I never had the opportunity to attend a historically Black college but if I could imagine what a homecoming at one would be like, it would be my experience at CultureCon. Powered by The Creative Collective NYC, CultureCon is a yearly conference for creatives and change-makers of color or as they’ve also stated: the ultimate creative homecoming. And they did not lie.
I’ve been attending creative conferences and conventions for a decade now—usually a comic or anime convention—but this was my first CultureCon experience. It was also my first time showing up to a convention (besides my very first one) where I was representing just me, myself, and I as the brand. I felt several waves of what I’m sure is excitement masked as anxiety while I got ready but it all soon quickly dissipated when I set foot into the conference hall.
Okay, that’s a lie. It was packed. BUT when I ran into my childhood friend of over 20 years and we excitedly talked about how we somehow moved to New York City and are now attending the conference for creatives, by creatives, who LOOK LIKE US…AS the versions of ourselves we’ve always wanted to be…it really put things into perspective.
I came to CultureCon with an open mind and heart but of course I was expecting to learn something I didn’t know before. The conference is known for teaching business strategies, shopping small business markets, connecting with industry experts and more. And while I did learn new things, the biggest thing I took away from CultureCon was confirmation that I’m on the right track.
So here’s what I learned at CultureCon 2022.
- Your Authenticity Is Your Ticket
If CultureCon had any theme this year it would be authenticity. If you at all peeped their Instagram then you saw that this first and foremost showed up in everyones’ fashion. Bright colors, unique patterns and the hair do’s had my neck breaking every other second. There were so many people of color who looked fly as hell and what made it better was that you could feel the energy that everyone knew just that. There was no real air of arrogance, just unique individuals showing up to be unique together.
Not only were the attendees on their A-game but the speakers at CultureCon were some of the most down-to-earth and truly authentic people that I’ve heard at conferences. From Tabitha Brown spreading genuine goodness to Sam Jay rolling out the jokes, every speaker emphasized that their success didn’t start to happen until they showed up as their true unapologetic selves and loved themselves as such.
- Just Start
I appreciated how this was broken down over the course of conversations throughout the conference. Starting any project is always the hardest part. We tend to have an end goal in mind while ignoring the road in front of us. As I’ve said before, the beauty is in the journey. After hearing about so many journeys like Taraji P. Henson’s and fate encounters through taking that first step…starting is always worth it. And if you think starting is hard, the next point can be just as intimidating.
- Be Consistent
Consistency is KEY! And when you think about it, almost everything is better with it. During the conversation with Deandre Brown he expressed the importance of keeping up with what you say you’re doing…which is why I’ve made sure to hold myself accountable with my Monday articles and am writing this. But seriously, it was more confirmation that I needed to keep moving forward and properly plan out whatever needs to be done so that I’m suffering later.
- Follow Your Feelings
Always. In this world we’re taught to second-guess ourselves all the time but if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. As people of color in the arts world, there are a lot of sharks we have to look out for (glares at the entirety of Hollywood) and dishonest people. If it’s one thing that was heavily emphasized at CultureCon it was to know yourself and your feelings. YOU are your biggest advocate and it’s up to you to speak up for you.
- Create A Space For Yourself
The auntie supreme, Tracee Ellis Ross, gave us a superb talk (and a laugh) when she spoke about her new documentary series, The Hair Tales. She spoke of how her journey with the show was inspired by the phenomena that is having Black hair and how up until recently there wasn’t a space for us let alone our crowns. It’s already been proven to us that we can’t rely on the mainstream to make us feel included. If we want a seat at the table, sometimes we have to make it ourselves. I enjoyed this conversation a lot as it spoke to my own journey creating a space, life and career that are in alignment with the things I desire.
Between reunions with old friends, budding new friendships, and real conversations, CultureCon gave me the confirmation and confidence boost I was needing. So where do I go from here? Refer to point number three. Consistency is key…keep coming back to my blog every Monday to find out more.