Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Black Girl Day: Top Black Girl Pride Moments of 2010

***We are still under construction!  Bear with us as we continue to post during our makeover!!***
***Today's post was originally posted on The Fresh Xpress on 12/30/2010***

In 2010, Black women had a rockin', self-lovin', no limit kind of year. Is it just me, or is there a refreshing energy pulsating through the collective spirit of black womanhood these days? More of us are realizing that we each have a unique purpose and the capability to realize it in spite of the obstacles that once held us captive. There are many examples of excellence, individuality, talent and grit from last year. These are just a few.

Michelle Obama - An Iconic First Lady
As expected, Michelle Obama has been a First Lady that we can actually relate to and emulate. She is adored for her intelligence and accessibility. She is loved not just because she's Black, but because she is Michelle Robinson Obama - working mom, loving wife, lawyer, community activist, and stylista. She takes her daughters to Beyonce concerts and has date nights with her husband. We've seen her advocate, dance, nurture, cry, educate, sass the press when necessary and ride or die with her man with the cameras rolling and not a hair out of place. Because of her example, many young black girls are saying "Yes, I can."

Mo'Nique - Best Supporting Actress Oscar
Mo'Nique beat the odds and silenced the critics this year by winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Precious. She shocked all of us when she became Mary Jones, an ignorant, wretched character, whose very existence offended and outraged audiences. As a woman who had also been abused and misguided, Mo'Nique was able to draw on personal experience to bring the character to life. Mo'Nique shows us what can happen when we tune out negativity, work hard, and dream the undreamable.

Gabourey Sidibe - Elle Magazine Cover
Elle Magazine included Gabourey Sidibe, another breakout star from Precious, in their 25th anniversary October issue, which featured 25 women in their twenties who were doing big things in entertainment. This was a worthy nod for Gabby, particularly after Vanity Fair snubbed her earlier in the year for their Fresh Faces of 2010 issue. Regardless of what we think about how Gabby was styled and made up for the Elle cover, she was included and that's what matters. Let's focus on the accomplishment and celebrate her for making strides in a biased industry with a narrow perception of beauty. Her talent speaks for itself, and her gracious, self-loving personality will continue to sustain her through the critical acclaim that will surely follow her career. In her own words, “When I was 14 or 15, I saw myself in a different way. Back then, I envied a life that I’d made up in my mind. I broke free of that unhappiness and I decided to change—I was going to be happy with myself. No matter what I look like, no matter what people think.”

Beverly Bond - Black Girls Rock Awards
Black Girls Rock, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded by DJ Beverly Bond to inspire and empower young girls. The Black Girls Rock Awards was nationally televised on BET in November, and was a phenomenal celebration of Black women and girls who are lighting up the world with their gifts, giving back to their communities, and just being generally outstanding people. It isn't that Black women didn't know that we rock prior to the show, or that we were previously insecure about our beauty and strength; it was simply that we loved seeing our fellow Black women being appreciated, loved, and revered by each other. So often our haunting issues are highlighted in film, in music etc--here was a moment where only our beauty and accomplishment were the focal points. Even now, three months later, my five year old daughter is constantly telling me all of the reasons why she rocks. Apparently, she got the message loud and clear.

Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls
Tyler Perry's movie is based on Ntozake Shange's Tony Award-winning Broadway play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf." Thank you, Tyler Perry, for bringing together this all-star cast of talented and revered black actresses to create a milestone moment in black film history. Thank you, Ntozake Shange, for writing such a painful, soulful piece of performance art that would stand the test of time and give voice to the silent suffering of so many Black women. Let's not miss the brilliance of the forest for the criticism of the trees with this one. Whether or not you appreciated Perry's adaptation, the reincarnation of this piece of work is something to applaud. The mental and emotional health of Black women is such a taboo subject in our culture and it needs to be uncovered.

Willow Smith - Whip My Hair
Willow Smith took the airwaves by storm this year with her girl power anthem, Whip My Hair. Whether she knows it or not, little Miss Willow just whipped her hair right into role model status for other little girls. All over the world, little girls have found an exuberant, creative hero whose message of individuality and determination is clear. The song represents the freedom to be unique, to defy stereotypes and labels, and to believe in the power of self-expression.

Sesame Street - I Love My Hair
Sesame Street writer Joey Mazzarino created this song/video with his adopted black daughter in mind. When his daughter began expressing disdain at her naturally curly, textured hair, Mazzarino took a creative approach to boost her self-appreciation that would resonate with his daughter and ultimately Black America as a whole. So, maybe it is just hair, but we can't deny that as Black women, our hair identity is connected to our self-image and esteem. It is deeply ingrained in our culture that nappy hair is bad hair and silky hair is good hair. In order for us to change this destructive belief, we have to condition our children to believe their hair is beautiful in its natural state. Natural hair acceptance can really be a building block for healthy self-esteem in all aspects of a young girl's life. As the song says "My hair is part of me, an awesome part of me, I really love my hair."

The Natural Hair Movement
However you choose to rock your tresses, you couldn't miss the widespread natural hair movement if you tried. There are more celebrities rocking their natural hair, more images of natural women on television, and a more widespread acceptance of curly, kinky hairstyles. This is a trend that should make us all proud as we evolve from the idea that only straight hair is beautiful. As women of color, we will become a stronger force in the world by welcoming our own diversity and honoring the many manifestations of our beauty.

Comeback Queens - Monica, Brandy, Fantasia
Celebrities go through the hard knocks of life like we all do, but they are forced to do it with cameras and reporters in their faces. These songstresses have all gone through personal tragedy in the public eye and emerged powerful and resilient. Brandy came back with a successful stint on Dancing with the Stars and her own reality show. Fantasia and Monica both released new albums—each garnering two grammy nominations. These ladies are still standing and still thriving. While there's no true inspiration in perfection, we can be inspired by stories of faith and survival. The lives of these women are human interest stories for those of us who may feel beaten up by life and need a reason to believe that we too can overcome.

As you can see, 2010 showed us that our Black is most definitely beautiful, enlightened and well-positioned for unprecedented change. What moments in 2010 made you proud to be a Black woman?
For more information on Happy Black Girl Day, visit The Beautiful Struggler.


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