B.E.T’s annual Black Girls Rock! Awards aired Sunday night and honored incredible women like Angela Bassett, Regina King, H.E.R., and Ciara.
Since 2007, the award show has done an amazing job at showcasing the talent and beauty that black women possess but, for the 12th year in a row, they’ve failed to acknowledge black trans women. And it didn’t go unnoticed.
Pose star and trans rights activist Angelica Ross called out the award show on Sunday night. She tweeted,
“BLACK TRANS GIRLS ROCK!!! I’m willing to B.E.T. that no trans women were invited or highlighted at #BlackGirlsRock. Is it 18 now? 18 black trans women have been killed this year but NO MENTION during the segment dedicated to the lives lost???”
Pose, a show that highlights the underground ballroom culture started by the black and brown LGBTQ community is full of black trans actresses. It’s been met with favorable reviews and was most recently nominated for seven Emmy Awards. And yet, it seems that Angelica was right. Black women filled the audience, but B.E.T couldn’t invite at least one trans actress or activist? Did they do this on purpose?
Most people agreed with Angelica’s sentiments, while others told her that black trans women needed to have a separate ceremony. One user responded,
“And they shouldn’t have been. It’s ‘BLACK GIRLS ROCK’ not ‘BLACK DUDES WHO ARE NOW GIRLS ROCK.’ Have your celebration and stop trying to bully others to accept YOUR ‘life.'”
This mentality that trans women are the “other” or that they’re not “real” women is the mentality that gets them killed.
At the Fashion Media awards, Angelica’s co-star Indya Moore — who was being honored for being the first trans woman to be featured on Elle Magazine — used her platform to raise awareness on violence towards black trans women.
Moore’s keepsake earrings were adorned with the 16 trans women that had been murdered this year (it’s now up to 18). Her purse had a picture of Bailey Reeves, a 17- year-old trans girl who was gunned down in Baltimore just two days before the award ceremony.
“It’s hard to celebrate being celebrated for being myself during a time when people like me are being murdered for being themselves. This year, 16 known women were taken from us because of that same fear. On this day that I’m celebrated and awarded for being visible, I decided to bring them with me. I’m wearing them on my ears as earrings. I’d like to thank Ian Bradley, my stylist, and the designer, Aree for creating a way for me to bring these women here with me tonight…Just like me, these women dared to exhaust their freedom to exist by being visible. However, instead of being celebrated they’re punished for it… Trans people deserve safety, acknowledgment, and respect. Not just when we’re on the cover of magazines, but when we are in the streets, when we are poor, when we are sex workers.”
The discrimination and violence that all trans women face is a daily issue. But according to the Human Rights Campaign, trans women of color are most at risk when it comes to violent attacks.
Last Wednesday, Bee Love Slater of Florida became the 18th black trans murdered in 2019. She was found burned to death in her car, about 30 miles from where she lived. Her death came just two days after Bailey’s. How many more trans women need to die before something is done?
Am I surprised that B.E.T. didn’t include trans women in their ceremony? No, I’m just disappointed. Black trans women are brave, they are superstars, innovators, activists, and icons. They exist and by not including them, you are denying their existence.
Whether or not the snub was intentional, B.E.T. needs to do better.
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Feature Photo: Angelica Ross / Instagram
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.