Rio 2016: Black Girl Magic 101

From the origins of Black Girl Magic as a hashtag, now we’re here:

Discussing the importance of having representation for young black girls.

The 2016 Rio Olympics has been the epitome of black girl magic! From Simone Biles to Simone Manuel, we have witnessed black girls dominate. Each one of these girls tells us a narrative of black girl magic. 


“I am not the first Usain Bolt, or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”

I have experienced the same goosebumps I get from watching a live Beyonce concert, as I get from watching Simone Biles on the floor. With her near-perfect execution, Ms. Biles is the powerhouse of artistic gymnastics. She has received 14 olympic medals, with 10 being gold. The 2016 Rio Olympics (her first OIympic games) has shown that she is the greatest gymnast of all time! In just her first Olympics  she received 5 medals (4 gold and 1 bronze). I find that the bronze medal she received holds a great amount of significance. It tells us how she is excellent at her craft, but she is human as well. Not everyone is excellent all of the time, but that doesn’t take away from the all she has accomplished. Excellence comes from trial and error and not letting mistakes hinder you from achieving your potential.

This confidence is what her black girl magic teaches us. Black girls too can be their own rendition of black excellence with confidence and self-advocacy.

Simone Biles shows us that Black Girl Magic is bravery.


“You just have to be yourself and go full with confidence and be courageous.”

Miss “Flying Squirrel” has snatched all of our edges since she arrived on the Olympic floor. Douglas won team gold medals for both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

Gabby has dealt with a lot of criticism surrounding her appearance (her edges) rather than her gymnastic artistry. The saddest thing about this is that the misdirected focus overlooks the point: Gabby Douglas’s edges are plentiful and abundant because of the edges she has snatched from all of us with her talent.

In the June 2016 Teen Vogue issue, Gabby Douglas shared a darker time of not believing in herself. She says “It was very tough. Sometimes I would be in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out, wanting to quit. I felt like I was all alone. But when I came through it, I felt as if I could overcome anything.” Even after this dark moment, she comes out into the light teaming with Nike for an athlesiure line.

Gabby Douglas shows us that black girl magic is resilience.


“You know not everybody can be an Olympic gold medalist...”

Ms. Shields made American history during the 2016 Summer Olympics: she became the first American boxer with 2 gold medals since 1904.

Shields received her first Olympic gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.

What makes her success all-the-more sweet is the fact that she’s from Flint, Michigan. Flint is predominately known for being one of the roughest cities in the country and the Flint Water Crisis. And Ms. Shields comes along and shines some light for everyone who comes from a similar background! There are many young black girls from similar backgrounds who don’t get to see themselves in someone excelling at what they’re interested in. Shields gives those girls a magical and excellent black image.

Claressa Shields shows us that black girl magic is having grit.


“Daddy, I got you.”

Michelle Carter has made history at the 2016 Rio games by being the first American to win a gold medal for women’s shot put. Even more delightful to hear is that her father previously set a record for shot put. And he’s now her coach! So decades after her father’s record, she has set a new one for her successors to follow.

Ms. Carter took her father’s torch and is now passing the torch down to young girls who look up to her. This is what representation is about. Representation is about providing the blueprints for those who look like us.

Michelle Carter shows us that black girl magic is passing the torch.


“This medal is not just for me...”

So here I am at 20 years old....struggling and striving to leave my HeelPrint. What is this in comparison to what Simone Manuel has done at the same age?! I mean, she’s become the first African American woman to win the individual medal for USA swimming. And we know there aren’t too many slots left for being the first African American, or African American woman for that fact, for anything.

Ms. Manuel encapsulates what the 2016 Rio Olympics has meant for black women; representation. Representation for black women is of utmost importance, especially for younger generations of black girl excellence. Our youth need the inspiration.

Simone Manuel shows us that black girl magic is to be an inspirational force, unapologetically.

by Destinie Pittman

Destinie Pittman