I love love love walking into a room full of Black and Brown people. I think I’m so giddy because I’m still recovering from attending a PWI, you know the universities that have diversity as every other word in the brochures, and diverse pictures, but you get there and looking for POC like where is Waldo. So, I’m always grateful to walk into a room with people who look like me and who affirm me. I don’t have to explain myself, they just get it “ Your loc’s are Everything”, not “ How does that work? Do you wash your hair?”
On July 12th and 13th, I had the luxury of being surrounded by people who just got it at the Face2face Africa– Pan African Weekend. From the vibrant attire, everyone wore vibrant smiles, to the energetic and affirming conversations I felt seen and nourished. Face2Face Africa was launched in 2011 by two Ghanaian-Americans who drew on their experience as African immigrants to create a platform and space to shift and broaden the narrative of Africans. Obviously, they had me sold at Ghanaian. Even though I was born in the U.S, I lived in Ghana for my first 7 years and grew up in a Ghanaian household. My mother often reminded me that she didn’t care what my lil friends said in This Ghanaian house things worked differently. In short, I was happy to support my fellow Ghanaians.
I have been engaging with Face2Face’s content for a while and was able to extend that to reality through the Women’s Forum and Networking Mixer & business Expo during Pan-African weekend.
As a Black woman, an African woman, the forum was life! Panelist ranged from Sherrexcia Rolle, youngest woman to run the largest Black-owned airline in the Bahamas; Tiffaney Malott, you know an actual self-made multimillionaire; to Tamika Stenbridge a woman who left the music industry to support people in their journey to financial freedom – all dynamic women. Everyone’s story told me that I was going to be alright, no matter what path I chose. There were so many gems from the panel, something that stuck with me was “ You need to tell yourself exactly what and who you are” as well as “ Do what you want to do, and be excellent at it”. Finding ground after college is difficult. In college, I was surrounded by my peers and really enjoyed what I was studying and my extracurricular- I felt heard and validated. Fast-forward to being the youngest in my workplace I often feel like I’m missing chunks of knowledge everyone has and constantly reminded of my age. Needless to say, I needed to hear the panelist say that I can affirm myself and every day I need to remind myself of who I am and what I am capable of, through self-affirmation and hard work I will prove myself to be excellent and feel more settled in this new life.
The next day I went back for a Networking Mixer, and if you know AFUA then you know me and mixers don’t mix; no pun intended. I am an Introvert, a wallflower; you know, I just don’t like people that much. Yet, I went to the mixer and I talked to people, and I liked it. My first reaction when I walked in was SOS. On this day there were just a few tables for people to mingle, like actually talk to each other. I quickly pivoted to the restroom, someone was talking about how amazing the panel was the night before. I quickly chimed in and agreed, commenting on my shock today. Another lady said, “I know I’m overwhelmed as well, let’s find each other throughout the night”, of course, I said deal. Once I walked back out I felt better, I made eye contact with a woman standing by herself and walked up to her, 10 minutes later she introduced me to her friends and 3 hours later I walked away with new contacts, ideas, thoughts, and some freelance opportunities.
My two days were great. I saw and heard from Black women killing the game while defying all barriers. I witnessed Black women acknowledge that being superhuman is not a thing but being an amazing, driven human can make your dreams come true and more. I learned that by changing the conversation I’m having with myself I change my path, and by changing my path maybe, just maybe, I can change the single stories of African women because small ripples turn into a Tsunami.
Watch the amazing panel of women here.
#panafricanweekend #changingourstory #face2faceafrica #blackgirlmagic #paw2018.