The best part of Halloween is watching "Hocus Pocus" on repeat.
The only downside? That film REALLY lacks diversity. Seriously, it would make you think there weren't any Black women in the 17th century — much less the '90s!
And as a Black woman who loved all things magical as a child, never seeing characters that looked like me took a toll. It sent the message that these movies weren't FOR me, and that if I wanted to imagine myself as a powerful witch, I also had to imagine myself as white.
And I'm not alone. So instead of waiting for Disney to cast the all-Black "Hocus Pocus" remake of my dreams, I grabbed two of my co-workers and transformed us into the Black Sanderson Sisters.
Was there a ton of Black Girl Magic to go around? You bet!
Kayla was excited to transform into a Winifred Sanderson, especially as a multiracial woman.
Winifred Sanderson Costume ($49.99, Spirit Halloween)
Representation for Black women, especially multiracial women, is STILL lacking in 2017, which made Kayla even more excited to personify Winifred. "There are so many powerful, smart, and funny iconic characters from pop culture that I grew up with and loved to watch over and over again," Kayla said. "However, hardly any of them were women of color, and pretty much none of them were multiracial characters like myself."
Kayla admired Winifred's confidence, despite wanting to steal the youth from children. "She’ll always be the H.W.I.C. (head witch in charge). We’re both very determined and we know what we want," Kayla said.
Even with the over-the-top hairstyle and 17th-century attire, Winifred always commanded attention, which Kayla appreciated growing up. "I like her because she may be a little crazy, but she’s also the mastermind behind everything and she always keeps her sisters focused," Kayla said. Winifred was all about teamwork, especially when immortality was involved!
"If pop culture isn’t going to give us enough of these roles, then why the hell shouldn't we create them ourselves?" Kayla, AKA Woke Winifred, said.
After slaying (figuratively) in the costume, Kayla was ready more than ever to break down longstanding prejudices. "Not only are we worthy of being able to see ourselves in these iconic roles, but it’s something that should have been achieved a VERY long time ago," Kayla said. Hopefully a remake could include more people of color!
As someone who reps Team #AwkwardBlackGirl, I was excited to portray the lovable and lethal Mary Sanderson.
Mary Sanderson costume ($49.99, Spirit Halloween)
Mary was always special to me because she wasn't a #boss like Winifred nor seductive like Sarah, and yet the people still feared her! She could command attention through her awkwardness, which hey, is a magical power in and of itself.
Also the wig (sold out) was a #struggle when I took it off and put it back on in-between shots, but overall I felt like I was winning.
Although representation for quirky WOC has improved thanks to shows like "Insecure" and "Chewing Gum," growing up I'd always wished to see more Black women on-screen who I could relate to.
Usually Black women in Hollywood are relegated to the side characters as comic relief or a typical caricature of what they think Black women are like; But I'd hope that a Black Mary Sanderson could show how multidimensional we are!
Black Girl Magic comes in many forms, and they should all be celebrated.
This pose WASN'T EASY, but I was happy to get fully into character and show my weirder side for all to see. It's vital for women of color to let go, and realize that imperfections are OK! Yes, I am slouching. Yes, I am smiling oddly. Most of all, I'm enjoying every minute of it! Mary Sanderson may not have been the center of attention in "Hocus Pocus," but she definitely captured mine!
Sarah Sanderson was a free and confident spirit, which Marquaysa DEFINITELY related to.
Sarah Sanderson costume ($49.99, Spirit Halloween)
Sarah is known for being a bombshell in the film, and Marquaysa enjoyed channeling that confidence. "She’s goofy, kind of vain (but in a sweet way), and a little awkward. I suppose I’m all three of those things," Marquaysa said. Sarah's characterization could've EASILY been played by a Black actress, so hopefully Disney will hear us out!
Although Marquaysa was excited to become Sarah, she would've chosen a fiercer wig to reach her max slay. "In real life, I’d probably get a lace front wig with darker roots and tweak it to make it 2017 glam for a Black girl," she said.
Although Marquaysa wasn't allowed to dress like a witch growing up, she loved watching "Hocus Pocus" — even though she always wished there was more representation in the fantasy genre.
Marquaysa admired a ton of iconic film witches, from Sabrina (noted teenage witch), Roald Dahl's evil witches, and the iconic "Twitches" — but she feels that the genre overall still lacks diversity.
Marquaysa still thinks it's important for kids to see multifaceted characters who look like them on-screen. "My mom made me very aware of how special, complex and different all Black women are," she said. "So I knew Black women should be represented in films."
Marquaysa ALREADY knew her Black was beautiful, but she could see how a more diverse cast could encourage more Black women to express their interests in fantasy films.
"Having women of color [as the] Sanderson sisters wouldn't have affirmed my love for Black women because that was already solid," Marquaysa said. "It would have excited me, though, and made me feel counted to see Black characters in a movie like "Hocus Pocus.""
Black women rarely play major characters in fantasy films, which in turn makes it difficult for Black women to be accepted in those spaces. Within cosplay, there are countless instances of Black women being singled out for portraying a fantasy character, despite, you know, it being FICTIONAL character.
"I think it’s incredibly important to show POC that they are just as powerful, smart, and funny as all of the white characters we grew up watching," Kayla said.
Some people may say that it's "Hocus Pocus" is just a movie — but for us, it was more than that. It represents a nostalgic time in our childhoods, and also symbolized what characters and their stories deserve to be told.
"Narratives attached to Black faces don’t always have to be the same," Marquaysa said. "We are storied people who deserve to showcase all the nuances of our culture just like everyone else." More bold, quirky, and fierce Black characters in movies like "Hocus Pocus" are so important. Also now other young Black girls can see the magic in them, too!
In the meantime, we'll be busy throwin' spells and shade on October 31st.