We at 2BG know how hard it is to be a black girl these days. Between facing violence, sexual assault, and general criticism from our communities, it’s amazing we’ve been able to accomplish so much and look good doing it. In celebration of our achievements, black girls have gathered around some of the things that make us so special—our creativity, intelligence, and in general, our #BlackGirlMagic.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this hashtag, you may be unfamiliar with the uproar it’s started in the last few weeks. The concept was first credited to CaShawn Thompson, when she hashtagged #BlackGirlsareMagic, and because Twitter has not yet raised the 140 character limit, #BlackGirlMagic came soon after. This hashtag was designated as a place to celebrate the achievements and resilience of black women, an idea that resonates along the lines of this own blog’s mission. The idea picked up so much steam that Essence magazine dedicated their own issue to it, featuring our alumna Teyonah Parris (come on the blog, girl!), Netta Elzie, a founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and Yara Shahidi, our Black-ish hair crush.
But not everyone saw it that way. Earlier this month, Dr. Linda Chavers discussed her issues with the movement in Elle. Dr. Chavers’ problem was not with black achievement itself, but with the term “magic,” which she said helped perpetuate the stereotype of the strong black women. She also felt that because of her chronic illness, she could not participate in feeling magical in moments when she felt weak or dehumanized. She compared declaring yourself magical, and thus “superhuman” to saying that black girls are like animals, because it “implies that we are organically different” and thusly, deserve to be treated differently and protected less.
And while these are concerns that black women have, I personally think she missed the point. I recently purchased a t-shirt that declared me a “Magical Black Girl,” and I don’t think that identifying that way means I never feel pain, or I never need help. Identifying as magical means taking a look at all of the parts of being a black girl, the good and the bad, and celebrating ourselves despite all of it. And sure, we shouldn’t expect black women to be superhuman mammies—we’re magic despite the difficulties, not because of them, and Ashley Ford explained this in her response in Elle.
So, you know your cousins over on Black Twitter couldn’t resist an opportunity to respond (or clapback, depending on their mood.) And even though in her For Harriet piece, it’s clear that Dr. Chavers came from a place with nothing but love for black girls, we do have to understand that black girls need to have somewhere they can be their true selves (as popularized by the #CarefreeBlackGirl movement, which received similar criticism from your cousin Pookie who thinks black women shouldn’t twerk because it brings down the race, but who also classifies Kim Kardashian as a “baddie.”) And would it have been better if she’d brought this conversation up in a black publication like Essence? All of these topics were discussed in the links provided, and now we want to hear from y’all. What do y’all think? Is there a problem with the idea of #BlackGirlMagic, and where is the time and place to discuss it? Let us know in the comments.