The history of negative and stereotypical portrayals of Black women and girls in television and film has made affirming cultural measures like #BlackGirlMagic necessary.
As of October 3, 2017, the box-office hit Girls Trip has earned more than 135 million dollars worldwide—making it one of the highest grossing films so far this year. The success of the Malcolm D. Lee directed film shares the spotlight with a recent Nielson.com report that indicates Black women are the driving force in Black spending. According to the report, Black women are pushing the spending toward the 1.5 trillion-dollar mark in four years. It would seem that #BlackGirlMagic is everywhere. Hollywood and other parts of mainstream culture are finally beginning to recognize Black women as influential moneymakers and spenders.
However, mainstream culture has had a multifaceted history with Black women and Black girls. Some have even claimed that Hollywood and majority culture has historically hated the Black woman. Considering the complex composition of the relationship between Black women and Hollywood/mainstream culture, the Black woman’s evolution to validation should not be reduced to the trappings of consumerism. Instead, it is more about a proper sense of history and reveals the value of self-discovery and self-acceptance as the core validation.
CaShawn Thomson popularized #BlackGirlMagic to recognize the resilience, beauty, and power of Black women and Black girls. The hashtag spread first through social media and is now on most media formats. The success of movies like Girls Trip and the Neilson.com report captures the motif of #BlackGirlMagic persuasively; although, it is the need to employ the hashtag that should also hold our attention. Hollywood has not always affirmed Black women and Black girls. The history of negative and stereotypical portrayals of Black Black women and girls in television and film has made affirming cultural measures like #BlackGirlMagic necessary. Black women have not always been recognized as beautiful, powerful, and irrepressible. And any claim to such descriptions reflects a group’s work toward self-acceptance despite mainstream dismissal. For instance, the embrace of the Natural Hair movement demonstrates well the self-love and respect expressed through the #BlackGirlMagic theme. Moreover, the peaceful march on Washington on September 30, 2017 led by the civil and human rights organization, Black Women’s Blueprint, featured hundreds of Black women marching in unity for social justice and is a recent example of the Black woman’s power and presence in the face of disdain. One of the lingering rally cries from the march, Trust Black Women, is the embodiment of #BlackGirlMagic.
The ubiquitous caricaturing of Black women as angry, over-sexed baby mamas, is still seen in both scripted and reality formatted television programming. Despite some recent turnaround in shows like Blackish and others, adverse portrayals are seen twice as much as the more progressive ones–normalizing a fallacious notion about Black women and girls. #BlackGirlMagic exists to instill pride in the face of rejection. It reclaims what has been appropriated and aims to empower those who have been let down.
The evolution of the Black woman’s validation comes not from the extrinsic dynamics. Her elevation stems not because mainstream culture finally “gets it.” The Black woman’s natural reclamation to her self-worth connects her to a deeper journey. The core of her validation is not affirmed by economic power alone, but it is rooted in her ability to rise and to keep expanding. This work is too valuable to reduce to external factors like consumerism. Black women have done some necessary work in ‘reclaiming their time’ and own full rights to the assertion, #BlackGirlMagic.
Main Image by Clodd Pierre
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