The power of black girl magic anthems: Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and “Feeling Myself” as political empowerment

Aria S. Halliday, Nadia E. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé are two of the most successful Black women artists in today’s popular culture. They occupy a hypervisible and invisible position in Black and mainstream popular culture, and therefore exist as a crucial discursive site to understand Black girls’ self-articulation as “blackgirlmagic” at this moment. Faced with the rise of public feminist and postracial discourses presented in new digital media forms, Minaj and Beyoncé’s representations of sexualized Black femininity reimagined popular notions of race, gender, sexuality, and representation. Both women navigate sexuality and play, which allows them to promote claims to sexual autonomy, consent, and empowerment for girls. Together, they articulated blackness as arrogance, femininity as sexual confidence, and friendship as powerfully seductive in the song “Feeling Myself” (2015). We argue that the song became a #blackgirlmagic anthem for Black girls and women because of the ways Black girls and women engaged with the song on social media. They created a visual language to articulate the political stakes of #blackgirlmagic in an age of police brutality, anti-blackness, and misogyny. Through the use of focus group data with young Black women, we assess how this particular brand of “blackgirlmagic” impacts the political behavior and empowerment of Black college aged women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-238
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 University of Illinois at Chicago.


  • Beyoncé
  • Black Girl Magic
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Political empowerment
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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