Black girls rock!
And a local foursome of women want to celebrate that to the fullest. Four leading ladies — Keetra Burnette, Lisa Peyton-Caire, Sabrina "Heymiss Progress" Madison, and Vanika Mock — have organized a Black Girls Rock Watch Party and Awards event to help strengthen and empower the community of Black women and girls by showcasing and celebrating their many positive contributions to the Madison-area community.
"Madison Black Girls Rock — A Celebration of Sisters Who Are Getting It Done!" will be held at the Hotel Red in downtown Madison on Sunday, Nov. 4.
“We want to counter the negative stereotypes that we see of black women in mainstream media — all of the reality [TV] shows that portray black women very negatively,” Burnette tells The Madison Times. “In cities like Madison, a lot of times that’s the only thing people see about black women in the media. Because we’re missing from the media in Madison, not only does that affect the way that our community sees us — but it also affects the way that we see us.”
So, Black Girls Rock is a movement to build that sisterhood of black women so they can not only support each other, but to show the community that they are much more than what they might see on TV.
“In Madison, we are mothers, we are professionals, we are leaders in our community. We’re philanthropic,” Burnette says. “We are doing all of these amazing things. This is an opportunity to lift ourselves up in the community and do something really positive.”
It’s an opportunity to pull all black women together regardless of their age, interests, and socioeconomic status, she adds.
At the event, awards will be given in seven categories to women and girls — nominated by their peers — for leadership and commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others; working to address and solve pressing community concerns; balancing motherhood, work, and volunteerism; and making exceptional strides in advancing themselves and others. [See sidebar at right.]
“We’re asking people in the community to nominate a black girl who is getting it done,” Burnette says. “It can be anybody.”
The idea came to Burnette about two years ago when she was watching Black Girls Rock and realized that the energy and the movement she saw on television didn’t exist in Madison. “I realized that any time that I thought about true sisterhood or true friendship, for me, it was thinking about women who didn’t live in Madison,” Burnette says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Wow. Why do I have to go to Chicago to feel that?’ It was something that should exist here in Madison. I want to develop that community here.”
Burnette adds that she is fueled by the power and energy of last year's nationally televised program “Black Girls Rock!,” and this year’s local “Black Women’s Wellness Day” held a month ago at the Urban League of Greater Madison and organized by Lisa Peyton-Caire. “That was the best event I’ve been to in Madison since I’ve been here,” Burnette says. “I honestly didn’t know that many black women lived in this city! The vibe at that event is exactly what I’m looking for with Black Women Rock.”
It’s important that this will be an intergenerational event. “One of the most important aspects of this event is that all generations of women are present,” Burnette says.
Although Madison Black Girls Rock is a free event, donations of five dollars will be solicited to benefit Lilada’s House for Young Mothers, a local non-profit providing shelter and stabilizing support services.
“This year, [Lilada] was selected as our charity of choice because everybody on our planning team has a really good relationship with her,” Burnette says. “We really feel like her cause is a great cause — a house for teen moms. It’s something that we’re all really passionate about and really want to try and help her.”
Black women and girls are often overlooked for the many roles that they play and for their countless achievements and contributions they make daily in the community and in their families. This special day will be an inspiring, fun, and memorable way to bring black women and girls together to celebrate each other.
“This event is about empowerment. It’s all about you,” Burnette says. “It’s having other people recognize things about you and celebrate things about you. Hearing from somebody else that what you’re doing is making a difference. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day grind. It’s about sisterhood. It’s about support. It’s something that is missing for so long and we don’t realize the importance of that.”
But it’s also a chance for black women to enjoy some networking. “It’s a resource for other sisters in our community… finding those that can be a resource for you,” Burnette says.
Black Girls Rock is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and mentoring for young girls. They promote the development of relationships between black women and black girls through academics, social mentoring, and more.
“Oftentimes, you go to work; you go home; you go to work; you go home … and you don’t see other people in the community; you don’t see other black women who look like you and might be facing some of the same challenges that you face,” Burnette says. “This is an opportunity for all of us to come together and have those conversations and to develop our own support systems — things that other people can’t help us with.
“The goal is empowerment and to develop sisterhood. We want to develop a network of black women to support each other,” Burnette adds. “It’s an opportunity for us to come together to refresh and renew and just be us and be real. It’s an opportunity to recognize those sisters who are really getting it done and to show our community that we are much more than what they see on TV — that there are black women here in Madison. We exist — and we’re doing great things.”
For more information about Black Girls Rock, contact Keetra Burnette at email@example.com or (608) 305-4212