Dear Black Girl MAgic Community

Brittany Mendez, Maret '17

An open letter to the Black Girl Magic Community. (Published: 2017)

I’m writing this letter to thank you. Words cannot describe how grateful I am that you found me, welcomed me and most importantly shaped me into the proud black girl and soon to be woman I have become.

For the majority of my education I have attended predominantly white schools and have struggled to bond with my peers. Of course the micro-aggressions and sometimes outright racism were difficult for me to deal with, but the actions themselves were not greatest barrier to overcome. Rather, it was the words that hurt the most. They said that my hair was “unique,” my curves made me “fat” or that I “talk like a white girl.” Thankfully, when I came home from school everyday to process these comments, I was met with a supportive family that always reassured me that black is beautiful. However, even with this support, I still occasionally felt like my beauty was not enough for my white peers’ standards.

Middle school was significantly worse, as my peers were more conscious of their words and actions. They no longer simply regurgitated what they heard at home. The micro-aggressions erupted and could never be avoided, as beauty standards were not the only thing with which my peers took issue. I have always loved trying new things and had a desire to succeed in the classroom, on the soccer field, in the orchestra and anywhere else that interests me. My success only angered my white counterparts because, as far as they were concerned, the black girl was not supposed to perform better than the white kids. I was allowed to do well, but to do any better than my peers made me a threat.

In 2013, I began high school at a predominantly black high school and my perspective completely changed. I made friends, genuine friends, and in no time had a support system of individuals who not only related to my struggles, but also understood my rich culture. I learned what it meant to be black and to truly embrace my heritage. For the first time I made friends that were also Afro Caribbean whose favorite meal is curry, who taught me new hairstyles to help manage my hair, who introduced me to black throwback jams and much more.

I moved to DC during my sophomore year, which meant I had to change schools. I left behind the first community that I truly connected to, but I had no idea that I would soon join an even greater one. I transferred to yet another predominantly white school, and yet again my experience was different. I still encountered the same micro aggressions that were just as bad if not worse than middle school and struggled to make sincere friends; however, this time I found support. By the end of my junior year, I became more adventurous and took advantage of what DC and my new school have to offer. I began


to attend school affinity groups with which I identify. My friends convinced me to attend art shows. I was interested by these events and eventually sought some out on my own. For me, this is what Black Girl Magic Means. Before discovering BGM I was always conscious that I was the one of the few black girls at any given event, which immediately changed my perspective either because I felt like I had to

meet some unspoken standard or represent the entire black girl community. After joining

BGM, I became less aware of this and did not have to think about how my actions as a black

female would shape the views of those around me.

At almost every event that I attend now there is usually some form of the BGM community involved. Although this group may not be a concrete community, it is one that embraces the qualities of young black females and encourages us to be our best selves. This group has probably existed around me earlier in life, but it was not accessible in the same way it is for me now. The BGM community has helped me navigate through the world as a double minority, and continues to empower and expand our community.

BGM, you taught me to not feel bad about getting darker in the summer. You taught me to embrace my heritage and share it with the world. You taught me to be outspoken even when I am told to be silent. You taught me to be unapologetically carefree. And I could never thank you enough for that.

Yours truly,

Brittany Mendez