By Megan LaCreta, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Students are spreading Black Girl Magic all around the Manhattan College campus this semester, thanks to a new club.
This semester, senior Mackenzie Lauture co-founded Black Girl Magic alongside Calissa McNeely. Both currently serve as co-chairs for the club. Lauture explained how the idea of the club came out of a need for a place for Black women to come together at Manhattan College.
“This past summer, Calissa and I were kind of just talking about how there aren’t a lot of safe spaces on campus for Black girls specifically at this PWI (predominantly white institution),” Lauture said. “We kind of talked about wanting to create that safe space not just for us, but also for the other women on campus.”
Junior Hyllary Jean-Baptiste joined Black Girl Magic, and is hoping to join its leadership board. She explained why it’s so important for spaces specifically for Black students and students of color to exist on the Manhattan campus. Manhattan is a PWI, with only six percent of undergrad students identifying as Black or African American, compared to 50 percent who identify as white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“I think going to a PWI, like sometimes we do feel overwhelmed or less seen [due to] the fact that there’s not many of us,” Jean-Baptiste said. “I feel like we can have these clubs that all of us can come to you and feel safe and can talk about what we’re going through … and we can not feel alone in that sense.”
While the college currently hosts clubs and organizations targeted towards women and people of color, Black Girl Magic aims to discuss the intersection of those experiences. Junior Tyla-Rae Washington-Boone, vice co-chair of Black Girl Magic, explained why the club’s intersectional angle is needed at Manhattan.
“I think it’s important because a lot of the women’s centers here feel very white dominated, like they’re for white women, so you kind of walk in there you still feel slightly tokenized,” Washington-Boone said. “I feel like in a space predominantly for Black women and women of color, [you can] come and be like, no, like, I don’t have to explain to you why being Black was hard today. I don’t have to explain to you, you just understand without that layer of education with it.”
Lauture explained that her goal in creating Black Girl Magic was to make those who joined feel recognized, heard, and safe to express themselves.
“We want it to be an environment where people really do feel secure to be 100 percent themselves, regardless of whatever they’re going through … and we want it to be a space where they feel appreciated and rewarded and accepted in everything that they are. Because we do some amazing things, everyone on campus does, but especially Black women, and I feel like that doesn’t get recognized as much as it should be,” Lauture said.
Black Girl Magic met for the first time just last week, and will start hosting more events soon, which Lauture previewed for students interested in getting involved.
“There’s a couple events that we’re planning on doing just for the club in general. I know we’re thinking about doing a hair braiding night like, food visits and stuff like that,” Lauture said.
As for the name of the club, Lauture noted that it is an organization that exists across many college campuses. However, each student offered their own unique take on what the phrase “Black Girl Magic” means to them.
“Black magic means the power that Black women have, the things that we do, how we overcome things, the way we can change our hair, the way we speak, the way we can wear all types of colors, the way we dress,” Jean-Baptiste said.
“Black women as well are magical. Don’t let yourself be bogged down by being intersectional with your oppression. [Don’t feel like] you aren’t special, that you aren’t capable,” Washington-Boone said.
“Black girl magic to me is basically highlighting all the things that as a Black woman I get to do, or that just comes with being a Black woman on campus,” Lauture said. “So yeah, Black girl magic. I don’t know. It’s just, it’s a spirit. It’s happiness. It’s joyful. It’s all the good things about being a Black girl.”