Just under 2 weeks ago, BYP (Black Young Professionals) Network held the first ever BYP Conference. A leadership conference dedicated to black professionals. The first of its kind, in the UK at least. Panel discussions, workshops and keynote speakers were just a few of the highlights. AJ Odudu was the host in the morning and panellists/speakers included the likes of George the Poet, Tolu Ogunmefun, Gillian Joseph, Lord Michael Hastings and many many more. Attending the BYP conference made me realise that there’s a change coming and it’s a change in the right direction.
Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve had a number of different revelations. One of these revelations occurred in a workshop I attended at the BYP conference. A young lady called Tolu, shared an ongoing experience she has at work. People constantly spell and/or pronounce her name wrong and at the start of this year she’d had enough. She made a promise to herself that regardless of who they were, she would correct anyone that got her name wrong. Long story short, a very senior person got her name wrong and she stuck to her promise that she’d correct them. Everything was fine when she did. It’s not so much the story that made me have my epiphany but the fact that, for the first time ever, I was in a room full of people that actually understood the frustrations behind the story.
My epiphany was essentially telling me, ‘it’s time to be authentically you’. Wherever I go, I try not to change my behaviour to fit in because my view is that if you like me you like me, if you don’t you don’t and that’s that. However, it’s much easier said than done. Sometimes it’s easier to supress your views and beliefs so as not to tread on anyone’s toes. But the time has come for us to shift. Now is the time to share your true views and opinions wherever and whenever necessary without fear of backlash. Particularly if you’re in the right! Why is it that we feel we can’t tell someone how to correctly pronounce our names? The reality is, most times there won’t be any backlash anyway. As I get older, I realise that what we think might happen is often worse than the reality of what actually happens. So be bold and share your views!
Another thing I realised whilst at the BYP Conference is that the black British community is stepping into greatness. There are so many young black people doing amazing things in the UK and the BYP Leadership Conference on 3rd September 2019 was just one embodiment of such greatness. I am excited to see what else is coming because it finally feels like we’re coming together as a community and we’re taking back the reins. We’re writing our own narratives, we’re shifting perspectives and we’re in control of how we view ourselves.
There were so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind at the BYP Conference. I was proud, excited and inspired by what I saw and by the people I met. Whether you attended the conference or not, the fact remains that as black Brits a change is coming. The question is, are you along for the ride?