Janelle Monae was honored at the Black Girls Rock 2012 Awards Ceremony, receiving the ‘Young Gifted and Black Award.’ Her acceptance speech was emotionally charged as she told the story behind her ‘look’ – her uniform – as she refers to it; a jacket and pants, usually wearing black and white and her Fifties style hairdo.
Monae spoke very candidly about her family and honoring them with her uniform.
“When I started my musical career I was a maid, I used to clean houses. My parents—my mother was a proud janitor, my step-father, who raised me like his very own, worked at the post office and my father was a trash man. They all wore uniforms. And that’s why I stand here today in my black and white and I wear my uniform to honor them,” Monae said as she choked back tears. “This is a reminder that I have work to do, I have people to uplift, I have people to inspire. And today I wear my uniform proudly as a COVERGIRL.” Monae was named COVERGIRL, alongside that of Rihanna, Tyra Banks and Queen Latifah in August of this year.
Monae directed her closing message to the younger fans in attendance. “I want to be clear young girls, I didn’t have to change who I was to become a COVERGIRL, I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned through my journey that perfection is the often the enemy of greatness. Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable.”