Black Girls Rule, Rock and Represent

Trace Magazine has said it for years, “Black Girls Rule!”

I, like many of my peers in the fashion and entertainment industries hotly anticipate the stateside release of the July issue of Vogue Italia, which features in its entirety, only black models. Other than commenting (#39) on Cathy Horyn’s New York Times “On the Runway” blog entry, Beauty and Soul, I’d pretty much planned to remain mum on the subject until I actually got a chance to peruse a copy. I will address it next week after its July 15 newsstand date.

However, this week is bookended by still other notions of Black women’s presence and perception in the media.

A panel discussion of women, “Am I My Sister’s Keeper?” convened in response to the largely exploitive and degrading representation of young black women in hip-hop culture as part of the larger BET series Hip Hop vs. America was scheduled to air a couple of weeks ago. The segment was initially preempted, but when panelists Esther Armah, Moya Bailey, Beverly Bond (whose Black Girls Rock is on a mentoring outreach mission to empower young women of color) and Michaela Angela Davis raised their passionate voices in advocacy for the segment, thus our community of young women, BET listened and aired the show this past Saturday night. For those who didn’t tune in you can (with a bit of effort) find the segment on BET on Blast. In an impassioned plea for us to watch and more importantly, respond, Michaela is rallying the troops:

WE NEED TO FLOOD THEM WITH OUR VOICES it will make it better as we lobby for more/better programs. PLEASE Y’ALL, DO THIS. our girls need us right NOW.

Speaking up counts, individual voices matter and become collective voices, voices which bring about change. (We are bearing witness to this fact at the national level as we prepare for the real possibility of an Obama Inaugural.) I spoke up in a letter to BET executives thanking them for providing the forum for the discussion and imploring them to continue moving forward to bring more balanced representation of our women to their airwaves. I received an immediate response from Reginald Hudlin, President/Entertainment affirming the goal to do just that.

My cousin, Q


This coming Friday, Brown Girls Burlesque takes the stage at the Primordial Punk Debutante Ball at Galapagos as part of the Afro-Punk festival. These fierce ladies–adults making empowered choices– embrace their sensuality and sexuality and have turned the vaudevillian notion of burlesque on its lily-white ear. From their manifesto:

Brown = all women of color*

Brown Girls Burlesque (BGB) is a collective of women of color dedicated to creating our own reflection in an art form that we have supported and enjoyed but traditionally, has not well-represented people of color.

Our mission is to take our rightful place on the stage to celebrate our cultures, sexuality and artistry with humor, fierceness and nudity.

*In case you really need clarification, all self-identified women of African/Black/Caribbean, Arab, Asian & Pacific Islander, Latina, and Native/Indigenous descent.

Swing out sisters.


6 Responses

  1. Rock, Rule +Represent!
    love it
    Black Girls Unite!
    thanks mama


  2. hi Sharon,
    i agree i will say mum as well, until i receive my copy of
    Vogue Italia, but for sure i will get a copy.
    be happy to be happy.

    as ever
    Montgomery Xx

  3. To whom should we address these concerns and where exactly should they be sent?

  4. The BET email address protocol is this: first name.last name Top executives there include Debra Lee, Reginald Hudlin, Stephen Hill and Keith Brown.

    And you, HotnessGrrrl, I’m sure have some spot-on commentary. So yes, please throw your substantive voice into the mix.

  5. Today July 11th, it was in (Vogue/Italia July/08). It’s wrapped in plastic, so don’t think you can run in and just scan the pages. This collectors issue is $20.99. Shot, mostly by, Steven Meisel (I want his check), there is a fair amount of nudity (most just topless), with one photo of an artist rendering that is X. The looks are severe, bold, outrageous, and fabulously high fashion with a little inspiration coming from Grace Jones as they Pulled Up To The Bumper, and Toccarra Jones did that, literally.
    I am glad they did it and I wish there was an English translation of the articles. Even if you don’t read or speak Italian you should pick up an issue, if you can but spare another $10 buy Colures (out of England and not to be confused with Benetton’s magazine, Colors Magazine), She Magazine, Brides Noir (even if you are not getting married) or any other black magazine, these are the ones that really need this kind of bump. Vogue is quite successful with or without this “ground breaking” coverage. Let’s pull our own sales up and over the top.

  6. Thanks, Cassandra for the head’s up and your advocacy of black publications.

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