Black Women's Empowerment

BWE’s PR Problem

You guys know I’m not a big fan of rabid feminism, but one modern-day spin off of it–Black Women’s Empowerment (BWE)–the love child of womanism and self-determination–is one of the most exciting I’ve come across in my lifetime. (As an aside, I have formally abandoned identifying this site as “BWE,” however, there are some core components–namely, black women using a variety of tools to live your best life–jibe with the BWE core message, and there’s just no getting away from that.)

I stumbled upon BWE after I got my book deal with Simon & Schuster as an offshoot of my research for “Swirling” in 2010. The blogs I read spoke to me because I’d been living this life, doing the things and thinking the things these women were saying, and it was as familiar as the coils on my head, the roundness of my nose, the fullness of my lips. And while I was merely just thinking, the women on those handfuls of blogs were writing the words that could, potentially spring millions of black women into action.

For those who have stumbled on these blogs through internet searches, a link, a Twitter or Facebook feed, maybe a slip of a keystroke–they got lucky. But outside of “the black internet” BWE is largely unheard of. And that is unfortunate. Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google search of “Black Women’s Empowerment” and you won’t see nary a single, solitary news outlet or non-blog that has covered the story. In this age of rapid-fire news and information, if it hasn’t been mentioned on CNN or the New York Times, it doesn’t exist.

As a former public relations and media relations professional who’s gotten her clients on Larry King, countless morning shows and all the major newspapers and magazines, I see all kinds of potential, if the movement was laid out in a scholarly form–perhaps some PhD student doing their thesis on this burgeoning social science, taking a look-see at a segment of black women who shirk the traditional and potentially deadly and disastrous roles we’re often stuffed into, might be a great first step. The future of BWE could and should happen in academia. It’s worth it.

And from academia and scholarly research lends the branch to mainstream media. The subjects of this new-fangled movement speaking with authority and poise could set the stage for the media to consider a new, NEW black woman, worthy of respect and admiration–worth putting on a few pedestals.

As a “PR pro,” I’ve been well-trained in opposition information gathering, and upfront, the BWE movement has a biggie: There’s an impression–whether earned or not–that BWE does the following:

–BWE women hate black men, and the sites dedicated to the cause are merely vehicles to vent frustrations against the men who share the same level of melanin.

–BWE is all about getting a white man.

–BWE is humorless and bitter.

–BWE women hate fat black women.

–BWE women are purposely excluding of other black women they deem to be of a lower class.

If I was still practicing and BWE was my client, the above issue would garner as a crisis in communication–an impediment and distraction from the target audience getting to the core of the message. If BWE is the garden, these issues are the weeds. And everybody knows what happens when you don’t weed.

“Weeding” consists of an active effort, not to change the minds who channel these narratives, but to figuratively shout them down by reinforcing a core message in which all the principals agree. Once a core message is established and enumerated (don’t just trust that people will “figure it out;” that’s not fair, nor is it productive) distribute those principles and enumerations to a network of like-minded people who agree to carry the banner. Carry those message points to your legion, rinse and repeat.

Some of you might be wondering why, if I’m not in BWE, I would write for free what I would charge someone else $150 per hour for.

BWE is worth it. It shouldn’t die. It should grow, and grow and grow. It’s bigger than any one person, and the philosophy should not be selfishly kept by a knot of bloggers on the internet. Some of us have daughters, you know!

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