Now more than ever, it's important to celebrate amazing Black women.
I always look forward to fall. I love the weather, like spring but crisper, and I don’t have to take my allergy meds to function. And of course, good leather and opaque tights invigorate most outfits. Thanksgiving is cool to catch up with family I usually don’t see, so is attending Homecoming at my alma mater to see old friends and running through DC for Congressional Black Caucus Weekend. But what I look forward to with the anticipation of a child on Christmas season is all the award shows honoring Black women.
This week there have been three. Last Sunday, Black Girls Rock (BET) honoring gospel legend Shirley Caesar, actress Taraji P. Henson, activist Angela Davis, and actress Tatyana Ali. Last night was a double header. ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul team presented the 3rd Annual Women Behind The Music Series honoring singer/songwriter Monica, music industry executive Phillana Williams and music industry power-broker, manager and executive, Mona Scott-Young. The Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network also held their third annual awards, recognizing singers Estelle Darlings and Keri Hilson, radio host Egypt Sherrod, and magazine editor (Billboard) Danyel Smith.
Despite the celebratory and feel-good nature of these events, each time one occurs, I hear grumblings, wondering why they are necessary. “Why does it have to be Black girls who rock?” they ask. “Why can’t it just be girls, or people?” “They” say it’s exclusionary and divisive to only acknowledge one group.
So let me break it down why it matters: There are too many Black women who deserve recognition and don’t get their just due. Our celebs, the ones whose music or art or work touch our spirits, inspire us and make us proud, don’t always get the nod they deserve. We’re also bombarded with images of Black women that don’t mirror the best of who we are or give a proper reflection of our scoop. If we don’t acknowledge our leaders, our artists, our inspirations with kudos, how then can we expect anyone else to do the same? How too, can we expect our girls to be upstanding women who carry themselves with purpose when we don’t take the time to acknowledge those who do?
Last year, ESSENCE celebrated its milestone 40th anniversary with a very swank awards show in New York honoring forty fierce and fabulous Black women. I was pleased to see several women had brought their daughters along to witness all those empowered, purposeful, accomplished Black women in one room, including Diahann Carroll, Valerie Jarrett, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and many more. Producer (“A Different World”) and author Susan Fales-Hill and gospel songstress Tina Campbell from Mary Mary were among those who brought their girls to the event. In case there was any doubt as to the necessity of having them attend, Fales-Hill explained it best. “It was important to me that she see us at our best,” she said of her daughter, about six. “I wanted her to see what she will and can become.”
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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