Sprinkling Black Girl Magic in the Middle-Grade Novel

in Girlhood Studies

Abstract

In this article, I consider middle-grade tween literature through a Black Girl Magic framework that creates space and visibility for girls of color in postfeminist America. I read two works of fiction by middle-grade author Sherri Winston through such a lens. By locating girls’ tweenhood as a space of developmental continuity, and by claiming an aesthetic of sparkle, Black Girl Magic readings can re-situate dominant interpretations of the tween literary hero and provide exciting new methods for reading middle-grade fiction.

Marley Dias, an 11-year-old student recently reflected on the problems with her classroom’s literary selections. “I was only able to read books about white boys and their dogs,” she mused. “I didn’t relate to them, so I didn’t learn lessons from those stories” (quoted in Flood 2016: n.p.). In response, Dias launched an internet campaign to collect texts aimed at young people that feature African American female protagonists. The project, which went viral under the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks, received widespread acclaim. To date, Dias’s project has resulted in the worldwide distribution of over 9,000 volumes of children’s literature.1 Marley Dias’s activism exemplifies Black Girl Magic, a mediated discourse affirming African-American girls’ contributions, strength, and resilience. Black Girl Magic creates visibility for girls of color in a primarily white postfeminist space by demanding affirmative recognition, and by claiming an aesthetic of sparkly brilliance which, as Mary Celeste Kearney (2015) argues, is often used to represent white and heteronormative girlhoods.

Following Marley Dias’s interest in diversifying tween literature, we might ask how a novel for girls her age, when read through a Black Girl Magic lens, can help expand our understanding of tween genre expectations. Author Sherri Winston’s middle-grade series (hereafter President series), President of the Whole Fifth Grade (2010) (hereafter Fifth Grade) and President of the Whole Sixth Grade (2015) (hereafter Sixth Grade), traces an African-American tween’s threshold experiences between childhood and adolescence, and maps new directions in the literary interpellation of tween girlhood. Rather than follow a typical narrative predicated on a girl-in-crisis experience for the (predominately white) tween hero, Winston emphasizes the continuous progression of her protagonist’s skills over the transition from elementary to junior high school, and adds supportive adult female mentors. By offering a politics of continuity rather than liminality, Black Girl Magic novels remind audiences that the protagonist’s autonomy, independence, and excellence have always been, and will continue to be present. Furthermore, the celebratory aesthetic meanings of Black Girl Magic discourse are highlighted in Winston’s texts through the assertive fashion style and creative baking work of the protagonist, Brianna, which challenges the white-dominated, hyper-feminine culture of tweenage sparkle. Black Girl Magic readings of middle-grade literature like Winston’s President series provide new and empowering frameworks to represent the tweenage girl.

#Blackgirlmagic Beginnings

In 2013, blogger CaShwan Thompson, using the phrase “BlackGirlsAreMagic,” paid tribute to the contributions of women in her family. Thompson, who is widely recognized as the originator of the Black Girl Magic label wanted “to celebrate us” and “to put out there that we’re great and we do great things …” (quoted in Ali 2016: n.p ). In a hostile world in which black girls and women, writes Ashley Ford, “have been routinely denied their humanity” and subjected to “an enduring belief that our backs were built to carry what others would consider unimaginable burdens,” Black Girl Magic discourse restoratively celebrates their resiliency. “When we call ourselves beautiful anyway, when we succeed anyway,” notes Ford, “that’s Black Girl Magic” (2016: n.p.). Ford’s reference to beauty reminds us that Black Girl Magic, which is widely disseminated on the internet through pictures, memes, and videos, possesses a strongly visual element and commemorates young black women’s style, grace, and flair. Prima ballerina Misty Copeland has emphasized Black Girl Magic’s power of visual self-affirmation in a white-dominated society, noting that “it couldn’t be more positive for a young Black girl to see that it’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to not have to transform and look like what you may see on the cover of a lot of magazines” (quoted in Scott 2016: n.p.). Singer Corinne Bailey Rae considers Black Girl Magic as a space of free engagement and play, finding it to be “about being fun and sparkly and fully experiencing life and not having your life defined by your Blackness and representation of what Blackness is” (quoted in Lewis 2016: n.p.). A corrective discourse in the face of racist neglect, Black Girl Magic affirms achievements and capabilities of young women of color that have always existed, but have gone unrecognized or ignored by white society. Furthermore, it joyfully claims an aesthetic centrality usually accorded only to white women and girls.

It is important to acknowledge that, while widely embraced, the concept of Black Girl Magic has also been critiqued. Many African-American women artists like author Toni Morrison and filmmaker Julie Dash have created memorable black female characters with extra-human abilities. Yet the association of the word magic with young black women might summon up another mediated image, known as the magical Negro, film and television’s selfless, unfailingly helpful sidekick.2 Furthermore, in a widely-discussed article taking issue with the phrase Black Girl Magic, Linda Chavers observes that a label of magic exceptionalism might be “constricting rather than freeing,” particularly given the oppressive “strong black woman” (2016: n.p.) stereotype. Black Girl Magic could also sound overly optimistic, Chavers cautioned, in a world in which black girls and women experience high rates of violence. Responding to Chavers’s arguments, Ashley Ford extols CaShawn Thompson’s role in creating the phrase, as opposed to advocating an outwardly imposed stereotype. Ford also urges us to consider the term “magic” not in a supernatural context, but rather as “an inside joke” of “calling what [black women have] always known to be real about our capabilities ‘magic’” (2016: n.p.). (See also Talayah Hudson (2016) for a response to Chavers’s critiques of Black Girl Magic).

