Quantcast

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 Giphy

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

In my book, I am the woman I am today because of the love poured into me by mother and my father. While Father's Day isn't the only time of year to celebrate the power and the presence of black fathers and father figures in our lives, it is a beautiful reminder to honor the men we hold near and dear to us. At xoNecole, we are all about giving credit where credit is due and in honor of today and every day, we wanted to showcase a roundup of black celebrity dads actively showcasing why representation of black fatherhood matters.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Juneteenth aka Freedom Day aka Emancipation Day aka June 19, 1865, commemorates the actual end of slavery. Contrary to popular belief, July 4, 1776, was not inclusive of all people per America's modus operandi; the 4th of July only represents the day that white male Americans became free. Thanks to social activists and the movement that is Black culture, Juneteenth's history, meaning, and importance have become more prevalent over the past few years.

Keep reading... Show less

A 70-year-old woman with no history of a heart condition was admitted to the hospital for near collapse and chest discomfort that occurred when she was informed that her husband of 45 years had died. After careful monitoring, her scans came back normal and she was discharged. A follow-up appointment three months later was also normal. She has no memory of the entire hospitalization but continues to grieve for her husband.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite 2020, and the beginning of 2021, being the endless dumpster fire that it was, we have to admit one thing: it did a hell of a thing for one's creativity. With all the time in the world to be stuck at home, musicians put paper to pen, voices to mics, and now we can reap the benefits of its creative wonders. Kicking the summer off right, artists have released new music to fit all of your sunny adventures.

Keep reading... Show less

A father-daughter business is something that we all can be proud of especially at a time like Father's Day. And who doesn't love a girl dad? (They definitely get more than their share of love on social. Just look up the hashtag, sis. There are millions of tear-inspiring, super-sweet images to swoon about on Instagram alone.)

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Michelle Williams On Depression, Healing & Why It’s Important To Check In With Yourself

"Now, the only label I've got that matters is God's: God's creation. God's work. God's child."

Latest Posts