in her acceptance speech that Black women have to validate each other especially in an America that does not validate and believe in the beauty, creativity and strength of them. Her latest business venture "Being Mary Jane" which also airs on BET is a series that shows black women in a light that they have not been seen before.
My response to her acceptance speech and my admiration for her as a black female writer, inspires me to contribute to organizations and programs that empower and encourage Black women to go after their dreams, be who they are and let nothing stop them from reaching their goals.
Meanwhile, one third of Black twitter was too obsessed with "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" to pay attention to the show. While the show is called "Black Girls Rock" and does seek to encourage young black women to be strong and go after their dreams, Black women of all ages can be inspired from the show. But when the ratings fight with a reality show that people watch simply to see black women fight with each other, what messages are we sending to our children, and those outside of our community that judge us on behalf of shows like that?
If you haven't watched this year's "Black Girls Rock" check it out and tell me what inspires you about the show and what goals you now have.
The lovely people behind IMARA Woman magazine, hosted their 12th annual Health Ministry Empowerment Tour this month and I was fortunate to attend the tour on the last stop in Columbia at Eau Claire High School.
As a social media marketing expert for MakeMeOverEb.com I attended the "Ask the Doctor" session before the Make Me Over Eb! makeover session, which discussed several topics related to health and wellness of Black women. At the "Ask the Doctor" session, which focus was on illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and menopause, I learned that as a young woman in my twenties the way I treat my body now will impact greatly the illnesses I develop as an older woman. By eating healthier, reducing meat, fat and grease intake along with daily exercise, black women can extend the length of life and reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses. Leading a healthier life can even reduce the symptoms of menopause later in life.
Make Me Over Eb's makeover session along with the help of Karizma the Stylist put on a presentation that both wowed the crowd and gave out valuable information. They along with myself as an assistant, gave out gift bags, surprise giveaways and even did a few live makeovers. Ebony Looney the Eb of MakeMeOverEb.com stuck to the IMARA Woman theme that "One Small Change" can make a huge difference. By simply adding a colored scarf to an all black outfit one can spice up and ordinarily plain look. Scarves can be worn several ways and with winter season well on it's way, they can be found all over the place.
Karizma the Stylist gave a few hair care tips as she specializes in Natural Hairstyling, Braids, Weave Techniques, Commercial Hair Installations. With just edge control cream, water and a few bobby pins she transformed the hairstyles of two audience members. Taking care of black hair is defiantly work but with the right tools and a steady stylist that knows your hair type and needs you can achieve the look you desire.
The sessions followed a Luncheon that featured a pink inspired fashion show with models from toddlers to our wisest members of our community. The lunch provided was a healthy plate of brown rice, green beans, baked chicken, salad and a multigrain role that was completely delicious.
On the weekend of September 18th through the 21st, the College
of Charleston hosted a conference titledUnleashing
the Black Erotic: Gender & Sexuality, Passion, Power & Praxis.
The conference featured a variety of presenters from colleges all across the
This conference was the first of its kind to me where I saw
and heard academia engage in discussion and research about gender and sexuality
of black people.
The first panel was titledVisionary Poetics: Imag(in)ing
the Black Erotic.This
panel gave us a working definition of the term eroticism as Charlene
Regester of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill defined Eroticism
as hyper sexualized image of women in relation to their body. This first panel
gave a historical definition of the way society began to view black sexuality.
From Jean Toomer's "Cane" to Dorothy Dandridge films and the
poetry of Essex Hemphill, black sexuality began with a negative
Joan Morgan's Keynote
address set the tone for the rest of the conference with her lecture
onThe Pleasure Principle:
The search for politics of Pleasure in Black Feminist Thought.She begins with the thought
that there is an
absence of language that speaks across boards and that is "If you don't
speak for yourself then other people speak for you". Not telling our own
stories results in a misguided view of the image of black women and we thus
become victims of other people's image of us, particularly those who are
outside of our communities. The solution then for black women is to identify our own desire
and eroticism and tell our stories of pleasure without the trauma and violence
that is often accompanied by it, much like the women in Tyler Perry films. The
final thought is that black women had to and continue
to experience some form of pleasure in order to simply survive.
Whatever is someone's pleasure that brings them happiness or joy then who are
we to judge, especially when we as often as we
can engage in our forms of pleasure.
Day two of the conference focused on the ways
Black women engage in forms of pleasure and display their sexuality.
Conseula Frances of College of Charleston, describes in her paperAfrican American Romance Fiction
and the Pleasures of Vulnerabilityreasons black women should read
romance literature. In many of the popular stories about black women embracing
their sexuality, they are either seen as prostitutes and sluts or face some
sort of repercussion for enjoying the pleasure of sex. The difference
of romance novels is that the main goal of a Romance novel is to provide
pleasure to women. These novels allow women to be their most vulnerable selves
and enjoy sex with a tall dark and handsome hero and often times, risks his
life to pleasure the woman. As cheesy as these stories might sound,
they however provide a reverse to the degradation of Tyler Perry
films, which seek to curse Black women for enjoying pleasure.
The final panel on Day two explored the roles of Women and
sex in Hip Hop. SaraEllen Strongman of University of Pennsylvania discusses in
Ambiguity: Janelle Monae's Gender Performance as Liberatory Politics,the way Soul singer Janelle
Monae is able to define her own sexuality. By her dress, music and behavior in
interviews, Janelle Monae is able to preserve her erotic power and protect
herself from those who might try to destroy her image. Monae has a new age
and psychedelic soul soundthat is
quite different from the rest of her R&B contemporaries, not to
mention her self-defined black and white uniform. She is almost always seen in
a black and white suit ensemble and never wears anything too low or too short.
Monae, quoted in an interview that her music is her work and just like her
parents who everyday went to work and wore uniforms, she does the same. Janelle
Monae is then able to control the image of her sexuality and keep everyone
guessing by choosing not to play into the prescribed images of beauty and
sexuality, a lesson for us all.
The conference was overall
highly engaging and enlightening and I plan to personally to more
writing that brings me pleasure, read some romance novels
and reevaluate my personal wardrobe.
Here we are at the peak of the year 2013 and Black hair is still being criticized and cause for judgement on one's character. A few weeks ago, the nation caught news that 7 year old Tiana Parker's dreadlocks were a cause for concern to change the school's dress code policy to ban ""hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, Mohawks and other faddish styles".
With a growing number of black women taking the transition and "big chop" as it were to go natural, one would think that america was becoming more accepting of black women wearing their hair as nature intended. But in certain places in the nation, particularly Tulsa, Oklahoma, natural hair is not okay. Even more closer to home, I found today that my black body and black hair in an overwhelmingly White environment was also cause for huge disruption.
Today, I styled my hair for work in my go-to nappy roots style otherwise known as my back up plan for when my roots get too thick for me to handle alone without professional help. For this style, I washed my hair then braided it in cornrows which I removed in the morning for a purposely crinkled and kinky style. The response by my young White students was utter confusion and concern. An otherwise bouncy and natural looking style sent them into a frenzy of questions about what had happened to me to make my hair look so crazy, wild and weird.
Since the days of slavery and the following years of the dreaded Jim Crow era black people have been forced to tame our roots, take down our tone and in other words, not to do anything that might be a cause for attention. The fact of the matter is, that in our most natural state, this is who we are and no one should make us conform ourselves to make them feel comfortable. Every sort of black art; song, dance, fashion, hairstyle, has been made of purity of us defining who we are despite the corners we have been pushed into.
My advise, is to support black purity in its most natural state, whether you are natural or not, let no one discredit who you are, because it does not fit some sort of genre. Black people are beautifully made and create beautiful art.