Over the past couple of years, The term “black girl magic” has become commonplace in our vocabulary for good reason. Black girls and women have been showing extraordinary skill in everything from academics to athletics. Even in entertainment, Black women and girls are breaking out of traditional, stereotypical roles to ones that show complex characters with fully developed stories.
Just the other day, my son was running around the crib with an imaginary proton pack screaming that he was the Ghostbusters lady (Leslie Jones). Without a doubt, there is a shifting of the Black female image to include a variety of personalities that kids can look up to. We are finally recognizing our Black heroines and sheroes and it feels great.
That being the case, I’m realizing that the term “Black Girl Magic” may become obsolete. As more of our sisters are being recognized, more emphasis needs to be placed on the hard work that women like Viola Davis, Zendaya, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, Lupita Nyong’o, Kerry Washington and so many others put into their craft. Attributing the success of Black women to magic feels like it’s downplaying their abilities.
Don’t get me wrong, I get why “Black Girl Magic” is used. It’s a celebration of a sister getting hers and making it look effortless. But let’s not forget to give our young girls the credit for what they actually get done rather than a magical force. When high school senior Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna got accepted to all eight Ivy-league universities earlier this year, that wasn’t because of magic. Eleven year-old Mikaila Ulmer, whose brand of lemonade got picked up by Whole Foods, didn’t rely on magic to make that happen. Success stories like these don’t just pop out of a top hat, they’re the result of tremendous focus and effort.
There’s nothing wrong with expressing pride in our collective accomplishments but let’s also remember to stress to our kids that they themselves are the magic. When the next young Black woman defies the laws of physics like Simone Biles did during the Olympics, remind your little Black girl that she did it because of hard training to reach her goal. Black boys and non-Black kids don’t have their wins attributed to magic and neither should hers. Our girls are just as capable of wandless victory as anyone else. They deserve those props for making themselves great and for inspiring the rest of planet.
Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.