What do you get when you gather a thousand Black women on the beach in one space under the beautiful sun? Black Girl Beach Day.
ICYMI, the sold-out event took place on Atlantic City’s Chicken Bone Beach in New Jersey on August 24 and in just under 3 weeks secured over 1,000 attendees for an official Hot Girl Summer finale. The day to night celebration of sisterhood is just what you’d expect and more from a group of melanin goddesses of all different colors, shapes and sizes who traveled from near and far. Think everything from a double dutch competition to a ‘Swag Surf’ so huge, it took a drone to get it on camera. BGBD also featured your not-so-average beachy activities like sound healing and a fun vintage photo booth.
This was the third annual BGBD, so don’t fret if you’re missed this year’s because if it’s up to its founders Christina (Chris) Bright and Germany (Snap) Lancaster and their team (Ericka Régine, Pita Bumba, Brianna Garrick, Nimaako, Suleki, Keisha, Erica Butler, Leigh Brant, Tasha, Andrea McClean), it will be back again come next summer. The ladies behind the event are indeed, miracle workers, pulling off BGBD with the demand and expectations higher than ever before after a viral report showing the beach goers getting heavily policed for…well, living while Black at last year’s festivities.
Ericka, PR for BGBD, told BET exclusively, “In terms of logistical challenges, I'm pretty sure there's a lot of pushback because anytime you talk about a large group of black millennials assembling, you can only imagine in a very white town in Atlantic City there were so many obstacles. And Kudos to [Chris and Snap], because they've been physically down in AC, met multiple times, and really were banging on doors to ensure that things got pushed through to get this event going.
So I want to make sure that's definitely seen because one of the things from last year we talked about were safe spaces and there was clearly a bit of resistance because we were a large group assembling in a public space and we're a whole bunch of Black women. It felt very much so like, ‘Who are they? What’s going on?’ And that led to that piece trending because as much as it was supposed to be a moment of celebration coming out of that day, there was a lot of stress.”
Due their diligence, this year’s event seemed to go off without a hiccup. Not only did the ladies cross their T’s and dot their I’s but they made the decision to move the event from Belamar, New Jersey to Chicken Bone Beach, a formerly racially segregated beach filled with rich Black history from the likes of beach goers such as Martin Luther King Jr. And in keeping things all very Black, even behind the scenes, they worked with police to make sure thing went smoothly.
Chris, BGBD co-founder, said “In order to make sure that we all just felt safe, we kind of just got ahead of it and really did our best to connect with the city officials, and to be completely transparent about our experience last year. We were really vocal about just letting them know that our main thing is that we feel safe and that we don't feel over policed that day.
Luckily, we have what I would call a Black girl ally in Atlantic City on the police force. One of the police officers there has been really helpful when it came to talking about the police detail for the day. He was like, ‘How would you guys like for us to accommodate you?’ And one of those ways was to have women of color officers on duty so that we felt more comfortable in the space.”
In case you were wondering, women of all colors and men too, were welcome to partake in BGBD and dubbed allies, to keep the event inclusive. In fact, the subject of allies came into question when ticket sales were first released for $5 more than the general admission price. Chris quickly followed up via Instagram with an explanation for the extra dollars. “It came up especially because this year is the first time that we sold tickets—the other years everyone is welcome as long as you come with a woman of color. And that rule is about making sure that we are keeping this ratio true to people who love and respect Black women and putting that first. So by making that ally ticket and by increasing it by just $5, inherently you have to understand what it means to be an ally. So I know for me personally, even some of my male friends were like, ‘Hey, can I come? I'm not sure if I'm an ally.’ So it's a conversation. What does it mean to be an ally?
I'm like, ‘Well, do you love and respect Black women? And what does that really mean aside from just saying that you do?’ So we actually posted on our social media a questionnaire.”
“Because we're magic and we get it and we love that. But by making the ally tickets, it's making sure that if you choose to pay that extra money, you're acknowledging what it really means to be an ally.”
They note that the increase was strategic in also addressing the wage gap for Black women, fitting since the event went down just two days after Black Women Equal Pay Day. Regardless of ticket sales, needed to fund the dope programming—yoga, group meditations, live painting, speakers—the ladies of BGBD are making sure the event stays true to how they started just two summers ago no matter how big it gets.
Snap, BGBD co-founder, says “2017 I had an idea and I thought it would be cool to get a bunch of my friends on the beach and we can just call it Black Girl Beach Day. I told Chris about it and a couple of other people. I spent all morning making all these lunches. I made an RSVP and it was 30 of us. It was very small, but it was really cute and we had fun. The next year I thought, why don't we include some programming. Our friends are all kind of like influencers and do really different things and they're all really good at what they do. Then we just promoted it and it ended up having like 500 people the next year. So we went from 30 people to 500 people.”
Chris adds, “It's about being free, using your body, being joyful, being with your sisters doing things that make us feel good, not always doing things that make other people feel good. I feel like as a woman of color that’s a weight that we don't even recognize. But we're always making sure that everyone else is good but our programming is about us feeling good first.”
Currently the official hashtag #BlackGirlBeachDay has been blocked by Instagram presumably by people that cannot take all of the melanated magic on their feeds, so please support by tagging @Instagram and asking them to unblock the hashtag.
(Photo: Rae Faith Photography for Black Girl Beach Day)
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