Mia Berry | Friday, April 6, 2018
Malcolm X stood in front and said that black women are the most unprotected, disrespected and neglected people in America. Fifty years later the same sentiment can be felt by many black women today. We are deemed too strong, too loud and too angry. But it is often ignored that we as black women have to be strong in order to survive a world where men, and some women, are against us, where we have to be louder or else our voices won’t be heard and where we’re considered angry for trying to challenge unfavorable norms that continue to oppress us. Although societal disrespect and neglect aren’t exclusive to women of color, there is a large disparity between women and non-women of color. Due to societal adversity against both men and women, celebration of black women accomplishments are drastically important. Similar to how the #MeToo movement helped spread the prevalence of women that were sexually assaulted, #BlackGirlMagic was coined to celebrate the accomplishments of black women.
The creation of Black Girl Magic was long overdue. The #BlackGirlMagic movement gained notoriety in 2013, and it ideally personifies black women creating positive change and breaking barriers for future generations of women. When highlighting #BlackGirlMagic, it’s also important to place a spotlight on the importance of the representation of black women in the media. Growing up, the only positive African Americans I remember were athletes, singers and actresses. Although I grew admiring the likes of Venus and Serena Williams, Beyoncé and Gabrielle Union — each strong and trailblazers in their own right — I always felt that these role models reinforced the stereotypes of black women only being valued for entertainment purposes. I had longed for a role model that defied the odds by relying on her intellect. It wasn’t until Michelle Obama’s ascension to FLOTUS that I finally found a role model that I felt purely embodied the persona of Black Girl Magic.
Michelle Obama defies all stereotypes. A twice-Ivy League educated women that could reinvent the role of FLOTUS. She rejected the stigma of FLOTUS being a trophy wife by effortlessly flaunting her intellect through preparing speeches that had the ability to move an audience and even rivaled those written by other politicians. She handled petty criticism with grace and poise, and created her own identity outside of that of her husband. And instead of reveling in her position as FLOTUS, she encouraged young girls to defy stereotypes not by aiming to be the first lady, but by becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers. She single-handedly helped shape the focus of #BlackGirlMagic by becoming a universal role model.
Even a year removed from her public office, she still continues to inspire many women just by being true to herself, from wearing her natural hair on vacation to writing uplifting speeches and even visiting the little black girl who went viral for staring at her official portrait. From her style to her poise to her grace, she should be considered the gold standard for all women regardless of race. In eight years, Michelle Obama helped create and raise the standards of #BlackGirlMagic that every black woman, young and old, should try to chase. Although her time as FLOTUS has ended, black women are still obligated to continue our own chase for #BlackGirlMagic.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.