Black Girl Magic

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Black Girl Magic
Formation2013; 5 years ago (2013)
Founders
  • CaShawn Thompson
TypeSocial movement
Location
  • International

Black Girl Magic (#BlackGirlMagic) is a concept and movement that was popularized by CaShawn Thompson in 2013.[1] The concept was born as a way to "celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of black women", as described by Julee Wilson from HuffPost,[2] and to congratulate black women on their accomplishments.[3] Referring to a speech made by Michelle Obama at the Black Girls Rock Awards,[4] Thompson explains that black women around the world persevering despite adversity inspired her to spread the concept of Black Girl Magic.[1] With these women in mind, Thompson created the social media hashtag, clothing campaign, and rallying cry "Black Girl Magic", in the hopes of counteracting negativity society places on black women.[5]

Though born online, the movement has inspired many organizations across the world to host events using the title. The movement has also seen celebrity support, as singers Corinne Bailey Rae, Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles have invoked the concept,[6][7] and ballerina Misty Copeland and President Barack Obama discussed the idea in an interview with Maya Rhodan for Time and Essence magazines.[8]

Since being popularized, the concept has also gained traction in cultural criticism, invoked in analysis of music[9][10] and film.[11] As its usage has grown, the expression has drawn criticism as well as staunch defenders.[5][12]

In 2016, poet Mahogany L. Browne created a slam poetry piece entitled "Black Girl Magic".[13]

Founding[edit]

Hashtag[edit]

In 2013, Thompson coined the phrase via the hashtag #BlackGirlsAreMagic— now shortened to #BlackGirlMagic—to create an online dialogue centered around the achievements of black women, in a society that has historically recognized very few of these achievements.[1] Since being popularized, one can find the hashtag being used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media and mainstream media platforms, celebrating positive messages and images of black women all across the globe.

Clothing campaign[edit]

In January 2014, Thompson began selling t-shirts sporting the "Black Girls Are Magic" logo that she created with her friend.[1] At the time, Thompson only meant to sell these shirts to her friends and family, but has since sold over 3,000 T-shirts through her Teespring account.[14] While the popularity of the shirts started among active social media users, Thompson was quickly surprised to see that people were also buying them as gifts for granddaughters, daughters, and nieces, as they felt that the message was encouraging for young girls too.

The shirts have also gained some celebrity recognition, with prominent young black women such as Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg posting pictures of themselves on various social media platforms wearing their Black Girls Are Magic gear.[1]

Philosophy[edit]

"I say 'magic' because it's something that people don't always understand," Thompson told The Los Angeles Times.[15] She went on to explain how "Sometimes our accomplishments might seem to come out of thin air, because a lot of times, the only people supporting us are other black women." At its core, the purpose of this movement is to create a platform where women of color can stand together against the stereotyping, colourism, misogynoir and racism that is often their lived experience.[1]

Controversy[edit]

As its usage has grown, the concept has also drawn criticism.[5]

"Black girls aren't magic. We're human."[edit]

While many black women support the concept of Black Girl Magic, some[who?] feel it reinforces the "strong black woman" archetype that black women often confront. In an article for Elle Magazine, Linda Chavers argued that the movement suggests that black women are superhuman, or something other than human.[16] She goes on to explain how, historically, black women have been seen and treated as subhuman beings, and how the image of black women persevering despite her suffering, is the epitome of the strong black woman type that is often celebrated while simultaneously being criticized in today's culture.[16]

Legacy[edit]

In 2016, Black Girl Magic Ltd was established as an nonprofit organization in an attempt to create a legacy and continuity throughout the UK and Europe.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Dexter (8 September 2015). "Why everyone's saying 'Black Girls are Magic'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. ^ Wilson, Julee (12 January 2016). "The Meaning Of #BlackGirlMagic, And How You Can Get Some Of It". HuffPost. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  3. ^ Ali, Rasha (30 June 2016). "What Is Black Girl Magic? A Short Explainer". TheWrap. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  4. ^ "The First Lady Honors the M.A.D. Girls". BET.com. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  5. ^ a b c Brinkhurst-Cuff, Charlie (11 April 2016). "How #BlackGirlMagic became a rallying cry for women of colour". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  6. ^ Lewis, Taylor (16 March 2016). "How British Singer Corinne Bailey Rae Describes 'Black Girl Magic'". Essence. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  7. ^ Toms, Solange Knowles, Ben. "How Our February Cover Star Amandla Stenberg Learned to Love Her Blackness". Teen Vogue (January 7, 2016). Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  8. ^ Scott, Sydney (14 March 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: President Obama and Misty Copeland Talk Black Girl Magic and the Importance of Social Movements". Essence. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ Zimmerman, Amy (24 April 2016). "Beyoncé Calls Out Jay Z's Cheating in 'Lemonade,' A Celebration of Black Girl Magic". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. ^ Ray-Harris, Ashley (3 August 2016). "Noname makes black girl magic on Telefone". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. ^ Theodore-Vachon, Rebecca (February 6, 2015). "How Rihanna Brought Black Girl Magic To "Girlhood"". Forbes. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Why are people arguing about 'Black Girl Magic'?". BBC News. January 16, 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Poet Mahogany L. Browne on 'black girl magic'". PBS NewsHour. February 25, 2016.
  14. ^ D'Oyley, Demetria Lucas (14 January 2016). "Elle, You Just Don't Understand #BlackGirlMagic". TheWrap. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Why everyone's saying 'Black Girls are Magic'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  16. ^ a b Chavers, Linda (13 January 2016). "Here's My Problem With #BlackGirlMagic". Elle Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  17. ^ "BLACK GIRL MAGIC LTD - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 2018-11-09.