Help Haiti This Thursday

Come out this Thursday January, 21 to help BLACK GIRLS ROCK! support Haiti. The proceeds will benefit Doctors without Borders & The Lambi Fund of Haiti.

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United Way Honors BLACK GIRLS ROCK!’s Beverly Bond

United Way’s Young Leaders Council is thrilled to honor philanthropist Beverly Bond at the 2nd Annual Red Carpet Soiréeth at the New York Renaissance Hotel. Bond will be honored for her foundation, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., which she started over four years ago in an effort to mitigate the negative images of young women in the media and create a platform for programs and workshops focused on self esteem and confidence building. Her foundation is making great strides on a national level to impact change and raise the standard of how young women are represented in media.

Not unlike other nonprofits with young professional affinity groups, United Way is recognizing the need to cultivate and nurture the next wave of donors in New York City. The old guard of giving based on legacy relationships with C-suite executives of retirement age is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The new guard of philanthropists and donors are relatively younger and more savvy with an understanding of how to navigate the social entrepreneurial terrain. One of the more novel ways the Young Leaders Council is reaching younger donors, leveraging advocacy efforts, and encouraging the viral spread of philanthropy is through the “Give 10 Tell 10”  campaign.

Members of the Young Leaders Council represent over 1000 young professionals who volunteer, advocate, and fundraise to support at-risk high school students in United Way’s Focus Forward program. With the New York City Department of Education announcing over $400 million in budget cuts for 2010, it is imperative programs such as Focus Forward continue to exist as a safety net for at-risk students that have fallen through the cracks.

Please join the Young Leaders Council on December 12th at the Red Carpet Soirée to raise money for future young leaders in our community. You will have the opportunity to celebrate the success of New York philanthropist Beverly Bond and be part of a movement to advance the spirit of giving among young professionals in New York City. Beverly will be spinning the first set of the night as well.  This will be a night of fun and philanthropy!

Purchase your tickets here.

–United Way Young Leaders Council press release–

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Help Us Win $25,000 From Chase Bank!!

Chase Bank has pledged to donate a total of $5 million to different charities all over the country and Chase Community Giving wants people like YOU to choose what charities should be chosen to receive such a momentous reward for their contributions and work. Chase has created a fast, easy, painless but powerful way for you to make a huge difference, but we we need YOUR support!

If we reach our goal of 2,000 votes by this Friday, December 11th, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. will be awarded a donation of $25,000! So we need you, all of your friends, and all of your friends’ friends to place their votes here:! We can definitely win this with your help.

Since 2006, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been dedicated to the healthy development of young women and girls. BLACK GIRLS ROCK! seeks to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves.

The main goals of this charitable endeavor in priority order:

BLACK GIRLS ROCK members with world-renowned poet Sonia Sanchez

  • Mentor at-risk teenage girls of color through innovative arts program
  • Encourage positive life-changing activity, critical thinking and artistic integrity
  • Promote positive images of women of color in media
  • Encourage dialogue and analyses of the ways women of color are portrayed  in mainstream media in our present day culture

It’s through our various programs and workshops for teen girls along with constructive discussion forums like this that BLACK GIRLS ROCK! continues to build an organization that can stand as a positive foundation for young women. To further our mission and cause, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is in the process of expanding nationally with each passing year and through Chase Community Giving, you could be the force that helps us to do just that.

So, help us get those votes at!

BLACK GIRLS ROCK members at the 2009 DJ 101 graduation

BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is an organization that takes an active role in being a part of the solution to the crisis facing young women of color.  For the past four years, we have enjoyed the opportunity to enrich the lives of girls aged 12 to 17 years old through mentorship, arts education, cultural exploration and public service. At BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, young women are offered access to enrichment programs and opportunities that place special emphasis on personal development through the arts and cooperative learning. We offer innovative arts programs and activities at no cost to the girls we serve, and depend on the generosity of our donors and the financial success of our fund raising events to support our growth.

