Being a black woman in this world means being aware of more than a few things. From an early age we are not only taught about the racism our ancestors faced and what we may encounter but we are also made aware of the many ways sexism can rear its head. Let's not forget the assumption that somehow all black women fall underneath the same umbrella. Black women endure so much and this can leave us feeling pretty discouraged in addition to the highs and lows that come with being alive.

In my interview with Hannah Magazine Editor-in-Chief Qimmah Saafir last year, we talked about the importance of representation for black women and how there is a void, especially in media publications. In addition to this, I saw many instances on social media where both black women and black men questioned the lack of diversity from several brands. The saying "some things never change" may apply to a small margin of things in life but when it comes to the blatant lack of representation in the media, I had a feeling that this saying didn't apply. Last year, six influential women covered six different magazine covers at the same time. If you've ever paid attention to any magazine or news stand then you know how rare this is. Not long after that, Viola Davis, the epitome of talent, grace and beauty that doesn't fit into a singular mold, graced the cover of Instyle Magazine and she looked flawless. And now for their respective February issues, Teen Vogue and Essence Magazine are reiterating what has been seen across social media: Black Girl Magic.

Starting with Teen Vogue magazine, I could hardly contain my excitement when Beauty Editor-in-Chief tweeted a link to Amandla Stenberg's interview with Solange Knowles yesterday morning. Amandla Stenberg has been featured in a number of movies and television shows such as The Hunger Games and Sleepy Hollow but her acting skills are not the only impressive thing about her. She is also known for being vocal about social injustice and cultural appropriation (if you haven't watched her video for a high school assignment "Don't Cash  Crop My Cornrows" yet then I highly recommend that you do so). This has been met with some backlash but this hasn't deterred this young woman from standing firm in her truth and using her voice to fight against what society has deemed "normal" for too long. For a publication such as Teen Vogue to have such an outspoken and revolutionary black woman on their cover is literally groundbreaking. To read Amandla's interview with Solange, be sure sure to stop by Teen Vogue.

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/amandla-stenberg-interview-teen-vogue-february-2016
Photography by Ben Toms
Makeup by Francelle
Props by Heather Greene at Brydges Mackinney
Fashion by Julia Sarr-Jamois
Hair by Lacy Redway for Kerastase

Moving on to Essence Magazine's February issue, I always get excited when this publication decides to feature three different women on individual covers. This first occurred during the early part of last year when Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles and Ledisi were featured as a part of their May 2014 issue. What essentially stood out to me besides the stellar women being featured on the cover is the fact that the words "Black Girl Magic" are featured next to them. We have activist Johnetta Elzie, actresses Teyonah Parris and Yara Shahidi giving us nothing but Black Girl Magic and this is something that I absolutely cape for.

A Little Background Information on the Essence Cover Stars 

Johnetta Elzie can certainly be looked at as someone who is a part of the new civil rights movement and was among the many faces that stood on the front lines during the protests in Ferguson in 2014. Since then, she has gone on to appear in The New York Times and on MSNBC among other media publications.

Teyonah Parris is an actress who held a recurring role in the hit television show Mad Men and went on to appear in Dear White People, Survivor's Remorse and Chi-raq.  

Yara Shahidi is a young actress who has appeared in several different television shows and movies but you may recognize her from her latest TV role on the show Black-ish.

The lovely women are just a few of the black women that Essence tapped for their #BlackGirlMagic Class of 2016 spread.
 
I know that the phrase "Black Girl Magic" can sound inclusive but this isn't to say that women of other races don't possess magic because they do. I like to think we all have magic pulsing through our veins but as a black woman, I can't help but identify with the fact that sometimes we as black women don't see ourselves being represented and if we are, it isn't always in a positive light. When we do see spaces that are celebrating the accomplishments of a black woman or black women in general, it fills us up with pride.  It reminds us that we are in fact marvelous beings during the moments when we may start to succumb to the idea that there's nothing to celebrate about being a black woman. The diversity that is found among us is limitless and that in itself is beautiful. I couldn't be more proud of Teen Vogue and Essence for choosing their February cover stars + cover stories. Irregardless of what may be believed, representation will always matter.

To the Amandla's, Johnetta's, Teyonah's and Yara's, don't let this world try to dim the light that's within you. We see you, we believe in you and we love your magic. Don't be afraid to leave your unforgettable mark on this world.

 

[Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright of Teen Vogue and Essence.]