Beverly Bond has authored what will be one of the most inspiring literatures in a long time, rounding up nearly 60 inspiring, notable black women to offer lessons and gems from their own experience. The Book, “Black Girls Rock! Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth.” features interviews and excerpts from women as varied as ballerina Misty Copeland and news host Joy-Ann Reid.
Activist Angela Davis talked about how the 2016 election was a wake-up call — an “overt rise” to racism, patriarchy, and white supremacy that should be analyzed — and how black women have always been freedom fighters “on the front lines” of their community. Singer Solange Knowles-Ferguson explored the thought process behind her album “A Seat at the Table,” and the dynamic, spiritual ties to black women’s hair. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, known as “Auntie Maxine” to admirers, talked about the importance of embracing the word “resist,” and how her own conviction and determination have been fostered by a long list of black female mentors and teachers.
Bond, who grew up in St. Mary’s County, began her career as a model in New York after high school. Working with major agencies like Wilhelmina, Bond said, she found modeling afforded her things — like her first turntables — but it wasn’t something she enjoyed. She said modeling often held models to a European standard of beauty and that beat down her confidence, with complaints from casting directors ranging from criticism of Bond’s natural hair, to expecting her to “calm down her look”, she found a safe place DJing but hip-hop and found that the music business could be just as dismissive and problematic for black women as the modeling industry. People often underestimated her and her hard work because she was a woman and a model, and in hip-hop, black women were often criticized for their roles in music videos, despite these being “the limited opportunities that black girls had to see themselves in a glamorized way,” the derogatory names used to refer to black women in hip-hop further compounded this as well.
Years later, in 2006, Bond created Black Girls Rock! while brainstorming the names of inspirational black women for a T-shirt. She wanted to display black female icons and she-roes who “rocked the world” — from Harriet Tubman to Beyonce — women who deserved awards, but were sometimes an afterthought in mainstream media. The idea quickly blossomed into a youth empowerment group and a series of mentorship programs, including a DJ academy, which taught young girls how to strive for excellence and become innovators through DJing. And she launched the awards show, hosting the inaugural event at Brooklyn bookshop Powerhouse Arena, at which she honored DJ Jazzy Joyce and female rapper MC Lyte. Writer and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, who contributed to Bond’s book with an empowering excerpt on black hair, called Black Girls Rock! a full-blown movement. The idea for the book, which features excerpts from notable women’s speeches, blurbs about historical figures like Tubman and Ruby Bridges, and original interviews from supermodel Naomi Campbell and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, came along a few years ago in hopes of capturing the inspiration of the awards show.