For more information about our programs and organization, visit

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BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Rockstar of the Week

By Contributing Writer: Amaany Clarke

When deciding who to choose for our Rock Star of the Week, the infamous woman in the above picture came to mind. She was born Ursula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonzo on October 21, 1925 in Santo Suarez of Havana, Cuba. To the Latin world she is the great Sonora (the great improviser), but to most she is known as Celia Cruz. Many have heard her name, seen her face, and can recall from some experience the vibrancy of this Afro-Cuban singer’s voice, but very few will truly grasp the degree to which she crossed boundaries and helped to create a genre of music that now touches people of all races and ethnicities.

Not only was she an illuminating entertainer, outstanding innovator, and leader of her time, she was quite simply a beautiful woman of color that stood out as one of the very few women contributing to an international musical movement of the 1960s. Celia Cruz is someone who was able to embrace and use her entire cultural identity to become accepted as an international icon in her own right.

Tongolele y las Mulatas

Very early on in her career, Cruz became one of the lead singers of “Las Mulatas del Fuego”— a group of Afro-Cuban female entertainers that traveled Cuba and Mexico throughout the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Cruz’s career really took flight, however, upon her arrival to New York City in 1961 where the Latin music scene was experiencing a lot of experimentation and sharing of rhythms and traditions across different Latin cultures. It was this era that created what is now known as Salsa music which finds its roots in Cuban son, rumba and a wide array of other styles and rhythms drawn from other Latin cultures. Celia Cruz was for Fania Records what Diana Ross was for the Motown Era. Fania Records galvanized salsa music throughout the U.S. and Latin America and enabled the genre’s success and the success of the artists who lived and breathed it.

In Afro-Cuban music, there are often references to food and “gustatory” terms that epitomize the way the music is performed danced, sung and played. The word salsa, alone, means sauce and Cruz was often referred to as the true embodiment of “sabor” or flavor. Over time, her style and aesthetic became more and more unique and over the top. Cruz was known for shouting “azucar!” or “sugar!” at the beginning of each show. While it began just as a memorable expletive in a story she liked to tell before each performance, it soon became symbolic of her Cuban heritage and culture. Sugar is an essential agricultural product in Cuba’s history that is directly linked to both the vibrant diversity of the island and the violence of slavery that consumes much of its history.

This beautiful singer passed on July 16, 2003 after battling brain cancer and as she requested, was given two funeral services—one in Miami and one in New York. Her life achievements prove that her 78 years spent on this Earth were worthwhile having earned five Grammy awards, many a gold record, countless honors and Lifetime Achievement awards. She received three honorary doctorates from Yale, Florida University and the University of Miami and was a guest of the White house for five presidents. She also founded the Celia Cruz Foundation in 2002 dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and providing scholarships for young Latino music students.

This is definitely one woman of color that sizzled on and off stage throughout her entire life and we hope her memory lives on for generations to come. Her unapologetically dark skin, heavy accent, fiery moves, soulful voice, and infinite doses of “azucar” speak volumes to the Afro-Latino experience that so many other women can relate to. That is why she is our Rock Star of the Week!

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Rihanna Breaks The Silence on Abuse

Rihanna and Chris Brown

Photo courtesy of

In a much anticipated interview last Friday on ABC’s 20/20, Diane Sawyer interviewed pop-star Rihanna about her fight back in February with fellow singer and now ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown. Rihanna alleged that after they left a Grammy party, Chris proceeded to hit and bite her after she repeatedly asked him about a text another woman sent him.

Chris Brown fans immediately uploaded videos onto their Youtube pages with messages of support, many even speculating that Rihanna must have done something to provoke or deserve Chris’s beating. Even after the infamous photo of Rihanna’s bruised and swollen face leaked to the public, fans remained steadfast in their support of Chris Brown. Even after Chris finally admitted to Rihanna’s allegations, fans continued to think what he did was easily forgivable, or even admissible. Even though he committed a felony.

