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Tristian Carpenter

As the Black Girl Magic Museum Manager, I get to enjoy a perspective of the museum that few others (besides our Directors and staff) do. I get to enjoy the peaceful moments in the mornings before a long day of back-to-back tours, during which I eagerly anticipate the arrival of our guests. Though the museum is at it’s best when we are making Magic with you, I do love being there by myself at times. These are the times where I can create freely, surrounded and inspired by our featured Black art. During these quiet mornings, I can reflect on all the growth that the museum has seen thus far, having opened our first location in Dallas less than 5 months ago. Now we have a second pop-up museum open in Shreveport, Louisiana, which showcases art by artists in their community as well as some of our DFW contributors. The Black Girl Magic Museum has seen overwhelming support, having had over 5,000 guests and having reached over 10,000 Instagram followers. When the museum is empty, to me it is a blank slate, an empty canvas waiting to be transformed into an expression of all that is Black Girl Magic.

When I have the museum to myself, I make plans for the future and I dream of how many feats we can accomplish as a team. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE when the museum is open and full of my sisters, my cousins, my brothers. I get to help with the photo shoots, the fun, and the family gatherings. There have been many days when I met guests who were referred by their friends or family: “I saw Tia’s pictures on the gram, and you know I had to come through!” Oftentimes, I myself took the photos in question, encouraged the silly poses, and provided a “yas queen!” or an “I know that’s right!” to get our sisters to loosen up and to cut up. After all, it is a Black Girl’s Playground! We do deserve somewhere to visit where we can look good, feel good, make memories, and learn about ourselves and our culture. A few words of encouragement or an honest compliment can really make someone’s day. It is my honor to make people smile, to let them know they are beautiful no matter what their size, skin color or hair texture is, and to make them feel at home. From open until closing time, our team is lucky to be able to spend time with members of our community. I’m also fortunate enough to be at the museum at the end of the day when the lights are down, the glitter’s swept up, and only the echoes of the day’s laughter remain. I often wonder if I would rather patronize the museum and enjoy it as a guest: to have someone take my photos for me and to see the exhibit with eyes anew. I know that though I create an amazing, educational, and empowering tour for those who visit, it is truly I who gains the most from the experience. I have several older brothers, and no little sisters. Well, that was true until I joined the BGMM squad; now I have hundreds of sisters and cousins near and far! I love seeing the awe in the little girls’ faces when they realize that someone has created and tailored a magical experience just for them. The other day, a little girl named Camille pointed in excitement at a wall showcasing art by Wendy, one of our local Black female artists. The art she pointed to was various representations of Black girls and women, some with 3D hair popping out of the paintings, others with 3D tutu skirts adding flair to their ‘fits. What little Camille said to me and her mother was “That girl looks like me!” referring to one of the little girls in Wendy’s paintings. When I asked if she knew that the artist who painted it looked like her too, she nodded and agreed! We inform our guests that ALL of the showcased art is by Black artists from our community, and this girl couldn’t be over age 5 but she was listening and paying attention. That is just one of many interactions I’ve had at the museum that has stuck with me, and reassures me that we are here for a reason. We have so much fun taking pictures at the museum, but one of our goals is also to ensure that our guests are empowered and can see themselves and other Black women in a positive light. Representation matters! For one of our youngest guests to have benefitted from seeing someone that looks like her as the subject of an art piece... was exactly the point! We want all of our sisters and everyone who loves us to know that Black Girl Magic comes in a variety of forms. We do celebrate our hometown heroes and favorite entertainers like Erykah Badu and Beyoncé Knowles, but we also celebrate our Black artists and Black entrepreneurs (like our founder and director, Dominque Hamilton). We even have books by Black authors and clothes by Black designers in the gift shop! I love throwing glitter and taking silly pics, but my favorite part of managing the Black Girl Magic Museum is getting to meet and connect with magical Black queens and princesses from all backgrounds. We would be nothing without you all. Thank you for making Magic with us! Sincerely, Ms. Tristian Carpenter Black Girl Magic Museum Manager

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