I swore I was having a boy when I became pregnant in spring of 2014. I carried low, had no morning sickness and my baby bump left my beauty still intact. Even the Chinese birth chart took my age and the month I became pregnant and confirmed I was #TeamBoy. In hindsight I realize those old wives tales have very little say when it comes to DNA. But when the ultrasound tech left me and my fiancé in front of a screen of fuzzy white and gray patches that April, we questioned if the anatomy was THAT obvious that they shouldn’t have to tell us if we’d be getting a “Camden” or a “Cairo”. A few seconds later the doctor soon reassured us that we’d have a lifetime of training bras, Barbies and braids to look forward to. Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t have bow ties or a starting forward in a team of testosterone-pumped boys who adored their mother to prepare for, but I wasn’t disappointed. And as I see my fearless baby girl attempting to climb anything she can get steady footing on from her high chair to my face at the occasional crack of dawn, I realize how blessed I am, because I get to raise her in the era of #BlackGirlMagic.
Remember in “Keep Ya Head Up” when Tupac rhymed, “Had me feeling like black was the thing to be…”? He was talking about #BlackGirlMagic. I can’t wait for my Camden’s black girl pride to piss off anyone that thinks she should settle for less because of the melanin in her skin or her unruly red afro. I can’t wait to reveal to her that Black privilege is the blood coursing through her veins rich in “run shit”. At one-years-old, she is just learning what her body parts are called, and can barely say more than 5 words. But already, bedtime is not about Cinderella getting saved or Rapunzel getting rescued from a tower. My daughter’s superheroes are Mara Brock Akil, Ava Duvernay and Issa Rae. I can’t wait to show her that time Beyonce shut down the Superbowl with a tribute to black heroes of the past as a reminder to everyone that no matter how much they try to dim our shine, we are still here, overcoming and ish like it’s any given Sunday. Women like them are the storytellers that are weaving the narrative web of what it means to be a black girl today. Because that’s what black girl magic is: turning the impossible into definitely doing the damn thing and doing it well.
When I was an middle school experimenting with my own sense of style and building my self-esteem, I anxiously awaited when my sister’s copies of Seventeen or YM would land in our mailbox once a month. Once in a while she’d even treat me to a copy of Sophisticate’s Black Hair that usually resulted in me taking gel, spritz and a roller set to my head in hopes to emulate Reagan Gomez-Preston’s latest style. I hoped that Lark Voorhees or Karyn Parsons would grace a page or two and my best friend and I would attempt the beauty routines meant for olive-skinned girls because they were the girls who were the closest matches to our caramel and chocolate chip skin tones. Usually we ended up looking more “Drowned and Overdone” than Wet & Wild, but it was because at that time it was easy to feel like no one understood our particular beauty. There was no Instagram or Twitter where we could get a little daily validation of “Black girl, you are beautiful.” The closest we got to that is an Aaliyah video premiere or a monthly subscription to a magazine where the token black girls were all identical and almost always looked more like Lisa Bonet than Lupita Nyong’o.
Today I can literally turn on the TV and see bonafide Cover Girls in Zendaya or Janelle Monae: two very different but distinctly beautiful women of color. Let’s not forget the Amandla Stenbergs, Keke Palmers and Yara Shahidis that my daughter can look at and honestly say, “Mommy they look like me.” And not only are they beautiful, but they’re bringing far more to the table than lip gloss and #OOTD’s. They have a voice, they have opinions, they are changing the conversation. And that my dear, is #BlackGirlMagic at its best. I’ve dedicated most of my career to educating and empowering young women, and now I have one walking around with my DNA that is my living say in what the world becomes.
I remember years ago praying for a world where the diversity of black women would not only be respected, but celebrated and desired. I think there’s room for Amber Rose AND Ava Duvernay and it’s important for my daughter to see that she can be anything from a banker to a ballerina. It makes me excited for the changing world that she is growing up in where she will no longer be expected to be the authority on gum-popping, twerking, and what type of Virgin Remy is best. For the first time it truly feels like she can be anything. Because pulling hope from the haters and making the limitations disappear is what magical black girls do. No disrespect to all the ladies with mama’s boys, but I couldn’t feel more privileged to be raising a little black girl during this time. You can keep the sugar and spice. I’ll take the sass, class and a little kick-ass: That’s what #BlackGirlMagic is made of.