What is Black Girl (Woman) Magic?

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his Vice President running mate, a collective shout of glee, happiness, tears and cheers of joyful adulation rang from coast to coast.

Anyone who listened closely could clearly hear sounds of elation ringing from Washington, D.C. and Delaware, and even louder from Oakland, San Francisco, and the remainder of California – the literal Bay Area and Sactown, the Bay Area and back down.

But nowhere was the joy more intense – and loud – than from the South, where most Black Americans and thus most Black women live.

The South is the cradle of Black America and where Black women birthed generations of our ancestors.

That Black women birthed a nation under the most hostile and violent generations-long condition is an under-appreciated and unexplored miracle and testament to what we joyfully call “Black Girl (Woman) magic.

The selection of Senator Kamala Harris as Vice President nominee is historical. The humble announcement by Joe Biden was sweet, official, and worthy of the pre and post nomination hype that resulted in record-breaking funds raised in the first forty-eight hours following the announcement.

The excitement permeated media and social media in ways that surprised the mainstream media, but was wholly expected by Senator Harris’s much heralded online supporters and defenders.

Kamala Harris’ unofficial online rapid response team – the feared and respected Khive, drove algorithms across all social media with celebratory tweets, DM’s, instant messaging, and instagram and Facebook posts that overwhelmed social media onlookers.

Led mostly by Black women, women of color, Black male allies, and white women and men allies, Kamala’s KHive unleashed happiness and joy across social media, serving notice to the GOP and Democrats that a new kind of campaign season was upon everyone whether they or traditional media were ready or not.

Black Girl Magic had finally delivered its most effective result and had brought along its most effective armor of protection and advocacy.

But what, exactly, is Black Girl Magic?

Senator Kamala Harris rise to prominence is Black woman magic in that her rise is both unique and not unique.

She is unique in that she is on the ticket, and she is only the second Black woman Senator. And she was the only Black woman to be Attorney General of the most populous and most influential state in the union.

Kamala Harris epitomizes Black woman magic and she is a living trailblazer.

But Senator Harris isn’t unique in the work she put in to get where she has been and, hopefully, where she will go.

There are millions of Black women and girls putting in the work all day every day.

Black women and girls are among the most educated of all Americans. Black women are among the most likely to open small businesses. Black women run more households, manage more budgets, and are more likely to take care of kids, partners, and parents than most other demographics.

Black women are the guardians of our past, managers of our present, and builders of our futures.

Black women historians are expanding and adding to the story and history of the building of the country to include Black women, recognition long denied and ignored by white historians.

Project 1619 is one of many scholarly works that finally include the contributions of the “other” founders of the country and reframes how the country’s infancy should be looked at and understood.

Black woman have always set the standard for the broad spectrum of art, music, dance, poetry, writing, and even the female body as art.

Black women’s influence can of course also be read in books, online and magazines, and you can see their influence in movies, television, stage, and new media.

Black woman magic ranges from Ava DuVernay, Beyonce, Audra McDonald, Viola Davis, Maya Moore, Regina King, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and all the way to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

We know their names and faces and we know their work and accomplishments. We are familiar with them, honor them, and buy and support their work.

Less known but equally “magical” are the Black women who work in retail and grocery stores. The Black women who deliver your mail and answer the phone when you call your credit card, mobile phone, cable, or utility company.

The Black girl in community college who also works two jobs, shares her pay at home, and helps with her little sisters and brothers.

The financial accountants, teachers, scientists, yoga instructors, healthy living influencers, drive-through order takers, the babysitter, salon owner and worker, and the Black women managing all the hair and makeup for Black women in ways only they can do – those are all real examples of Black girl/woman magic.

Just because the magic is largely unseen and unnoticed by the masses, doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred sixty-five days a year.

American culture is Black woman culture is American culture.

The famous scene in the movie The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep’s character righteously drags Anne Hathaway’s character for absolute filth for not knowing that the color “blue” Anne derisively snorts at, was decided by Meryl (or other white women like her) two seasons prior to Anne’s character noticing it, should have a scene added on that shows Black women and girls having worn that particular “blue” that caught the eye of Meryl Streep’s about a year or two before Meryl even noticed the color in the first place.

Black culture rises from the minds and artistic expression of Black girls and women, not so-called internet “influencers” who habitually “borrow” Black women and girl’s styles and market them to their millions of online followers and magazine editors as “Urban.”

Black girl magic cannot be pigeonholed into a season or look for a runway or an Instagram photoshoot.

Just like the confines of a classroom cannot restrict the artistic, mathematical, physical, or scientific expression this is Black girl magic.

That America is just catching onto the idea and concept of Black Girl magic only confirms that America has a limited imagination resulting in stunted growth and achievements because it routinely ignores accomplishments that come from Black women and girls.

It is never too late to tap into and benefit from the magic that even Black men cannot quantify- and often ignore or even work to suppress.

Vice President nominee Kamala Harris is the latest in a long line of Black women and girls who are shinning stars being allowed to shine her fullest.

She has fought her way through attempts to artificially dim her light, as happens to so many talented Black women and girls.

Senator Kamala Harris now carries a torch that was lit by Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, that was passed to Fannie Lou Hamer and Rosa Parks, that made stops with Correta Scott King and Shirley Chisholm, that visited with Carol Moseley-Braun, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Althea Gibson, that danced with Audra McDonald, and that cheered Venus and Serena.

The same Black Woman magic that we witness, celebrate, and cheer for with the most popular Black women, is the same magic that pushes and produces the Keisha’s, Monique’s, Renee’s, Michelle’s, and Wanda’s of the country – they also are the epitome of Black girl magic and their lights are no less bright than the famous names we all know and love.

The day to day, round a way, melenin-filled girls and women, in all their lovely shades, colors, shapes, and textures, are real life Black girl magic we can all see and appreciate.

They are the energy that have fueled America’s engines for centuries.

So the next time you see Keisha or Wanda, just know that you are looking at versions of Kamala and Correta, you are seeing duplicates of Harriet and Rosa, and you are in the presence of Maya and Aretha.

Take a moment to inhale some of the magic from its source and you will discover a secret that the world has long known: There is no magic like Black girl magic.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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