Sunday, April 1, 2018

Black Girl Magic, by Mahogany Browne -- power in poetry (ages 12-16)

Poetry can cut to the core message, conveying truth in a sparse, direct way. When I shared Mahogany Browne's illustrated poem Black Girl Magic with two students at Berkeley High, they simply said, "Well, it's the truth. That's how it is for black girls." 
"You ain't 'posed to wear red lipstick.
You ain't 'posed to wear high heels."
Browne directly fights back against racism and misogyny, naming the stereotypes and injustices black girls face, and she ends with a resounding celebration of black girlhood and a rejection of society's limitations. 
Black Girl Magic: A Poem
by Mahogany L. Browne
illustrated by Jess X. Snow
Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2018
Amazon / local library / Google Books preview
ages 12 and up
Much of modern society sends negative messages to black girls: Don't wear this; don't smile at that. Don't have an opinion; don't dream big. And most of all, don't love yourself. Poet Mahogany Browne challenges these stereotypes by naming them and crafting a message of strength.
"You black girl magic!
You black girl flyy..."
Mahogany Browne first shared this as a spoken word poem for all beautiful black girls. She created this picture book with artist Jess X. Snow, crafting a powerful visual form for her message. For maximum power, encourage students to listen and see both versions:

Share this powerful poem with all students in middle and high school. Encourage them to explore the messages that society sends and how naming these helps create change. There's power in being seen, in being heard, in claiming space.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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