“Black Girl Magic”. A contemporary phrase that addresses the brilliance and power that black women around the world embody, these three seemingly simple words honor the enduring trials and tribulations of being both black and female in societal structures developed by racism and patriarchal definition. Being existentially a minority within a minority, the media ( a social construct of great importance and insertion in the daily lives and perspectives of Americans) has done a grand job of creating sentiments of black women in often dehumanizing stature. The manifestation of such sentiments that demean black femininity, in regards to our facial features, our dialect, our bodies, and even our minds, have played a massive roles on how we internally identity. Millions of young black girls develop self hatred and superficial mutilation to conform to eurocentricity and to deny their blackness. This has of course encouraged the genesis of many campaigns to ensure that future generations are not denied the self love not experienced by many black women, but none have reached as much of the masses as the #blackgirlmagic movement.
Insert SZA. Like the multitude of black female artists breaking boundaries today, SZA offers something beyond not only black artistry but artistry in standard terms. They are using their creations as canvas for the marginalized mentality of the black woman.
As seen in her most recent and truly otherworldly visual for the title track off her equally sensational album, “Supermodel”, we see a black woman first standing in the mirror, surrounded by a mosaic of beauty standards(depictions of white facial features, a poster of “The Beauty and The Beast”) and with her villainous boyfriend laughing at her as she expresses her mentality. She then transforms into an adult Disney princess, with her magical black young girls fueling her evolutionary transformation. Draped in a Lil Kim-esque attire, she goes on to stunt on those who slept on her, specifically the boyfriend(now presumably ex-boyfriend).
We get it, SZA is glorious, but how does this address black girl empowerment? Everything that SZA encompasses in this video is representative to breaking down margins that entrap black femininity. In modern time, black women are still not fully encouraged to showcase the melanin of their skin, covering up with lighter makeup and airbrush, but in this video we see a brown woman displaying her God’s gifts with distinct confidence. She shows also the vulnerability of black womanhood in relationships, sometimes not realizing how poisonous the relationship actually is, but in the end gaining the strength to leave. All of this is great, but perhaps the best part is the presence of black girls who sanction SZA’s own empowerment. This surreal visual can be interpreted as a commentary on the current social milieu of black identity. In the midst of a soiree of public cultural appropriation and consistently ignited attacks on our identity, we need women to be honest and to use the arts to spread awareness and appreciation. The Lauryn Hills, Missy Elliots, Nina Simones, Solanges, Eryka Badus, and now SZAs.
We see ya. A multidimensional message to fellow black girls.