Black Girl Magic is everywhere. It's on magazine covers, all over the web and an on-going conversation on Twitter. It's a movement. Truth is black girls rock, and we are reminded at every possible moment. Beyonce dropped a very relevant work of art with Lemonade, an album celebrating blackness, and #BlackTwitter and #BlackLivesMatter erupted. It got me thinking, we don't have a #LatinaTwitter that unites us; shoot, we don't have anything at all. There's no hashtag, no Latina Girls Rock, no digital town hall where we come together to celebrate one another or confront our societal adversaries. We just co-exist. For that reason alone, I'm jealous of the Black Girl Magic movement. I'm jealous of the sisterhood that could be - but doesn't exist - for Latinas. There are many complexities around the issue, but I have come to terms with the fact that Latinas aren't united in the same way that black women are.
As an Afro-Latina, this was a hard realization. I wrapped myself in this magical movement and wore it like a cape with honor and pride. But after Beyonce's Formation and recent Lemonade album release, that cape seemed to be snatched off. I was quickly reminded that Lemonade is an ode to Black women, and I felt like that didn't mean us. For years, I've been searching for our version of Black Girl Magic. What are we doing different? I would always wonder, and I could never get the answers. Is it because we aren't our own heroes and our own cheerleaders? Is it because we truly do have different priorities in terms of raising families and being wives? Are we not as strong and powerful as we pretend to be? Or, do we simply just not care? I really struggle with this, and honestly, I don't know what the answer is.
My guess is that we let our differences define us more than our similarities empower us. Although as Hispanics speak the same language, there are still some very obvious differences as Latinas in the way we look, talk, think, eat and exist. Thus, we can end up living in silos and don't unite in the same way that African-American women do. Jamila Aisha Brown, writer and social entrepreneur at Hue, recalls how family and country of origin can create these silos unknowingly. "After colonization, the wave of nationalism that swept over the region created a nationalistic pride that many of us haven't moved beyond. Growing up I didn't really identify as Latinx or Afro-Latinx, I was Panamanian. And that's largely because that's how my family raised me. We were Panamanian, and that was a different country, different experience, different culture than other Latinxs." It was only after traveling within Latin America that she realized how similar we all really were.
This realization has happened slowly. Our struggles as women of color are very similar, if not the same. I created the Melanin Magic Virtual Conference with this idea in mind. I wanted to create a place where we can unite around what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace and society, because I felt like Black Girl Magic excluded me. Why aren't we being celebrated by our own people or by other women of color? Why aren't there more images of Afro-Latinas in reference to Black Girl Magic? Recently, more and more media platforms are turning their ears and keyboards to Afro-Latinas. We are this unique mix that sometimes isn't Black enough or Latina enough, and our stories need to be told. Maybe then, the similarities will shine through and we can support one another as Latinas and as Blacks. "I've learned that Afro-Latinas have been searching for a place to discuss our identity and unique experiences." said Janel Martinez, founder of Ain't I Latina?. " While we've expected mainstream media and Spanish-language media to represent our identities, or at least show we exist, they've fallen short time after time."
This was apparent when the February Essence Magazine covers were released and shortly after, Teen Vogue's. There was such a momentum around the Black Girl Magic movement and the icons of this era, that it made me yearn even more to fit into the Black Girl Magic movement, or at least have some equivalent in Latina magic. When I explored why more brands and media weren't addressing the Latina Magic void, multicultural communications expert, Cristine Jacquez responded "To be honest, I don't think many are capitalizing on the void... it really doesn't exist outside of a few campaigns/brands. Focusing on and reaching the "mythical millennial" is what many brands are working towards, and in the process of creating campaigns or programs they'll layer in cultural, demographic and language cues, but it's not usually a bold statement or declaration, like #BlackGirlMagic." While platforms like Ain't I Latina? have served as a reminder that we need a place to tell our stories, some critics have said they are divisive to which Martinez responds, " We're reclaiming our narrative. It's telling in itself."
I'm not sure where I go from here, because I quite frankly I don't know what it will take to truly galvanize Latinas. I have observed that we are so quick to judge and discredit what it means to be Latina. We have to work on not tearing down women like actress, Gina Rodriguez, who is trying to be a roles model. Can you believe she won a Golden Globe and instead of being celebrated, she was criticized for not speaking perfect Spanish? While a woman like Taraji can give Viola Davis a standing ovation when she wins an award. Again, black girls truly do rock, and they will remind you in every moment with fierce conviction and unwavering loyalty. It is small but meaningful moments like these that set the tone for the dialogue we have among ourselves and how we are viewed by others.
Will we ever have our own movement or be a part of Black GIrl Magic? I'm not sure. I think there's a lot of mindset shifting that needs to take place in order for us to be able to do that. We need to feel the same bonds of sisterhood and loyalty to one another that our African-American counterparts feel. There are a lot of complexities, but I know that there is a possibility of doing it right. Cheers to you #BlackGirlMagic and Mother Beyonce for showing us what could be.