2016 Was Definitely The Year of #BlackGirlMagic

So I watched Michelle Obama’s final speech a few days ago and it left me with ALL the feelings — denial, sadness, pride. It also gave me an opportunity to reflect. While I think the world can agree that 2016 was certainly NOT the greatest year the one good thing that I’ve really enjoyed about 2016 is that it’s definitely been the year of #BlackGirlMagic. Everything from the complete explosion of the popularity of natural hair, to Viola Davis finally getting the recognition she deserves, to the launch of Insecure, to 2 black women I know raising over $1M in Silicon Valley, to Lemonade, to Solange, to Simone Biles, to savoring the last year of possibly one of the greatest First Ladies of all time, to the rise of the #BlackGirlMagic hashtag itself! The list goes on and on! 2016 really felt like a year where black women were able to shine.

Now I know I talk about black women a lot and I’m sure its starting to sound soapbox-y but I want to try to explain why this is so important to me — why seeing Viola Davis FINALLY get a star in the Hollywood walk of fame literally makes my heart leap and why hearing Michelle Obama’s final official speech as first lady moved me to tears.

It’s always been hard to explain and even for me myself to make sense of the origins of these feelings. I think it comes down to growing up in America and as a dark skinned black girl of African origins, just constantly getting the message that I was not validated as a woman. In fact for a long time I’ve felt that I was the exact opposite of what it meant to be the ideal American woman. Many of these messages were subtle and implicit (though there definitely were a good amount of explicit messages as well) but constant enough that they seeped into my subconscious and I truly internalized these messages and it influenced how I viewed myself. For a very long time I didn’t have a strong sense of self-esteem or self-love. I felt like I always had to do all these things to make up for the misfortune of how I was born — get my short nappy hair under control, wear the right makeup so I don’t look so dark. Hoping that there was somebody out there that would look past my physical short comings and love me for my personality maybe? I truly felt that my natural essence was a liability that had to be managed and covered up.

Fast forward to today where everything has changed. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imaged that kinky hair and dark skin would not just be accepted but celebrated with rallying cries like #naturalista or #melaninpoppin. Maybe to other people these are just words or hashtags, a trend that will eventually fade out like all trends do. But to me, its much more than that. It’s permission to not just show who I naturally am but to do so with pride. It’s validation that I have worth. So though I’m sure you all are tired of hearing it, I will spend 2017 continuing to fill your social media feeds with proclamations of #blackgirlsrock #natuarlista #naturalhair #melaninpoppin #blackgirlmagic. And as Beyonce so eloquently puts it — I ain’t sorry!

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