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How Black Girl Magic Is Building An Online Community Through TikTok

Black girl magic, y'all can't stand it.

Human Interest

While you're bored in the house, in the house, bored, everyone is jumping on the TikTok train and it has pulled out of the station faster than social media managers and marketing strategists may have ever expected. According to Vox, "While Spotify streams are down, TikTok appears to have benefited from a nationwide boredom boom, according to some (unconfirmed) numbers." Journalist Rebecca Jennings continues, "Even anecdotally, people on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds who never seemed to have any interest in it before are discovering TikTok (two of them have already gone viral, yes I am jealous), while others are now realizing they might be too into it."

As we mindlessly scroll through our TikTok feed in search of the "next big thing" from DaniLeigh's Levi High Challenge to Megan Thee Stallion's new Captain Hook Challenge, have you taken a second to notice that a lot of these white TikTokers are getting the attention and virality that the Black creators of these TikToks deserve? A prime example of this is 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon, also known as the original creator of the Renegade Challenge to K CAMP's "Lottery", which has officially been deemed as the #RenegadeChallenge anthem - at least, the first sixteen seconds of it.

Black girl magic isn't something you can earn or purchase membership into like a country club or Adobe Creative Suite - it's something you're born with and something we're envied for. At the same time, Black girl magic isn't something to be relied on to make everything flavorful and incredible with the wave of our wand. Yes, we're magical, but we're not Tinkerbell. We, as Black women, are either the number one entertainer to be held to a standard from which we can't mess up or come down from, or we're stolen from and never to receive proper accolades. "Black people have been treated unfairly, but if we don't start speaking up more for ourselves, then it will keep happening," Harmon told xoNecole. "We can't wait for anyone else or a bunch of likes to let us know we're good artists. If you work hard, you deserve credit, no matter what color you are!"

Throughout this time, TikTok has been developing a sense of comfort and online community for those who may not be able to spend time with family, friends or roommates. Keara Wilson, the creator of the #SavageChallenge to Meg's latest hit "Savage", which is sweeping the nation and everyone's social media feeds, adds that COVID-19 isn't the only pandemic going on throughout quarantine - introducing the wave of TikToking as a way to promote healthy interaction during social distancing. "People have realized it's fun and easy to use," Wilson explains. "There is so much to see and do. I can just sit, go through the site and laugh at so many different people making home projects, having large discussions; there are just so many different categories to view."

Laurise McMillian also shares her inside perspective as an Instagram strategy editor for Refinery29 and Refinery 29's Unbothered, the entity of Refinery29 specifically crafted for the content consumption of Black millennial women. "The Savage Challenge is the perfect example. Unbothered actually wrote about how 19-year-old Keara and her choreo helped Megan The Stallion's already fire track literally become the new favorite American pastime," Laurise reminisces back to the piece written by Stephanie Long. "It's funny because last year a similar situation happened to Meg, herself when she was on the come-up."

Laurise continues, "Remember when every brand was co-opting 'Hot Girl Summer' in their marketing language? I remember talking with my homegirls about that. I respect Megan Thee Stallion because when 'Savage' happened, she could've easily overlooked its origin, but she embraced Keara with love and credit. That acclaim has been able to help Keara financially, and that's how it should be. I would love to see the two of them really link-up for some sort of project in the future that could help Keara even more." A necessary link-up indeed - TikTok duet anyone?

When it comes time to build the community between our people, namely our sisters, we don't lack when it comes to giving credit to one another - moreso, when it involves receiving credit from those who take from us without giving us so much as a follow-back in return. Everybody wants to be a Black girl until it's time to be a Black girl, am I right? They want our full lips, curvy hips, kinky curly hair and melanated skin, but don't pay homage to us or give us our props when they steal something from us that they're upset they hadn't thought of first. The durag, cornrows, baby hairs - need I continue? "Since the dawn of time," McMillian starts, "Black people have set the standard for 'entertainment'. Whether it be a house slave fiddler 500 years ago, or a Beyonce of today — we are the standard of talent.

"The issue is that just because many Black people are great singers and dancers and ball players, doesn't mean we're jesters here solely to entertain. We're intellectuals, and artists to be respected. Now is the perfect time to support Black TikTokers because it's about damn time society at large respects the people they rely so heavily on for culture," Laurise concludes. Now is not the time to support Black Tik Tokers, YouTubers, bloggers, journalists, etc. - it's been time.

Featured image via Jill Frank for The New York Times

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