One thing you will hear me say it over and over again: Never stop learning! At a recent blogger meet-up I learned about a summit at Georgetown titled B.R.A.V.E.
BRAVE is an annual event that was started 3 years ago by black women at Georgetown. The event seeks to “honor the eclectic narrative of Black women/femmes” by “combating the pervasive media coverage and replacing it with the truth.” Just by the title I knew this would be an event for me. I was even more sold when I found out that Amanda Seales, from Insecure on HBO, would be the keynote speaker. What I will say is that I did expect the event to be full of empowered women empowering women. What I did not expect was to leave feeling inspired and overwhelmed by the joy in the room.
The first panel featured Erika Totten, a spiritual life coach, and Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016. They spoke about Black Girl Joy and what it truly means when you tap into your magic. One of the key gems that I took away was about self-love.
“You have to learn to break the chains of what people have told you. Only then will you truly love and know yourself.” – Erika Totten, To Live Unchained
Deshauna told us how she felt the need to wear wigs during the Miss USA pageant. But she reflected by saying that embracing her natural hair opened the door for
another black woman with natural hair from DC to win Miss USA the following year. My favorite part of this panel was Erika encouraging us all to get up and twerk! She said twerking 10 minutes a day helps open your root chakra and I can’t argue with that!
After the opening panel, we split into breakout sessions. The first one I attended was “Black Women in Public Relations.” I am currently studying for my Master’s in PR so it’s a perfect fit. The ladies on the panel stressed how important it is to determine what you want your image to be.
“Be authentic to who you are.” – Brittany Carter, B. Carter Solutions
Lunch was catered by Florida Avenue Grill, the oldest soul food spot in the world. And it did not disappoint. I’m talking fried chicken, greens, mac & cheese, yams. They even had a vegan option for those with dietary restrictions. For dessert, there was a variety of cake jars provided by Cakelove.
The next breakout session I went to was “Black Women in Media/Entertainment.” This one definitely wasn’t what I expected but I definitely got a lot of useful information. It featured music producer Trakgirl, talent manager Paris Cole, and actress Candice Macfarlane. These ladies talked about having confidence in yourself and your brand. As women in a male dominated field, they stressed the importance of knowing all the roles of your team. And they mentioned my favorite phrase, “never stop learning.” One of the biggest takeaways was that you don’t have to feel like you have it all together.
“Remember everybody is a mess. Every moment is meant for you. Just align yourself.” – @Paris_Cole
The last panel was all about developing your career. Shelby Hall, of Under Armour, and Ericka Pittman, of Combs Enterprises, spoke on making your passion work for you. They said their biggest advice for young professionals is to send “Thank You” cards because it makes you stand out. They also expressed that you have to take your time to get where you want to be in life. Ericka has had 7 jobs in the 9 years that she has worked with Diddy. But it took her 22 years to get to where she is. She is now the Chief Marketing Officer at Aquahydrate, one of Diddy’s brands.
“One thing that Diddy told me is ‘You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room. Sometimes you just have to shut the f*ck up.'” – Ericka Pittman, Combs Ent.
Of course the day ran long but I couldn’t leave without seeing Amanda Seales. Her Instagram stories are filled with great gems about black culture and feminism. In speaking with us, she was very clear that black women run shit. But she also said that there has to be an effort to build each other up because too often we consider constructive criticism a drag. Amanda expressed the need for people of color to create our own spaces and not just our own content. She also spoke a lot about mental health saying that therapy is like a gym membership for your brain. Her information was insightful and relatable. She also kept the crowd laughing.
“If you’re trying to find a wife, come to an Amanda Seales show. There’s women with degrees and regular pap smears. The Dashiki chic!” – Amanda Seales
Amanda will be back in DC on July 21 with “Smart, Funny, & Black” at the Kennedy Center. I also suggest keep up with BRAVE! Although the event was pretty long, the information was well worth it!