CaShawn Thompson started the hashtag #BlackGirlsAreMagic in 2013 to inform the world about all the amazing feats Black women and girls accomplish every day. #BlackGirlsAreMagic has grown into a global movement, and has found its way to Madison via the “Black Girls are Magic” collective.
The women who make up “Black Girls are Magic” bring with them a multitude of experiences: they are mothers, students, community activists, artists, and educators. Some were born and raised in Madison, others moved here for school, family, or career opportunities. Despite their differences, these women all have one thing in common: they want to create a welcoming community that values the voice and intersecting identities of Black women in our city.
Penelope Joy Pack, a member of “Black Girls are Magic” since its inception, describes the message of the group as, “sisterhood and community, supporting each other as women and celebrating our personhood and our worth.”
Madison is often described as a place where Black women feel isolated. Ali Muldrow, “Collaborator of the Year” award recipient at Madison’s inaugural “Black Women’s Leadership Conference,” and Elizabeth Creech began hosting gatherings in homes to provide a respite for Black women to connect, unwind, and focus on self-care.
With “Black Girls are Magic,” Creech aims to create “a broader space for Black women and make Madison feel more welcoming … we are reaching out to pockets of Black women to let them know that there are more opportunities for us to get together than what they are finding themselves.”
Pack understands the value of building a thriving community of sisterhood. “It has been a joy to learn about each of these women and their personal narrative, and find out how we can best support each other personally and professionally.”
Black Girls are Magic recently broadened their gatherings to public spaces, seeking to increase the visibility of Black women in our city. Creech wants Black women to feel a sense of ownership over events and public spaces in Madison that can often feel unwelcoming to Black women. “We are trying to put ourselves in spaces in Madison that we typically don’t feel welcomed or represented. My belief is that if we don’t make it for ourselves it won’t be for us. If we have a gang of us, we have someone to fall back on.”
Valese Adams attended her first “Black Girls are Magic” gathering last Saturday during Madison’s Juneteenth celebration at Penn Park on Madison’s south side. Adams recently relocated to Madison from Mt. Horeb, WI and sees “Black Girls are Magic” as a safe space that reflects her identity. “I don’t see Black women in my everyday life. I joined to be a part of a group that looks like me.”
Family is also an important tenet of “Black Girls are Magic.” Many of the women involved are mothers who want to create a supportive community for women and children. Creech believes, “It’s suffocating to feel like you are someone’s only option, we have to raise these children as a village.”
At Juneteenth, “Black Girls are Magic” hosted a lemonade stand that enabled the children to participate in the celebration and served over 100 people and raised $325. The children were able to learn about economics, working together, and the meaning of Juneteenth in the Black experience.
Black Girls are Magic plans to host more gatherings throughout the summer and encourage other women to attend. Creech wants you to know, “If you identify as a black woman, this is a space for you.”