Black Girls Rock! is not just an awards show, it’s a year-round organization that helps empower young women. Its founder, DJ Beverly Bond has a summer camp that assists young women in finding their passion and their voice. Jacque Reid talks to Bond about what she hopes young women will get out of her program.
“We are in a time period of social unrest like we’ve never seen before,” says Bond. “Civic engagement and social action is a big part of this year’s conference. It’s important for them to find their voices and find their own truth and their own agency. We’re trying to help them do that by offering workshops in cultural literacy, media literacy and financial literacy. We have empowerment classes, we have great TED talks. They have the arts and poetry and music. Helping our kids define their voices especially in this time where they’re seeing so much negativity directed at them and when educational systems are not not necessarily giving our kids the best we’re coming in and doing the work that needs to be done.”
Bond has been doing Black Girls Rock Inc! for years before the award show was televised. Her organization was founded to raise the self-esteem of Black girls and also, to teach them to DJ as Bond, then and now offers DJ’ing classes. Over the years, the organization evolved into the multifaceted one you see today.
A young woman at the festival asked about the safety of her two brothers, one younger and one older, and the discussion that ensued was as Bond described it “spicy.” (Some people think that altercations should be deescalated regardless, others believe that legally, you are allowed to and should assert your rights.) The young woman who spoke out and started crying is the daughter of the mayor of a major city. As you can imagine, no consensus was reached.
“There is a time when we have to stop thinking that we have to stay in our place and be calm,” says Bond. “But at the same time, concerned parents including principal Nadia Lopez, said that she has to make a conscious effort to bring it down. It doesn’t mean that you don’t fight the power, maybe you just don’t do it in the moment.”
Bond says she’s excited about the future after the conference.
“They are prepared to be leaders and to focus on bringing out the best of what they have to offer. They are prepared to try to make a difference in the world in a positive way. So I am hopeful.”
To support Black Girls Rock and Bond’s work, head to their Twitter account (their main website appears to be down at this time) for more information.
Click the link above to hear the entire interview.