If you haven’t heard of Ericka Hart by now, you should be experiencing serious FOMO right now, because you have no idea how much light and overall badassness you’ve missed out on. But fear not, I’m here to to give you just 5 times she sprinkled #blackgirlmagic onto the universe.
1. When she won over our hearts by going topless at AfroPunk
I was just browsing through the latest pictures of Afropunk 2016, when when I came upon a picture of this woman with her hands raised in the air, with a victorious smile on her face. Why was this such a striking image? Because Ericka was topless, proudly baring her mastectomy scars for the world to see. This picture for me represented so many things all at once:
- A survivor of breast cancer baring her battle scars
- A woman who by showing up, is giving the rest of us permission to exist
- A woman who reminded me of the strength of my mother, survivor of breast cancer
- A woman determined to uplift her sisters by reminding them to care fo their health
- A superhero. a fairy. A muse. A sorceress. Anything but real, because how else could I explain how she captured the hearts of millions with that single photo
2. When She summoned ancestors magic with The Afromysterics work of Laolu
Here is yet another picture where Ericka gave her body to uplift a community in deep need of healing. Given the current social climate of anti-blackness, it was so validating to see this picture of Ericka, boldly proclaiming that our lives matter. Writings on the wall, writings on her skin, like an incantation, like a mantra, like a prayer. Did I mention the perfect timing of this work, as it was done with the inauguration of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History? The whole universe consipired for this very moment.
3. When she reminded us of the importance of community
If you follow Ericka on any social media, you can immediately that she is driven by a purpose much bigger than her, dedicated to working with and rising with the people that we often dismiss, whose voices we often silence. And what is so empowering about Ericka is that she doesn’t see herself as anyone’s messiah, but knows that her happiness, her freedom, her existence, is inevitably connected to all of us. With this picture below, she reminds of the concept of Ubuntu, of South Africa. She writes, “Lately I have been reading and discovering what community means to me. The Ubuntu English Translation, I am because we are, resonates with me as I don’t win Unless My community wins. I am not seen unless my community is seen”.
4. When she reminded us that the trauma of racism in health care contributes to high rates of breast cancer deaths in Black cis and trans women
I won’t even add commentary, and let you you just bask in the brilliance that is this woman. Where has she been all my life?
5. When she reminded us to not reduce breast cancer survivors to just their boobs.
The moment I saw her picture, I knew I wanted to interview Ericka because I had so much I wanted to ask her. But I read back on the list of questions I had for her, and nothing went beyond her boobs and her survival of breast cancer. I didn’t bother to ask about her aspirations, what she studied in College, what makes her tick, what she thinks of love, politics, entertainment…I couldn’t see past her scars long enough to know for example, that she holds a Masters in Human Sexuality , or to even ask her how she feels about her body as a whole. Good thing she reminded us with this instagram post, where she wrote “More than pink, more that awareness, more than my breast. This photo is a celebration of my thighs. A part of my body that people have always felt necessary to comment on, rarely with my consent. They keep me grounded”.
There is magic in Ericka Hart. As if everything she does is sprinkled with fairy dust, and I think it’s because she is unpologetically authentic in who she is, but determined not to walk the path alone. She knows we belong to one another and have to continuously speak one another into existence, relentlessly, abundantly, compassionately, lovingly, boldly. We are because she is, she is because we are. Ubuntu.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.