This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending CultureCon. CultureCon is a conference for Black creatives bringing together celebrities and leaders in the arts for panels and discussions. It’s organized by The Creative Collective which is a creative agency based in NYC that works to create spaces for creatives of color.
I had been wanting to attend for the past two years, and thanks to a birthday present I was able to get a ticket for this year’s conference. It was a beautiful experience to be in a room with so many people that looked like me. Even though I know and have experienced what representation brings, it never ceases to amaze me how it feels. CultureCon took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; these warehouses which were once used to build ships are now being used as event spaces. There were immersive experiences, an area to shop black owned brands, and a grab and go area sponsored by everyone’s favorite: Target. The conversations and panels were the big draw and below are some of the gems that I gathered.
Creative Genius with Sanaa Lathan:
Sanaa Lathan came and discussed her body of work over the past 20+ years as well as her one of her latest projects: Nappily Ever After. It was amazing to hear her speak as she has been in some of my favorite movies such as Love & Basketball, and The Wood.
She talked about Nappily Ever Afterand how she felt that it was important to shave her head for this role. As a black woman, we have been taught that part of what makes us beautiful is our hair. The closer it is to white the more beautiful we are perceived to be. Sanaa noted how freeing it was to shave her head and how surprised she was that was still perceived to be beautiful by the opposite sex. As someone who relaxed her hair for over a decade and then went natural, I understand fully how my hair was linked to my perception of my own beauty. Sanaa said that Nappily Ever Afterwas her love story to Black woman. A fairytale where you don’t fall in love with a prince, but with yourself.
Communal Healing: A Wellness Journey:
The next panel was centered around healing and staying healthy as people of color. A big theme that was mentioned in many of the panels on Saturday was in how we talk to ourselves. 90% of what we tell ourselves is negative. Our thoughts control our actions and our emotions. It is up to us control the ways in which we speak about ourselves.
The Beauty of Cannabis:
There was a panel on the rise of cannabis as an industry as more states are legalizing marijuana. As this trend continues to increase, people of color are being systematically left behind in this growing empire. It’s not surprising since prisons have been filled with men of color who have been imprisoned for possessing the smallest ounce of weed. The panel touched on the difficulties on starting a dispensary and different ways in which you can become a part through the skills that you possess. Whether it’s through accounting, law, or being a distributor there are more ways to be involved than just being an owner.
Creative Genius with Tracee Ellis Ross:
One of the highlights of CultureCon was hearing a conversation with Tracee Ellis Ross moderated by Elaine Welteroth, who is the author of More Than Enough. Tracee is as authentic in person as she is on TV and brought such a joy to the stage. Elaine asked her what her favorite quote was and she said, “Like a flower you are worthy of love without effort.”
There is a surge and I think a rising appreciation for the ways in which Black creatives are taking media, fashion, business, entrepreneurship, and so many other avenues by storm. I hope that this trend continues as companies and corporations understand how important representation is behind the scenes and on center stage. I would advise anyone who wants to be inspired and make connections with creatives of color to attend CultureCon in the future. You won’t be disappointed!