By Charles Hallman
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Procter & Gamble last week announced a new partnership that solely focuses on Black girls. My Black Is Beautiful was started in 2007 by the Procter & Gamble (P&G) Company, and in April they released Imagine a Future, a 30-minute documentary on Black women in America and Africa.
A program of the same name was started as well and now will connect with the WNBA, the world’s longest running women’s professional team sports league, where over three-fourths of the players are Black females. “It’s a slam dunk,” said P&G North America Brand Operations Director Julie Eddleman in a July 22 press release.
Although the specifics have yet to be released, the WNBA-P&G partnership will be woven into the league’s WNBA Cares program. Players, coaches and league legends “will engage in insightful and inspiring conversations with young Black girls about inner and outer beauty, self-esteem and mentorship,” explains the league press release.
WNBA President Laurel Richie told the MSR last Saturday at Uncasville, Connecticut, the site of the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game, “I commend P & G for their My Black is Beautiful initiative. First they create the program, and then they put together this wonderful Imagine a Future, where they encourage each young girl to dream big. I think it’s a terrific program that fits very much underneath our desire to provide sources of inspiration and our Inspiring Women platform.
“We are thrilled to be in partnership [with P&G],” continued Richie. “It is very much consistent in how we view our role in the community as well. Our athletes are terrific role models,” said Richie, the first Black female to head a major professional league. “We have 132 terrific role models, each with her own story of building and coming into her own in terms of self-esteem.”
Minnesota Lynx players Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus both noted the importance of being role models, especially for Black girls: “To give young Black women — young, middle and old — something to aspire to… I want to do everything that I can to make sure that they have something exciting to look to,” said Moore.
“I come from the inner city and been through some of the struggles some of those girls are going through,” added Augustus.
Minnesota Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson agreed with her players: “I think with this initiative [will help] young Blacks grow and girls in general take a step in life and be successful. The world today is very diverse, and to be able to reach out to ethnic groups — we are an organization that can help promote that. I think it is a great thing.”
Her players “can share with the next generation whether they become athletes or not,” said Richie. “The skill set of discipline and teamwork, and bringing your best…those are life skills that our players happen to learn through sports but are relevant beyond sports. There is such a great need.”
“Being a role model is huge,” surmised Moore. “We all are learning from someone else and most of the time [from] someone older than us. It’s a part of life.”
“This is a terrific partnership that we’re really excited about,” concluded Richie.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.