Atlanta is an “eventful” city, and we mean that in the most sincerest terms. Indeed, there is an event for everything you can think of; business launches, re-branding, fashion shows, and even potato chip bag reveals (we are not joking). Seldom, however, at any of these events will you find food for your soul, medicine for your spirit, and genuine empowerment to fuel you through life. Thankfully, local Atlanta fashion stylist and philanthropist, Rishawn Felton, managed to give us just that with his panel discussion at the aptly named, “Breaking The Cycle Empowerment Conference!”
The event took place at local Atlanta hot spot, The Buckhead Loft, where Rishawn, alongside the host and singer, Brandi Williams (Blaque), Dr. Shana Lewis (author/counselor), Tyler Burton (writer/journalist), Latonya Sampson McDonald (life coach/associate marriage family therapist), Byron Jamal (author and founder of PathFinder guide), Rodney Wash (television personality), Antwain Donte (motivational speaker/artistic director), and Christoper McKinley (motivational speaker/beauty enthusiast) tackled topics and issues surrounding spirituality, mental health, and racism. Noted attendees included Julian Lark (Celebrity stylist/Editor-in-chief of Kontrol Magazine), Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning (media personality/radio host), Maurice Ravennah (philanthropist/CEO of Phoenix International, Inc. & Griffin Global Bank), Lipstick (television personality), Tramel Harris (television personality), and Martel Star (Web Star and artist).
The panel each had their own feelings about each topic, but all came with hope and belief that their past experiences and various fields of expertise would be able to help someone. The progress of the event was straightforward and to the point allowing ten minute intervals for a break between each topic of discussion, giving the guests chances to mingle and network. Each topic was one that hit close to home for so many. Spirituality and mental health in particular were quite jarring as panelists and guests opened up about the importance of a relationship with God and that all paths of belief were a way to connecting to Him personally. As for mental health, many disclosed how they were delivered from suicidal ideation, and challenged the stigma of seeking therapy in the African-American community. Lastly, as it pertained to racism the panelists discussed how hundreds of years of systematic racism and current oppression can and do have an effect on the spirit and psyche.
Yes, the topics at hand were heavy; but they were all the more timely. In the age of social media, rates of depression and suicide are at an all time high, people place themselves on unrealistic and unhealthy timetables, and people are mistaking self-confidence with self-consciousness. This conference was needed. Rishawn plans to do this annually, but is willing to make them more frequent as the need arrives. All we have to say is kudos, my friend.