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How Afrotech Was Like Building Our Wakanda

"And we looked so damn good!"

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Recently, I found Wakanda. And I’m not talking about the official Marvel Black Panther movie trailer. I walked into Pier 27 in downtown SF, and joined a beautiful sea of the representative 2 percent of blacks in tech to attend the second annual Afrotech.  Afrotech is a conference where founders of and employees of the fastest growing technology companies come together to share best tactics and strategies to grow products and businesses.  The level of black excellence was evident simply by feeling the pulse of the room.  Walking by conversations, you would hear someone ardently talking through their pitch, stories that drove their lives passion. It’s inspiring to know that as many obstacles that get created for people of color, there is an equal, if not greater, force to reconnect our community and its leaders.

And we looked so damn good! African head-ties holding up the braids, smooth cowboy boots, skinny jeans with the Cartiers — they should have never gave us money!

One of the conference highlights was definitely was hearing Bozoma Saint-John share personal and professional life lessons by walking us through her music library. The whole room was bumping that west coast at one point as she played Ambiztions Az a Ridah. Jesse Williams also joined Christopher Gray from Season 6 of Shark Tank to share the journey of creating a social impact startup. Anwar Bey-Taylor also shared powerful cognitive techniques, while walking us through how he creates video games using imagination design. After, Rodney Williams, co-founder of LISNR shared how his team is using microphones and speakers to disrupt multiple markets, from the automotive industry to e commerce.    

I’ve been to many conferences in my professional career, but this something different. It felt like family. Virtually everyone I came across greeted me with a smile and enthusiasm. Just wanting to genuinely community build, and share stories. I regret not having the opportunity to go to an HBCU, but I can only imagine that’s how it must have felt for four years. And best of all, where people normally fly out on Sunday morning when conferences conclude the evening before, Uber threw a dope after party that turned up something crazy. It was lit.

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