As time goes by, the meanings and uses of the term Black Girl Magic will continue to grow. Yet in an age in which the postfeminist girlification of women has been extended well into adulthood, what of Black Girl Magic’s interventional efficacy for actual preadolescent girls? The tween, an eight-to-twelve-year-old subject, represents a highly desirable slice of the youth market. She is characterized as female by default; as Natalie Coulter observes, the tween persona is “shaped by, and conversely influenced, the lives of suburban white girls in consumer culture” (2014: 5). Black Girl Magic, which celebrates “the universal awesomeness” of black girls and “celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring, or mind-blowing about ourselves” (Wilson 2016: n.p.) confronts a tween culture that is not representative of its concerns.

Tween iconography is primarily white; characters of color in tween-focused corporate juggernauts like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel are present, but as Angharad N. Valdivia observes, they are often constructed with “subtle and ambiguous ethnicity that is palatable to the dominant culture” (2011: 94). Critiques of tween popular culture similarly use white-centric reference points; Barbie is often invoked in discussions of premature sexualization or bad role modeling, and Disney’s princess culture is frequently skewered for promoting a passive construction of femininity (Forman-Brunell and Hains 2015; Orenstein 2011; Sweeney 2007). The branding and typology of tweens similarly trends white. Recently, impossibly high achieving young women, known variously as perfect girls, alpha girls, or super girls have risen to media visibility; these “bright, disciplined, hardworking girls who excel in school and are poised to not just take on the world but take it over” (Pomerantz and Raby 2017: 4) are overwhelmingly represented as white and middle-class.

As Dias’s intervention showed, the tweenage literary world is also predominately white. Middle-grade fiction is the consumer label accorded books marketed to youths in the tween age group. While some have criticized the artificiality of the middle-grade label, it exerts significant capital by influencing editorial acquisitions, determining categories for literary awards, and enabling teachers, librarians, and parents to identify appropriate reading material. As literary agents Mary Kole (2012) and Marie Lamba (2014) have usefully illuminated, middle-grade works feature externally focused plots written with relatively straightforward sentence structure. While some famous titles like the Harry Potter series are fantasy, most other works, particularly those with female protagonists, center on peer and family conflicts. Middle-grade literature is also highly subject to adults’ disciplining gazes since tween readers generally cannot purchase their own books. Explicit violence or sexuality, therefore, is rare.

The book industry has long been aware of the problem posed by an overrepresentation of white boys and their dogs. An influential Saturday Review editorial criticizing low literary representations of children of color was published as long ago as 1965,3 and over the intervening decades, not much has changed. The University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), which tracks the percentages of books published that feature protagonists or strong secondary characters of color, reports that for 2016, only 8.2 percent of received books contained African American leads. Alarmingly, the CCBC reports that “the number of books with African-American characters in children’s literature has been decreasing” since 2008 (Cummins 2016: 96, italics added). Dias’s intersectional activism reminds us to assess gender representation as well. A recent longitudinal survey of children’s literature found that, among over 5,600 books studied, boys were “represented nearly twice as often in titles and 1.6 times as often as central characters” (McCabe et al. 2011: 197). Girls in middle-grade fiction were outnumbered by male protagonists 36 to 48 percent in a separate study (Sutton 2015). Taken together, these findings underscore the urgency for middle-grade fiction to diversify.

Marley Dias has characterized her work as helping to “make black girls like me the main characters of our lives” (quoted in McGrath 2017: n.p.). This process can occur by producing more titles featuring protagonists of color and also by shifting our dominant patterns of interpellating the tween fictional female hero. Many novels of female preadolescence, like A Wrinkle in Time (1962) and Harriet the Spy (1964) occupy beloved niches in cultural memory; they continue to sell well decades after publication and go on being adapted for film and television. Famous American literary girl heroes of the tweenage years, from Scout Finch (1960) to Laura Ingalls (1932–1943), exert a powerful emotional hold on adult readers. These fiercely independent pre-teen protagonists linger in adult literary memory for obvious reasons (Blakemore 2010; Skurnick 2009). The main character of the Anastasia series (1979–1995), for instance, defies feminine propriety by being openly vindictive: she attempts to name an undesired baby brother “One-Ball.” The eponymous Ramona Quimby (1955–1999) thwarts bullies on the playground while eschewing her mother’s sewing lessons. Red-haired dynamos like Anne of Green Gables (1908–1939) and Pippi Longstocking (1945–1948) master trades, verbally defend themselves, and model carefree subjectivities.

These books will justifiably continue to be valued for their literary merit and feminist content. Yet certain narratives of girls’ development are maintained by venerating this particular literary representation of tweenhood. Pippi, Ramona, Harriet, and their cohorts are valued, at least by adult readers, because they exist in pre-patriarchal spaces. In other words, they are the before half of the girl-in-crisis discourse, a well-known framework for interpreting tween and teen experience. Popularized by Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, the girl-in-crisis narrative theorizes a developmental shift in which girls “crash and burn in a social and developmental Bermuda Triangle” (1994: 19) when entering adolescence. Formerly happy, carefree tomboy preadolescents give way to anxious, deferential, self-policing teens who are exquisitely sensitive to enacting femininity within the norms of a patriarchal culture. The notion of tweenhood as a last stand of girls’ competence and authority has resonated throughout the work of other developmental psychologists, anti-bullying advocates, and literary critics (Brown and Gilligan 1992; Day 2013; Flanagan 2012; Simmons 2002; Wiseman 2002).

Sentimentally valuing preadolescent literary girl heroes because of their relationship to pre-girl-in-crisis issues poses several problems. Defensively protecting tweens from a monstrously constructed adolescence could end up infantilizing tweenage girlhood.4 The girl-in-crisis paradigm has also been critiqued for minimizing girls’ own agency and imposing a top-down narrative (Baumgardner and Richards 2000; Shandler 1999). Furthermore, inter-sectional concerns arise given that the girl-in-crisis discourse has focused primarily on white and middle-class subjects. While girls of color do indeed experience girl-in-crisis moments, they have historically not been accorded the same degree of so called childhood innocence as their white peers. Adultification, or the racist stereotype that girls of color are more knowledgeable about sexuality and less in need of nurturance than white girls, has harmed tweens of color in many ways (Epstein et al. 2017; Jones 2009; Morris 2016).

