BHM 2016, A Look Back: Awards & Icons

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This post serves as part three of a three part honorarium to Black History Month 2016 and the Black greatness that exuded during this month alone. NYFW: Fenty x Puma

fenty-puma-by-rihanna-aw16-collection-0As if the release of ANTI and the announcement of her Samsung-sponsored supporting tour weren’t enough to have us admiring and congratulating Rihanna, Robyn Fenty also took her talents to New York Fashion Week. After making Puma upwards of $975 million dollars in Q4 with the release of her Creeper line back in September 2015, she and Puma jointly debuted their Fall 2016 collection of Fenty Puma by Rihanna.

Puma’s CEO, Bjørn Gulden, admits that Rihanna was given full control of the line and runway show; the appearance at NYFW was entirely Rihanna’s vision and creation.

With the movie and world of Frozen in mind, Rihanna curated and creative directed an “artic urban forest” themed runway show. The line of oversized sweat suits and outerwear, thigh-high leather sneaker boots and crop top + choker combos was a “bad taste done well” mix of Japanese street fashion, goth / erotica and sports culture.

There’s no telling where Fenty Puma will be carried and what pieces will be sold to consumers but it’s safe to say that this collection will likely rack in close to a billion dollars once it’s released as well.

NAACP Image Awards

Since the inception of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in taraji-p.-henson-at-47th-naacp-image-awards-in-pasadena-02-05-2016_1February of 1909, the organization has created and celebrated premier advocates who stand and fight for civil rights in our communities and campaign for equal opportunity. As a people, we’ve come a long way and are fortunate to be in positions to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and great work.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the achievements of people of color in a wide range of categories within TV, music, literature and film. Accolades are given for screenwriting and directing, various literary works, television talk series and news/information sources to name a few. Individuals and groups are also honored for their commitment to and promotion of social justice through creative endeavors.

ABC led the way as a network with 28 nominations—half of which were split between Shonda Rhimes’ #TGIT shows and John Ridley’s second season of American Crime. HBO's Bessie also earned five nominations, one of which lead actress Queen Latifah secured a win for her gritty portrayal of one of the greatest jazz singers of the early 1900s.

The brilliant Michael B. Jordan deservingly took the night. He not only won Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Creed but he also came away with the Entertainer of the Year award - topping Misty Copeland, Shonda Rhimes, Pharrell Williams and Viola Davis.

All of the nominations, on an individual and project basis, were spot on and wholesomely justifiable. Everyone's a winner when you’re on a list comprised of such magnificent talent and contributors. After all, the purpose of the evening is to celebrate and commend our community’s greatest peers.

List of winners and nominees.

Fashion for Mental Health

Pyer Moss, whose show last year centered on the Black Lives Matter Movement took another radical thematic stance this year by focusing on the implications of mental health and depression on society. To add a bit of icing to the cake, the illustrious Erykah Badu partnered with 28-year-old Haitian creative director, Kerby Jean-Raymond to style the full collection called Double Bind.

Double bind refers to a situation in which a person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands that can often lead to depression. The “double bind” occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation. This hits home as many social issues that plague Black communities tend to leave people feeling ensnared and disenfranchised.

The aggressive lyrics and sounds of trap music by artists Fetty Wap and Future appropriately set the stage for the models to walk the runway. The collection was a mix oversized wool coats, trousers and structured turtlenecks with sweatshirts listing symptoms that generally require medical and/or psychological attention (panic attacks, anxiety, hallucinations).

Badu reportedly flew in from Dallas with seven trunks of personal accessories and worked into the wee hours of the morning to add her touch to the clothing line and the cauKerby Jean Raymondse. Models donned military-style hats, her staple dark, round sunglasses, and metal jewelry + handcrafted pins. She even went as far into detail as taping pant cuffs to boots to complete the looks.

Apart from experiencing a double bind or few of their own and knowing how dark of a place it can leave a person in, Kerby and Erykah’s hopes were to shed light on the taboo issue of depression and to get people talking about it. The show closed with a model carrying a picket sign that read “MY DEMONS WON TODAY IM SORRY”—the harrowing last words posted to Facebook by 23-year-old BLM activist, Marshawn McCarrel, who took his own life on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse a week before the runway show.

