BLACK GIRLS ROCK and we don’t get told that often enough so this awards show was what my soul needed. It was two hours of awesome and it made me so proud to see sisters who are changing the world getting the props they deserve. Beverly Bond’s organization is doing something simple yet so necessary, which is showing us that we are amazing. I loved every minute of BET’s broadcast of Black Girls Rock, hosted by Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross, but here are 10 moments that were especially fist pump-worthy (in chronological order).
1. Janelle Monae’s Electric Lady opener – Y’all know I love me some Janelle Monae, partly because her closet is my spirit animal. But the lady is super dope because she’s a gifted musician. She was the perfect opened to this show, bringing energy with her song “Electric Lady.” Her backup dancers kicked it off with a step routine and they jigged behind her throughout. I wanted to rock a JM letterman jacket. LOVE HER! I’ll be over here waiting for her to drop a clothing line that includes blazers, oxfords, cropped pants. BE STILL, MY PREPPY HEART!
2. Marian Wright Edelman – Social Humanitarian Award for her advocacy for the right of kids as president of the Children Defense Fund. She’s a living legend whose work goes back to the Civil Rights Movement as a lawyer in Mississippi. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipents, MacArthur Genius Fellow, Yale Law School grad, and overall epic lady. YES MA’AM!!! Miss Edelman got on that stage and dropped so many gems that my hands couldn’t type them fast enough.
“I want every Black girl hearing my voice to know that YOU are special. Black women rock the cradle and whoever rocks the cradle rocks the future. Don’t let anybody else define you… God gave you your own DNA. Don’t EVER give up. Black women have NEVER given up. We have to reweave the fabric of family and community and we’re going to win because we’re NEVER going to give up!”
We hear you and we salute you! YES! How could you hear that and not wanna get up and do something about something?
3. Girlfriends Reunion onstage – After all these years, I’m still butthurt that Girlfriends didn’t get the finale it deserved. So seeing the ladies together made me giddy. Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White and Jill Marie Jones were on that stage looking like time hadn’t passed. Come on with the GOOD black that don’t crack! Can we get a Girlfriends movie? We’ve had TWO Sex and the City movies. Who do we gotta call to make this happen? Anyway, it was good seeing them. Hey, yall!
4. Mara Brock Akil’s Speech – The Girlfriends introduced the lady responsible for the show as she received the “Showcaller” Award: Mara Brock Akil. I’m a fan of hers because the fact that she’s been able to tell stories of Black women on TV by creating fully-realized characters who aren’t just 2D tropes is an incredibly achievement. I’ve met her twice, and the last time was at the “Being Mary Jane” screening from this summer. She also happens to be super down-to-Earth and a fellow petitenista. Shero much?
Anywho, Mara’s acceptance speech rendered a G so unable to thug. I was all in my feelings when she walked off that stage after dropping so many quotables.
“When there IS an image that resembles us, oftentimes upon closer inspection, it’s not us…Black women, even if nobody else sees you, I SEE YOU…We are worth protecting and we are worth loving. When we dare to walk this world unapologetically…it’s how we put our own pictures up and validate ourselves.”
*throws handkerchief* I’m not crying! There are just onion-cutting ninjas sitting next to me! BUT YESSSSSSSS!!!
5. Kelly Rowland and Sevyn Streeter’s Performance – One of the winners of the evening was Kelly Rowland’s abs, which exist to put the rest of us to shame. I WANT! Her performance with Sevyn Streeter was so dope and fun. Plus when E-V-E started rapping from the rafters, I started doing the Mary J. bop! I approve all of it.
6. Ameena Matthews’ Speech – I didn’t know who Ameena Matthews was before last night but I will be knowing more about her moving forward. The raw passion and fire she brought to Black Girls Rock gave me goosebumps. Ameena was presented with the Community Activist Award for her anti-violence work in Chicago (Violence Interrupter). Holding her prayer beads the entire time, she marveled at the fact that she was on that stage.
”Look at this gold tooth and this scarf and I’m talkin’ about Assalam alaikum. I’m so grateful to God to be here because I didn’t think I was gonna make it past 17. I realize today that I am Sojourner, and I am Harriet. I AM AMEENA MATTHEWS!”
There’s no way I could do her speech justice because it was more than her words. Her power came from how she moved and how her voice got loud because her words just couldn’t be quiet. She brought the house DOWN and I’m so thankful for what she’s doing in Chicago. Don’t call my city “Chiraq”, bro. Respect to Ameena and all those who are working to fight the violence.
7. Misty Copeland’s Grace – Misty was honored with the “Young, Gifted and Black” Award and right after Ameena’s speech, she graced us with some ballet and it was just beautiful. She said: ”I rock because I stand alone but so many stand behind me. Black girls DO rock, and black girls CAN be ballerinas.”
8. Patti LaBelle’s SANG – Not song but SANG. Aunty Patti LaBelle ain’t go there to play with any of y’all. Her performance was dedicated to celebrity publicist Patti Webster and she showed us all that she still got it after all this time. Her voice was effortlessly doing runs like Forrest. PATTI PATTI! I was at home flapping my wings one moment and rocking #BAGGINGFOAF the next.
9. The QUEEN – Queen Latifah was given the Rock Star Award because she’s been in this entertainment game for SO long and she’s touched all areas of it: music, TV, movies. You name it, and she’s cornered it at one point. That’s no small feat. Her words of wisdom were: “NEVER let anyone tell you that you should stand behind them. YOU are the leader, you stand in front…Whatever it is that you do, you have to give back.”
10. Beverly Bond – Creator of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond, gave a stirring speech to remind us all that our voices are important. What she’s created is so phenomenal because more young Black girls need to be empowered and they need to know they’re valuable.
”We cannot be silent on things that matter because we are each a part of the village…We must continue to trail blaze, we must continue to break glass ceilings … we must lift as we climb.”
Like I said, every moment felt like a highlight so congrats to Venus Williams for the Star Power Award, Jennifer Hudson for the super cute new pixie cut and performance, Ledisi for the SNATCHED body and rodded locs that channeled the non-cowardly lion, Amber P. Riley for effortlessly slaying her performance vocally AND Alice Smith for bringing the house down with that song!
And my one side-eye of the evening came when Mariah Carey presented Patti LaBelle with the Living Legend Award, dressed like the Little Mermaid, R&B edition. Like if Ariel decided to dye her fin black and gold, don a black bra top and wear a wig. You know what? I’ma just move on because I wanna keep this post shade-minimal. I’ma have to write another post about Mariah’s sense of style tomorrow or something.
Anywho, it was REALLY awesome to see two people I know be featured for their work. Eunique Jones Gibson got a shoutout for her Because of them we can campaign, which I’m SUCH a fan of! I even have the t-shirt. And my BYP100 fam Rahiel Tesfamariam got props for her work in social justice and for her site UrbanCusp. So proud of these ladies! YALL BETTER WERK!
ALL the props to the Black Girls Rock team for putting together a dope show! YALL DID THAT! Thank you!
Didja watch? Lemme know your thoughts!
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Pictures from BET’s Twitter (and text added by me).