Black Girl Magic

Race
Sexual Politics
The onus is upon us to create the type of imagery that speaks to who we are’
– Johannesburg-based photographer,  Cole Ndelu.

Black women have always galvanized social change: from the leaders of the Black Panther Party in the US during the civil rights movement, to iconic authors and artists who rejected societal norms, such as Nina Simone, Maya Angelou and bell hooks.

In 2013 the magic of black women, apparent for generations, became summed up in the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic. Popularized by blogger Cashawn Thompson, it has gained huge support around the world, including from influential figures such as the Obamas and Solange Knowles. Through Instagram captions, Twitter retweets and Tumblr threads, the hashtag has provided a tangible mantra for the newest wave of intersectional feminism.

This taste for celebration has been reflected in popular culture, such as the annual Black Girls Rock! Awards which honours women of colour in different fields, screened on the BET television channel. The magic is also evident in new events around the world, such as London’s Black Girl Festival which took place in 2016. Paula Akpan and Nicole Crentsil harnessed the momentum to create Britain’s first festival focusing solely on black women.

A search for #BlackGirlMagic on social media unlocks vast worlds joined together by the shared resilience of black womanhood – from graduation photos to new babies. A call to action or simply a cause for celebration, the hashtag – now increasingly synonymous with terms of admiration, strength and joy – has grounded itself firmly within our vocabulary, sparking necessary conversations and uplifting millions.

Natty Kasambala is a journalist and creative whose work has been featured in Crack, Dazed, gal-dem, the National Gallery and Southbank Centre.

New Internationalist issue 510 magazine cover This article is from the February 2018 issue of New Internationalist.
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