Beverly Bond Is On A Mission To Make A Difference [Interview]
The Black Girls Rock! founder and renowned DJ, Beverly Bond, speaks on celebrating black women and has a message for black men.
You might know Beverly Bond as a former Wilhelmina model, but she doesn’t want you to focus on her beauty. She’s also trail blazed a path in music as an internationally known celebrity DJ, who has been called upon by the likes of Jay-Z, Diddy, the late Prince, Alicia Keys, and Martha Stewart to make moments magical by way of music. But Bond doesn’t brag about the celebrity clients she’s had. Bond is on a mission to bring the social issues facing black women and girls into the spotlight and has dedicated the last 12 years of her life to making a difference in the lives of those who are disenfranchised and silenced. Beverly is in the business of letting black girls know that they matter, they can make a difference in the world, and that they rock!
In 2006, Bond founded Black Girls Rock!, a youth empowerment mentoring organization, as well as the annual Black Girls Rock! Awards, which celebrates the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and stand as inspirational and positive role models in the community. In 2010, Bond partnered with BET to televise the annual awards event and share the movement with the world. This year, Bond released Black Girls Rock: Owning Our Magic and Rocking Our Truth!, a hardcover book featuring beautiful photos and testimonies intended to celebrate black women’s voices and experiences, as well as inspire generations to come.
For her tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of young black girls and her community, Bond has been recognized as one of Ebony’s “Most Influential Blacks In America,” as well as one of ESSENCE magazine’s “40 Fierce and Fabulous Women Who are Changing the World” — but Bond is not hung up on winning awards and accolades. For Bond, it’s all about celebrating where we’ve come from and paving a path for those behind us to follow. It’s about enrichment and upliftment, and letting black girls around the world know that they are invincible, unstoppable, and in reach of the stars.
In this exclusive interview, Beverly Bond shares with Okayplayer a nostalgic look at her fondest memories as a celebrity DJ, her work as founder and executive director of Black Girls Rock!, the importance of her new book, thoughts on the #MeToo movement, and a special message specifically for black men.
Okayplayer: What are the top three most memorable moments of your career as a DJ?
Beverly Bond: I’ve had many monumental moments as a DJ, way too numerous to count, however, a few stand-out moments are:
Spinning on The White House Lawn for President Barack Obama as the official DJ for the South by South Lawn festival. I remember when I dropped “Umi Says” all the black people stopped and looked up, gave me the nod. It was a moment.
Spinning at the 2nd Annual (pre-televised) Black Girls Rock afterparty with Idris Elba, DJ Cassidy, DJ Kiss, and Lyfe Jennings. The party was epic.
Prince randomly showing up at my night at Joe’s Pub. He loved it so much that he came back the next day to hire me.
Opening the 40/40 Club for Jay-Z. His assistant told me that he was getting hit by every DJ across the country but said, “Only one DJ is opening this club. Beverly Bond.”
OKP: We’ve enjoyed watching you champion and spearhead the Black Girls Rock! movement over the last several years. Why did you feel the timing was right to expand the movement with this book?
BB: A book was the next logical step for me because I cannot possibly celebrate all of the brilliance of black women in a two-hour time slot on television, once a year. This book is a part of the tapestry of black girl magic that is being illuminated at this time. The emergence and convergence of our voices en masse are magical. There is this collective reckoning and maybe even a renaissance amongst black women to own our shared journeys, experiences, authenticity, power, and beauty and I am honored that Black Girls Rock! continues to be a leader in this revolution.
OKP: You have some inspiring and amazing women featured in the book. What was your selection or inclusion process like and what can you share about your experiences working with these women to bring the book to life?
BB: The women in this book represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the quantity and quality of influencers, power players, and changemakers doing important work today. No one book could contain them all. There is an abundance of black girl brilliance in all walks of life so narrowing it down was the hard part. I wanted to make sure that I had a diverse group. The actual process of reaching out was humbling because these are very busy women with their own projects and books and I didn’t know this many would sign on. I cast the net wide and the response was overwhelming in support.
OKP: What do you want people to get from this book experience? What’s the message you are honing in on?
BB: Representation is critically important. I want young women to see themselves in these pages and be inspired, affirmed, and empowered. For the women who shared their stories here, to be celebrated timelessly in print; for our elders to be proud of their legacies throughout this text — this book is here to help every black girl struggling to see her brilliance to dispel the fog.
It is designed to help lift the many black women who are bogged down with societal pressures and who feel the burden of carrying more than their share of the weight. This book exists also for the black girl who already knows her magic to inspire her to continue to walk in her purpose. It is for every black girl—and every other girl—looking to see her treasure within. I think all generations, genders, and ethnicities will find inspiration, pride, purpose, wisdom, and healing through each contributor’s narrative.
OKP: What’s next for the Black Girls Rock! movement? How do you wish to grow it in the near and far future?
BB: Plans are in the works to expand our service initiatives and our media projects.
OKP: What’s been the biggest revelation or realization you’ve had since embarking on this mission to advocate and celebrate black women and girls?
BB: One voice can make a huge difference. We all have that voice no matter how small we perceive it to be, we should not be silent on things that matter.
OKP: Can you share your thoughts on the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and how you think they intertwine and connect with Black Girls Rock!?
BB: Rocking while black and [being a] girl takes work. Even today, with all of the powerful women movements that are emerging, we have to constantly remind others that black women have been at the forefront, and on the frontlines, doing, and leading this work all along, even when nobody would hear us. We cherish the elevation and the impact of powerful movements like the Women’s March, #TimesUp, and #MeToo, but we must continue to remind the world that #WeToo are victims of senseless violence. #WeToo are raped and molested with over 60% of black girls experiencing sexual assault by the time they reach 18-years-old. #WeToo are battered, trafficked, murdered and go missing at alarming rates with minimal media attention or public outrage.
One of the things that is changing in these present-day feminist movements (I believe) is that they are starting to make more conscientious efforts to join forces with movements like BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, #BlackLivesMatter, and include activist like Tamika D. Mallory, Tarana Burke, Linda Sarsour, as well as other dynamic women and organizations that do this work, to bring our expertise and unique lens to the larger conversation so that we fight for the safety of all women together.
OKP: Last question, Ms. Bond, do you have any messages for our black men?
BB: Thank you to the those who support us out loud and understand we’re a village. Be aware that silence is complicity when we’re being assaulted physically and mentally; their voices are valued and necessary. I think we are actually starting to see a shift happening in the way that men are actively engaging in conversations about the harms of patriarchy, and these conversations are starting to happen at early ages, and that is a step in the right direction.
Samantha Hunter resides in Westchester, New York and has written entertainment and lifestyle features for Essence, SoulBounce, Inspirer, Haute d’ Vie, Black Westchester, DELUX, and VH1.com. Her family and friends say she’s always going somewhere, but you can find her on Instagram at @Sapodillic.