by Jen Threat
If you are a teen and you are looking for positive, uplifting events, no need to look any further. Now in its fifth year, The Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit continues to motivate and inspire more than 125 New York City teens–and it’s free!
On March 31, 2012 the planning committee of the Gye Nyame Empowerment Project (GNEP) presented the Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit again at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Founded by Akua Soadwa, GNEP is a non-profit organization providing girls and women of Pan African descent with events to boost confidence and self-esteem in underserved communities. The theme of the 2012 summit was “Celebrating the Sista Within.” This event included a full day of workshops on topics like forgiveness, life worth living and the importance of presentation. The summit also included a real-talk, keynote discussion by Susan L. Taylor, founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine. In her keynote address Susan discussed how she went down the wrong path in relationships early in life.
She shares, “Pain will make us allow people in our lives to hurt us. Anyone can come on this stage and have a testimony about how they’ve been slapped around or sexually abused.” She explains how we can turn our lives around, ” All we have to do is, ask for what we want. You have to remember, you are called here on purpose with a purpose.”
The summit honored women who have been strong leaders in uplifting young women like Girls for Gender Equality and Michaela angela Davis, journalist and founder of the mentoring organization, Shine. During the awards ceremony, one teen was also awarded the Andrea D. Brown Book Scholarship to use for college textbooks in the Fall.
Young girls and women tackled serious topics in a fun way and ended the day with celebration. Everyone (including my five-year-old daughter) had their fists pumped with Black Girls Rock! on the “1’s and 2’s” spinning old school and new school hip-hop tunes, featuring the MCs of Rhyme Like a Girl. It turned into a party atmosphere with the girls and “girls at heart” continuing to enjoy the evening with a powerful poetry performance of “Little Miss Rapper Girl” by Queen Godis. And last but, not least was Ms. Chrisette Michele.
Chrisette wowed the crowd with a black cocktail dress and red stilettos. She revealed in an interview later that she loved all kinds of fashion, including low-end brands like Old Navy and Aldo. Yes, a songstress, like Chrisette Michele can appreciate bargains, too. Chrisette, who was trained as a jazz vocalist, sang her hits, “Epiphany” and “Blame It On Me,” which had the audience doing finger snaps and mouthing the words to the songs. She sings with so much soul that one might think she was raised on gospel music, but she wasn’t. She exposed herself to many different types of music.
Before Chrisette Michele began to sing, she shared mistakes she made along the way with relationships. She overcame them with the support of her mother and aunt, and by nurturing her passion for music. She motivated girls at the summit by noting they may not know anyone personally who has their career choice, she explains, “You can look for yourself in the past and in history.” In other words, there have been women in history that have done what they would like to do and they can use their success as a blueprint for their life.
From the workshops to the entertainment, the Sista-2-Sista Summit was a fabulous day of support and empowerment for females. This summit has been one of my favorite teen events to attend and once again, it did not disappoint.