Rihanna’s interview with Diane Sawyer:

Why are we so apathetic about domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a more common problem than many of us would like to admit, and it happens to women of all ages, colors, and socioeconomic statuses (men can also fall victim to domestic abuse, though less frequently). According to the U.S. Surgeon General,

“Domestic violence is considered one of the foremost causes of serious injury to women ages 15 to 44, accounting for about 30 percent of all acute injuries to women seen in emergency departments”[1]

African American women, however, are disproportionately affected by domestic violence, falling victim to abuse at rates up to 35% higher than women of other backgrounds, according to the Surgeon General report.


Photo courtesy of

Women, and especially women of color, are being abused by their spouses at rates too high for us to continue to ignore or belittle. Rihanna remembers her father “severely” beating her mother on numerous occasions, so much so that she “wasn’t surprised when it happened”. Chris Brown’s mother was also abused by her spouse.

What counts as domestic abuse?

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline,

“Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.” [2]

What’s the big deal?

Because most bruises heal eventually, right? The woman must have deserved or provoked a beating, right? Wrong. Domestic abuse comes in many forms, and has many different yet devastating effects on its victims. Rihanna even admitted to Diane Sawyer, “the thing that men don’t realize when they hit a woman…[is] the scar inside.” A Surgeon General report on mental health details the diverse effects of abuse:

“Domestic violence is a serious and startlingly common public health problem with mental health consequences for victims, who are overwhelmingly female, and for children who witness the violence… The mental health consequences of domestic violence include depression, anxiety disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder), suicide, eating disorders, and substance abuse…Children who witness domestic violence may suffer acute and long-term emotional disturbances, including nightmares, depression, learning difficulties, and aggressive behavior. Children also become at risk for subsequent use of violence against their dating partners and wives…” [1]

Domestic Abuse Stops Here

Photo courtesy of

Chris Brown was undoubtedly scarred after repeatedly witnessing his step-father abuse his mother, but it is important for his fans to understand that what he did, no matter what the context, is plain wrong. Period.

Rihanna admitted that although she initially returned to Chris Brown after he hit her, when she realized her decision to continue loving Chris Brown was a selfish choice that could possibly result in a young girl getting killed by an abusive boyfriend, she couldn’t bear to “be held responsible for that,” so she broke up with Chris for good. Realizing what a big impact her life choices make on young women all over the world was a “big time wake-up call” for the singer. Her advice to those who might be in a similar situation: “Don’t react out of love…because love is blind. Step out of the situation and look on in third person, then react”.

What now?

If you or someone you know is experiencing any kind of domestic abuse, please call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) for anonymous and confidential help.

Please remember that abuse is not always physical. Incidents of domestic abuse are overwhelmingly under-reported, oftentimes because an affected woman doesn’t understand that how her partner treats her is considered abuse. Educate yourself and others about domestic abuse and help to end the cycle of violence!

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THIS IS WHY WE ROCK: Awards Edition

On the night of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards, the girls enrolled in our DJ 101 and I Rhyme Like a Girl programs experienced the excitement of viewing the honorees from their seats in the audience in addition to performing on-stage! Talented poet and DJ in-training, 15-year-old Emily Carpenter, breaks it down for us in her own words:

Black Girls Rock Awards; My experience

by Emily Carpenter

Bright lights, beautiful people, and red velvet cupcakes! Those were the first three words that popped into my head as I walked in to the New York Times building. It was absolutely amazing, waiting downstairs for a chance to be ushered upstairs; I have to admit I was nervous. The fact that all these people were here to support us and Beverly’s vision excited me, but that added to my fright. Would they like our performance? Would it inspire them to look into their pockets? It was all unknown. I just had to relax, take a deep breath, and chill with all the other girls.

While waiting downstairs, we were constantly running in and out of the bathroom. Did our hair look right? What was the better side to face the audience with? How should we look at all the cameras when we’re in pictures? Still, no matter how much we talked we wouldn’t know until the show began.

BGR members pose for the camera before their performance

BGR members pose for the camera before their performance

Getting quite restless, we all stood on the stairs and began snapping as many photos as we could, trying to savor every moment. Click, Clack, Click, Clack. Someone was walking towards us; “ Do y’all have your tickets. I’m here to escort you upstairs.” We all looked at each other – this was it. The show we’d all fantasized about, the moment we danced in anticipation for was here right before our faces. We grinned and followed her up the stairs and into the theater.

