10 #BlackGirlMagic Moments of Summer 2018
With the constant state of our world and everything that goes on in it, here are ten #BlackGirlMagic moments of the summer that made me want to laugh, cry, and give a standing ovation all at the same time. Thank you to these incredible Black women for providing us with hope and inspiration.
1. Meghan Markle’s Wedding
Despite being a British citizen, in the beginning, I was not enamored by the union of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for a myriad of reasons: I was unsure of how accepting the British public would be of a woman with a Black mother — let alone, an actress — joining the Royal Family. I certainly did not know how the monarchy would react, especially after their estranged relationship with the outspoken Princess Diana. Furthermore, the think pieces and tabloid articles that followed shortly thereafter, covering everything from Markle’s family life to how she was able to snag a white man and “offer hope to black women” (before they changed the article title), were disgusting. However, Markle identifies as biracial and the display of unapologetic blackness in her wedding was powerful. From the all-Black choir to the incredible arrangement from teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and a powerful sermon from a Black pastor talking about oppression, that wedding was so much more than just a ceremony.
2. Serena Williams
Can we just take a minute to revel in Serena’s glory? Not only was she at the royal wedding with her husband, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and adorned in Valentino, but after a near-death experience while giving birth, Williams returned to the tennis court only five months afterwards. While kicking ass and taking names on the court, she managed to amplify a medical dialogue that Black women have been having for ages, prompting the New York Times to publish responses from African-American women to their cover story on maternal mortality. Now, she’s coming back even harder and speaking out about drug-testing discrimination in sports. Despite her recent Wimbledon loss, with 23 Grand Slam titles and a husband who takes her on spontaneous trips to Italy, Williams is still the most “winningest” tennis player.
3. Beyoncé & The Carters
I’m going to be completely honest: I was livid when I found out that Beyoncé released an album with Jay-Z. Fuming. Heated. Enraged. Why did I have to listen to him in order to get to her? Not to mention, EVERYTHING IS LOVE wasn’t released on Spotify until a few days after it dropped on Tidal. For a short moment, I boycotted it. But after some time, I couldn’t resist. Beyoncé’s effortless shit-talking in “Heard About Us” sold me. Although, I personally don’t think this album compares to the masterpiece that was “Lemonade”, the "APESHIT" music video was a real work of art. I just hope that she’ll drop her solo album soon. We’re still waiting for that Formation Tour DVD…
4. Stacey Abrams
I’m rarely loud and proud of the past nine years I’ve spent as a “Georgia peach”, but Stacey Yvonne Abrams lights me up. The 44 year-old was born in Madison, Wisconsin, attended Spelman College, and could become the first Black female governor in Georgia’s and this nation’s history. She recently made the cover of TIME Magazine’s “The South” issue. She’s running in spite of her post-college debt, and her criminal justice platform is influenced directly by the imprisonment of her younger brother Walter. Turning anywhere outside of metropolitan Atlanta blue seems like a nearly impossible feat, but Abrams’ campaign is making history. Her efforts are not only fundamental in setting the precedent for the Blue Wave of 2020, but seeing a black woman front and center in public service is a testament to the importance of visibility in politics.
5. Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give”
The Hate U Give is a fiction novel written by Angie Thomas that follows the story of Starr—a Black girl in an all-white prep school who witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil, get murdered by police—and also follows her grief and journey of healing. This novel in particular is personal to me because it was tragedies such as this that reminded me of my position as one of the few black children in my predominantly white, Christian, and private high school. However, there are some serious problems to be acknowledged. Starr is drawn as dark-skinned on the cover, yet Amandla Stenberg was casted to play her (note: casting is not up to the author…); additionally, some say that the scene in which Khalil is shot has been whitewashed in order to make it more palatable for a white audience. One thing remains clear: Angie Thomas’ success story is #BlackGirlMagic at its core: beating the odds and coming out on top. She tweeted, “I'm a black girl from Mississippi who sometimes didn't have lights. Sometimes my family was on welfare. I'm straight from the hood, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The trailer just dropped for a movie based on a book I wrote. Nothing is impossible.”
6. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae has been on a roll. Her fashion-forward looks, bops from “Dirty
Computer”, and recent collaboration on a voting campaign with Michelle Obama have
made her a household name. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Monae came out as
pansexual and talked about everything from her religious upbringing to activism in the age of Trump and being a dark-skinned black woman in the music industry. One particularly poignant remark was made regarding the message she hopes to send to listeners. She told Rolling Stone, “I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you.” Amidst all of the rumors, she keeps her dating life on the low, but her pride is unmatched.
7. Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, and Insecure
The HBO hit show, Insecure, is set to return on August 12th (approximately 3 days before I can finesse on-campus access…) and I cannot wait. Unfortunately for “Lawrence” fans, Jay Ellis will not be featured in Season 3, but the show is said to delve into Black masculinity this coming season -- which will certainly be interesting. Issa Rae has had my heart since my brother introduced me to her 2011 YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl”, and to see her continue to show into the multi-faceted lives and experiences of Black women is so important. Also, Yvonne Orji, who plays the character “Molly”, is making money moves; she just released a podcast called “Jesus & Jollof” with author Luvvie Ajayi and it is EVERYTHING.
8. Tomi Adeyemi
Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi, released a critically-acclaimed novel called Children of Blood and Bone that is SO good that it has been compared to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Adeyemi was recently a guest on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where she was able to give a little preview on her book. According to The Huffington Post, “Children of Blood and Bone, set in a fictional West African land, invokes magic and African folklore to make broader arguments about race, gender, tradition and social justice in America.” The Harvard grad is set to release book 2 and 3 of the series in 2019 and 2020. We need Adeyemi and stories like these now more than ever.
9. Pat McGrath
On July 11th, Forbes named Kylie Jenner a “self-made woman” and as my friend Lola pointed out, calling Kylie Jenner “self-made” could not be further from the truth. In other news, Kylie Cosmetics has fallen behind British make-up artist, Pat McGrath’s, line. As of July 16th, Pat McGrath Labs’ value is now at an estimated $1 billion while Kylie is sitting at $800 million. If you want to learn more about McGrath’s story and what it actually means to be self-made, check out this article from Allure. Her resilience and fighting spirit is just one of the many incredible traits Black women have.
10. I met THE Viola Davis at a Starbucks coffee shop in New Orleans. That is all.