Another significant honoree was Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim woman and hijabi to win an Olympic medal. In 2016, she won the bronze medal as part of the U.S. fencing team. Muhammad received the Making a Difference Award at this year’s awards. In the arts, honorees included Issa Rae, creator of hit HBO show Insecure, singers Solange and Roberta Flack, and actress Yara Shahidi. Each of these women not only excels at her art form, but also manages to innovate and utilize their platform to support other black artists. The awards were punctuated by impressive performances from artists both new and classic, such as India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton, and newcomer SZA. Other notable attendees included Tiffany Haddish, Jay Ellis, and Anika Noni Rose.
Now in its 11th year of production, the Black Girls Rock Awards were founded by Beverly Bond with the goal of promoting positive images of black women. Each year, millions of viewers tune in to appreciate these women’s accomplishments. The ceremony is a vital exception to the rest of the media landscape, which is swamped with negative portrayals of black womanhood. When black women appear in major features, if at all, they’re often side characters or portrayed as bitter or angry. This award show instead honors black women in all their plurality and depth. While the show is undoubtedly important for uplifting black girls, it’s also important for people of all genders and races to watch and learn from these powerful examples of ingenuity, resistance, and creativity.