For many reasons, then, a girl-in-crisis framework must be supplemented by other ways of assessing the tween girl’s literary importance. Reading middle-grade novels through a Black Girl Magic lens can offer new understandings of tween femininity. Author Sherri Winston creates narratives of thematic continuity, rather than constructing tweenhood as a liminal space before the onset of the feminine role crisis. Furthermore, Winston’s novels pass on Black Girl Magic generationally through strong female role models, and they speak the language of sparkle in order to affirm the style and grace of tweens of color.

Winston’s protagonist in Fifth Grade uses assertive language that references both the Declaration of Independence and the feminist Declaration of Sentiments:

My name is Brianna Justice, and I want to be president of the whole fifth grade! That is my ‘declaration.’ As in ‘I do declare that I will be president of the whole entire fifth grade at Orchard Park Elementary.’

(2010: 1, emphasis in original).

Brimming with self-confidence, and open about her plans for “world domination” (266), Brianna welcomes the challenges of a leadership campaign.

Winston highlights Brianna’s academic and civic Black Girl Magic by comparing her classroom leadership to national political work. These parallels are sometimes made visually through the use of photorealistic techniques that engage younger readers. A timeline of the Founding Fathers’ leadership crises on one page, for instance, is juxtaposed with Brianna’s own timeline involving a rival’s attempt to sabotage her campaign. Other presidential connections appear in the narrative itself. Brianna recalls her teacher’s emphasis on teaching the class facts about the Oval Office, musing that “whether you’re running for president of the United States or president of the whole fifth grade, you have choices to make—choices about who you are and what you can do for the people who vote for you” (2010: 266). Taking these lessons to heart, Brianna references the colonial Tea Party in a stump speech on equity, and she frequently looks to the inspirational personae of Presidents Kennedy and Obama for guidance. Winston has noted her overt focus on civics: “I wanted to tell a story that made history so integral that young readers would barely feel like they were being taught anything.” She also sees her work as performing outreach to families of color, recalling that “in grade school and middle school, I hated social studies, and talk of politics was anathema. Many black children grow up in households where government and politics are viewed with suspicion. I wanted to tell a story that shows the positive side of getting involved and getting things done” (quoted in Reagan 2015: n.p.).

Linking Brianna’s civic work with that of (primarily) white men could be interpreted as maintaining complicity with, rather than challenging, a power structure. However, Winston emphasizes that there is value and visibility in being at the center of American institutions, and that power, once gained, can lead to positive social change. By establishing Brianna, a young African American tween girl, as the inheritor of the Founding Fathers’ framework, Winston makes a centering move. Brianna asserts her ability to lead a power structure historically not open to her as a girl of color. “You are a leader. You are a young woman. You are an entrepreneur. You are president of the whole sixth grade!” (2015: 233) Brianna recites, using rhythmic, repetitive language that affirms her capability.

The outcomes of Brianna’s leadership also support the common good; she undertakes various initiatives including community clean up and support for a Senate educational equity bill. Her actions model what educational psychology calls “emergent participatory citizenship,” or “civic action and attitudes that benefit others” that are “developmentally appropriate and contextually accessible to middle school students” (Guillaume et al. 2015: 322). Participatory citizenship is a cornerstone of tweenage development and can foster engagement in academic and social communities as young people transition from family-managed life to increased self-determination. When she uses her leadership position to help others compassionately and to further the causes of social justice, Brianna again demonstrates Black Girl Magic at work.

Whereas Winston’s first novel, Fifth Grade (2010), invokes American civics to highlight Brianna’s Black Girl Magic, her second book, Sixth Grade (2015) summons the ancient world’s image of the gladiator. “Now I know how the Roman senators or emperors felt,” (66) Brianna groans while trying to motivate a fractious citizenry more interested in their hormones than in public service. She continues to feel “all jazzed up” (54) by leadership and opportunities for socially responsible volunteer work. Yet the white members of her peer group have entered into a girl-in-crisis narrative, gravitating towards highly feminized dress, weight obsession, and boyfriend worship. While the loss of her friends makes Brianna feel “so empty” (219) she is inspired by an African-American female senator to find “power with purpose” (221). Winston’s narrative emphasizes the continuity of Brianna’s civic interests over the elementary to middle school transition, and offers her the chance to reaffirm her own priorities.

Black Girl Magic discourse is further disseminated in Brianna’s junior high experience through female mentor figures. Sixth Grade (2015) displays Brianna’s emerging interests in black pride and heritage. She reflects, for instance, on the change of seasons in a metaphor of “giant green Afros” turning into “dappled red and gold ’dos” (17–18). Her new love interest is named, significantly, after Frederick Douglass. Winston also provides a testimonial to Brianna’s “proud black” grandmother “from the South” who introduced her to African American art so that she could “could rock the whole Black Pride thing when [she] grew up” (153).

Leah Henderson has noted Black Girl Magic’s intergenerational legacy, from “foremothers’ struggles wrapped with their success and their belief in a brighter future for those to come after them” (quoted in Clayton 2016: n.p.). Winston provides such foremother characters to mentor her protagonist. The fictional First Lady, an overalls-clad woman of color with a “hint of honey” (2015: 227) voice, gives Brianna a pep talk during a rare moment of self-doubt. Winston’s evocation of a very Michelle Obama-like First Lady is significant, given Mrs. Obama’s mediated association with the term Black Girl Magic, through both her policies and her inspirational personality (Davis 2016; Decaille 2017; Holloway 2017). While in office, Michelle Obama led a Let Girls Learn5 initiative, blending diplomatic outreach, skills training, food assistance, and local programs offering alternatives to child labor and child marriage to address “challenges preventing adolescent girls from attaining a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential.”6 Let Girls Learn prominently links the welfare of nations to young girls’ opportunities, and Winston’s novels similarly connect the civic work of tween black girl leaders to American political success. Additionally, Mrs. Obama has been lauded both for her iconic fashion sense and for her consistent celebration of young black women. In a popular 2015 speech, she asserted that “black girls rock! We rock! We rock! No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful. You are powerful. You are brilliant. You are funny. Let me tell you, I am so proud of you” (Obama 2015: n.p.).

