'Without community: there is no liberation': on #BlackGirlMagic and the rise of black women-centred collectives in South Africa

SOURCE: Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9884
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/11087
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/11087

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.


There is increasing global desire by and from black women to connect with other black women for identification, promotion of wellbeing, protection and love demonstrated by the hashtag movement: #BlackGirlMagic. In South Africa this movement has manifested through the rise of black woman-centred collectives who bring newfound power and urgency to contemporary black feminisms. These collectives are crafting unapologetic spaces centred on the lives and lived experience of black women; part of this experience is encouraging radical selflove and care as a community-building exercise. Self-love and the enrichment of other black women has become an important part of the contemporary revolutionary imagination; thus this article adopts Nancy Fraser's strategy of seeing 'identity politics' as a politics of recognition and justice. Seeing identity politics as a politics of recognition and justice becomes a helpful way of rethinking democratic politics in a socially unequal society. Already in the late 1960s, emerging from the Black Consciousness Movement, Steve Biko defined Black Consciousness as 'an inward-looking process' that rejects whiteness and seeks to instil in the black community self-determination and pride. Using the hashtag movement #BlackGirlMagic and collectives like For Black Girls Only, the iQhiya collective and the Feminist Stokvel, this article asks how recognition and identification can promote justice and selfdetermination. Justice here is understood in the way Fraser unpacks social justice, as requiring both recognition and redistribution. The article also illuminates how these black woman collectives operate in conversation with Audre Lorde, whose early writings on black radical thought and black women organising work as a kind of antecedent to what these burgeoning collectives are doing. In a world that seeks to devalue the myriad contributions of black women, this article is necessary documentation and testimony of the self affirming and revolutionary work that young black women are doing for and by themselves in their own spaces, the world over. I argue that the deliberate act of adopting 'a politics of recognition' 'where race, class and gender intersect' is a necessary step towards justice.