I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission
~ “Ego Tripping”, Nikki Giovanni
I was tired. I imagine you were tired too. With all of the overt racism, the attacks on Black people’s lives and spaces, the divisiveness across the country, the disrespect for people of color, it had all become too much. And then it happened, as it usually does. Atop a 30 foot pole, confederate flag unhooked and in her grasp, Bree Newsome shone as a glimmer of hope, as an inspiration to us who had grown weary. And just like that, many of us felt like we could fight another day, that we could be brave, that we could challenge the status quo. I am not sure Bree’s act of bravery was something that we saw coming, but we should have. Black girl magic has been inspiring us since the beginning of time.
These have been dark times, lately. Hatred has been manifesting its ugly head in various spaces and in various manners. However, there have been a few bright glimmers of light in the dark haze. These bright glimmers of light inspire us, give us strength, and restore the hope that began to wane away inside of us. These bright glimmers of light can only be described as one thing—Black girl magic. “Black Girl Magic” is a movement that has spread like wildfire on social media and can now be found used in headlines and printed on t-shirts. Black girl magic or #BlackGirlMagic is often used to celebrate the beauty, strength, courage, and all around awesomeness of Black womanhood. It is being used to celebrate highly publicized achievements of Black women, or just to shed light on everyday Black women being awesome. It seems that even in our darkest moments we can look up and Black girl magic is bursting through to remind us of all that is good in the world.
Bree Newsome was one in a long line of Black women reminding us of the brilliance, courage, and strength of Black women. Serena Williams with her 20th major, with the French Open 2015 and then turning around and securing her Wimbledon title, Misty Copeland becoming the first African American Woman Principal for the American Ballet Theater, Loretta Lynch becoming the first African American woman U.S. Attorney General, Evelyn Maria Thompson becoming the first woman president of Coppin State College, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby being unfazed and unfettered while bringing charges against police in the death of Freddie Gray, and then there was Bree, climbing the flagpole at the South Carolina State Capitol building and saying enough is enough. These Black women are just a few that exemplify what many of us who are in Black sororities already know. Black women are magic.
Black women live at the intersection of gender and race. Many of us live at multiple intersections including class, religion, and sexual orientation. We must always navigate these liminal spaces and often are asked to nullify our Black womanhood for another identity to take precedence. But we are not simple beings– no truly stunning magic ever is. Black women are beautifully complex and they lead in very complex, bold ways. They can be radical, they can work within structures, they can simply create opportunities and provide permission for other Black women to be magic as well.
As we are trying to wrap our heads around all that has transpired in the past month, and the past few years, as we mourn the tragic loss of two women from within our ranks, Cynthia Hurd, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Myra Thompson a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. due to the racism fueled massacre in Charleston, we as members of Black sororities should find opportunities to celebrate Black girl magic. We have the special opportunity and access to Black women who are doing amazing things, in their careers, with their families, and in their communities. Let us lift them up and support them. Let us also ensure that our sororities are arenas that continue to give women and girls the space, support, and resources to work their Black girl magic or at the very least, find a way to tap into it. In a world that needs to believe that the impossible is still possible, in a world that needs people that aren’t afraid to be bold, amazing, and courageous, in a world that would try to deny, cheapen, appropriate, and poorly imitate the amazing culture that is Black womanhood, the Black sorority has always served and continues to serve as a repository of this Black girl magic. Let us continue to be wells of women who are amazing, brilliant, brave, and courageous. Let us use our Black girl magic to fight for our communities, our schools, our health, and our people. It is not new to us. We’ve been doing it for centuries. And now more than ever, we cannot shrink back. We must shine all the more. The world needs more Black girl magic.
We are in dark times. But lucky for us, there is light. Lang Leave writes in Love & Misadventure,
- It’s so dark right now, I can’t see any light around me.
That’s because the light is coming from you. You can’t see it but everyone else can.
In these dark times, let us not hide our light but rather make it bolder and brighter. We are amazing sisterhoods, striving for excellence and servicing the communities around us. We are intelligent. We are talented. We are full of light and wonder. We are magic.
This is honor of the life of Sandra Bland, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and an alumna of Prairie View A&M University. We are grateful for and celebrate the way she shared her Black Girl Magic, and dedicated her life to helping students do the same.