On a brisk, beautiful autumn day in Brooklyn, New York, I was on my way to meet with a friend for bagels and business. I was in one of my favorite ‘lewks’ from my line and I was all smiles. He asked me to meet him at a B.O.B. (black-owned business) nearby called Radical Women BK, where I had the pleasure of meeting a fashion maven named Ashaka Givens and a new entrepreneur Natasha of Scat Cat Apparel. Natasha was setting up for her FIRST pop-up shop experience. Introductions were quick and kind, filled with bright Colgate smiles, and Instagram handles were exchanged. Then, in a New York minute, my friend and I were off to discuss his creative vision inspired by his recent tour in Europe over bagels.
It’s been about five months since that day, and by design, I must share with you my excitement about the power of collaboration. I will be joining a group of businesswomen in the South Jersey area as a panelist for their inaugural women’s empowerment event If These Kinks Could Talk: Concessions Cocktails and Conversation.
The Value in Attending
- Vendors will be onsite sharing their products and services as well as taking orders
- The opportunity to network with women with an interest in business ownership, community partnerships and sisterhood that is usually happening in Brooklyn, New York has come to South Jersey
- The event is being held in a gorgeous restaurant Taste and Sea, and the menu is constantly being raved about!
- The panelists are women with a commitment to share their truths about their unique backgrounds and journey as entrepreneurs and they are also committed to offering valuable advice and practices that have proven successful.
- It’s something cute to do on a Saturday afternoon with your lady friends!
Wow. Just Wow.(African Aunty’s Accent)
I am filled with gratitude to have been invited to the discussion. If you will not be able to attend, connect to the community. More events are scheduled that may arrive in your city in 2019!
Some of you reading this might be thinking… um… “What is the big deal about #blackgirlmagic?” Others of you are probably giving this article a side-eye, thinking “How is this more than a hashtag?” Yet others are reading this thinking, “There are people that don’t know? They must be…[insert a rude word].”
Here is the thing. When women of African decent (aka Black Women, African American Women, the African Women in the Diaspora) consciously decide to push through misogynistic behaviors, racism, disenfranchisement, and self-imposed negativity and do great things for themselves and others, what you are experiencing or witnessing is an example of #blackgirlmagic. It is magical to be extremely oppressed and STILL do great things. It just is.
The bottom line is simple. Few communities throughout the world empower women. Fewer exist that empower women of African decent.
They exist, but they are RARE. This is not a jab at men either. Over time, women have been conditioned to meet societal standards that are often toxic. This quest to meet these unreasonable expectations tends to pit women against one another and overtime has created extreme chaos and suffering within communities of women, regardless of ethnicity. We often experience it in Corporate America, but friends, it started to really take shape back in high school.
Take that pain and multiply it… and multiply it… That is what is happening among many communities of women of African decent. However we are waking up and we are ready to change the narrative.
What does #blackgirlmagic look like? Some examples include but are NOT limited to:
- The image above of Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar &
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles
- Achieving a proper selfie that showcases the perfect twist out on 4C hair despite the day’s humidity
- Celebrating a well-deserved raise despite office politics by posting a ‘thirst-trap’ photo walking along a beach somewhere remote and exotic
- Advocating for self and others by demanding a “reclamation of your time” that was wasted by idiotic behaviors from a colleague in Congress (ie. Ms. Maxine Moore Waters)
- Tears of joy captured of a hard-working high school student when they find out they have been accepted into their top university choice (which happens to be the prestigious Harvard University) on their own merit (unlike Aunty Becky’s kids)
Each scenario is a solid example demonstrating #blackgirlmagic. Given the state of the union, no image is trivial. When #blackgirlmagic is used as a hashtag, it is apart of a collective demonstration of healing. It is spiritual.
#Blackgirlmagic is to be treated with respect and care.
It is not to be taken for granted, or misused. Yes. It is more than a hashtag. It’s becoming a way of living and it is not going away. It is going beyond the ‘gram. It’s not a new concept either. However it’s evolution mandates discussion. We have work to do.
Now, I will admit. I have been scarred in the past by incidents where I thought a moment was being curated by #blackgirlmagic, and it turned out to be curated by #somebullsh!t. It hurts hard, especially when associated with business endeavors. The disappointment feels like a kick in the stomach.
Lucky for me, I have two best friends, and they keep me encouraged to move forward. One bff often says to me, “Yimabean, do NOT get caught up and give up. Some people just suck! Like really really bad. But you can’t give up. You’re better than that.”
The other just casually inserts a hilarious inappropriate joke about the cast and crew of the situation into the conversation, cackles and moves on to the next subject (usually gigs & travel…occasionally boys). She secretly commits to support me and then takes action by pulling outfits from my showroom for almost every professional shoot she does, and slays the world with her #blackgirlmagic.
As a libra, they keep my scales balanced.
I have had personal conversations with black women in my business community about the failed experiences of #blackgirlmagic. It cuts deep. However, community discussions and honest reflections help release negative emotions. Self-reflections in my journal have helped me to make my peace with past disappointments and keep my wits about me. We all have our part to play. I recently hosted an intimate brunch with women whom I respect and admire that I have known for a while. So different from one another yet, they share the common thread of being a woman of African decent and are tuned into the #blackgirlmagic movement. The discussion was a prelude to If These Kinks Could Talk’s inaugural panel discussion. The takeaway: we all have a part to play.
Over time, especially as a business woman, I have learned how important #blackgirlmagic is to the global community, not just to communities of women or women of color. When a women of African decent is able to show up and be the best version of herself in all spaces where she interacts with all types of people, she adds value in such a way that EVERYONE benefits. It’s not complicated. As an advocate all you have to do is support an environment that does not encourage:
- Misogynistic behaviors & attitudes
- Self-imposed negativity
That’s all. It’s really simple.
#Blackgirlmagic experts like Ezra (Co-Founder of LinkedIn’s TransformHER) can help you figure out how to become an advocate. If he can do it, you can do it. Just know that success arrives when EVERYONE realizes that #blackgirlmagic is a collaborative effort and they step up and play their part.
“When one hand goes, the other hand comes.”African Proverb
We must collaborate.
Another Example: Missandei and Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys is an advocate. She has empowered Missandei (her handmaiden turned best friend) to have a real voice as a member of her trusted circle as Queen. However, Missandei comes from oppression. This is new to her. She must now reach within. She is having to dig deep within herself, realize her #blackgirlmagic and practice it every day in every situation presented.
And she is…
Become a Khaleesi, Blondie!If you a woman of European decent reading this, this quote is for you honey.
Side Note: Ok. I tried to resist Game of Thrones. I did. I really despise gore, mayhem, and TV shows that do not cast more than 2 characters that look like me. Representation matters! However, the character development is genius, the acting is on point, and I love the women’s empowerment theme. Collaboration is one of the strongest themes in this show and I f%cking love it! You don’t have to be in a position of power to be an advocate. You can do it from your cubicle too.
Now good people, will I see you at the event in South Jersey? I hope so! If not, you can still support the curators with a (tax-deductable) donation. Thanks in advance for the support!
Next Month’s Topic: Implementation.