Michelle Obama is not the only role model passing on Black Girl Magic in the novel. In Sixth Grade (2015) Winston also uses the language of the political and fashionable gladiator to refer to the groundbreaking television program Scandal. This successful melodrama, mediated by the contributions of three African American women (creator Shonda Rhimes, actress Kerry Washington, and real-life inspiration Judy Smith), features elite Washington crisis managers who self-identify as “gladiators in suits” (R.A. Griffin 2015: 37).7 Head gladiator Olivia Pope is famous both for her acumen and her striking fashion style. Visual Black Girl Magic ensues, notes Washington, when viewers encounter “a black woman … in badass white trench coats that call to attention the fact that [she is] not looking like anybody else on television” (Mendoza 2017: n.p.).

In Sixth Grade (2015), Brianna learns a similar lesson about stylistically channeling Black Girl Magic. Having dismissed fashion as something for “some tween Barbie doll,” Brianna, tour-bound to the White House, accepts her female relatives’ advice for putting together a wardrobe of sophisticated blazers, boots, and necklaces. The women use gladiatorial rhetoric to persuade her, giving her “shoes you wear into battle” so that Brianna can “stand up and fight for something” (2015: 172). Brianna dresses up and heads to Capitol Hill to “gladiate the heck out of” (289) an educational equity bill. The aesthetics of the assertive gladiator wardrobe provides a fresh new perspective on tween fashion, which is usually characterized by debates about the relationship of miniskirts to sexualization. Olivia Pope would no doubt approve of how Brianna’s visual style informs her political mission.

Winston’s integration of adult Black Girl Magic characters upholds the discourse’s inter-generational nature. Additionally, these models situate literary tweenhood not as a space of pre-patriarchal chaos and disruption, but rather as a place in which to build existing skills, interests, and motivations. Adult African-American women, from Brianna’s mother, aunts, and grandmother to the First Lady and the Senator, serve to support, rather than foil, the protagonist. Although she confronts challenges, Brianna is never alone; the wisdom and judgment of adult women provides Black Girl Magic to match her own.

Sparkly Goodness: Style Discourse and the Luminosity of Black Girl Magic

Perhaps because it is a discourse derived from images on social media, Black Girl Magic has always possessed a strong visual element. Singer Corinne Bailey Rae, we need to recall, constructs Black Girl Magic as being “fun and sparkly,” in large part because “there’s so much for Black girls and Black women to not be carefree about” (quoted in Lewis 2016: n.p.). The literary Brianna is rendered fun and sparkly not only through her bold fashion choices, but through her successful baking career. Winston’s domestic entrepreneurship narrative explores another facet of Black Girl Magic discourse while providing an intervention within the overtly white postfeminist world of lifestyle media.

“I have BIG plans,” Brianna tells readers of Fifth Grade, to be “a millionaire with my own cooking show on TV. Cupcakes are my specialty” (2010: 1). Recipes are sprinkled throughout Winston’s books, serving as another text for the preadolescent audience to decode and apply. Culinary vocabulary also provides gendered insight throughout these novels. Characterizing boy-obsessed popular girls as “too much frosting,” Brianna eschews overt “sweetness” (159) in her own campaign speech and decides to “add [her] own flavor” (37). Later, she compares “a good campaign” and “a good cupcake,” both of which require “your best ingredients” (240). Brianna’s wordplay demonstrates “hidden literacy,” or junior high-age students’ creative adoptions of literary principles beyond the “constricted time, movement, and talk” (Finder 1997: 129) of their formal school educations.

Brianna’s Black Girl Magic baking discourse works to restore black girls’ leadership in the culinary arts, while also making a claim to the lifestyle aspirational genre that saturates white postfeminist culture. For much of American history, enslaved women prepared and cooked the food of others, and cleaned up, but remained “unknown, unsung, and [relegated to] silent places in the historical record” (Yentsch 2007: 61). African-American female cooks further labored under the racist Mammy stereotype that constructed them as “ever-smiling producers of food” who “themselves have no appetite and make no demands” (Witt 1999: 23). Today, contemporary postfeminist culture values food media. However, black girls and women are under-represented in major distributive channels like the Food Network. Black women are still not seen, writes Psyche Williams-Forson, “as authorities in the kitchen or elsewhere in matters of food—culturally, politically, and socially” (Nettles-Barcelón et al. 2015: 35).

Winston’s Black Girl Magic novels use baking to place Brianna back in the conversation of food and authority. Making cupcakes is often strategically purposeful in the text; it reinforces Brianna’s own strong sense of civic-minded identity, and furthers her political goals. Early on in her campaign, for instance, in Fifth Grade Brianna connects her campaign to folklore’s “great American dessert” (2010: 165) by crafting an apple-pie cupcake. In Sixth Grade, she creates an effective political intervention through a cupcake, whipping up and distributing hundreds of treats outside Congress to support an African-American female senator’s filibustering a law that would educationally underserve young people. Brianna’s work supporting equality receives a special “icing on the cupcake” (281) when the senator successfully bulldozes the filibuster record set by racist senator Strom Thurmond.