When in the theater, the lights suddenly got dimmer and a woman in yellow started to dance. While she danced, a song played in the background saying, “Ain’t she beautiful, Ain’t she Black,” in different ways until the message could be read on an entire different spectrum as when the song started out. It was really moving, and we all knew that this was going to be a show that we would remember for the rest of our lives, and we were given the opportunity to partake. It was very exciting!

The range of people honored made me feel honor. Even though there were many big names in the room that night, the common theme of Empowerment connected us all.

Sonia Sanchez’s speech/poem moved me so much! It was amazing to see a petite woman who people might not expect to have much strength have so much force, power, and just the flat ability to rock!

BGR members pose with Sonia Sanchez

BGR members pose with Sonia Sanchez

Everyone’s speeches were inspiring, but suddenly I was tapped on the shoulder and we quietly tip-toed backstage. Everyone in the line was nervous, but I think we knew deep down that we could do it. “ AND that’s why we ROCK…!” Suddenly, we were ushered on stage. This was it. The nervousness began to melt away, and was replaced with a warmth. On this stage was where we belonged.

Emily (in Red) and other BGR! Members perform "Young, Gifted, and Black"

Emily (in Red) and other BGR! Members perform "Young, Gifted, and Black"

The lights were so bright, I could barley see past the first three rows in the audience. But as I kept looking at them, I felt as though our words and our message were important. Looking in the front row as I spoke, I realized that Mary J. Blige was sitting and listening intently in the front row. It took all my strength not to burst in cheers of joy! I would have never thought that someone that I had watched on TV, someone that I listened to on the radio, would be sitting there watching me, watching us. That was definitely one of my most memorable moments.

The rest of the night seemed to speed by, but I was racing right alongside it. From Doug E. Fresh’s DOPE intro, to Queen Latifah’s moving speech, to Janelle Monae’s absolutely PHENOMENAL PERFORMANCE. I was afraid that I missed her after the awards show ended. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to take a picture with her, I got the chance to let her know her presence was appreciated.

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae performs

The night was great, and I would like to thank every soul who attended that night. The energy definitely was right, and I look forward to many more opportunities for us to empower and speak to one another. Thanks.

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Extra, Extra! The Award Show Rundown


Photo by Mbali Ndlovu

On Saturday, October 17, 2009 the stars aligned at the illustrious Times Center in the heart of New York City for the 4th Annual 2009 BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards co-hosted by esteemed actresses Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross. Tapping into her list of diverse philanthropic friends Black Girls Rock! Inc. founder Beverly Bond gathered a stellar and diverse array of presenters and supporters included noted entertainment attorney Londell McMillan, public relations maven and author Terrie Williams, philanthropist Jessica Seinfeld, Essence magazine’s Emil Wilbekin,  Hip Hop Icon Doug E. Fresh, celebrity stylist and author June Ambrose,  actor Columbus Short, Phil Collen-lead guitarist of the legendary English rock band Def Leppard, Black Enterprise television host and journalist Ed Gordon, Fox News correspondent Lisa Evers, BET News correspondent Jacque Reid, NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, world-renowned fashion designer Catherine Malandrino,  music mogul Andre Harrell, DJ Jazzy Joyce, Bethann Hardison and many others. Head HERE for awesome video coverage of the awards done by VH1.

The evening kicked off with a VIP cocktail reception and silent auction featuring many items donated by the night’s honorees, presenters and supporters. New York City’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg opened the awards show via a personal letter expressing a warm welcome, sincere congratulations, and a heartfelt thank you to BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. founder Beverly Bond. Mayor Bloomberg recognized and exalted Ms. Bond’s efforts in helping to empower young girls of color and for helping to build “a brighter city.”

Photo courtesy of

The effortless chemistry between entertaining hosts Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross resonated throughout the event. Their serious voices of reason pertaining to the importance of the evening and their impromptu comedy sketches molded seamlessly together, creating an atmosphere that buzzed with excitement. The night was truly ablaze as inspired honorees and presenters delved deep within themselves and gave personal testimonials from their own lives to coincide with the night’s festivities.

