Another day, another “opportunity” we have to defend our right to flourish as black women (insert heavy deep sigh here). I woke up to a text from my beloved bestie inquiring about my thoughts on an Elle article about Black Girl Magic. I had her send me the link on the way to the train so I could read what I knew would be yet another white woman asking why black women feel they’re so special (we are by the way). Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment to discover that it was a black woman who penned the article titled: Here’s My Problem With Black Girl Magic. Let me first say that all black women don’t have to have the same beliefs about everything, because we are not a monolith, but my goodness honey how do you find fault in this movement? Do you understand the metaphor behind Black Girl Magic? It means that we endure prejudice and racism, while simultaneously having to overcome the obstacles of misogyny, yet we still slay. The magic you so coarsely disagree with is our ability to flourish in the face of adversity, the levels of which very few people in this country can understand, or even handle. It takes a superhuman amount of grace, fidelity, confidence, intelligence, and willpower to thrive and exceed expectations in this world. So yes, we are magical.
There are so many flaws in the logic of this viewpoint that I don’t know where to begin. Firstly, I need you to understand that it is neither our strength nor our flaws that are the cause for the list of attacks you listed. Look at Black Girl Magic written out. Sweet girl you lost them at Black. They don’t give a shit about you being a girl or your glow up capabilities. Those who stand to oppress or harm us don’t care how smart, beautiful, tenacious, weak, strong, meek, or bold we are. It is simply that we are black. That is enough for them to feel justified in their stance. It is our mere existence that stands to threaten their privilege, and they feel entitled to try to tear that down. Your piece is truly the embodiment of the quote, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” You seem to be afraid of the power you are unaware that you possess. Would you rather that we cower in fear and play the victim so as to appear more deserving of basic human rights? It wouldn’t work. Our presence, because of the way we came to this country compared to where we are now, is the threat to their status quo. That is to be celebrated.
Secondly, being magical (fictionally of course because we don’t know that magic exists which is why this is a very bizarre thing to even discuss) doesn’t make you subhuman, it makes you superhuman. With that being said I would like for you to think about the superhero archetypes we have seen since we were children. Everyone who possesses superpowers or has some super natural gift was flawed…horribly. That’s the point of the cartoon, comic strip, movie, etc. To show that these people are still people, they just have a little something extra that makes them have to work a little bit harder to be accepted. Sound familiar? If they weren’t flawed, there would be no story. So to say that we are flesh and bone and not sub human kind of doesn’t need to be said. They know that, they just don’t care. And that’s what should really scare the shit out of you. Their inability to see us as human is a problem with them, not us. Maybe it makes you feel safe to find fault in our actions so as to humanize the oppressors, because it is unfathomable that human beings can be so cruel towards other human beings, but that is the very harsh reality we live in.
Lastly, the strong black woman is not just an ideal or a part of the character development in a Shonda Rhimes show. That is real life. That is watching your mother work 16 hour days to give you the same things she had growing up with both of her parents. That is listening to your grandmother talk about how she cleaned houses and office buildings but always wearing proper hosiery and never unkempt, because you should take pride in your appearance. Being a strong black woman is being pushed off of a train in the subway and having no one stand up for you so you stand up for yourself. Or it’s having a very similar man verbally attack you and try to physically assault you and call you an animal while once again no one comes to save you so you save your damn self. Our strength and independence came out of a need to survive, and I will not have you or anyone else tell me that, that “archetype” is why white men feel they can tear us down. Our resilience is our magic. Own it.