In keeping with the intergenerational legacy of Black Girl Magic, Brianna also seeks culinary advice from foremothers to support her own competence. In Sixth Grade (2015) Brianna asserts at the novel’s outset, “My whole life, all I’d wanted to do was be a millionaire cupcake baker” (2015: 14). Following the guidance of an African-American foremother (the lifestyle mentor “Miss Delicious”), Brianna monetizes her creations through a local bakery. Her restless mind always seeks out new opportunities; an abandoned home, for instance, becomes a possibility for a pop-up shop filled with cupcakes.

As a Black Girl Magic baker, Brianna also creates space for herself in the sprawling postfeminist terrain of food media. Lifestyle media, a set of consumer practices proffering empowerment and self-transformation through mastery of the domestic arts, is a lucrative feminized business whether marketed to adult women or to tweens via makeup and fashion advice. While the lifestyle world contains some diverse communities, it mostly retains “a patent investment in heterosexual, consumerist, and reproductive family life, and in forms of middle-class whiteness” (Ryan 2015: 217). By aspiring to become a Martha Stewart-esque doyenne, beautifully composing her cupcake towers in glassed storefronts, Brianna makes another centering move that disrupts the predominantly wealthy and white world of food media. In other words, she claims lifestyle as Black Girl Magic territory.

Sweet, frosted cupcakes, the tiny vehicles of Brianna’s success, further signify in race and gender politics. The bodies of black women and girls in particular are often at particular risk of diabetes and its related health problems; they are also stigmatized in popular discourse about sugar. Michelle Obama was castigated as the “food police” for her work on healthy lunches, observes Psyche Williams-Forson, while at the other end of the spectrum “black women/people [are] associated with the ‘obesity epidemic’” (Nettles-Barcelón et al. 2015: 34). Winston’s texts do not overtly address nutritional debates; since Brianna is carefully attentive to the idea of balanced recipes, readers infer that cupcakes similarly form a small part of an otherwise healthy diet. However, Winston uses the sensory appeal of cupcakes to create space for Brianna’s Black Girl Magic baking within a white postfeminist gig economy influenced by nostalgia and the technology of sparkle.

Elizabeth Nathanson argues that cupcakes are “an ideal vessel for a post-feminist sensibility” (2016: 253), since they require part-time and portable sources of labor, and create products that, because they are small, colorful, and cute, resonate within the girlie culture proffered to adult women, but the sweetness proffered by cupcakes resonates within a larger postfeminist aesthetic that celebrates hyper-femininity through highly saturated affects, including the use of bright colors like pink and turquoise, and shimmering materials like glitter. Kearney’s important work on the use of sparkle in tween girl culture contends that adolescents confront a material culture that “twinkles and shines as if it is bedazzled with pixie dust” (2015: 263). The omnipotence of sparkle in clothes, cosmetics, social media, and more can be pleasurable. It subversively draws, Kearney points out, both from hip-hop’s visual optics of bling and queer camp’s glittery performances of femininity. Yet Kearney is cautious that the sparkling trope that renders adolescent girls luminous through filtered visual media, reinforces the hyper-visibility of white, middle-class, heteronormative girls. Many critics have voiced similar concerns about how postfeminist culture, which encourages spectacle, celebrity, and the gloss of empowerment, reinforces a so-called princess dominance of white middle class femininity (Forman-Brunell and Hains 2015; C. Griffin 2004; Harzewski 2011; Orenstein 2011). When Brianna dusts her blue and purple frosted cupcakes with glitter, her Black Girl Magic refracts the gleam of tween popular culture back towards African American girls’ excellence.

Whether icing her baked goods or picking up a bullhorn for educational equity, the fictional Brianna Justice models Black Girl Magic. Offering a luminous politics of continuity rather than liminality, stressing the skills and excellence in tween girls of color that have always existed but gone unheralded by white postfeminist culture, Black Girl Magic readings present new ways of valuing protagonists of color, and of situating the fictional tween girl. The movement to increase the number and variety of black girl books, championed by many and forever linked by Marley Dias’s own Black Girl Magic activism, continues to expand (Brooks 2017). The work for African American tween girls and their allies continues. As Brianna says in Sixth Grade, it is “time to be a gladiator” (2015: 272).

Notes
1

The movement attracted notice from celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Ava DuVernay, and corporations like Barnes & Noble. Marley Dias received, among many other honors, a Scholastic book deal, a guest editorship at Elle magazine, and a co-hosting job at the Obama White House’s empowerment conference.

3

This history is chronicled extensively in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the We Need Diverse Books website (http://weneeddiversebooks.org/faq/)

4

See also Mitchell and Reid-Walsh (2010). See Hatch for a similar argument that “tomboy” film popularity stems from “adult concerns about children’s place in an increasingly sexualized American culture” (2011: 83).

6

See also Webley (2016).

7

Scandal was named “Television Program of the Year” by the American Film Institute in 2013. Cast members have won several Primetime Emmys and NAACP Image Awards.

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  • DavisRachaell. 2016. “10 Michelle Obama Quotes that Made Us Proud to be Black Women.” Essence13 December. https://www.essence.com/culture/michelle-obama-quotes-proud-black-women-2016 (accessed 2 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DaySara. 2013. Reading Like a Girl: Narrative Intimacy in Contemporary Young Adult Literature. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DecailleNia. 2017. “5 Ways Michelle Obama Continues To Be #BlackGirlMagic Post-First Lady.” Bustle12 May. https://www.bustle.com/p/5-ways-michelle-obama-continues-to-be-blackgirlmagic-post-first-lady-56420 (accessed 16 May 2017)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EpsteinRebeccaJamilia J. Blake and Thalia Gonzalez. 2017. “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood.” Report by Center for Poverty and Inequality Georgetown University Law School. Washington, D.C. http://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/poverty-inequality/upload/girlhood-interrupted.pdf (accessed 22 Sept 2017)

