“You’re pretty for a black girl!” …Um thanks. “You’re the prettiest black girl I’ve seen!” …Cool, I guess. “You know I don’t usually date black girls, right?” …Are you kidding me?
I mean, come on, how many of us have either asked, been asked or even over-heard these uncomfortable yet familiar conversations? Is this okay? When did I–a black woman–become conditioned to thank someone for a half-empty compliment on my beauty, under the strict classification of “for a black girl.” The ultimate reply that defeats every one of these socially and intellectually unacceptable remarks is such a free-ing truth: Black Girl Magic.
Is my tinted and glowing skin not enough? The chemical in my scalp straightens the kinks because straight hair has been socially expected of me. Isn’t that damn near selling my cultural soul?
No one directly told me to do these things; however, it was always implied. It was implied on the rainbow carpet we sat on during story time when other little girls tugged on my wavy pigtails with their nose wrinkled in disgust, or when I was repeatedly asked, “Why don’t you ever wear your hair straight? Your hair would look much prettier straight.”
In third grade, waiting in line for chicken nuggets in a predominately white school, I may have not been able to answer that, but now, thanks to CaShawn Thompson, creator of #BlackGirlMagic, I am completely aware of my own.
What is this hashtag that captures the attention of millions who casually scroll on social media? It is a movement. It is a counter-action. It is everything beautiful and radiant about black culture. This simple hashtag recognizes and eliminates any negative stigma that black women face everyday. According to Bené Viera from Essence Magazine, “it’s the sway in our hips, the way our melanin glows in the sun, how our coils grow upward, how we intuitively understand the difference between a ‘girl’ and a ‘girrrrrrrl’ response, how we feel like a win for one is a win for all.”
Essence Magazine defines Black Girl Magic as a connection that black women cherish and share without even having to know each other in a world that constantly tells us that we aren’t enough. Therefore, one can imagine how CaShawn Thompson’s slogan took the internet by fire when black women and supporters alike added a hashtag to the phrase and poured out thousands of likes on Twitter and Instagram
Even Michelle Obama–humanitarian, Harvard law school educated and former first lady of the United States–has been compared to an ape because of her full lips, sharp jawline and darker skin. That’s right, darker skin. Shaming a woman because her skin is slightly darker than another person’s is an actual thing. I vividly remember hearing “Damn, you got too dark this summer.” Meanwhile Malibu Barbies make the cover of Seventeen magazine for being “totally tan.” Seriously? Dark skin shines, dark skin shimmers, just like any other tint of the rainbow, and Black Girl Magic agrees.
The next time you scroll across #BlackGirlMagic, absorb the meaning and like or double tap the movement behind it. Oil up that curly spiral kink. Brush that Brazilian hair you paid for. Let that deliciously dark skin shine in the sun. Capture your culture in a candid photo and don’t complain about the size of your nose or lips. Be voluptuous. Be unapologetically black. Be woke. Be poppin’. And be you.