Establishing the future generation of enterprising female millionaires of color.
In July 2015, Shydeia Caldwell tweeted that she wanted to hold a free meet-up called Black Girl Magik: a space for Black women who didn’t already know each other to have open, vulnerable conversations. It wasn’t long before several women Shydeia had never met volunteered to help organize such an event and spread the word on social media. Days later, around 60 attendees of all ages gathered in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where Shydeia “improv-facilitated” an alchemical afternoon of joy, honesty, and healing. From there, BGM started holding meet-ups across the U.S.
As Shydeia has deepened her training as a Shamanic practitioner, BGM has developed a more pointed focus on ancestral healing and African spiritual traditions. After six years of running BGM without outside funding or a large staff, Shydeia is now crowdfunding for its next iteration. After the fundraising goal is met, she’ll be able to grow the BGM team, go back on tour, and introduce BGM’s online membership platform, thus bringing the spirit of the in-person events into the virtual realm.
…I was like, okay… when I get older, I’m going to create a space just like this. So fast forward… I wanted [Black Girl Magik] to be different representations of what Blackness looked like…
When I first learned of Black Girl Magik’s fundraise, I was eager to speak with Shydeia about using the Internet to forge meaningful connections and the way she sees BGM’s purpose evolving. We talked this past summer on Zoom, with Shydeia calling in from her hometown in South Carolina. A careful and enthusiastic speaker, she allows her words to unspool as the thought or feeling demands, slowing down or gaining momentum accordingly. I came away feeling invigorated by her uncompromising clarity and passion around Black Girl Magik’s future.
Editor’s note: This conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Tavi Gevinson: Talk to me about how the first iteration of Black Girl Magik came about.
Shydeia Caldwell: The first iteration started in New York City and I had the first Black Girl Magik meetup, at the age of 21 in Prospect Park — I was actually just in town for the summer. This was in 2015.
Between the ages of 10 and 18, I went to nine different schools. I started over a lot, and in a lot of those spaces, I craved community, conversation, and — really what I was craving but didn’t have the language for — access to community healing. When I got to high school, I went to my first sister circle. I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been wanting. This is what I’ve been looking for. I had a community to commune with and really understand myself deeper, but also hear the stories of other people, and realize how much we had in common more than we had differences.
After that, I was like, okay… when I get older, I’m going to create a space just like this. So fast forward… I wanted [Black Girl Magik] to be different representations of what Blackness looked like, so that we could see the diversity within Blackness, but also see the beauty within each other. (more)