“Black Girls… Wanna be perfect? Just be uniquely YOU.”
― Stephanie Lahart
On August 12th I had the opportunity to accompany my 16-year-old daughter to the first Black Girl Joy Festival. The event was an all-day extravaganza celebrating and uplifting young black girls. Grades 5- 12th of all ages attended this event hosted at Cal State Dominguez Hills College in the city of Carson. The day began with the parking lot filled with mothers accompanying their beautiful melanated daughters, nieces, and girls through the entrance and walking down the long purple carpet every girl walking down the aisle being greeted with hugs and welcome. Beautiful girls of every shade just smile from ear to ear as they see other girls who resemble a reflection of their identity rocking braids, ponytails, and dreadlocks, excited to participate in this fun-filled event and make new acquaintances.
Every girl received an orange or purple shirt that would put them in their age range to attend their class session. Once they obtained their shirts with registration they walked onto the campus to see a beautiful colorful tent with amazing decor that had words of encouragement with the signs Black Girl Joy and orange and purple with colorful tables. The staff was filled with beautiful women of every age and shade welcoming these little princesses to their black girl utopia.
The event supported by the California Black Women’s Collective and founder Kelli Todd Griffin kicked off with words of black girl empowerment. Griffin’s speech on her reason for creating the event brought joy to every mom and girl. The founder went on to have the girls shout “Black Girl Joy” to the crowd. The event jumped off with a surprise guest speaker our own California 43rd Mayor Karen Bass. Mayor Bass gave a powerful speech about her journey and transition into finding her voice from a little black girl to a thriving woman who is now the mayor of California. Bass’s speech closed her speech by telling the crowd that black girls can achieve anything when they put their minds to it.
The girls would go to various classrooms to learn The first class that my daughter attended with the purple shirts was the motivational class facilitated by chief executive officer Kandee Lewis of Positive Results Center. Lewis’s positive results course gave insight into teen mental health and motivational empowerment for girls of color. According to the National Institute of Medicine 53% of Black youth experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and about 20% said they were exposed to racial trauma often or very often in their life. Lewis spoke of being bullied and persevering despite adversities and odds. The course had tips on self-esteem and dealing with stress and trauma and motivational strategies to stay encouraged.
The next class was art each girl got the opportunity to sit at round tables meeting various other girls and painting beautiful images. Each girl spoke about the color of their art and which illustrations they chose and why, The class ended with laughter, selfies, and #blackgirljoy to post on IG. The breakout sessions stop for lunch and entertainment as the girls get to hear a panel of successful women in the medical, business, music, clothing, and hair care industries. Each woman was a thriving black woman who gave pearls of wisdom to the sea of girls listening to them detail their stories of being a black girl in society trying to find her way through life.
During the panel, a young girl stood up and spoke of being ugly and how society does not consider her shade of color beautiful. The outpour of love the panel of women gave that little girl along with every girl and mother around her demonstrated the purpose of this important event. After lunch, the girls got to participate in double Dutch, Zumba, yoga, and self-defense. The last course ended with a photo area with a throne chair and tiara to represent that every girl is a black queen. My daughter’s face seeing all these beautiful girls who look just like her brought so much joy to her eyes that she embraced me. This amazing event touched so many we look forward to more to come!
The CA Black Women’s Collective Empowerment Institute About | CABWC (cablackwomenscollective.org)
National Library Of Medicine Depression among Black Youth; Interaction of Class and Place — PMC (nih.gov)