6 Powerful Revelations From Sarah Jakes Roberts' 2019 WomanEvolve Conference
Chile, I got my entire life at Woman Evolve. Something powerful happens when thousands of modern women of faith gather for a weekend to celebrate the beauty of God and reclaim their own majesty. Earlier this month marked the second year that Sarah Jakes Roberts has hosted the Woman Evolve Conference in Denver, CO and it was more magnificent than the year before.
This year's theme "For the Win: Refuse to Lose" was centered around standing flatfooted and being victorious. To keep on theme, the speakers of the conference were deemed coaches of their respective fields. The head coach, Sarah Jakes Roberts, loaded the roster with some heavy hitters from Myleik Teele (the business coach) to Arian Simone (the purpose coach) to Keri Hilson (the relationship coach); each coach tackled a topic tailor-made for an array of women.
It's unlike any other conference on this planet. According to the mission, Woman Evolve recognizes that as the definition of womanhood continues to advance, so does the woman's need to connect and assess where she fits in the ever-changing world around her. The Woman Evolve mission affirms that there is no better time than the present to awaken, identify, and release the unique offering of the woman.
With the imagery of bruised heels as the backdrop of the conference, women were able to break chains, generational curses, and soul ties. While attending the conference, I personally experienced some breakthroughs that can only be described as life-altering. Ahead, you'll find just a handful of gems that rocked me to the core.
"It ain't a Hot Girl Summer."
Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts opened the conference with a vengeance to put her foot on the devil's neck. While the phrase of the summer is Megan Thee Stallion's "Hot Girl Summer", Pastor Sarah has a different truth. She said, "As for me and my house, we are gonna serve what God is doing around here. It ain't a Hot Girl Summer. It ain't a City Girl Summer. It's a Skin In The Game Summer! Everything else is trendy but only what I do for God will last."
The crowd went crazy when SJR said "It ain't a #hotgirlsummer" and it definitely made some things rise up in me personally. Don't get me wrong, I have been on Meg Thee Stallion's Hot Girl Summer Wave and one of those reasons was to be trendy. That made me realize that I may be living my life in a way that only strives to be on trend and fit in. We live in a world where likes and views seem to define your worth and value. Pastor Sarah's word aimed to dismantle that theory in my eyes.
"Only what I do for God will last," tugged at my heartstrings in a way that brought tears to my eyes because I have this terrible practice of seeking validation from people. This is when I had the revelation that you can have both – a hot girl summer and a skin in the game summer. You can have a hot girl summer by living unapologetically by basking in your inner and outside glow AND have a skin in the game summer by living and sashaying in your purpose, blessing others with your gifts and refusing to lose. This season is now a #HotGirlSkinInTheGameSummer, for me, ok! The coalescence of the two is a recipe for a fire glow up!
"There's a difference between wickedness and weakness."
In a candid conversation with her dad, Sarah talked about daddy issues; just know, there were too many gems for me to even count. And the big facts are that most of us have daddy issues of some sort, whether you had one in your home or not. It was amazing to hear Bishop T.D. Jakes speak about what it meant for him to be a father to a teen mom. He professed that she would always be his baby girl and a teen pregnancy could never change that.
The world renowned church leader even gave advice to the women in the room who struggled with daddy issues and the biggest gem that resonated with me was his distinction between wickedness and weakness. For example, I spent years blaming my father for not being in my life (wickedness) but in that moment during the session, I realized he couldn't be there for me – it wasn't in his wheelhouse of natural capabilities (weakness).
"Sisterhood on purpose! Because it's His purpose that's at stake!"
Purpose coach Arian Simone proved why she was given that title. During her session, she blessed her host, a young mother of a two-year-old daughter that had been living in a shelter. Arian sowed $1,000 into her and created a wave of sisterhood like I have never seen before as women from all over the room began sowing into her as well. This is what sisterhood in action looks like and Arian fully facilitated her purpose.
"Stop giving life to what God has killed."
In order to live that best life that everyone talks about, you have to do some inventory on things that you keep bringing to life that God has killed. This brought up alot of emotion for me because I have a habit of trying to revive and fix situations that served their purpose in a specific season. Pastor Toure Roberts validated that you have to leave your brokeness behind to fully step into your wholeness.
"Your reputation precedees you."
In the career arena, our favorite entrepreneur Myleik Teele gave a word on keys to starting a successful business. When she spoke about building your reputation, she emphasized knowing your worth and taking inventory of the skills you can improve. Myleik shared, "Your reputation precedes you and if it inspires respect, a lot of your work is done for you before you arrive on the scene or utter a single word."
In the words of the #MyTaughtYou boss babe, "You have to JUMP! No reputation is the same as a bad one. You cannot be afraid to try."
The overarching theme of sisterhood.
During the finale of the conference, Toyota and The Dream Project, alongside Sarah, gifted $5,000 to a lucky winner who happened to be PrettyGirl Academy Inc. The organization serves as a safe space where girls can open up, be themselves and learn from the different life experiences of their peers and mentors. Their site says, "We are more than a mentoring program. We are a sisterhood of girls and women bound together by love of community and hope for the future."
It was such an awe-inspiring moment to watch because we were all celebrating this win for the Executive Director, Erika Johnson, as she fought back tears trying to explain how she was feeling. Then the head coach SJR proclaimed that the louder you cheer and root for your sister, the bigger your blessing will be when it's your turn. Woman Evolve was exactly that – a celebration of our sisters.
What's even more amazing is the fact that SJR took the same grace and glory that surrounded the conference to the Denver Women's Correctional Facility. You definitely need to secure your 2020 registration like right now.
Featured image by David Livingston/Getty Images
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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