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    • Export Citation
  • FinderMargaret J. 1997. Just Girls: Hidden Literacies and Life in Junior High. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • FlanaganCaitlin. 2012. Girl Land. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • FloodAllison. 2016. “Girl’s Drive to Find 1,000 ‘Black Girl Books’ Hits Target with Outpouring of Donations.” The Guardian3 February. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/09/marley-dias-1000-black-girl-books-hits-target-with-outpouring-of-donations (accessed 15 April 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FordAshley. 2016. “There is Nothing Wrong with Black Girl Magic.” Elle13 January. http://www.elle.com/life-love/a33251/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-black-girl-magic/ (accessed 4 Oct 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forman-BrunellMiriam and Rebecca C. Hains ed. 2015. Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GriffinChristine. 2004. “Good Girls, Bad Girls: Anglocentrism and Diversity in the Constitution of Contemporary Girlhood.” In All About The Girl: Culture Power and Identity ed. Anita Harris2944. New York: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GriffinRachel Alicia. 2015. “Olivia Pope as Problematic and Paradoxical.” In Feminist Theory and Pop Culture ed. Adrienne Trier-Bienek3548. Boston: Sense Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GuillaumeCastaRobert Jagers and Deborah Rivas-Drake. 2015. “Middle School as a Developmental Niche for Civic Engagement.” American Journal of Community Psychology 56: 321331.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HarzewskiStephanie. 2011. Chick Lit and Postfeminism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

  • HatchKristen. 2011. “Little Butches: Tomboys in Hollywood Film.” In Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture ed. Mary Celeste Kearney7592. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HollowayJenae. 2017. “5 Times Michelle Obama Was Peak Black Girl Magic.” Glamour12 January. https://www.glamour.com/story/5-times-michelle-obama-was-peak-black-girl-magic (accessed 12 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HudsonTalayah. 2016. “Dear Black Girls: You Are Magical And Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise.” The Odyssey Online16 January. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/major-key-alert-blackgirlmagic (accessed 12 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JonesNikki. 2009. Between Good and Ghetto: African-American Girls and Inner City Violence. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

  • KearneyMary Celeste. 2015. “Sparkle: Luminosity and Post-Girl Power Media.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 29 (2): 263273. doi:10.1080/10304312.2015.1022945.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KoleMary. 2012. Writing Irresistible Kidlit. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books.

  • LambaMarie. 2014. “The Key Differences between Middle Grade vs. Young Adult.” Writer’s Digest7 August. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-key-differences-between-middle-grade-vs-young-adult (accessed 2 April 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LewisTaylor. 2016. “How British Singer Corinne Bailey Rae Describes ‘Black Girl Magic.” Essence16 March. http://www.essence.com/2016/03/16/corinne-bailey-rae-black-girl-magic-defined-representation (accessed 1 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCabeJaniceEmily FairchildLiz GrauerholzBernice A. Pescosolido and Daniel Tope. 2011. “Gender in Twentieth Century Children’s Books: Patterns of Disparity in Titles and Central Characters.” Gender & Society 25: 197226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGrathMaggie. 2017. “From Activist to Author: How 12 Year Old Marley Dias is Changing the Face of Children’s Literature.” Forbes13 June. https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2017/06/13/from-activist-to-author-how-12-year-old-marley-dias-is-changing-the-face-of-childrens-literature/#431cced4ce0f (accessed 28 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MendozaPaola. 2017. “Kerry Washington on Art as Activism and the Importance of ‘Staying Awake.” Glamour4 April. http://www.glamour.com/story/kerry-washington-may-glamour-cover (accessed 28 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellClaudia and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh. 2010. “Theorizing Tween Culture within Girlhood Studies.” In Seven Going on Seventeen: Tween Studies in the Culture of Girlhood ed. Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh124. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MorrisMonique W. 2016. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. New York: The New Press.

  • NathansonElizabeth. 2016. “Sweet Sisterhood: Cupcakes as Sites of Feminized Consumption and Production.” In Cupcakes Pinterest and Ladyporn: Feminized Popular Culture in the Early Twenty-First Century ed. Elana Levine249267. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nettles-BarcelónKimberly D.Gillian ClarkCourtney ThorssonJessica Kenyatta Walker and Psyche Williams-Forson. 2015. “Black Women’s Food Work as Critical Space.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies 15 (4): 3449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ObamaMichelle. 2015. “Remarks by the First Lady at BET’s Black Girls Rock Event.” Newark, New Jersey. 18 March. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/28/remarks-first-lady-bets-black-girls-rock-event (accessed 22 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OrensteinPeggy. 2011. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. New York: Harper.

  • PipherMary. 1994. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. New York: Riverhead.

  • PomerantzShauna and Rebecca Raby. 2017. Smart Girls: Success School and the Myth of Post-Feminism. Oakland: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ReaganMaggie. 2015. “Books and Authors: Interview with Sherri Winston.” Booklist Online

  • RyanMaureen E. 2015. “A Better Everyday: Lifestyle Media in American Culture.” Ph.D. diss. Northwestern University.

  • ScottSydney. 2016. “President Obama and Misty Copeland Talk Black Girl Magic and the Importance of Social Movements.” Essence13 March. https://www.essence.com/2016/03/14/misty-copeland-president-obama-conversation-black-girl-magic (accessed 2 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShandlerSara. 1999. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About their Search for Self. New York: HarperPerennial.

  • SimmonsRachel. 2002. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Orlando: Harcourt.

  • SkurnickLizzie. 2009. Shelf-Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. New York: Avon.

  • SuttonRoger. 2015. “Gender by the Numbers.” Read Roger: The Horn Book Editor’s Rants and Raves. 31 March. http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/ (accessed 11 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SweeneyKathleen. 2007. Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age. New York: Peter Lang.

