We see you, AGAIN ELLE…
Linda Chavers’ ELLE Magazine #BlackGirlMagic Piece Causes Uproar
ELLE Magazine is once again making headlines with clickbait targeted at “Black Twitter.”
This time with the help of writer Linda Chavers, the same publication that dubbed Timbaland boots and baby hair new fashion trends, viciously attacked the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag.
The piece which was in response to ESSENCE’s inspiring trio of Black Girl Magic covers, called out the hashtag/movement used to uplift black women in a culture where they’re shamed, fetishized and told they’re less than.
According to Chavers, who noted that she doesn’t feel magical because she suffers from MS, Black Girl Magic is playing into the archetype that black women are superhuman and incomparable of feeling pain.
Essence just released its February issue, celebrating the “#BlackGirlMagic Class of 2016.” I first noticed the popular term “Black Girl Magic” as a hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, attached to posts by girlfriends celebrating themselves, their loved ones, their babies, their lives. I’ve seen it on t-shirts spread out on the tummies of little smiling black girls, showing all of their teeth. These are statements and images of pride in blackness and girlhood, created and celebrated by black women and girls, and that’s a positive thing.
But something doesn’t smell right.
The “strong, black woman” archetype, which also includes the mourning black woman who suffers in silence, is the idea that we can survive it all, that we can withstand it. That we are, in fact, superhuman. Black girl magic sounds to me like just another way of saying the same thing, and it is smothering and stunting. It is, above all, constricting rather than freeing.
SAYING WE’RE SUPERHUMAN IS JUST AS BAD AS SAYING WE’RE ANIMALS, BECAUSE IT IMPLIES THAT WE ARE ORGANICALLY DIFFERENT.
Black girl magic suggests we are, again, something other than human. That might sound nitpicky, but it’s not nitpicky when we are still being treated as subhuman. And there’s a very long history of black women being treated as subhuman by the medical establishment, in spite of the debt Western medicine owes to them.
She also used former cop/rapist Daniel Holtzclaw as an example of why Black Girl Magic is problematic. Uhhhh…
Is it because we’re magical that Daniel Holtzclaw thought he could stalk, rape, threaten us, and get away with it? Maybe the Texas policeman who threw a bikini-clad black girl to the ground at a pool party thought she was magical and wouldn’t feel anything. Maybe the school security guard who grabbed a 14-year-old black girl, body slammed her and threw her across the room, thought she was magical and would bounce off the floor.
Saying we’re superhuman is just as bad as saying we’re animals, because it implies that we are organically different, that we don’t feel just as much as any other human being.
She can’t possibly believe that and if she does, that is problematic and not the hashtag.
Unfortunately for ELLE and Chavers, the “Here’s My Problem With #BlackGirlMagic” article ultimately missed the mark completely.
Black Girl Magic is about celebrating black beauty in a safe space.
It is about likening black happiness to that of a child; hence black girl, not black woman magic.
It is about celebrating black female accomplishments that are rarely highlighted in the media.
It is about allowing black women to feel normal and appreciated like our white peers, not superhuman.
It is about celebrating ourselves in a society where we’re told to “cover up” because your black body, no matter what we wear, is looked at as a sex object.
As you can imagine, Chavers and ELLE are both being dragged on Twitter by people disgusted by her lack of research on BGM’s true meaning, and words that seemingly pandered to the white publication.
We also have some words for both of them.
What do YOU think about ELLE’s Black Girls Magic article???
Danielle Canada, @DanniCanada
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