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Black Girls Rock founder responds to #WhiteGirlsRock scandal

SPEAKING OUT: Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond

OVER THE weekend in the US, Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired the fifth Black Girls Rock! Awards ceremony to honour and celebrate the accomplishments and talents of black females.

During the live taping of the show, viewers began to flood social media with the hashtag #BlackGirlsrRock to give their thoughts and support of the show in regards to famous black women including actress Tracie Ellis Ross and First Lady Michelle Obama.

While many felt a sense of pride in the awards show, there were some who were offended by the nights events, arguing that a show focused solely on black women depicted reverse racism - which prompted a new hashtag, #whitegirlsrock.

One Twitter use said: “Michelle Obama is the most inappropriate first lady in our nation’s history. Disgusting racist. #whitegirlsrock."

Another, tweeted: “Just seen an event #BlackGirlsRock are you kidding me? Imagine if there was a #whitegirlsrock this is disgraceful.”

Black Girls Rock!, which evolved from a community organisation into an annual BET garning nearly three million viewers every year, has sparked debate before, but the creator Beverly Bond had never involve herself in the controversy.

This year, however, Bond decided to address the #whitegirlsrock hashtag in an article for The Root.

In her column, Bond wrote: “When I heard about the ‘#whitegirlsrock’ hashtag that trended on Twitter, my immediate reaction was, ‘Well, duh! Of course white girls rock. Are they unaware?’

“White women’s beauty, talent, diversity and worldly contributions are affirmed everywhere: on billboards, on television, in magazines and in textbooks.”

She points out that black women, however, are not so frequently reminded of their contributions. “The participants in the #whitegirlsrock hashtag, who heralded accusations of reverse racism, fail to acknowledge the history of racism in media including the perpetual absence of diverse stories and representations of black women.”

Bond went on: “As a humanist, I believe that we all rock. My issue is that the commentary that followed the ‘#whitegirlsrock’ hashtag was not even about affirming dynamic white women. Instead, it was about critiquing or even punishing black women for having the nerve, the audacity and the unmitigated gall to love and affirm ourselves.”

“I also think the anxiety that people have about Black Girls Rock!-ing reveals the blind spots associated with white privilege, including the inability to acknowledge that the privilege actually exists, a lack of accountability for prejudices and an overwhelming deficit in cultural competency.”

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