Collecting our stories of how we protect our Black Girl Magic has been a welcomed reminder that we are responsible for our own healing and celebration. It continues to be an honor to bear witness and to create a space for our stories. The next response reads as a beautiful piece of prose poetry. Bloomfully yours, nicole jhan'rea April Gibson wrote...
America hates Black people. America hates women.
I am always both. Seen and unseen.
I am afraid. I am not afraid.
This is not a game. I did not come here to play.
The best and worst thing about being a Black woman is the necessity to create my own reality as to not succumb to the one others have created for me.
As a Black woman, I am expected to be unbreakable, like blackness is a Teflon that keeps me from experiencing hurt the way a woman considered to be created of more tender things can. It can feel paradoxical to exist this way: To feel magical and weak, powerful and beat down, loud and silenced. To be the answer always questioned. Beautiful and shamed. Pure and perpetually dirtied. Giver of life and killed by your own offered light.
For me, protecting my magic means reminding myself that I am also made of ordinary things: Heart. Mind. Body. Bones. Skin. Scars. It is difficult to wrestle with silence, shame, or pain after you’ve proven yourself mighty to the world, a magical force of staying alive. How do you live up to your own victory?
You say, No, I am not okay. And I need y’all to be okay with this.
I protect my Black Girl Magic by seeking out the clarity, affirmation, strength, and power I need to step fully into my healing. For there is no magic without healing. Healing is an ongoing process, a fight. It is painful and, at times, one of the loneliest human experiences possible.
In order to survive, we need people, but we don’t need everybody. The trick is learning who your people are. I believe in Black women as a refuge for Black women, in mamas and aunties, cousins and sisters, girlfriends and grandmas, nieces and strangers who give each other love and humanity, words and counsel, a way out the dark. Women who feed you when you’ve lost your will to eat, remind you how to laugh, offer drink when your eyes have cried themselves dry.
Protecting Black Girl Magic requires an understanding of what it is and what it ain’t. Knowing that it can never go away. That magic, like energy, is neither created or destroyed. Magic was passed into my dna. It began as a speck of light like a crescent white culling the night sky, more sun than moon, like stars, magic’s true embodiment is fire. There is cleansing in fire.
When I get into a bad space, like when I am angry, I don’t try to stop it from burning inside. I let the blaze raze and hell break loose. Then I put my world together again, anew. I read the handwritten letters left for me by my elders. I commune with my sons, the beanstalks who offer the warmth of their own bodies to keep me alive when I crawl into caves to cry alone. They will not leave me, alone. I call upon my ancestors, my friends, my family -the collective who believes in my life being a mattering thing. My mother taught me the secret to surviving this life is sharing, so she gifted her light to me.
I can give, take, want, or refuse whatever the hell I choose, be free however the hell I choose. This is my universe too. I’m forever grateful to be blessed with such wonderful womenfolk around me. I’m not here for people who ain’t here for Black women. As a grown ass magical Black woman, I’ve learned that other magical Black women got my back, and I got theirs, and we got this.
April Gibson is a poet, mother, writer, and teacher. Her work has been published in literary journals and magazines. Her poetry chapbook, Automation, which deals with themes of motherhood and womanhood, was published by Willow Books in 2015. She is currently working on a collection of poetry that examines ways in which Black women resist and disrupt silence(s).