DJ Beverly Bond began her entertainment career rockin’ the turntables at the hottest clubs for crowds that included a who’s who of the entertainment and music business (think Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Kimora Lee Simmons). Now she’s using her voice and talent to show black girls that they rock. Since 2006, Bond’s organization, Black Girls Rock Inc., has empowered adolescents and teens to expand their minds via the arts.
Bond has also highlighted the achievements of women of color via the Black Girls Rock awards, where the first honorees included DJ Jazzy Joyce and MC Lyte. This year Black Girls Rock is presenting its awards with a TV special in partnership with BET this Sunday, and honoring women including Raven-Symone, Iyanla Vanzant, and Ruby Dee, among others.
BlackEnterprise.com talked with Bond about how a T-shirt mantra became a movement, how girls learn life skills via two turntables and a mic, and how women of color offer greatness to the world.
BlackEnterprise.com: Black Girls Rock started with a T-shirt. What inspired you to take your concept to the next level and start a nonprofit?
First I started the T-shirt and was thinking of all the incredible women to list on it. I was writing down all of these names and just couldn’t fit them all. In my attempt to try, I said, ‘This is bigger than just a shirt.’ So I decided to start a mentoring program.
How were you able to garner support for your organization and awards shows?
Good marketing. Black Girls Rock grew because the need was so great. Women have been speaking out about the negative images of Black women in the media. I’ve seen some powerful women who have said and done great things. The way I marketed Black Girls Rock … I said, ‘Here’s another option: Consider the greatness among black women.’
Also, a lot of people who gave me my original support were journalists. When I’d be interviewed because of something I was doing as a DJ in the industry, I’d tell them what I was trying to do with my nonprofit. I was also able to tap into my personal network and gain support from them.
Part of your program teaches the fundamentals of DJing. What life skills do the young ladies learn while doing this?
It’s using art as a tool to become their best selves. Through the arts they are learning to tap into their creative mind. They’re learning discipline, multitasking. When you DJ, you use all of your senses in different ways at the same time, stimulating your creativity, helping with self-discipline, and building work ethic.
Many schools have cut arts programs. What do you recommend young people do to find an alternative outlet?
Do your research on where you can find other arts programs if your school doesn’t offer any. If you want to be a musician, invest in an instrument and study. There are so many online courses. Try YouTube and tap into any free resources on the Web.
Also, sometimes you’ll find lessons outside of your school, i.e., an elder and others in your community could teach a class or lessons.
What advice do you give young women interested in following in your career footsteps?
Have the utmost respect for whatever artistic endeavors they wish to pursue and execute brilliantly. With the arts, people tend to think it’s okay to skip the work.
Black Girls Rock, hosted by Nia Long and featuring star-studded performances from artists including Ledisi, Jill Scott, Keyshia Cole and Monica, will air Sunday, Nov. 7 on BET.
Read more about black women and their achievements via our Women of Power coverage.