Watching Beverly Bond’s Black Girls Rock last week let me know that I need to develop a specific style. In all of the ways that word applies. In doing so, I’ll allow myself to be seen in a way that flatters myself and others. The show aired nights ago and it was a literal parade of stylish activity. Most of the women, like Brooklyn’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy principal, Nadia Lopez, have gotten here through the power of will. But others, like 10-year-old entrepreneur, Gabrielle Jordan, come with innocent ambition. My time so far has been used to create another platform for them to shine. Now we must consider what their excellence shows the millions of other Black girls, whose possibilities are just as great.
Representation validates us; it inspires, and changes. Bond says the phrase she coined is “a critical and necessary affirmation.” Her use of the word ‘critical’ is important here for two reasons. I believe she means critical as a synonym for necessary, but it is even further defined as a partner to analysis, or being of the utmost importance. Black women’s visibility is critical to many of our self-esteem and belief in our own potential. Black Girls Rock’s diverse celebrants, performers, and staff, are the perfect place for Black women to look to see the greatest versions of ourselves. But not in the sense that they are above us. Black Girls Rock is a welcoming experience for all Black girls to find, and celebrate, our unique styles.
Honoree, and decorated filmmaker, Ava Duvernay’s style is simultaneously bold and understated. She speaks with certainty, dresses in mighty colors, but moves about with a confident ease. Her signature, “Onward!,” speaks to her philosophy plainly; another nod to her simplistic yet powerful vision.
Living legend, Cicely Tyson, opened her speech similarly saying, “One day at a time, sweet Jesus.” Her statement is surely informed by her status as an elder in the community. Wisdom in seven words or less.
Faith Evans, R&B singer and Grammy-award winning artist, gave a minimal performance that still managed to fill up the room. J.Cole’s soulful “Be Free” was the song choice, but Evans laced her rendition with womanly grit.
Every Black girl in attendance graced the room with her own merited style. From First Lady Michelle Obama’s commanding elegance, to the simple joy displayed by those who were just there to enjoy the night.