  • ValdiviaAngharad N. 2011. “This Tween Bridge Over My Latina Girl Back: The U.S. Mainstream Negotiates Ethnicity.” In Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture ed. Mary Celeste Kearney93112. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WebleyKayla. 2016. “Why “Let Girls Learn” Is One of the Most Critical Things to Remember from the Obama White House.” Marie-Claire19 December. http://www.marieclaire.com/celebrity/news/a24223/michelle-obama-young-womens-honors/ (accessed 13 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilsonJulee. 2016. “The Meaning of #BlackGirlMagic, and How You Can Get Some Of It.” The Huffington Post31 January. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-is-black-girl-magic-video_us_5694dad4e4b086bc1cd517f4 (accessed 15 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WinstonSherri. 2010. President of the Whole Fifth Grade. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • WinstonSherri. 2015. President of the Whole Sixth Grade. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • WisemanRosalind. 2002. Queen Bees and Wannabes. New York: Three Rivers Press.

  • WittDoris. 1999. Black Hunger: Soul Food and America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • YentschAnne. 2007. “Excavating the South’s African American Food History.” In African American Foodways: Explorations of History and Culture ed Anne L. Bower59100. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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Contributor Notes

Sarah E. Whitney is an Assistant Teaching Professor in English and Women’s Studies at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Her research focuses on young adult literature and violence, and she is the author of Splattered Ink: Postfeminist Gothic Fiction and Gendered Violence (2016). E-mail: sew17@psu.edu.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • AliRasha. 2016. “What Is Black Girl Magic? A Short Explainer.” The Wrap30 June. http://www.thewrap.com/what-is-black-girl-magic/ (accessed 3 June 2017).

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    • Export Citation
  • AndersonMeg. 2016. “Where’s the Color in Kid’s Lit? Ask the Girl with 1000 Books (and Counting)NPR Morning Edition16 February. http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/26/467969663/wheres-the-color-in-kids-lit-ask-the-girl-with-/1–/200-books-and-counting (accessed 5 May 2017).

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    • Export Citation
  • BaumgardnerJennifer and Amy Richards. 2000. Manifesta: Young Women Feminism and the Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

  • BlakemoreErin. 2010. The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York: Harper.

  • BrooksKatherine. 2017. “College Student Creates a Mobile Directory of 600 Books that Prioritize Diversity.” The Huffington Post3 April. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kaya-thomas-we-read-too-app_us_58dd1361e4b08194e3b7b05b (accessed 7 July 2017).

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  • BrownLyn Mikel and Carol Gilligan. 1992. Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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    • Export Citation
  • ChaversLinda. 2016. “Here’s My Problem with Black Girl Magic.” Elle13 January. http://www.elle.com/life-love/a33180/why-i-dont-love-blackgirlmagic/ (accessed 2 May 2017).

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    • Export Citation
  • ClaytonDhonielle. 2016. “Black Girl Magic: Black Girlhood, Imaginations, and Activism.” We Need Diverse Books. http://weneeddiversebooks.org/black-girl-magic-black-girlhood-imaginations-and-activism/ (accessed 17 April 2017).

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    • Export Citation
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2017. “Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations Authors and Illustrators.” 15 February. http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp (accessed 4 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CoulterNatalie. 2014. Tweening the Girl: The Crystallization of the Tween Market. New York: Peter Lang.

  • CumminsJune. 2017. “The Still Almost All-White World of Children’s Literature: Theory, Practice, and Identity-Based Children’s Book Awards.” In Prizing Children’s Literature: The Cultural Politics of Children’s Book Awards ed. Kenneth B. Kidd and Joseph Thomas Jr.87103. New York: Taylor & Francis.

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    • Export Citation
  • DavisRachaell. 2016. “10 Michelle Obama Quotes that Made Us Proud to be Black Women.” Essence13 December. https://www.essence.com/culture/michelle-obama-quotes-proud-black-women-2016 (accessed 2 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DaySara. 2013. Reading Like a Girl: Narrative Intimacy in Contemporary Young Adult Literature. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DecailleNia. 2017. “5 Ways Michelle Obama Continues To Be #BlackGirlMagic Post-First Lady.” Bustle12 May. https://www.bustle.com/p/5-ways-michelle-obama-continues-to-be-blackgirlmagic-post-first-lady-56420 (accessed 16 May 2017)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EpsteinRebeccaJamilia J. Blake and Thalia Gonzalez. 2017. “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood.” Report by Center for Poverty and Inequality Georgetown University Law School. Washington, D.C. http://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/poverty-inequality/upload/girlhood-interrupted.pdf (accessed 22 Sept 2017)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FinderMargaret J. 1997. Just Girls: Hidden Literacies and Life in Junior High. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • FlanaganCaitlin. 2012. Girl Land. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • FloodAllison. 2016. “Girl’s Drive to Find 1,000 ‘Black Girl Books’ Hits Target with Outpouring of Donations.” The Guardian3 February. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/09/marley-dias-1000-black-girl-books-hits-target-with-outpouring-of-donations (accessed 15 April 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FordAshley. 2016. “There is Nothing Wrong with Black Girl Magic.” Elle13 January. http://www.elle.com/life-love/a33251/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-black-girl-magic/ (accessed 4 Oct 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forman-BrunellMiriam and Rebecca C. Hains ed. 2015. Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GriffinChristine. 2004. “Good Girls, Bad Girls: Anglocentrism and Diversity in the Constitution of Contemporary Girlhood.” In All About The Girl: Culture Power and Identity ed. Anita Harris2944. New York: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GriffinRachel Alicia. 2015. “Olivia Pope as Problematic and Paradoxical.” In Feminist Theory and Pop Culture ed. Adrienne Trier-Bienek3548. Boston: Sense Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GuillaumeCastaRobert Jagers and Deborah Rivas-Drake. 2015. “Middle School as a Developmental Niche for Civic Engagement.” American Journal of Community Psychology 56: 321331.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HarzewskiStephanie. 2011. Chick Lit and Postfeminism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

