Words by Chindo
On January 1st I had the pleasure of attending Black Girl Magik's Meet-Up. Now, I'm not one who leaves the comfort of my home, especially when it's a little chilly outside, but I do not regret leaving my house for this beautiful event. Founder and Co-founders of Black Girl Magik, Shydeia and Na'cha coordinated an event that gives you a look inside the mind and heart of today's black woman.
The meet-up started off pretty normal. The Black Girl Magik team introduced themselves, and encouraged everyone to introduce themselves to someone they didn't know. Afterwards, things got a little funky. Shydeia instructed everyone to form a soul train line, and asked the question, "What does Black Girl Magik mean to you?" Some answers that were shared were: resilience, power, 'doing you,' and wearing your skin color with poise.
Shortly afterwards, we were instructed to sit in a circle. An excerpt from All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks was read, and then began the discussion about self love. The question, "What is the hardest thing about loving yourself as opposed to you loving others?" was asked. We were given a little time to think about our answers, and then the hands slowly started going up. One women shared that she recently began to change her mindset towards people who don't reciprocate the love she gives to them. She expressed that for some time she would mentally beat herself up when the love she gave to others wasn't reciprocated; it made her feel less than. She now understands that people can only meet you at the level they're at, and if they can't reciprocate the love you give them, then that's fine. It's not a reflection of you.
The next question that was asked was, "What does self-love mean to you?" One woman answered, "Your happiness goes first before anybody else's." Another woman said, "Self-love is being able to say no. Protecting yourself, and teaching others how to treat you."
One woman in particular shared that she practices the very healthy exercise (everyone should be doing this) of reminding herself that she loves herself. That although she's the only one telling herself that right now, it's enough. If you ask my opinion (I know you didn't, but humor me) telling yourself that you're beautiful or handsome should be enough. It really doesn't make a difference if a million people are telling you you're beautiful or handsome if you don't believe it for yourself. So, if you don't already tell yourself how beautiful or handsome you are, you should start. Make yourself feel good. Even if you don't believe it, keep saying it. I promise, you'll start believing it.
Another question that was asked was, "What are some of the things you do that help you love yourself?" Some of the answers that followed were things I've done, but didn't realize it was an act towards loving myself: journaling, joining positive black spaces on social media, self-affirmations on sticky notes, taking yourself out on dates, and taking selfies (of course. I mean, why not?).
Next up to take the floor was the beautiful Brittany Josephina of Brittspirations. One of the exercises in her workshop involved the women getting into multiple circles and give affirmations to each other that they'd also want to hear for themselves. Afterwards a circle was formed and Brittany asked us to share a negative mindset that we either have towards ourself or towards others, and what we're doing to change that. One woman shared that she's trying to change her mindset towards black men. She said she attended the Sandra Bland candlelight vigil and noticed that there were more white men there than there were black men. She also shared that she was raised in a majority white neighborhood, and that all the schools that she's gone to were also predominately white. In those environments she saw that the black boys would only date the white girls. That the black boys never showed much interest towards her, or towards any of the black girls around her. Despite witnessing this for a number of years, she wants to let go of her anger towards black men, and believe that there are black men that do recognize, appreciate, and love us.
With such perfect timing, Ishshah Fluker shared her poem Black Womanhood:
Was my voice too feminine, too weak to be heard raw, screamin, saying Power To The People? Was my fist too small to be seen raised? Did I fall and get trampled while marching by the heavy feet of revolutionary men? Why was the vigil for Sandra Bland more populated with the faces of white men? Was her courage to remain vocal, mistaken for uncontrollable emotion? Was her casket lined in pink? Were black men too busy organizing the uprising to include a dead black woman? Who rallies for the the black girls in bathing suits, jaws broken? Who even remembers their names? What about those of us who have been raped, souls gutted by black men, yet we shout the names of those taken by police brutality. We uphold you brothers, we lift you up. Yet when we say "stop" you keep going. When we say "black women's lives matter" you silence us. Who rallies for us when our own people won't? When they would rather defend the name of a man called Cosby. Than to believe the black women that say they didn't come forward because they didn't want to ruin the life of her another black man. Why is the term "innocent until proven guilty" only used for rapists? Why is it when we say "we've been raped" you say "prove it." Our bodies are walking crime scenes and yet no one else can ever seem to find the evidence. We are battlefields where land-mines in the shape of men's fists have exploded. Who rallies for us when our black men won't? Who fights for the women that are made up of more than just the asses and the breasts and the thighs that you like. But when we are the holders of the past because we birth the future. We are created from ashes of our ancestors melted into the scars of being born black. I didn't know I had to prove myself to be called your "Queen" or that my life was worth less as a size 16. Who rallies for the whores? For the women that are disabled? Or for the young girls, the fat girls, and the gay women? What about the dead trans women? Do you even know their names? I didn't know that "Black Lives Matter" came with terms and conditions. I didn't know I had to audition. I didn't know that having a vagina meant "wait in line to be called, men go first." Why is being a strong black women defined as supporting black men? Who rallies for us? Who remembers our names after we have fallen? Will we still be called warriors after fighting in the same war? Will we even be buried with honors? Who will rally for us when black men don't? Who will remember our names when our black men won't?
After Brittany's workshop, was the Girl Boss Panel featuring filmmaker Chelsea Odufu, Creative Writer/Documenter Ceraphina, and Journalist Ivie Ani followed by the afterparty with performances by L.A. and sets by DJ Boston Chery.
I will say that being in that room made me realize how inconsiderate I can be sometimes when it comes to other people's feelings. I know what depression, and serious self doubt feels like. I know what it's like to be around people that are no good for you, and using those same people as a crutch for whatever emptiness I was temporarily feeling. And it's interesting because I'm now in a place where I love God, I love myself, I'm in love with a wonderful man, I'm in love with what I do, I'm super careful about the people I share my energy with, my initial mindset was, "these women can't dwell on these negative things, life gets better!" But with that mindset, I'm negating their need to go through whatever it is that they're going through to see that life does eventually get better. I want to tell every girl that's reading this that's looking for peace in their spirit, that it will be ok. Things get better. Keep searching for that peace. Everything is temporary, and everything happens for a reason. As long as we are working on obtaining the things we want for ourselves, and I mean really working on those things, whatever they are, we will get them.