Yara Shahidi, Lyric Ross, Shahadi Wright Joseph and More to Join the Uniquely You Summit for Girls

Shahadi Wright Joseph, left, Yara Shahidi, and Lyric Ross
Shahadi Wright Joseph, left, Yara Shahidi, and Lyric Ross
Photo: Leon Bennett (Getty Images), Frazer Harrison (Getty Images), Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Black girls are so much more than magical; they are forward-thinking, powerful, and precious. The decade-old platform known as the Uniquely You Summit (UYS) has long recognized this. “For the last 10 years, UYS has unapologetically centered Black girls,” reads a release provided to The Glow Up. “Doing the work whether people were paying attention or not. Continuing to do it, whether people are paying attention to Black girls or not. Listening to them. Seeing them. Giving voice to their traumas and validating their Black girlhood experiences in their very own schools and communities. Recognizing the impact of 2020, discussing heavy topics like colorism, hair politics, social injustice, and sisterhood & solidarity among Black girls is paramount, in a world where they feel ignored, unprotected and misrepresented.”

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In a year and election season that has proven a need to further affirm the significance of Black lives—as well as to pivot, when needed, the summit has done exactly that. From November 13-15, the organization will host its flagship program virtually for 500 Black girls ages 11-18 across America, with help from a few famous young friends.

Per a release provided to The Glow Up:

Although weathering the digital climate to host their flagship program for Black girls ages 11 to 18, Uniquely You Summit (UYS) is determined to reach Black girls across the country. Without apology, for the last 10 years, the organization has loved on Black girls and 2020 is no different—even while virtual. Described as a purposefully created space for hundreds of Black girls, the 2020 Weekend Summit, happening November 13-15, invites Black girls nationwide to be affirmed, and for their unique Black girl stories and experiences to be acknowledged, so that it positively shapes their character and confidence and honors their identities.

Intentional about the speakers and presenters chosen to deliver immensely important messages, UYS is known to invite phenomenal Black people to lead intentional and often healing dialogues. This year’s messengers include actresses Yara Shahidi (Black-ish and Grown-ish), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Jordan Peele’s Us and the voice of Young Nala in the 2019 remake of The Lion King), Lyric Nicole Ross (This is Us), Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning) and Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq and Charm City Kings), as well as scholar-activist Dr. Yaba Blay and internationally acclaimed Brazilian ballerina, Ingrid Silva.

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Even amid a global pandemic, it has been well-proven that there is much healing to be done. The UYS aims to “celebrate, re-educate and heal 500 Black girls, while teaching them how to unpack racial oppression and patriarchy.” As the release points out: “Historically, Black girls are almost never included in the national outcry against systemic racism. Black girls (and black women) are neglected in the advancements toward social justice, and those advancements almost always center Black men and boys.”

Conversely, the UYS centers Black girlhood, says UYS Founder & President, Shaleah Laché Sutton. “The Uniquely You Summit gives voice and validity to the Black girlhood experience,” she says in a statement. “UYS is one of the safest spaces for Black girls, even beyond our weekend convention. Bringing 500 Black girls together from around the nation is deliberate. We understand the influence that our program has on girls—how it heals and emboldens them simultaneously, and is a platform that influences social change in the communities where these girls live and go to school, even while being left out of the national protest to humanize Blackness. We’ve seen it at work. We’ve seen it at work for a decade.”

Now, you can put the UYS to work for the Black girls in your life; registration for the 2020 Uniquely You Summit for Girls closes Friday, November 6.

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“UYS is the second home I didn’t know I needed; but am thankful to God every day that my mother involved me in it at such a young age,” says 22-year-old National Co-Chairwoman Tiffany Coles, who began engaging with UYS as an 11-year old. “I remember attending my very first Summit with some of my closest friends, unbeknownst to me that in 2011 I would be meeting new lifelong sisters. Embodying the African proverb, ‘if you educate a woman, you educate a nation,’ the UYS experience is one I wished Black girls everywhere had, so to now serve in this role in the organization’s tenth year is truly a dream come true.”

For a detailed description of the virtual UYS weekend and to register, visit the UYS website.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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