BE Empowerment Zone - Love, Money, and Inspiration.
Arts and Culture Lifestyle

African American Festival: BE Empowerment Zone – Money, Love, and Inspiration

(Image: File)

(Image: File)

After talking business, it was time for an open-discussion on black love with Where is the Love? Real Talk About Dating, Sex, Relationships. Moderated by “Our World with Black Enterprise” host, Paul C. Bronson, with actress/singer Demetria McKinney, author and relationship coach, Dr. Ivan Young, and dating coach Gee Sanders, this session took a deep dive into looking for and cultivating love. With many questions coming from the audience, the panel offered personal advice and anecdotes on how to find the love we desire and setting realistic expectations.”What are you willing to do to have love?” asked Gee Sanders. “Come into a relationship with a standard for yourself based on self-love,” followed Demetria McKinney. The conversation flowed with questions and excitement as audience members searched for the best method to attract a mate. “Make sure you’re just you”, advised Dr. Ivan Young. “Connect on a meaningful, sincere, and authentic level—-and intentional eye contact doesn’t hurt either.”

Thanks to the knowledgeable panel, festival-goers on the love quest left the session feeling realistic, rejuvenated, and excited for the possibilities.

After the Black Enterprise Empowerment Zone covered business and love, it was time to tackle The Impact of Debt on the African American Family with host Stacey Tisdale, senior editor of personal finance at Black Enterprise. On this panel sat Dr. Deforest Soaries, Jr., creator of the Dfree Financial Freedom Movement, The Honorable Joan M. Pratt, Baltimore City Comptroller, and Khalilah Harris, deputy director at The White House Initiative on Education Excellence. Each panelist had invaluable insight and advice regarding maintaining and excelling with finances. “It doesn’t matter how much you make, what matters is how much you spend,” says Dr. Soaries. “We have to live within our means.”

Many festival-goers were eager to learn how to thrive in the economy, as opposed to simply surviving. “To self-empower you must save and invest,” stated Khalilah Harris. Many attendees expressed grievances with attempting to get ahead while dragging lofty student loan debts with them. Dr. Soaries offered these tips for tackling student loans:

1. Take advantage of resources.

2. Know what you sign.

3. Only borrow what you need.

4. Pay it back.

To keep track of your spending, Soaries recommends writing down everything you spend so that you really see where your money is going, and remember to take control of what you have.

Speaking of controlling what you have, the BE Empowerment Zone concluded with A One-on-One Conversation with Torrey Smith, NFL Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers. Moderated by entrepreneur Kwame Jackson, this conversation allowed Torrey Smith to share how he uses his influence as an NFL player to give back to his community by way of the Torrey Smith Foundation, where he looks to better the lives of children up and down The Beltway by providing educational support, opportunities, and resources. Day 1 of the BE Empowerment Zone left festival-goers eager to see what impact day 2 would bring.

For more information on the BE Empowerment Zone at the African American Festival, be sure to follow Black Enterprise @blackenterprise and the AAF @BEmoreAAF. For information about the African American Festival visit

Here’s some of the fun and festivities from this year’s event at the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Complex in Baltimore: Black Enterprise on Instagram and #BEmoreAAF.