Thursday evening kicked off the first event in The Root's "Young, Fabulous and Female" series of gatherings focused on black women's pursuit of success and meaningful change. It was a full house at the Washington Post building in D.C., as roughly 125 people came to see a lively panel discussion and mingle at a cocktail reception afterward. The proceedings were sponsored by Pepsi, in conjunction with the Pepsi We Inspire campaign.
Moderating the discussion was local radio personality Anji Corley, who hosts the midday time slot at WPGC 95.5 FM. The panelists were high-achieving black women in media, human rights advocacy, social policy and politics: Angela Rye, senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security; Malika Saada Saar, executive director of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights; Erica Williams, deputy director of Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress; Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root; and Helena Andrews, columnist for The Root and author of the upcoming book, Bitch Is the New Black.
After inviting the mostly female audience to "kick your heels off and get comfortable," Corley got down to what it means to be fabulous: "We're not talking about clothes, hair or superficial style—though all of you have that going on. We're talking about inner beauty and the attitude that drives a woman to make her presence known and to make the world around her a better place."
Over the course of the next hour, the discussion ranged from who the next Dr. Dorothy Height will be (Answer: There won't be a lone female champion of her stature anymore, and that's OK because we no longer need one voice) to concern about our girls and how they are affected by negative media images such as those presented by the infamous Kiely Williams video glorifying drunken, blackout sex. The panelists encouraged the women in the audience to seek role models and mentors from a variety of sources, even if they don't have black women in their life to provide career guidance. They also reminded those who are successful to reach a hand back to those who need their support.
In essence: Fabulous is as fabulous does.
Before they left, participants wrote out inspirational messages on scribble boards that will be posted on The Root in the near future.
The next event in the "Young, Fabulous, and Female" series will take place in New York City. Check The Root for details in the weeks to come.