It all started with this simple, yet great idea to design a t-shirt filled with all of the names of Black women in the world that rocked. But when Black Girl's Rock (BGR) Founder realized that she ran out of space on the t-shirts to include every girls name, she had an epiphany. That "ah-ha" moment led to the creation of a mentoring program, which would soon turn into one of the biggest anticipated awards show BET Networks would broadcast. Four years later, Black Girls Rock is bigger and better and inspiring young Black girls everywhere.
EBONY: Beverly, can you let our readers in on the real background of Black Girls Rock?
Beverly Bond: It was an idea I had for a t-shirt to include the names of Black girls that rocked and I literally had this big epiphany all at one moment. I knew the t-shirt could be really dope, and as I was writing down all of these Black girls that rock, I ran out of space for all the names to be included on the t-shirt. As I’m looking at the list, I’m thinking: “How come this is missing? How come our young girls don’t know about these great women and where we come from? And how come these messages aren’t out there in the world? That was back in 2006. There was, and still is, this very one-sided message to women of color. It’s an alarming situation that needed to be dealt with.
EBONY: Have you known all along that a part of your purpose was to help young women and girls?
BB: I think BGR was just a continuation of what my place in this world is and what I’ve been paying attention to. I’ve been able to use my platform to be able to make a difference. I think that everybody has their own thing [of the world] that they get to see and I think that being a DJ was my platform. This whole thing came to me through music. Even the messages of women came to me through music. Being a DJ, I was paying more attention to the negative messages. A lot of people hum along to most of the degrading songs in the world, not realizing that those messages are there. Sometimes people don't even know the messages are there.
EBONY: I’m guilty of that. I have to admit that.
BB: You know, me too. I mean as a DJ I pay more attention, but there are songs that are definitely more degrading than others. And not in judgment, but there has got to be some care and concern about what’s hitting the minds of the youth.
EBONY: And balance. I just feel like there is no balance. I can remember growing up hearing a little bit of raunchy music here and there, but it was a little more positivity. What happened?
BB: Right, and to have a lack of balance within our community and then an absence [of positive images of ourselves] outside of our community, it sends a dangerous message to our girls that they don’t matter. And they start to feel that the only way that they are valuable is if they compromise their integrity and their dignity. That’s a very dangerous message to send to young girls and young boys.
EBONY:What kind of push back did you receive when you first began Black Girls Rock?
BB: When I first started it, I initially went to women in the industry who I thought would actually speak out on this kind of thing. I never approached with this “holier than thou” attitude, though. You know I’m a DJ, so I can’t even come from that position. But what I found was that a lot of women didn’t want to be involved because at the time, it seemed to be that “speaking up” wasn’t the popular thing to do. So I did it myself. I turned the press onto the work I was doing and that’s how I got the ball rolling on BGR. But what I found was that the press would interview me and they would always ask about what I’m wearing and who’s at my party! And I’m like okay but I’m doing this. Soon, everybody was like, “Oh, My, Gosh, what can I do to help?’ A lot of Black women of color, all around the world, have felt the injustice towards them. It’s like we’ve kind of sat there for a long time being picked on. You know what I mean? It's like anytime we spoke up against the injustices, we were "angry" or we had "problems." I knew to approach this in a way where I wasn’t pointing the finger at someone.
EBONY: I think there are a lot of women in the world doing something like this, but you had a special