Tag Archives: black girl magic

The End of the Road | The Cookout (Season Finale) Recap

Well, dedicated viewers of Black Enough, we have made it to the season 1 finale, “The Cookout.” And it was just as vibrant as we could have imagined.

Taylor Lamb, Black Enough’s Digital Media and Marketing Producer and Meagan in the show, tweeted this short, sweet and effective summary of the finale episode of the season:

Everyone is getting ready for what appears to be the hottest party of the semester– the perfect opportunity for Amaya to show off her new look and all her growth over the course of the season. Viewers may believe that Amaya is still a wallflower from the way she glues herself to the wall at the start of the episode, but it just takes a quick exchange with Tryston to squash that notion.

After struggling to come up with something to say about Amaya’s new do, Tryston pivots to feeding Amaya some lines about where his head’s been recently and attempting to chart out a “future” that includes both of them– a move that makes Amaya recoil. And once she declines Tryston’s offer to dance, Amaya lets him go like the rest of her relaxed hair. It’s a decision that makes the viewer believe she’s on her way to shedding her doubts and insecurities, but is not crystallized until her friends pull her into the sea of dancers and she starts to let loose. Is it the same release she feels when she’s dancing alone in the studio? Maybe not, but it looks like our dear Amaya feels good.

Before we close, we get a glimpse of where some of the cast has ended up: Hadiyah appears to be studying under the direction of Professor Rekia; Ember is still on her weight loss journey, as evidenced by the green juice she’s drinking at the party; and Lena is pledging!

But this isn’t the only surprise “The Cookout” has in store– in the final moments of the episode, Amaya pulls a sheet of paper out of her pocket, faces Jaheem and says something incredible: she has feelings for him.

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So what makes up a Black girl?

What are the ingredients?

It is confidence? Bravery? Strength? Love? A dash of cinnamon and brown sugar?

The answer: we don’t know. At the end of the day though, I’m not sure that it matters that we don’t know exactly what it is. As I said in my interview that was featured in this episode, “I tried.” And Watson tried. And all of the fabulous women interviewed, the cast and crew tried to articulate the magical essence that is Black girls and as LaToya Fox Obasi describes, we’re all part of a picture, and it’s the togetherness that makes the magic.

I believe they were successful, but I think they were successful not because they tried to articulate an end product necessarily, but because they found love and magic in every part of the process. You could see it come through and shine in every episode.

So no, it’s not one thing that’s easily communicated or packaged (though we use the Black Girl magic hashtag every day). We may never know exactly what comprises Black Girl Magic because every individual Black girl also has her own specific brand and it’s hard enough to try to understand the essence of ourselves, let alone the many.

But still…I’m happy to keep chasing, discovering and learning my magic every day.

Further Reading:

Read Black women’s work. As much as you can.

You’ll find magic. I promise.

Ravynn K. Stringfield is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at William & Mary. Her research focuses on Black women and girls as creators and protagonists of futuristic, fantastic and digital narratives in new media. She often likes to say she writes about Black girls flying. When she’s not researching, you can find her writing for her blog, Black Girl Does Grad School; learning new yoga poses; or bullet journaling.

Freedom in Found Footage | Can I Get A Witness? Recap

“Every now and then you just need to be reminded of who you are in God.”

 

This week on Black Enough, Amaya is taken to church– in all senses of the expression. And as Amaya is being ministered to, so is the viewer. When she begins to dwell in the possibility of the words she is hearing in service, we see her world open up. This transformation is visually represented through found footage of Black folks from all walks of life dancing– Amaya’s love language. Not only is dancing Amaya’s love language, we have seen earlier in the series how this is God’s way of working through her and also her line of communication with Him.

This time, though, the experience is communal. The shots of joyful dancers may perhaps exist only in Amaya’s mental space, but she can share this moment of transformation with folks that are coming to be close to her. Even the found footage often shows dancers in community with others.

 

“One day we gone fly unchained like Django…”

Vitamin Cea’s original song, “Wings,” that works in concert with the stunning visuals and editing, includes this poignant line which addresses the community work implicit in reaching infinity. We may not all be able to fly like Riri Williams, but we can dance, and we find freedom in that practice together.

Amaya begins to take flight but is immediately grounded when she checks her phone and learns that an unarmed young Black man has been shot in Kansas City. Jaheem and Ember, who have accompanied Amaya to church, cover her and lean into each other as they learn to navigate flight in a world that would not just see them grounded, but lifeless.

