Heart & Soul, November 2010

This weekend we will be saying it loud, we are Black women and most certainly proud. The Black Girls Rock! Awards will be televised for the first time Sunday evening on BET. The yearly event is an extension of the community organization Black Girls Rock! founded by celebrity DJ Beverly Bond. This year’s honorees and performers include Jill Scott, Raven-Symoné, Ruby Dee, Missy Elliot spotlights, Iyana Vanzant and more. We caught up with Bond to discuss the groundbreaking event and beating the stereotypes of Black women.

HEART & SOUL: Congrats on the awards making it to a national broadcast. How did you grow this from an intimate gathering to a nationally televised event?
BEVERLY BOND: I have always seen this awards show as big as this and knew it was this powerful and worthy. I’ve been talking to B.E.T and other networks for a couple years. In 2007 Susan Taylor said on the stage, “Why isn’t this on TV?” It has built organically over the last four years, and it’s just amazing. Some people remember when we did our first one in Brooklyn and honored MC Lyte and MC Jazzy Joyce. Even though it was more intimate before, the power and message are still just as strong. People still get it. That’s the beauty of going grand without losing the feeling.

HEART & SOUL: Along with Raven-Symoné and Ruby Dee, this year’s honorees include Africa.com founder Teresa Clarke and Major General Marcelite J. Harris, the country’s highest ranking Black woman in the Department of Defense. Was it a priority to have a diverse group of backgrounds represented?
BOND: It was always important for Black Girls Rock! to highlight women of color from a variety of backgrounds, because we aren’t seeing that in the media, television roles, videos and commercials. We don’t have many representations of ourselves. So one of our initiatives is to highlight women from all walks of life who are doing amazing things. It’s not hard to find super accomplished dynamic Black women. We also had a wide variety of women perform and not all mainstream pop artists. I had people say thanks for introducing them to Ledisi. I had no idea people didn’t know who she was.

HEART & SOUL: One of the highlights of the night was the performance of “Four Women” and the idea that my little sister can see a Nina Simone song on BET is phenomenal.
BOND: Exactly! This is a great partnership and a great time for BET and they wholeheartedly support this movement. They pushed to have this one and it works really well coming from our community. This is my dream. I’ve wanted to be a television producer for a minute, so to get to be executive producer on my own show is what I live for. From the time the show started, every moment was just amazing. All the acceptance speeches were so sincere and the performances were out of this world.

HEART & SOUL: Definitely! Unfortunately, Black women sometimes are stereotyped as being catty to one another, so it’s great to see the sense of community with this show.
BOND: The Black Girls Rock! mission exudes that. When we started in 2007, we had Gabrielle Union, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Susan Taylor, and all these women feeling empowered together. When the women got together to sing, there were probably people thinking they wouldn’t do that, but why would you think that, because they will. People expect diva attitudes but that’s not us. Even with Naomi Campbell last year, she was honored to be there. Pam Grier flew from another country to be there. It’s always been a united front from the girls we mentor to the awards, it’s a sisterhood.

Tune in to the Black Girls Rock! Awards on Sunday, November 7th at 8pm EST on BET.

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