For the past four years the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards show has served as the premiere fundraising event for BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., a non-profit, youth-empowerment mentoring organization founded by celebrity DJ Beverly Bond. All of the proceeds will go towards operational funding for BLACK GIRLS ROCK! programs. The BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards honors the influential achievements of exceptional women of color in fashion, media, business, the arts and entertainment, and public service.


Photo courtesy of

Universal support for the organization was personified as Phil Collen of Def Leppard and hip hop icon Doug E. Fresh presented the Black Girls Rock! ‘Rock Star’ Award to Queen Latifah. Following a crowd-shaking, musical ode to hip hop icons intro by Doug E. Fresh, an overwhelmed Queen Latifah entered the stage to a standing ovation. The Queen delivered a rousing, emotionally charged acceptance speech in which she reminisced about her childhood years, which ultimately influenced her direction as she morphed into hip hop royalty. She placed special emphasis on the importance of the exceptional and unique programming offered by BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, Inc. Queen Latifah asked for more awareness, sympathy, and prohibitive action towards victims of sexual abuse. Uplifted, she then passionately matched an earlier donation of $25,000 made to the organization.

A silent auction also took place, with the following items up for grabs: a Catherine Malandrino mosaic necklace and bracelet set, a Tracy Reese sequin chemise dress,  and a Gucci patent leather clutch amongst other items. A Gibson guitar will also be auctioned online later this month, which was signed by many of the celebs that attended, incl. Phil Collen, Mary J. Blige, Raven Symone, Anthony Hamilton, Queen Latifah, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King , Janelle Monae and many others.

DSC01670Highlights of the evening also included:-An admiring, altruistic couple who generously donated $25,000 to the organization-an impromptu poetry performance by “Living Legend” Award honoree Sonia Sanchez-A thoughtful and moving acceptance speech from supermodel and activist “Fashionista” Award honoree Naomi Campbell who spoke of discrimination within the modeling industry and the limitless support she received from Black Girls Coalition founder Bethann Hardison-Super songstress and recipient of the evening’s Black Girls Rock! “Icon” Award Mary J. Blige and the Black Girls Rock! “Who Got Next” Award honoree talented newcomer Janelle Monáe each respectively delivered inspiring words that relayed their commitment to excellence and the necessity for organizations like BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc.-Groundshaking performances by the young ladies of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! who honored “Young, Gifted, and Black” Award honoree Raven-Symoné with a Nina Simone tribute of the same name-Two soulful selections by Universal artist Melanie Fiona-A riveting vocal performance by Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy recording ingenue Janelle Monáe.
Sponsors for the event were AMBI Skincare and CIROC Vodka. A special thanks also goes out to Audi of North America and MAC Cosmetics.
  • Dr. Mehret Mandefro: the Black Girls Rock! “Community Service” Award
  • Naomi Campbell: the Black Girls Rock! “Fashionista” Award
  • Janelle Monáe: the Black Girls Rock! “Who Got Next” Award
  • Spinderella: the Black Girls Rock! “Jazzy Joyce DJ” Award
  • Raven-Symoné: the Black Girls Rock! “Young, Gifted and Black” Award
  • Anthony Hamilton: the Black Girls Rock! “Soul Brother #1” Award
  • Dr. Sonia Sanchez: the Black Girls Rock! “Living Legend” Award
  • Iyanla Vanzant: the Black Girls Rock! “Shot Caller” Award
  • Queen Latifah: the Black Girls Rock! “Rock Star” Award
  • Mary J. Blige: the Black Girls Rock! “Icon” Award

“BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is undergoing a strategic shift towards national expansion, answering the call of service made by President Barack Obama through mentoring, educating, and empowering young girls.”- Founder Beverly Bond

Additional information on the annual gala and BLACK GIRLS ROCK! can be found at

Miatta David
Miatta@mvdinc.usoffice : 212.244.5436 fax:212.244.5439

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