In celebration of EBONY’s 75th anniversary, EBONY’s Power 100 List returned in all its glory at a gala event that was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The august occasion was a celebration of Black achievement across industries from business, sports, media, and activism to music and entertainment. The evening was dedicated to those who have had a positive impact on the African-American community, who are game-changers in their respective fields and have consistently challenged the status quo.”
Ahead of the awards ceremony, to delve deeper into the expertise and passions of some of the honorees, EBONY curated Power Talks, a series of in-depth discussions highlighting topics such as innovation, small Black business, identity, Black women as business leaders, and more. The EBONY Power Talks was designed to inspire and awaken the greatness within our community as we honor our history and anticipate our future as African Americans.
Catch the impactful discussions of the EBONY Power Talks series, below:
In “The Crown Act,” EBONY CEO Michele Ghee moderated an enlightening discussion with Holly J. Mitchell, Adjoa B. Asamoah, Kelli Richardson Lawson, Orlena Nwokah Blanchard, and Esi Eggleston Bracey, the co-founders of the Crown Coalition (The ladies grace the cover of our special edition Power 100 digital issue). The organization was created to combat hair discrimination against Black women and other women of color with a legislative agenda.
Drafted in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, the Crown Act seeks to “ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.”
The empowering conversation covered a range of topics such as the dangers of policing Black women’s hair, the politics behind it and the power of sisterhood, among other subjects.
As we evolve in our lives, we are in a constant search to find and cultivate our authentic selves. To spotlight this, cultural critic and journalist Jeff Johnson hosted the “Living Your True Self” session which puts a spotlight on the inner work that must be done so we can live our best lives and be our authentic selves. Deon Jones, a noted musician and activist, was also featured. He spoke candidly about his experiences and how he grew to love himself authentically.
“So many people live for the idea of being affirmed and live for the idea of being validated, particularly by others, that they begin to direct their movements, paths, thoughts, journeys in a way that they believe people will admire them and uplift them,” Jones said. “People are afraid to deviate from that because they are fearful of the consequences.” He also spoke about the traumatizing effects of being shot with a rubber bullet in the face and how that experience led him on a pathway to discovering himself at a deeper level.
Johnson also moderated an informative conversation on “Black Women In Business” with Asahi Pompey. The session highlighted the growing trend of Black women as entrepreneurs. As the Global Head of Corporate Engagement and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Pompey has a wealth of knowledge and resources to aid Black women in building their brands, financial futures and their legacies.
In March of 2021, Goldman Sachs launched One Million Black Women, a new investment initiative of more than $10 billion to advance racial equity and economic opportunity by investing in Black women. In partnership with Black women-led organizations, financial institutions, and other partners, Goldman Sachs will commit $10 billion in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic capital over the next decade to address the gender and racial biases that Black women have endured. Sharing the vision of the initiative, Pompey says the goal is to impact the lives of at least 1 million Black women by 2030.
Joi Brown and Isaac Hayes III joined Johnson in the “Innovation” discussion. Brown, a former Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Atlantic Records and founder of Culture Creators, spoke about the necessity of controlling the narratives of our culture that’s often co-opted by power structures outside of the culture.
“It’s not just about investing money which you see a lot of corporations do,“ she said. “It’s about investing the time and giving people access. It’s about creating a pipeline of access.”
Hayes III, son of the funk/soul legend Isaac Hayes and CEO of Fanbase, reiterated the need for Black creatives to monetize their content and understand the business of social media.
“Fanbase offers democratization to distribution which most platforms appear to have but really don’t,” he argued. “If you understand how social media platforms work, giving visibility to every single user is something that goes against the business.”
Ty Cameron chatted with Stephanie Headley and Damon Jones about “Widen The Screen to Widen Our View,” an initiative launched by Procter and Gamble. Widen The Screen is “an expansive content creation, talent development, and partnership platform that celebrates creativity and enables Black creators to share the full richness of the Black experience.” Both Headley and Jones spoke about the diversity of the Black experience that cannot be viewed through a single lens perspective. It must include not just race but gender, sexuality, class, and more because we bring all of ourselves wherever we are. Our unique experiences demand that we and society as a whole, widen the lens.
Lastly, hip hop icon MC Lyte moderated a conversation on “Small Black Business” that featured Beatrice Dixon and J. Alexander Martin. Dixon, the CEO of The Honey Pot Company, the first plant-derived feminine care system on the market, and Martin, co-founder of FUBU, spoke about the possibilities of Black small businesses. From first-hand experience, they detailed how to start a business, the pivotal steps to acquire funding, taking on other partners, and how to maintain a brand through the ups and downs of the marketplace.