During his acceptance speech for the humanitarian award at Sunday’s BET Awards, Jesse Williams delivered a passionate and inspiring speech on race in America, ending with a subtle nod that some may not have recognized.
“The thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real,” he said.
The actor was respectfully referencing the #blackgirlmagic movement.
The trending hashtag, used to celebrate black women’s greatness, is attributed to Washington, DC, caregiver CaShawn Thompson. While not a paid pundit or member of the media, she says she used the term long before it started circulating online.
“I wanted to celebrate us,” Thompson told TheWrap. “I wanted to put out there that we’re great and we do great things and you just may not understand it all the time.”
Prior to using it across her social media channels (chiefly Twitter) about three years ago, “black girl magic” was a term she used to describe the women in her family. Thompson believed what her daughter, mom, sisters and aunts were able to do and achieve was simply magical beyond understanding.
And it’s everywhere.
Stars like Zendaya Coleman, Amandla Stenberg, Solange Knowles, Yara Shahidi, Janelle Monaé and Tracee Ellis Ross are only a few of the myriad celebrities embracing #blackgirlmagic.
“I would have to define black girl magic as just being empowering, being confident and loving yourself,” Disney channel star Skai Jackson tells TheWrap. “Just all coming together and definitely embracing each other.”
Jackson, best known for playing Zuri Ross on “Jessie,” attributes #blackgirlmagic to her hair because it’s what she’s known for.
“It’s me kind of embracing my hair and just telling people you don’t need to put any chemicals in it and just love your hair for what it is,” said the 14-year-old actress. “God gifted you this amazing hair for a reason.”
Jackson acknowledges that sometimes the messages black girls receive on social media aren’t the most positive.
“I would definitely say it has changed my perception a lot,” said the Disney star about #blackgirlmagic.
In a world where, according to a 2013 Essence study, images of black baby mamas and jezebels are more prominent than those of black beauties on screen, and where black women are told they are scientifically less attractive than women of other races, #blackgirlmagic serves as a restorative reminder.
Here are a few examples of black girl magic.
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A photo posted by Olmecian Clothing, LLC. (@olmecian) on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:37am PDT
A photo posted by Yara (يارا) Shahidi (@yarashahidi) on Apr 25, 2016 at 10:04pm PDT
A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Apr 25, 2016 at 10:01am PDT
Born June 24th Wore tap shoes and tutus every where 3-5 Wrote first song (A jingle for the United Way) 9 Felt God 10 Met first love (in a parking lot) 13 Wrote/Released my first album for weird teenagers 15 Started writing songs for other awesome people 16 Lost my best friend Marsai, to gun violence 17 Pregnant 17 Married first love 17 Gave birth to angel baby 18 Financially independent 19 Bought my first house 19 Divorced 20 Wiled the hell out 20-22 Wrote/ Released second album 22 Fell head over heels in love again 22 Insane panic attacks and agoraphobia and convinced I would die by 30 – 24 Wrote/released third album 26 Started record label and cultural hub 27 Released first album on label 27 Freed myself of “friends” on the journey to womanhood 27 Started writing most proud of body of work 27 World called me crazy 27 Married Best Friend 28 Completed 4th album (72 hours before turning 30) Just really getting started 30 ???? I say all of that to say…don’t eveeer let anyone write your story for you. They can talk, they can doubt, and they can say what they wanna, but only you have the words to narrate this ting we call life. So much gratitude for all of your wishes. So much gratitude for love. So much gratitude for freedom. So much gratitude for life. Ps: About to take a note from Paris Hilton and have 4 parties.