Can I Get A Witness?” was right on time for me as I struggled with who I saw in the mirror. As someone obsessed with flight, the thought that I was so focused on what my body wasn’t, instead of what it is or can be, was uncharacteristic. Watching Amaya lean into the (im)possibility of her own body, feeling that dancing is as close to flying as we want it to be, helped me refocus my mind and realign myself with my body.

As much as this world we inhabit wants Black bodies to either be lifeless or exist in boxes and limitations, with easy access to us for exploitation, we find ways each and every day to be unchained. This episode reminded me of how I am inextricably linked with impossibility– I exist to do the impossible. We exist to do the impossible.

We laugh. We love. We dance.

 

Watson’s found footage exemplifies this. She found freedom in found footage and shared that joy with all of us.

 

 

Further Reading:

Island Possessed, Katherine Dunham

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, Alice Walker

Riri Williams: Ironheart #1 (2018), Eve L. Ewing

Electric Arches, Eve L. Ewing

Ravynn K. Stringfield is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at William & Mary. Her research focuses on Black women and girls as creators and protagonists of futuristic, fantastic and digital narratives in new media. She often likes to say she writes about Black girls flying. When she’s not researching, you can find her writing for her blog, Black Girl Does Grad School; learning new yoga poses; or bullet journaling.

Spirituality, Dance and Magic | #BlackGirlMagicPotion Recap

This week’s episode of Black Enough, “#BlackGirlMagicPotion,” explored the relationship between dance, religion and/or spirituality, and magic. The magic of Black girlhood, we see in this episode, lies in your daydreams, in your deepest desires, in what your core essence is made of. And for Amaya, the expression of her very essence is dance.

This is made clear from the beginning of the episode, when a blaring alarm abruptly interrupts Amaya’s otherwise peaceful dream in which she dances alone in a studio. The interiority we see with Amaya is matched by a few shots of 16 mm film featuring a figure playing in substances that we might understand as physical manifestations of Black Girl Magic. The 16 mm scene provides an autobiographical, personal touch that is complemented by the vulnerability of the interview that overlays it.

The Amaya’s narrative then moves forward to her dorm room, where a conversation with Lena is put on pause by a knock on the door. Vaughn, the president of the BSU, and, Amaya’s BSU “Big Sis,” is there, encouraging Amaya to join the BSU. The scene cuts to a hilarious and cringe-worthy sequence of Amaya’s attempts at engaging in the representations of Blackness that she has seen throughout her life. She wriggles around her room, trying to milly rock, and trying out backwards baseball caps, before stumbling over saying “my nigga.” We feel her discomfort and our heart goes out to Amaya when she goes into evasive maneuvers to avoid the invitation.

But she does, in fact, have somewhere to be: church.

Although Amaya seems to understand, at least to some extent, that dancing constitutes the basis for her personal brand of magic, there is still some fracturing of identity that occurs. The religious part of her, the exterior, the diegetic narrative (or the narrative we follow in the storyworld of Black Enough), is depicted through the digital film. It is clear and bright, but we also know that there’s something deeper. This is when Amaya’s “spiritual practice,” her dancing, her rich inner life, begins to infiltrate the image of self that she puts forth to the world while she’s attending church.

She does what one is supposed to do to feel close to God: she goes to church, she prays, she reads her Bible. She’s religious in those moments, following a set of practices that inform her worship. However, when she’s dancing, she is more spiritual–it is the purest form of religiosity in some ways, more freeing. Her particular spirituality is an expression of her religious nature. This, dancing, is how she shows God she loves Him and how God is working through her. Dancing thus becomes a spiritual practice in that it is less about rules and guidelines and more about connectedness, more about feeling.

Circling back to Black Girl Magic and the potion Amaya is concocting on her mirror, I believe it is safe to say, though she likely does not include it on her list, that dancing is one of the ingredients in her potion. Part of the magic for some Black girls is this feeling of infiniteness when you know God loves you. As Elder Ntozake Shange once said, “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.”

There’s a spirituality surrounding Black Girl Magic, which I love to think about because it further points to its uniqueness. Everyone’s brand of Black Girl Magic Potion is tailor made to their specifications and unified only by the fact that we all have a bottle, no matter how different the contents. Religion sometimes implies that rules and order regulates worship–spirituality can be the freedom of expression of what you believe, the freedom to dictate and design your own love, in the same way that you brew your own personal brand of Black Girl Magic Potion. So for Amaya, dancing is the purest expression of her spirituality, and by extension, her magic.


Further Reading:

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, Ntozake Shange

Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, Ntozake Shange

Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture, Tamura Lomax