My Spoken Word Piece on “Black Girl Magic”

by Serina Gousby

Hey, everyone! I missed you. I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and pretty much the entire month of November. That month was hectic, exciting, and stressful for me, and I’ll make sure to catch you up on everything before this year is up.

On December 1st, I was given the opportunity to perform for Suffolk University’s Black Student Union annual event, African Diaspora Show. It is also my Alma mater, and this was my fourth time as a performer, twice as an alum. This year was incredibly special because they were celebrating 20 years of this event, and I was so grateful to be a part of it. Before I start talking about the preparation for the performance and my thoughts on it, watch the video of my performance below for my original poem titled “Magic”:


Did you enjoy it? Let’s talk about it.

Choosing the topic was a long process but it was needed because I was able to find clarity in my poetic voice. All November was a pretty hard time for me regarding my depression and my need for healing, and I was at first determined to write a poem about it. However, the word “magic” continued to pop up in my writing for some reason, because I felt like my strength in fighting depression and my willingness to express those emotions had to be some form of magic. So, I thought about “Black Girl Magic”, and asked myself this question: What is “Black Girl Magic” to Black women who don’t know their magic? I usually always see the hashtag #blackgirlmagic on posts or Instagram photos of Black women succeeding at something, accomplishing a goal, looking beautiful, and feeling confident…and I’m not saying that this is bad. However, I wondered if the phrase honored the Black women who are working hard to get to those happy stages of her life; who stays home on a Saturday night, who missed the bus on the way to work, whose natural hair didn’t dry all the way so her style didn’t come out right…you know? Those were the type of women I thought of because I live that life.

I continued to free write until the week of the performance, and I had to begin re-framing this essay-structured reflection into a clever 2-4 minute poem. It was hard, because at one point I scrapped everything and only had about ten lines. Two days before the show was the rehearsal, and I low-key hated the poem because I had five particular lines that made me feel horrible, like it had such a negative tone to it. My goal every time I perform is to always have a positive uplifting tone, no matter what the line is. I loved the rehearsal though because I found out what lines in the poem the audience would react to, and I knew what lines to scrap because it did not sound authentic when I performed it.

My favorite line is “So I guess magic is listening to jazz in the mornings with 100+ books on my desk, and wondering why I still haven’t read them yet.” Ironically, I was wearing a “Well-Read Black Girl” shirt. I’m working on it.

As for the performance, I let out a tear when I watched the video. I’m still shocked that I’ve become so courageous after years of simply being afraid to do anything. Minutes before I was called to the stage, I was so nervous to the point where my left thigh started shaking like crazy. However, all of that dissolved the moment I said “Black Girl Magic.” When I’m on stage, I pretend that I’m talking to myself and it eases down the nervousness because those minutes before showtime are brutal. My performance journal also helps as well. This particular piece, I did not have as much time to practice because I edited a lot of the poem the day of the performance. I was a bit disappointed that I did not look at the audience as much I usually do, and due to my eye condition, Keratoconus, I needed the book a little bit closer to my face this time around. Overall, I hope that the message was clear and inspired any Black woman who has at some point wondered if they had black girl magic.

Shout out to my best friend, Naika, for recording the video. This was actually the first performance that both of my best friends attended, since both were away at college during my previous performances so it was extra special to have them there. For everyone else that showed up to support me and the other performers, I’m grateful for you.

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