by: Tania Lasenburg
Much of what twenty-first century culture tells black girls is not pretty: Don’t wear this; don’t smile at that. Don’t have an opinion; don’t dream big. And most of all, don’t love yourself. In response to such destructive ideas, internationally recognized poet Mahogany Browne challenges the conditioning of society by crafting an anthem of strength and magic undeniable in its bloom for all beautiful Black girls. She has travelled the world sharing her vision of Black Girl Magic, and now in collaboration with artist Jess X. Snow, presents her acclaimed tribute in a visual form.
Black Girl Magic is a journey from girlhood to womanhood and an invitation to readers to find magic in themselves. -Goodreads
I’m a grown woman (cue the Beyonce song) and when the whole Black Girl Magic movement began, I paid it zero attention. I didn’t because I personally didn’t understand why this movement was needed. It wasn’t until I actually sat down and thought about it and realized that I come from a place of privilege.
See growing up, I had my mother and sister and both equally had, specifically dark skin women, as friends. So I had my representation in front of me and didn’t really see the importance of it on television or in books. I lived in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and had coming and goings of Black female friends all my life. So again, when this movement began, I nodded with a “that’s cool” and kept it moving.
Let’s fast forward. I have twin nieces; beautiful, flawless, dark skin nieces. When the political and social climate began to change (way before Trump) i.e. when I began my social media career ( because let’s be honest, the internet was not popping 10 years ago) I noticed the need. Seeing so many negative people that have an issue with my and their dark skin complexion was a lot to handle. Yes, I have heard stories and yeah, I have a few of my own but seeing it happen not only across the U.S. but all over the world, brings it not to your front door but in your house. Because of this, the #blackgirlmagic and all the other movements regarding the uplifting of dark skin and Black women, in general, made more sense and I put effort into showing my ladies representation, not only by constantly being in their life but in art and literature.
What does all of this have to do with the book Black Girl Magic? A lot. Although this is viewed as a poem, it reads more like a letter. A letter telling you to get off your ass and shine despite what everyone else has and will tell you.
I was surprised with how well this 40-page book, spoke to me. The voice in my head was clear and the motivation to tackle the world was strong. For me to consider this a poem, for this to be considered a poem, it would have to be read in spoken word. Because of the way it flows. even with the aints and yous, you hear it in your head as if your Aunt or Grandmother wrote you a letter and you found it at the right time in your life after they have long been gone. Deep? Yeah, it kind of is.
Black Girl Magic reads like a personal letter. Like the beginning of The Wiz, where Aunt Em begins singing to Dorothy to motivate her, THAT is what I get out of this.
The words are a mix of things you have heard and things you have not. Unfortunately, it’s the negative you may have heard more than the uplifting. But that is okay because when the rise in the words began, I felt it and was shocked how I felt it. And even though, I felt that I didn’t need representation or I didn’t need to see, hear those words, I did and it was beautiful.
Overall, this isn’t simply a recommend read, its a buy and share. Because sometimes, that extra motiviation is needed.
*Note: Images were found via google images.