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We Dare You!
Does BLACK GIRLS ROCK!'s mission speak to you? Donate to the summer leadership camp's scholarship campaign, or engage in some mentoring of your own—share a special skill, such as an instrument or craft, with a young woman in your community. BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is currently based in New York, but the organization is looking to expand to Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Visit their website to find out how you can help.
As a DJ, Beverly Bond knows all about being a woman in a male-dominated field. “If you want to see sexism, here’s where it’s at,” she says with a laugh. “Guys used to sit and watch to make sure I were DJing—that there wasn’t somebody doing it for me.” Instead of letting her experience in the music industry get her down, Beverly channeled her frustrations into making positive change. In 2006, she started BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, an organization that empowers young women of color. “Women can learn from situations where we get this kind of opposition to our presence," she explains. "Had I not seen so much blatant sexism, maybe I wouldn’t have been motivated to change young girls’ lives.”
Through a number of different programs, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! mentors young women ages 12 through 17. The organization aims to make these women more confident, giving them positive role models and encouraging dialogue about how women are portrayed in the media. “The first thing we do is put them in DJ classes. When you learn the art of DJing, you’re using your brain constantly,” Bev explains. “I tell them I don’t care if they ever become DJs, but I want them to have a good work ethic. They can apply that to everything they do.” BLACK GIRLS ROCK! also runs poetry workshops and hosts “Taste the World” sessions to expose its participants to culture. Last year marked the organization's first summer leadership camp, which accepted applicants from all over the country on full scholarships.
The influence doesn't stop there, either. BLACK GIRLS ROCK!'s annual awards show is also televised on BET. “To be able to spread that message of empowerment worldwide was great for us,” Beverly enthuses. “And it was also a great move for BET, given the criticism they had been receiving for their portrayal of women.” The show's telecast led the ratings over NFL football and The Real Housewives of Atlanta's season premiere, and was even nominated for an NAACP award. Beverly is especially proud of the role models featured on the special. “Young girls need to see positive examples of who they can become,” she says.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this leader strives to be a positive example herself. Confronted with racism in her youth - she frequently changed schools, and experienced highly diverse student bodies as well as predominantly white ones - Beverly learned the value of tolerance early. “I think that’s why I’m comfortable with who I am," she confides. "I had to depend on myself to form my own opinions." Her formula appears to be working. "We received a letter from a girl who felt worthless, and many of her friends did too—some were even suicidal," she confides. "BLACK GIRLS ROCK! changed the way she thought about herself. To have this kind of impact—wow. We’re so grateful to be able to affect change in our community. Young girls need something to inspire them to be their best selves.”