Nearly one week ago, Dr. Linda Chavers, a black woman, wrote an essay at elle.com that laid out her problem with #blackgirlmagic. You see, #blackgirlmagic is a hashtag that black women use to celebrate ourselves. Everywhere you look, you can find something negative to do with a black woman, so the hashtag is used by black women to uplift each other, celebrate accomplishments, etc. According to Dr. Chavers, the hashtag perpetuates the magical negro/strong black woman tropes. She wanted to point out that black women are not magical, that we are human. I can sort of understand what she was trying to say but I felt that it didn’t come across the way she wanted it too and she really took a wrong turn by claiming that blacks killed by police and the rape victims of Daniel Hoytzclaw were not “magical” enough so that’s why they were victimized. Many felt that she conflated #blackgirlmagic with those tropes and that she took the “magic” part of the hashtag too literally. There were many think pieces written explaining what the hashtag meant, how she was wrong and that she should have at least spoken with the creator of the hashtag, CaShawn Thompson. That has all been written to death, so I won’t be focusing on that today. But if you want to read more, here are just a few of many:
But what I want to talk about Dr. Chavers’ interview with For Harriet which I expected would give her point of view and some clarity on what she wrote but, alas, that is not what happened. Dr. Chavers started out saying that she felt hurt from the backlash. From then on, it was a long, unstructured, unclear interview in which she said she didn’t know much about the hashtag before writing, wrote it to pay the bills, hadn’t taken it too literally or misunderstood, and that she still stood by what she said. That last bit would have worked much better had she done a good job of clarifying what she meant.
Unfortunately, she seemed to be stubbornly clinching onto her opinion because she’d been challenged and had a bruised ego, not because what she said was a great argument. She acknowledged many times in the interview that maybe there were things she could have done differently, but in the end she maintained her conviction. Of course I don’t want to say that her opinion is wrong; she is entitled to it, but I can’t help feeling she was holding onto it out of a sense of rebellion. And if she really doesn’t like the hashtag, she doesn’t have to use it, but I feel the interview made her look worse which is extremely unfortunate because she is extremely accomplished and someone who exemplifies #blackgirlmagic.
Overall, I hope she’s doing okay because it has to be super hard to take a beating from Black Twitter and every blog on the planet for your opinion, even if it is very unpopular.