Honestly when I went to the Paradise Theater in the Bronx for the taping of the Black Girls Rock! Awards show three weeks ago my expectations weren’t very high. I had attended the last two awards ceremonies where previous honorees included cultural groundbreakers like Iman, Erykah Badu and Sonia Sanchez and featured uplifting performances by singers like Janelle Monae, Faith Evans and Bilal and I was quite impressed. But this was BET and I’ve seen their various awards shows and they are rarely respectful of Black females (remember Lil Wayne and the scene with the 10-year old girls?) so I went with respect, but with reservations.
I was, however, proud that my home hood was selected as the site for this, the first BET presentation of the 5th annual awards gala that honors women who “make a difference.” The Boogie Down birthed hip hop so I knew it was more than capable territory for bringing forth this initiative in a powerful way. When the lights dimmed in the very understated theater and Jill Scott sauntered on stage singing “Golden” it was immediately evident that Black Girls Rock! was about to not only inspire those of us chilling on the Grand Concourse that night, but this fantastic organization, founded by NYC-based deejay Beverly Bond, was about to inspire a nation of Black grrrls to embrace all that we are and all that we can and should be. The show, which airs tonight @8pm on BET did more than entertain (and it does that supremely), but it affirmed. When Ledisi, Jill Scott, Kelly Price and Marsha Ambrosius performed Nina Simone’s classic “Four Women,” I felt way deep down in my bones that being Black and female was the most righteous, beautiful thang I could ever hope to be. Without postulating and pontificating you got the message. You felt the message. I think Iyanla Vanzant summed it up best when she accepted her award and declared, “Black Girls Rock because we have no other choice!”
Please tune in tonight at 8pm on BET to see this can’t be missed broadcast. This year’s honorees include Dr. Vanzant, Raven Symone, Missy Elliott, Ruby Dee and many more. Performances include straight-up showstoppers by Monica, Jill Scott, Ledisi and Fantasia.