Today I’m writing this post to remind and ensure everyone that #BlackGirlMagic is not a threat to whiteness, it never has been and never will be.
Rather #BlackGirlMagic is a hashtag of empowerment.
More and more each day this hashtag has populated the feeds of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and for that we have CaShawn Thompson to thank, who created it to celebrate the strength, beauty and success of black women.
You see, the marginalization and demonization of black women is real and you can pretend it isn’t. Though, chances are you are only doing so because your feelings are hurt or you haven’t experienced a racial/sexist macro/micro aggression in your life. Perhaps you don’t understand the way in which the discrimination at that intersection feels.
“In America, the black woman stands at the precipice of marginalization,” Yvanna Saint Fort wrote in her article in the Daily Targum. “Living in a white-dominated patriarchal society, she is seen as the antithesis of importance. Not only is she a minority, she belongs to the seemingly ‘lesser’ sex within the minority. Yet somehow, by strokes of strength and force, black women have historically found a way, or made one. When black men gained the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment, black women were asked to wait their turn. In this instance, they may have done so, but never completely abandoning their fight for equality.
“Decades later, when white women lobbied for the right to vote, they asked their minority counterparts to once again sit down and wait their turn,” she continued. “Groups of white women felt incorporating black women into the fight would diminish their cause. Many white women went so far as to form their own meeting groups, barring black women from entering. Regardless, black women pressed forward and earned the right to vote along with white women with the passage of the 19th Amendment.”
I find that majority of the negative comments I see on posts with the #BlackGirlMagic come from butt-hurt “white feminists.” And I use these quotation marks because I don’t believe-nor will ever believe- white feminism to be feminism, but that’s a different post. For now here’s a quotation that summarizes my feelings:
“The kind of feminism that I signed up for is one that understands that there are different ways to feel empowered and different ways to be discriminated against. The sexism that a woman of colour experiences is different than what I experience, because I don’t experience how racism intersects with sexism. And it’s not just race that compounds – homophobia, ableism, transphobia and many other forms of discrimination change sexism, and sexism changes other forms of discrimination. I, as a white woman, face one kind of sexism. The fact that other women face a different kind of sexism doesn’t mean that what I face is invalid or no longer exists, nor does what I face makes others’ invalid. I can experience sexism – but I can’t experience racialized sexism, or how racism and sexism interact. The privileges I have in some ways work to mitigate the sexism I face. And that can be hard to admit, especially for women who are just starting to grasp how sexism can affect their lives. Privileges exist, and various identities intersect to amplify or mitigate the discrimination faced. There isn’t one form of sexism that affects all women in the same way. Why should there be one kind of feminism that does that same thing?”
Read more here: Dear White Feminists: It’s not me, it’s You.
PS: This kind of critical content coming from Western University WOWs me.
I assume these comments come from these women because they feel this casts black women on a pedestal higher than their own when the “focus should be on equality.” Well, this post is for those women and anyone else confused by the hashtag: The way in which black women experience racial/sexist discrimination is very different from the way you experience discrimination. So, this assumption that our oppression is exactly the same is both naive and ignorant. As Katie Lear writes, “There isn’t one form of sexism that affects all women in the same way. Why should there be one kind of feminism that does that same thing?” Intersectional Feminism is the only feminism and #BlackGirlMagic is not a threat to your whiteness, but rather a threat to white supremacy.
The hashtag is used to remind women of colour that their successes matter-and yours do too just incase #BlackSuccessMatters makes you feel otherwise- in a society that so often disregards and misrepresents their achievements. When YouTuber Jackie Aina hit 1million subscribers #BlackGirlMagic filled her comment section to celebrate her achievement, because finding a dark-skinned black female Youtuber with 1million plus subscribers is incredibly rare.
Representation matters so when we see strong black women succeeding despite the many hardships we praise them and it reminds other black women that this triumph is possible.
#BlackGirlMagic is not #WhiteGirlsHaveNoMagic.
Remember, as a white woman you can use the #BlackGirlMagic to uplift and support black women when they succeed. It is not an exclusive cult, it’s a hashtag of empowerment.