Earlier today, an ELLE Magazine story entitled “Here’s My Problem with #BlackGirlMagic” started to gain traction on Twitter. Instead of accepting #BlackGirlMagic as a push toward positive empowerment for black girls and women, Linda Chavers explained her disdain for movement, saying that it reinforces the stereotype of black women and girls being immune to pain and comfortable with bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders.
While Chavers’ skepticism of #BlackGirlMagic is understandable as she explains it, it is rooted in misinformation. #BlackGirlMagic seeks to uplift black girls and women, not to make them the Other as pillars of superhuman strength.
Contrary to Chavers’ assertion that #BlackGirlMagic hints at black women’s subhuman nature, the aforementioned magic lies in the beauty of black women.
As defined by The Huffington Post, “Black Girl Magic is a term used to illustrate the universal awesomeness of black women. It’s about celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring, or mind-blowing about ourselves.”
#BlackGirlMagic is about celebrating the accomplishments, creativity and compelling qualities of black girls and women. #BlackGirlMagic is about self-love and feeling yourself. Led by the likes of #CarefreeBlackGirls, including Zoe Kravitz, Willow Smith, Janelle Monae, Solange Knowles and Amandla Stenberg, #BlackGirlMagic is about empowering young black girls as they transition from childhood into adulthood, creating well-rounded, self-confident black women. Parallel to the #CarefreeBlackGirl movement, #BlackGirlMagic is about breaking down the stigmas attached to black femininity and black female identity in favor of positivity and love.
Chavers offers Shonda Rhimes’ portrayal of black women as the antithesis of #BlackGirlMagic, but her example is flawed. Audiences do see Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating in the throes of the most acute mental anguish in “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” However, these honest depictions of suffering do not detract from the triumphs that Pope and Keating experience in their chosen lines of work.
Their insecurities and fumbles do not negate their positive traits, such as a tireless work ethic, a keen eye for style and a balance between tough love and selfless compassion. The logic of #BlackGirlMagic may even go so far to say that Pope’s and Keating’s imperfections are what make them perfect and even more worthy of celebration.
Moving forward, Chavers should take a second look at ESSENCE Magazine’s February issue, which celebrates #BlackGirlMagic, in order to discern the true meaning of the movement. Its cover stars, Yara Shahidi, Teyonah Parris and Johnetta Elzie – along with other featured celebrities, including Zendaya, Keke Palmer and Aja Naomi King – are talented, confident, radiant and kind.
All of these women are living, breathing slaps in the face to Western culture’s limited, distorted version of what a black woman should be. After examining these fearless and fabulous women, who are making waves in both art and activism, it should be clear to Chavers that #BlackGirlMagic is about inclusivity and love as opposed to restrictions and hatred.