Black Girl Magic: Seven Women Share the True Meaning of Inner Strength

Black girl magic

Ever walked out of a conversation involving a group of women and felt like you had just been edified; fully nourished by the words of those women? This is how you are going to feel just listening to Mary J. Blige, Niecy Nash, Monica Brown, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Dee Rees and Kristi Henderson speak at the 2017 Essence Festival, break down what it means to be black girl magic in these times, and the lessons they have learned, ultimately in their journey.

Have you fully grasped what black girl magic signifies? It’s us, girls of colour in our brown skins, doing mundane things in such a profound way. As Queen Latifah succinctly put it – the elixir that we bring makes all the difference. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, just look at all the women of colour doing exceptional things all over the world. The different narratives we deliver to the table makes the world stop and watch. Despite the oppositions, we’ve had to battle through, and notwithstanding the tough cards that life has dealt, we still flourish like the Israelites in the land of Egypt irrespective of Pharaohs attempt to snuff them out.

Did you listen to Rihanna’s speech at the 2019 Diamond Ball? This is what she said:

“I came from a black woman, who came from a black woman, who came from a black woman, and I’m going to give birth to a black woman. My mother is an incredible example of how to fight through obstacles in life. I’m sure her mom taught her that and that’s how I’m going to be. We are impeccable, we’re special, we’re special and the world is going to have to deal with that.”


We are the spice!

Looking at the lives of these successful women, it behoves me to let you know that… let me phrase this bible way – they didn’t get to stand before kings and not mean men(Message-Proverbs 22-29 ) through a snap of the finger, like Thanos. None of those women in that room testifies that their greatness was handed to them on a platter. They all had to go through a journey riled with obstacles, disappointments, pain, rejections (hearing the word no, and having doors slammed against them) and forged through it. It was a tough journey, but as the host put it, if you keep looking at the roadblocks, you’ll never see the road.

Niecy Nash said that she had had to battle through a messed up childhood, a divorce and a battle of the mind that had been drilled into her by family, that she had to settle for whatever life presented. Like she didn’t have a choice.

“What happened for me was that my background was filled with a lot of broken places. You know I saw my mother get shot when I was a young kid and my only brother was murdered”.

Niecy Nash

Jada said her childhood was filled with so much pain that it’s only now she is beginning to unravel and let go of all that baggage. Monica Brown stated she watched parents go through a divorce and it tore her apart.

Glow from inner strength

These women, as elevated as their lives are right now, they all share something in common with you, which is the journey. The prose may be different, but the obstacles they’ve had to wade through isn’t different from what you may currently be experiencing right now.

Why? They have battled addictions, they have fought through loss; Niecy Nash revealed that she watched her mother get shot at. They have battled through trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives; Queen Latifah recalls scaring the hell out of her mum during that period. They have battled through a career meltdown; Monica brown says after her career took a nosedive and everything didn’t seem good, her mum came to her saying, it’s okay to come home and refocus.

Dee Res said there was a time in her life when she realized she didn’t derive joy from her career. So she quit (family thought she was crazy) and broke with no money, she saw herself through film school. They have battled through insecurities and self-doubt.

Speaking of self-doubt, it was a general consensus in the room that, doubt will always rear its head, in fact, you have to make peace with the fact that when you are about to do something big or do something you’ve never done before, it’s likely that fear is going to be there but do it anyway.

“Society will tell you to try to conquer your fear before you enter and I just feel like I don’t care if I’m scared, I’m still going. I could feel away, but I’m gonna put all my shoes on, and I’m still gonna walk in that room. Three words that have pushed me through that place are, No matter what”.


Niecy said that she had always been taught that you have to master your fear, you have to summon the courage, and then go that thing but no, she has learnt that you don’t have to wait till you feel confident. Just do it. Do it like that; shaking, crying, afraid. Do it anyway!

Monica said that once you identify your purpose, just walk into it headfirst. Attack that thing and stop worrying. She went further to say that when she was a kid, she did things she wanted to do without worrying over them but now as a grown woman, she(we) tend to over-analyze; trying to piece together different outcomes: how’s it going to go? What if nobody accepts it? What if I fail? How about if it goes wrong? What about that? Just walk in your purpose, is what she advised, and stop trying to figure it all out.

Dear Minime

Before rounding up, the host asked women what they would tell their fifteen-year-old selves if they had the chance and here’s what they had to say:


Niecy Nash said she would tell her fifteen-year-old self to learn from the mistakes of the women in her lives and also not to let the negative talk get to her, and that she can and deserves the best out of life.

Kristi said she would tell herself not to let the opinions of others get to her. She would fearlessly be herself. Live your truth babe!


Jada Pinkett Smith said she would tell minime that it’s okay. That the challenges, the tough times are part of the journey and would shape her into the woman she turned out to be.

Mary said she would tell her younger self to love who she is unapologetically.

Queen Latifah, well Queen Latifah’s you will have to listen to by yourself(grinning).

Monica Brown said she would tell her minime not to blame herself for her parents’ divorce. Some things may have happened to you while growing up like rape and would have made you feel there’s something wrong with you, that somehow you brought it upon yourself or you are cursed. She wants you to know sometimes things happen that had nothing to do with who we are as individuals – it happened, but don’t let them break you.

Dee Rees said she would tell her younger self not to be bothered with fitting in.

“I think I would tell my young self – and like all these little girls they worry about fitting in with like, the cool kids but in like five years you won’t even know their names. So see yourself and create your own cool”.

Dee Rees

I think I have said a whole lot, and I could go on but, you would probably kick me out, so just watch the video. We are black girl magic!

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