Black Girls Unite: Summit21 Conference Recap

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This past weekend I got the chance to partake in 21Ninety’s Summit21, a 2 day culminating experience for black women across the country. But before I even get into the details, let me begin by saying that black women are truly made out of brown sugar, cocoa, honey and gold. And the strength of ten thousand moons. If you’ve never experienced a room full of black richness, radiating in melanin magic than I feel bad for you son. I have 99 problems but black girl magic ain’t one.

Back in January when the New Year began, I promised myself that I would step outside my comfort zone by trying new things, shooting all shots presented to me. Note: NO MISSED SHOTS IN 2018 AND BEYOND. I first heard about Summit21 from a sister within the service organization I’m a member of (sidenote: that’s the great thing about building sisterhoods in a variety of spaces, as it connects you to like-minded individuals which is extremely important in this thing called life). Through this dear friend I was able to gain access to Summit21, and now it was time to level up. You see, something magical happens when a group of black women get together for a weekend filled of self-discovery, enlightenment, and pure manifestation. So for those wondering what all Summit21 entails, let’s get into the details, shall we?


WHAT IS SUMMIT21?

The baby of Blavity (an internet media company and website based in LA, created by and for black millennials), Summit21 is put on by 21Ninety and introduces a 2 day experience curated to guide your greatest vision for your life and provide actionable steps towards making that a reality. Through engaging masterclasses and fireside chats, the conference provides hands-on experience with the brightest and most inspiring innovators in the black community.

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THE SETUP + COURSES

The conference took place in the heart of downtown Atlanta, at AmericasMart. Overall I felt as though the location was appropriate, and made sense to accommodate the 1,200+ attendees. I appreciated how the conference was split into “tracks”, allowing individuals to pick and choose the sessions that best fit their hustle. The tracks included beauty (How do I make my claim creatively and financially?), money (How as a black woman do I crash through the glass ceiling?), and impact (What now? How can I truly make a change?). I appreciated the freedom to not have to stick to one track, but mix and match as you pleased, which I took full advantage of.


THE SPEAKERS

Let me just say, the speakers were BOMB AF. Where else are you going to get people like Myleik Teele, Mattie James, Angela Rye, Sarah Jakes Roberts, Ashley Blaine, Latham Thomas, and many more, all in one room? Let’s just say that the lineup alone had me completely sold. The selection provided a variety of individuals and messages to choose from including: bloggers, entrepreneurs, politicians, actresses, authors, and everything in between. There was literally something, and someone, for everyone! If you check out my Instagram highlight “Best of 2018” you can find some of my favorite captured sessions, as I recorded the gems I never want to forget (IG: @thegabriellec). Through fireside chats and master classes, each speaker challenged you to bring your best self, take notes, and implement immediately. It was truly refreshing to be in an environment where judgement was thrown out the window and authenticity was both required and celebrated.  My favorite sessions included the following:

1.       “Limitless Living: Overcoming Yourself to Reach Your True Potential” presented by Myleik Teele

2.       “Capitalizing on Your Blackness as a Means to Defend from Cultural Appropriation” presented by Alex Wolf

3.       “Passion vs. Purpose” presented by Ashley Blaine Featherson & Robin Thede 

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THE EXTRAS

Just wow. I’ve never experienced so much joy, positivity, knowledge, and fun all in one space! Summit21 did a great job of keeping things informative while also incorporating tons of fun throughout. During the 2 day experience they had various elaborate installations set up including: photo booths, a portable winery (happening to fall on National Rosé Day!), beauty supply store, and bookstore. By far my favorites included Chateau21, which was set up to look like beauty supply store, and…everything was free! Yup, FREE! We were all allotted a brief amount of time to fill our bags with up to five, full-size beauty items of our choice and it was SO fun. I literally felt as though I were fulfilling my childhood “Supermarket Sweep” dreams.

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It’s no surprise that books have my heart, which I why I completely fell in love with Summit21’s choice to create a bookstore filled with titles solely by authors of color. Many of the selections provided were from authors that were present at the conference, making it extra special to get your purchased signed on spot. What titles did I purchase? Click below! 

Hair by Angela C. Styles

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Black Girl Magic: A Poem by Mahogany L. Browne

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THE DROPPED GEMS

Get a notebook and a pen out because these gems are like Pokémon, you gotta catch 'em all. Throughout my time at the conference I caught more dropped gems than my pockets could possibly carry. Here are a few of my favorites shared in various sessions:

"Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life." (Eckhart Tolle)

"Living a limitless life demands honesty. Instead of seeing something as a challenge, train your mind to look at as an opportunity." (Myleik Teele)

"Don't try to be everything for everybody." (Myleik Teele)

"When we give more to ourselves we can expect more for ourselves." (Sevyn Streeter)

"Don't ever let anyone dim your light. If they have a problem with what you're doing let them put on their shades." (Karen Civil)


Really and truly, Summit21 was a phenomenal experience, and something that will be calendared for years to come in my agenda. There’s something special about leveling up amongst a sisterhood of radiant go-getters, creators, and thinkers. A huge thank you to Blavity and 21Ninety for curating such an epic conference experience for us, by us!

Conferences and events that bring like-minded individuals together are an awesome form of wellness and self-care. What conference/s are you looking forward to attending within the remainder of 2018? Share in the comments section below, along with any other thoughts!

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