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What is "Black Girl Magic?"

Enjoli Daley is a police officer with the Evanston Police Department. I met her when I participated in the EPD's Citizen Police Academy a couple of years ago, and I served with her on the board of Curt's Cafe. She's smart, perceptive, and passionately committed to community.

Enjoli always tells it like is she sees it; sometimes she tackles difficult and serious issues, other times she's just serious funny. I'm a huge fan of her Facebook posts, so I asked her to write some occasional columns for Dear Evanston, and I'm so glad she agreed.

For her first column, I asked Enjoli to talk about Black Girl Magic. It's a phrase that's often invoked among Black women I know, and I wanted to find out what it means to her.

So here's Enjoli's take on Black Girl Magic.

"Alchemy: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination."(Google)

I wrote a post about Black Girl Magic recently to express what it means to me. Reflecting further on the phrase, I can’t help but recognize that although it has a positive and celebratory meaning to me, the phrase may leave others feeling confused and/or uncomfortable.

So I’m here to share why the idea of "Black Girl Magic” is a good thing for all, and not just my beautiful sisters. This is solely my opinion and does not represent the opinion of all Black women or anyone else.

To me, Black Girl Magic is the celebration of the accomplishments, strength, and resilience of Black women and girls. The world has not always been fair nor kind to Black people, especially women.

Being a woman is not easy. Being a Black woman can be especially difficult. No one seems to want to defend our honor. We are left defending ourselves and everyone else.

The point is, when Black women win, we all win! To me it seems that Black women and girls have this deep-rooted instinct to care about others. We work tirelessly to make the world better despite not always being treated well or welcomed. It’s almost maternal. Think about how moms tend to care for everyone but rarely get the appreciation they deserve. Yet they never give up.

Look, I’m no psychologist, but I vaguely remember in my college psych class (that I may or may not have slept through) something being said about the human psyche and the power of positivity. Basically, we all enjoy receiving positive words and encouragement. Black Girl Magic is essentially Black women and girls telling ourselves and the world that we are pretty awesome, and do great shit even if no one appreciates it.

Black women represent as CEO’s, scientists, lawyers, educators and everything in between. Black women are out there giving the world their all, fully aware that they have to work 10 times harder and think 20 times faster than their non-Black peers and still may never get the credit they deserve.

Black Girl Magic is a good thing for everyone because it means that everyone gets a seat at the table and everyone eats.

Black women have been key players and voices of reason at pivotal times throughout history. From Coretta Scott King at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, to Kathryn Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson taking NASA to the next level, to Senator Kamala Harris calling out the tomfoolery in our government, Black women do the damn thing!

Black women have been, and continue to be, change-makers and emotional martyrs in a highly dysfunctional world.

We show up and we show out to the betterment of all mankind.

Because our contributions and accomplishments in this world are often overlooked and/or disregarded, we had to develop a way to let our light shine and support each other in the process. The phrase Black Girl Magic does just that. It’s our way to shine, make the world better, and give each other support and encouragement.

The world rarely sees our greatness, so we have to see it in ourselves and in each other. Black Girl Magic says: “I am a Black woman, I am pretty darn amazing, and I not only deserve--but demand--to be seen, respected, and appreciated because I earned that right … plus I am magical as hell!”

Queue Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé riding in on unicorns.

That “magic” is what helps us survive, maintain, achieve, and excel. It's the alchemy of transforming our unfair circumstances and treatment into opportunities of success and greatness.

I was about 12 years old when my stepmother at the time, who was of Polish and Mexican ethnicity, told me that I had two strikes against me: that I was black and female. I would hear that from her throughout my teen years.

To this day I'm not sure what she intended, but it didn't seem positive. Her words left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I struggled for many years to see my worth as a Black female. I really thought that I had strikes against me.

Turns out they were actually gifts.

So how is Black Girl Magic different from other phrases that promote other racial groups? I’m glad you asked!

It's all about self-recognition and celebrating a marginalized group and zero about superiority and/or hatred. Saying I have Black Girl Magic doesn’t translate into “I’m better than you.” It says, I know my abilities are superior to the often misguided and negative ways history has portrayed Black women.

I once read an article about the Black Girls Rock award show receiving backlash. People said things like, “What if there was a white girls rock show? Wouldn’t that be racist?” and, “All girls rock, not just black girls.”

Having a white girls rock show would be an issue. Why? Because white women have been celebrated, cherished, and revered more than Black women throughout time. Yes, all women/girls do rock. Yes, all women/girls have been marginalized. But the truth remains that Black women have been treated poorly by all groups, and that includes other women.

Perhaps it’s a hiring manger judging an applicant’s non-traditional name, or maybe a school dean telling a young Black girl her natural hair is unacceptable. Whatever the case, most Black women can share a story of being unfairly treated simply for being a Black woman.

Please understand this is not a competition, and it is not about hurting anyone. It’s about celebrating ourselves in a world that has repeatedly told us we mean nothing.

So if you are not a Black woman or girl and you hear or read the phrase, it's not a dig or slight against you. It’s simply a mantra we use to engage in some much-needed and overdue celebration of our worth, our pride.

I am a woman and I support all women. I believe we're all sisters trying to make it in the world. But sometimes I like to celebrate myself and my fellow sisters whose roads have been just a bit tougher.

Sadly, we live in a world where people spend too much time focusing on the words or specific actions of a movement and rarely take the time to understand the what and the why behind the movement. So rather than being offended or feeling uncomfortable about the phrase “Black Girl Magic,” why not take a moment to appreciate what Black women have done and continue to do in this world.


More about Enjoli ...

Enjoli was born and raised in Chicago. She is an avid Facebook poster who offers serious social commentary (always on point!) and her random (and very often hilarious) musings about anything and everything from the size of her jeans and the antics of her newborn daughter to the state of race relations today.

Enjoli has a deep interest in humanitarian work, including helping youth and sexual violence survivors. She serves on the boards of Curt's Cafe and Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault.

Enjoli earned her Bachelor’s degree from Dominican University where she double majored in Natural Science and Criminology. She earned her Master’s degree in Child Law and Policy from Loyola University School of Law. She is a proud and active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Enjoli is wife and mother (she has a 21-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter) and enjoys reading, traveling, and zoning out on the couch.


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