It isn’t too late to start to pay attention.

Essence Black Women in Hollywood

Oprah’s OWN Network partnered with and aired the 9th Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.

In her opening remarks, she implored us to “bask in each other’s achievements” and thanked Essence for being pioneers in celebrating Black women “who have the good sense of doing this for ourselves.”

Oprah closes by reminding us that we are each other’s wisdom source and it’s our job to recognize that. She quotes Ava Duvernay who said, “when Black women are together a sacred space can be conjured.”

And so she sent us off into the night to “let the conjuring begin.”

Here are some notables / quotables from the Honorees’ themselves that remind us Black girls how to stay fly:

Tracee Ellis Ross – Fierce and Fearless Award

“I woke up and had no voice. It was really scary. I talk a lot! – Not having a voice has been a very spiritual experience for me. I learned a lot.”

“I am not the sound of my voice. I am me.”635920352814628747-GTY-512322642-79968082

Of the Nina Simone documentary  “I said out loud by myself - why do I not know that this woman is beauty? She is Beauty. Why did no one tell me this growing up? So thank you Essence for continuing to show us and the world our texture, our beauty. All of it. To help redefining for the world and just waking everybody up.”

“This room is filled with women who do not always get to be recognized or feel how great and important we are. We should all do what we can in our daily lives to remember that we are glorious and powerful and more than enough as women of color and as humans. I am committed to bringing Human back.”

“I am often afraid. I was terrified when I lost my voice” – “I lean into [the fear], to find information and things that it has to teach me...I am no longer afraid of being afraid because I have learned that I am Okay. I’m with me. I don’t always feel fierce but I do feel like a rock star at being human. So, I thank you Essence for helping me to celebrate my humanity.”

Nina Shaw – Power Award

opens with ”I was working so hard I missed the teleprompter deadline”

“I want to thank Essence for having always believed in our strength and beauty. And OWN for carrying these powerful images to the world.”

“I have been deeply moved by how many of you have shared with me that I made a difference in your lives. But I am here today, in no small part, because you used your power to decide how and by whom you would be represented. Indeed, I stood up for you but I was able to do so because you stood with me.”

“Let’s believe that our own power is part of the solution. But it does mean that we have to ask and answer some tough questions.”

“How can we use our power for change? If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women. You are a much more forceful advocate against gender-bias and wage inequality if you actually hire women.”

“Do it for your wives, your sisters, your daughters so that they can reach their full potential in the work world.”

“My message, while not original, hopefully resonates: use your own power to be the change you want to see. Thank you.”

Thais Francis – Discovery Award

“To God, the Almighty, Most High King, for giving me this opportunity but more importantly for filling me with the audacity to believe that I could tell a story. Before I wrote this film I had never written a screenplay in my life. But I went to the Brooklyn Public Library, every day, and taught myself how to tell a story because I believed that I could do it.

“Deeply appreciative to Essence, and to the judges, for creating a platform of visibility. Especially during a time and a society that’s telling us that we’re invisible. But I think the mere fact that we are in this room is because we stand on the shoulders of ancestors who were resilient.”

Debbie Allen – Legend Award

“The real world that I was born into was a world of ideas, and thoughts, and love. And dreams. And prayers. That’s the real world; the unseen world. That is the world that changes everything. Perception is a learned commodity.”

“I can’t take full credit because I feel that I have always worked to a purpose greater than myself. If there’s any goal, that is it.”

“It is the lot of women to be creative. We hold the landing pad to the human race nestled in our groins. Every man breathing should pledge allegiance to the birth canal. It is the lot of women to be producers, we came in like that.”

“The only plate I want to pass is that plate of purpose. It will keep you youthful. It will keep you standing on your legs, as I am after all of these years. It will make your life have meaning.”

“This is a wonderful moment in the sun that can really last a long time”


Through writing, New York native, Bri.L, has produced a creative voice that speaks for the sake of her mind and heart. Her poetry is a raw reflection of the world’s culture - telling stories that embody life, consciousness, acceptance and more – from unpredictable perspectives. At an early age, putting pen to paper became a way for her to heal, to evoke, to love and she’s been left to write ever since. For more on how she tells it, visit www.beenlefttowrite.com | IG: @Bri_Bossy