  • HatchKristen. 2011. “Little Butches: Tomboys in Hollywood Film.” In Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture ed. Mary Celeste Kearney7592. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HollowayJenae. 2017. “5 Times Michelle Obama Was Peak Black Girl Magic.” Glamour12 January. https://www.glamour.com/story/5-times-michelle-obama-was-peak-black-girl-magic (accessed 12 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HudsonTalayah. 2016. “Dear Black Girls: You Are Magical And Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise.” The Odyssey Online16 January. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/major-key-alert-blackgirlmagic (accessed 12 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JonesNikki. 2009. Between Good and Ghetto: African-American Girls and Inner City Violence. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

  • KearneyMary Celeste. 2015. “Sparkle: Luminosity and Post-Girl Power Media.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 29 (2): 263273. doi:10.1080/10304312.2015.1022945.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KoleMary. 2012. Writing Irresistible Kidlit. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books.

  • LambaMarie. 2014. “The Key Differences between Middle Grade vs. Young Adult.” Writer’s Digest7 August. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-key-differences-between-middle-grade-vs-young-adult (accessed 2 April 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LewisTaylor. 2016. “How British Singer Corinne Bailey Rae Describes ‘Black Girl Magic.” Essence16 March. http://www.essence.com/2016/03/16/corinne-bailey-rae-black-girl-magic-defined-representation (accessed 1 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCabeJaniceEmily FairchildLiz GrauerholzBernice A. Pescosolido and Daniel Tope. 2011. “Gender in Twentieth Century Children’s Books: Patterns of Disparity in Titles and Central Characters.” Gender & Society 25: 197226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGrathMaggie. 2017. “From Activist to Author: How 12 Year Old Marley Dias is Changing the Face of Children’s Literature.” Forbes13 June. https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2017/06/13/from-activist-to-author-how-12-year-old-marley-dias-is-changing-the-face-of-childrens-literature/#431cced4ce0f (accessed 28 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MendozaPaola. 2017. “Kerry Washington on Art as Activism and the Importance of ‘Staying Awake.” Glamour4 April. http://www.glamour.com/story/kerry-washington-may-glamour-cover (accessed 28 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MitchellClaudia and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh. 2010. “Theorizing Tween Culture within Girlhood Studies.” In Seven Going on Seventeen: Tween Studies in the Culture of Girlhood ed. Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh124. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MorrisMonique W. 2016. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. New York: The New Press.

  • NathansonElizabeth. 2016. “Sweet Sisterhood: Cupcakes as Sites of Feminized Consumption and Production.” In Cupcakes Pinterest and Ladyporn: Feminized Popular Culture in the Early Twenty-First Century ed. Elana Levine249267. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nettles-BarcelónKimberly D.Gillian ClarkCourtney ThorssonJessica Kenyatta Walker and Psyche Williams-Forson. 2015. “Black Women’s Food Work as Critical Space.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies 15 (4): 3449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ObamaMichelle. 2015. “Remarks by the First Lady at BET’s Black Girls Rock Event.” Newark, New Jersey. 18 March. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/28/remarks-first-lady-bets-black-girls-rock-event (accessed 22 July 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OrensteinPeggy. 2011. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. New York: Harper.

  • PipherMary. 1994. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. New York: Riverhead.

  • PomerantzShauna and Rebecca Raby. 2017. Smart Girls: Success School and the Myth of Post-Feminism. Oakland: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ReaganMaggie. 2015. “Books and Authors: Interview with Sherri Winston.” Booklist Online

  • September. https://www.booklistonline.com/Books-and-Authors-Talking-with-Sherri-Winston-Maggie-Reagan/pid=7624517 (accessed 1 April 2017).

  • RyanMaureen E. 2015. “A Better Everyday: Lifestyle Media in American Culture.” Ph.D. diss. Northwestern University.

  • ScottSydney. 2016. “President Obama and Misty Copeland Talk Black Girl Magic and the Importance of Social Movements.” Essence13 March. https://www.essence.com/2016/03/14/misty-copeland-president-obama-conversation-black-girl-magic (accessed 2 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ShandlerSara. 1999. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About their Search for Self. New York: HarperPerennial.

  • SimmonsRachel. 2002. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Orlando: Harcourt.

  • SkurnickLizzie. 2009. Shelf-Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. New York: Avon.

  • SuttonRoger. 2015. “Gender by the Numbers.” Read Roger: The Horn Book Editor’s Rants and Raves. 31 March. http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/ (accessed 11 June 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SweeneyKathleen. 2007. Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age. New York: Peter Lang.

  • ValdiviaAngharad N. 2011. “This Tween Bridge Over My Latina Girl Back: The U.S. Mainstream Negotiates Ethnicity.” In Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture ed. Mary Celeste Kearney93112. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WebleyKayla. 2016. “Why “Let Girls Learn” Is One of the Most Critical Things to Remember from the Obama White House.” Marie-Claire19 December. http://www.marieclaire.com/celebrity/news/a24223/michelle-obama-young-womens-honors/ (accessed 13 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilsonJulee. 2016. “The Meaning of #BlackGirlMagic, and How You Can Get Some Of It.” The Huffington Post31 January. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-is-black-girl-magic-video_us_5694dad4e4b086bc1cd517f4 (accessed 15 May 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WinstonSherri. 2010. President of the Whole Fifth Grade. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • WinstonSherri. 2015. President of the Whole Sixth Grade. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

  • WisemanRosalind. 2002. Queen Bees and Wannabes. New York: Three Rivers Press.

  • WittDoris. 1999. Black Hunger: Soul Food and America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • YentschAnne. 2007. “Excavating the South’s African American Food History.” In African American Foodways: Explorations of History and Culture ed Anne L. Bower59100. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation