13-year-old Mikaela Sydney Smith just wanted to help people out. She told the Electronic Urban Report recently that she got the idea to take action after reading about other people her age who helped out their communities.
She felt she had to do something, too. Smith said, “I created something called Mikaela’s ‘Crazy Knee Socks for a Cause,’ where we would give out socks … during the winter time,” to those without.
And Mikaela didn’t want to give any just any socks to those in need, but asked those donating to give socks that were both “warm and fashionable.”
She collected over 600 pairs of socks. “Once I did that,” she said, “I didn’t want to stop.”
She began thinking about how else she could help those around her. Very soon, her school's hallways came to mind.
Like the students of the Boston teacher who came up with a song celebrating all types of beauty, students at Smith’s school were often victims of bullying.
“In school, I would see other girls getting teased because of their skin color or their hair,” Smith lamented. She herself made it a point to ignore those that tried to tease her — so much so that other girls at her school came to her for advice, asking, “Mikaela, why are you so confident to wear your hair out like this? Why do you act the way you do?”
Smith said her response to her concerned classmates was always the same. “I would talk to them and just say, ‘You are beautiful. Don’t listen to those other people. They’re haters.’”
Although she was happy to encourage her classmates, and tried her best to be a good example, Smith felt that doing that alone wasn’t enough. “That’s when I thought of Brown Girl Magic.”
You know all about black girl magic, but what, you ask, is Brown Girl Magic?
It’s organization about to host a conference in Atlanta, set up by none other than Smith herself.
She hopes the conference will be the first of many; this year’s theme is “Activating Your Inner Magic,” and Smith has quite the line up planned for attendees.
She has booked literal girl boss Gabrielle Goodwin, who created a barrette that stays in place all day at age 7, as the keynote speaker. Other speakers include New York Times bestseller Denene Millner, Chopped Junior winner Rose Genter and Alisha Ballard from America’s Next Top Model.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. She’s been working social media to promote the event, and people at her school have taken notice. “They come to me at school like, ‘Mikaela, you’re so awesome. That’s really cool!’ Even some of my white friends. They’re like, ‘Mikaela, can I come to the Brown Girl Magic convention?’”
To that question, Smith’s mother, Kia Morgan Smith, says, “Yes! Absolutely they can come and join and learn something.”
While all are, of course, welcome, Smith notes that her key reason for putting on the convention is to encourage girls who look like she does. “I am a brown girl with lots of magic and that’s one of the main reasons why I started the organization. I want brown girls like myself to feel something ‘cause we’re always looked over and pushed to the side.”
If you’ll be in Atlanta on May 7, you too can join in on the magic — full information on the conference is available on the Brown Girl Magic website.