Magical Spirituality: A Source of Self-Empowerment for African-American Women
Interdisciplinary: Anthropology, Theology, Women’s Studies
Volume 7 | Issue III | September 2023
Concord Academy ’24
I have always loved writing. As a child, I spent much of my free time writing poems and short stories as a creative outlet. This longstanding interest inspired me to revive the literary and arts magazine at my school. In school, I’ve found myself deeply invested in the writing I’ve done for my history and English classes. The paper I submitted to The Schola stemmed from a class I took in my sophomore year, “US: Gender and Religion in Early Age.” I wanted to explore a unique topic for my final paper and landed on magical practices among African Americans. My research revealed that individualism and accessibility were core tenets of magic. By reading sources like Zora Neale Hurston’s Hoodoo in America, I found evidence that some Black women in the early United States were taking advantage of these tenets to elevate themselves both within their households and within society. This led me to theorize that magic’s role as a source of empowerment to women may have echoed into the present. In pursuit of this hypothesis, I explored magic’s continued presence and its influence on modern Black feminism. This project has given me a deeper understanding of how spirituality can shape notions of self, and a greater appreciation for oral history as a means of cultural preservation. I hope my paper sheds light on understudied elements of America’s intersecting relationships with religion and race, and credits the ingenious women of color who molded these spiritualities. This paper was ultimately born out of my love for research and analysis, so it’s no surprise that I also love subjects like chemistry and physics. In my free time, I enjoy drawing, painting, singing, playing piano, and cuddling with my two dogs.