Black women honoring and celebrating each other seems to piss a lot of people off. Yesterday, when “Black Girls Rock” aired and trended on Twitter, several black men and white women banded together to create the #whitegirlsrock hashtag.
The thinking went: if they created a “White Girls Rock,” show or hashtag, it’d be considered racist. How grossly unfair to white women!
Where are the hashtags when black women are systematically shut out of every other avenue of popular culture from the fashion industry to Awards season? Enter radio silence.
The gross underrepresentation of black women in the media sparked the need for “Black Girls Rock” in the first place but that fact was lost on the white girls and black men who participated in the hashtag last night. White girls have the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes, Vogue, Vanity Fair, the entire fashion industry, commercial advertisements, Fox News and the revisionist history books to tell them that they rock. Where can black women go to see themselves represented positively in the media instead of being the butt of stereotypes or being ignored altogether?
“Being Mary Jane” writer Mara Brock Akil captured that painful reality on “Black Girls Rock,” when she said: “We walk around in our home called America, and yet we don’t see our picture on the wall.” White girls see their picture on the mantel in a gold frame but we’re absent. When we are represented in the popular imagination, we’re loud, unlovable, fat, angry, lazy, promiscuous and ugly.
That’s why Akil believes it’s crucial that we create platforms like “Black Girls Rock” to remind ourselves of our worth and value. “When we see ourselves,” she said, “we’re reminded that we’re worth protecting, worth loving and require nothing less than respect.”
Ironically, only last week, the topic #stopblackgirls2013 trended. Several black men used the hashtag to tweet humiliating and degrading images of black women. They posted hateful statements dismissing black women as a group. It’s the proliferation of attitudes like this that makes Black Girls Rock! absolutely necessary.
The Black Girls Rock! Foundation was founded in 2006 to celebrate, empower and uplift black women of color. It champions positive ideals like non-violence, community service, academic excellence, health and wellness, and sisterhood. The Awards show honors various women who are dedicating their lives to making a difference, from young girls to legendary musicians.
If you ask me, we need a “Black Girls Rock” special every week if not everyday. But it only lasts for two hours and premieres once a year. And that one 120-minute program is enough to elicit hateful and disrespectful comments from white women and black men who would rather shame us than see us affirm one another.