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Why the Hashtag #BlackGirlMagic is SO Important

“Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.” – Jesse Williams.

If you’re a heavy social media user, you’ve probably come across the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic. Whether it’s a celebrity, a public figure or simply a girl proud to be in her own skin, this is a hashtag that we all need.

Why? Because representation matters.

This thought came to me during this summer’s Olympic Games. I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a photo of a black toddler, balancing on a broomstick, with the face of Simone Biles on the television screen behind her. In a quoted caption it said, “If you’ve ever questioned why representation matters, here’s your answer.”

I couldn’t help but think about what that little girl was now realizing she is capable of. Seeing Simone win four gold medals, seeing her face on the television, at the Olympics no less, is something that, whether or not she realizes it yet, will greatly affect her life.

It also forced me to take a trip back to my childhood and remember how the world impacted my thoughts about what I wanted to be. I had a Simone Biles. I had a Rio Olympics. Only in my case, it was in the form of a movie – Bring It On.

When I was younger, Gabrielle Union and her team were my idols. I remember how much I loved their presence in the movie. They talked like me, they had the same hair as me and were black like me. While the movie appeared to be about the rivalry between competitive cheerleading teams, the message was deeper than I could have known at the time.

The Torros were a predominately white team from a wealthy part of California. They were the reigning champions in the cheer world with no competition in sight – or so they thought. Miles away were the Clover’s, an all-black team from East Compton, a team whose talents went unnoticed simply because they didn’t have the resources to show them off. When the Clover’s realized their routines were getting ripped off by the Torros, they fundraised and fought their way to the Regional Championship.

They were unapologetically feisty, loud and talented. And the best part? They WON the Reginal Championship!

The ability to perform, whatever it is, in a place where you’re underrepresented and SUCCEED is what #BlackGirlMagic is all about.

I first saw that movie when I was seven-years-old. When the movie finished, I remember coming to the realization that I just had to be a cheerleader and I now felt like I could be. And all because I saw someone that looked like me do it.

As a child, I didn’t understand the importance of proper representation. I didn’t understand the importance of brown girls playing with brown dolls.I didn’t understand the importance of seeing women on television with realistic black features. I didn’t understand the importance of seeing black women taking interest in things that aren’t deemed as “black.”

Even as I pursue my degree, I am thankful for the successful black women that did it before me; the top market news anchors, writers, producers and so on. It’s a confirmation for me that my aspirations can be played out to the fullest extent.

Representation matters and it’s because it shows that while we may be classified as a minority, we are not limited to anything.

And the #BlackGirlMagic list is always growing. Just this year, Disney star Zendaya Coleman was cast in a leading role in the upcoming movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, Lupita Nyong-O, the first Kenyan actress to win an Academy Award, was featured on the cover of Vogue and Queen Bey herself released an album celebrating black culture. With her single “Formation,” she now has the world singing along to a song that not only pays a positive tribute to black features and culture, but brings up the conversation of controversial issues in the black community.

But the hashtag isn’t just for celebrities. It’s for the black girls from poverty-stricken areas who statistically wouldn’t graduate college but did. It’s for the black girls who embrace their tight curls in the classroom and beyond because their hair does not define them. It’s for the black girl’s making their presence known in places that were untouched by people that looked like them before and exceeding expectations. It’s for the Michelle Obama’s, the Shonda Rhimes’ and so forth.

It’s a part of all of us, so own your magic, no matter what. May the representation be ever-growing and the magic ever-glowing.

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South Jersey native whose passion for writing lured her 14 miles from New York. Lataya is a student at Montclair State with a major in Journalism.
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