While on my trip to Cambodia, and Thailand last summer, I met those four girls picture above. I don't remember much of their names, but I do know that one of the twins in the plaid flannels is named Lee*.
I met these girls on my way back from a temple, after they ran up to me to sell me postcards. At first, I casually brushed them off, as it was something I became accustomed to - local students trying to sell me postcards for $1 for their school supplies, and families. But these girls were different - they actually had spunk, and pretty pure, and joyful vibes.
They made me laugh, which of course I think is always a good idea when you want to make that money. So I paid them. I entertained them with conversation and got to learn a little bit more from the girls about their dreams, aspirations, and sense of humor.
They were such lil' business women, that when I asked to take a picture with them, they said "$1 each", the hustle was real ya'll.
Earlier this week, Elle Magazine published an online article titled, "HERE'S MY PROBLEM WITH #BLACKGIRLMAGIC" by Dr. Linda Chavers, a 20th century scholar, writer, and teacher who primarily focuses on African American literature with specialization of race and visual culture.
In the article, The writer talked about issues that she had with the popular catchphrase, and that the phrase reduces Black women and girls to subhuman, and mythical magical beings that can withstand ANYTHING. She continued to critique the phrase, and compared it to the "strong Black woman" stereotype, while using various instances where violence perpetuated on Black women, like Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Renisha McBrides, and the young lady who was slammed on the concrete by a police officer in Texas.
While I understand the points she has made, and I can see how someone, especially a person with Dr. Chavers multiple scorosis condition, could feel like they don't fit in the Black Girl Magic framework, I respectfully disagree.
Dr. Chavers brings up a interesting point in her Elle piece. She writes:
"As someone who has lived with the chronic, incurable illness MS for almost ten years, I know that illness and disability can make the person who has it feel like a failure. No matter what doctors, friends and family members say–no matter what the scientific establishment says, she can carry around a sense that she did something wrong. She might think that if she'd just done something different, something better, something magical, then maybe things would not be as they are."
Which is a totally valid and understandable feeling. And it's not only with people who have an illness or physical impairment, but people who live in poverty, people who are mentally ill, people who are marginalized and oppressed based on religious, education status, and even race.
But #BlackGirlMagic isn't seeking to tell girls, "Hey, you with the illness, your illness isn't anything cause guess what, you're magical." In fact the message is suppose to be, "While you do have an illness, you are magical." It's an affirmation. It's a way to combat negativity. It's seeking to uplift women and girls who for so long felt the same way Dr. Linda Chavers may have feel about her chronic illness - "Maybe if I was ____________, I can escape this feeling of being other."
Does every Black woman have to identify with the phrase coined by @thepbg? No, not if you don't want to, or feel like you do. And that's OK.
Not every Black girl wants to be told she rocks, not every Black girl think she possesses magic, and besides nothing in this world is a one size fits all. I have friends who think being a care-free Black woman is nauseating, and I respect them for it.
But when you critique the moniker as something that Black women shouldn't celebrate, but rather question the intent, you're dissipating the message and using your personal reasonings to discredit something that brought Black and Brown girls joy.
When I spent that 5 - 10 minute exchange with the girls, I felt the #BlackGirlMagic oozing out of their pours. They aren't Black, but that didn't reduce the vibrancy that girlhood, and Blackness/Brownness/Otherness can often project.
To purchase a 'Black Girls Are Magic' tee: click here to be taken to the page.