So, it was a pretty good weekend for black women. In case you missed it, Beyoncé released a video for her single "Formation," an explicit celebration of Southern black femininity. (Note: the song is explicit both in the boldness its message and in its language, so there's my fair warning if you’ve got sensitive ears and are planning to watch.)
Despite Queen Bey’s focus on the South in "Formation," black women across the country quickly adopted the anthem, hundreds of thousands of them posting their appreciation and awe on the Interwebs. But it wasn’t just Beyoncé bringing the #blackgirlmagic this weekend.
A viral video of college gymnast Sophina DeJesus incorporating dance moves like the Dab and the Nae Nae into her floor routine was making the Internet rounds and — perhaps most relevant to Global Sisters Report readers — the Savannah College of Art and Design announced it would be adding a portrait of Mother Mathilda Beasley to a mural in one of its halls.
Beasley is commonly considered to be the first black nun in Georgia. And while that may or may not be true (as I learned yesterday from Katy Pereira, the archivist at the Savannah Diocese, there are a lot of murky details about Beasley's life and even an advisory board to study them), it is true that she was an influential black Catholic woman who dedicated a good portion of her life to serving Savannah’s black children. And her legacy is still honored today.
Cue the requisite Michelle Obama GIF.
I’m intrigued by Mother Mathilda Beasley. I want to know more about this woman who was born into slavery — a system that literally denied her humanity — and who didn't let that stop her from feeling worthy of imagination, worthy of learning, worthy of teaching. Mother Mathilda’s black girl magic may not have been as flashy as Beyoncé’s is today, but it was black girl magic nonetheless.
We live in a society that has historically told and continues to tell black girls that they are not enough. So it takes a certain courage for black women to say, no, we are beautiful, we are made in the image of God, and we are more than enough. It takes a certain courage to celebrate our blackness without apology and without caveat, and to insist that we are worthy of respect. That's the kind of courage I see in Mother Mathilda, in Sophina DeJesus and, yes, in Beyoncé.
So, yeah, it was a pretty good weekend for black women.
[Dawn Araujo-Hawkins is Global Sisters Report staff writer, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie]