Black Girl Magic: A Manifesto
I remember watching my hair fall to the ground around me. I remember a physical weight being let go and I remember the weight off my shoulders disappearing. Cutting my hair off was a big thing for me—more than most people realize. Getting rid of my hair was me saying “f you” to the standards that had been surrounding me my whole life. Black women are constantly policed, told what to wear; how to behave in order to be respected. Taught to believe there is one right way of being. I got to a point where I was comfortable enough within myself to say, “f that.” I began to love myself truly and wholeheartedly. To love that I have a spirit that is untamed and in order to be my very best self, I have to let my spirit run free. So one day I made the decision that I was going to cut my hair. Three days later it was gone.
You see the outside world tells you there are two ways for you to be a black woman. One way is embodying and exemplifying everything that is respectability politics. It’s talking when you have permission, not taking up too much space, being the good girl, repressing your sexuality, not allowing your presence to make others feel uncomfortable. And then there is the vixen, a hypersexualized ideal of womanhood, the girl you see in the music videos who always has men chasing after her, who showcases her body like a work of art, the black woman who moves through life as if her value all resides between her legs.
I do not except that, I do not accept that as a black girl you have to choose between two narratives. I live my truth. I love my truth. My truth is that when I speak you will respect me and not because I code-switch to “standard” English. You will respect me because my ancestry goes far beyond that of slavery to the times where black women were the matriarchs of the first successful and thriving societies in the world. You will stare in awe of my sexuality, the sexuality that gave birth to humanity, as we know it. Women will be envious and men will want me and not solely because of my sexuality, but because of my sensuality. My sensuality is everything that I am; because I live in every moment, I feel everything. Every time my heels touch the ground as I walk through offices, as my wide hips that have been passed down generation through generation sway.
I live in a way that tells my truth, but also respect that I am still evolving and have not yet reached my final form. I am navigating my black womanhood and what that truly means to me. At many points in my life, it has meant very different things.
I also had to look at my black womanhood as it intersects with my other identities. My truth is that after going to private predominantly white elementary school when I moved to a Detroit Public School, I was made fun of for talking too white. My truth was a nine-year-old girl questioning her identity after being made to feel like an outsider after finally being around students who looked liked her. My truth was overcompensating my blackness, trying to be everything I thought being a black girl was supposed to be.
I am a no-hair having, a carefree black girl who exudes black girl magic. I am confident in who I am and all that encompasses. I have huge dreams with every intention of achieving them. I exist in joy. Not to say I don’t have problems or things do not upset me, but I have reached a point in my life where I have learned to choose happiness. This was not always my reality, it was a long time struggle something that was a long time coming and still being developed.
I walk into every room demanding respect because my hair defies gravity, my shoulders are too proud for what you think a black woman should show because I move with an unmistakable rhythm. This young black girl, who once internalized everything that society told her, has realized her own truth and how powerful that is. There is nothing you can convince me I am incapable of. I am nonconforming. As I take inventory of the walls around me, I immediately am planning on how I will tear them down. I am magic. I will live my life spreading this creative, free-spirited, determined, beautiful, black girl magic everywhere I go, in everything I do. As a black woman, I am the mother of the earth, of humanity. I am the closest thing to Godliness you will ever see.
And I hope that my confidence makes you feel away.