For the past few years, I've looked forward to Beverly Bond's Black Girls Rock! celebration. Unfortunately, what was once pure excitement has become tinged with uneasiness.
The pushback from diehard opponents of BGR now accompanies each event: the accusations of reverse racism, the ones who cry for inclusion of all women and girls, and the unabashed haters of well... Black women.
Given the venomous attitudes towards young Black girls -- Mo'Ne Davis, Quvenzhané Wallis, Sasha and Malia Obama just to name a few -- Black Girls Rock! is more necessary than ever. These girls did absolutely nothing (but be Black) to encounter the kind of hatred that has been directed at them.
The BGR movement counters these types of assaults. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that affirmation of one thing does not necessarily mean negation of another. (Note, this only holds true in the case of affirmation without the underlying intent of establishing hierarchy.)
Is it so difficult to understand that human beings have a basic need for a sense of belonging? I suppose not if you fail to acknowledge the humanity of said human beings.
Although it will probably fall on deaf ears, I must write this out of my system. If you don't understand why Black Girls Rock! matters, let me help you out.
1. It matters because somewhere, there's a four-year-old brown girl walking around with a yellow towel on her head tucked behind her ears. She's already aware of what she is not. She understands what the world reveres and it does not resemble her.
2. It matters because no amount of Proactiv, hair dye or plastic surgery will ever remove her Blackness. Her skin is not optional -- barring non-reversible, chemical intervention that is less than convincing in various cases.
3. It matters because she is well aware of the constant messaging that neglects the wholeness of her story. She longs to explore her potential far outside the all too familiar one-dimensional portrayal.
4. It matters because she will doubt her worth time and time again, when the world challenges her audacity to shine without apology.
5. It matters because her confidence is at stake. Trust that she has had to fight to cultivate and/or maintain any sense of morale she possesses.
6. It matters because she will carry wounds into adulthood that will remain unaddressed. They will seep beneath the façade of strength she is supposed to carry -- yet another stereotype.
7. It matters because two or three contemporary icons and a handful of notable ancestors should not bear the weight of her aspirations. Nor should she wonder if the club of exceptionalism is too exclusive for her to join.
8. It matters because she has not been acquainted with her multitude of sisters impacting the world in myriad ways. Their stories fuel her desire to do the same.
9. It matters because she is constantly in danger of mistaking her invisibility for irrelevance.
10. It matters because she no longer wishes to remain silent to appease those who would rather that she remains respectfully invisible. Sacrificing her brilliance is too high a price to pay for their comfort.
In summary, it matters because some days she needs to know that she is seen and recognized as the valuable individual she is. We all know self-love comes from the inside out but it's a helluva lot easier to achieve in a supportive environment.
Black Girls Rock! has no intention other than to uplift and empower a segment of society either ignored or often demeaned. I look forward to the day when it's no longer necessary but that day is not today.
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