For the past week, Atlanta has been wrapped up in Super Bowl festivities — congratulations, Patriots! In light of the event, over a million celebrities, influencers, and sports fans made their way down to the A-town to attend events throughout the city and ultimately watch the big game that happened at the Mercedes Benz Stadium this past Sunday.
In the midst of the football frenzy, the iconic sports brand Adidas also touched down in ATL to host an intimate talk session for students at Morehouse College on Friday, February 1 called: "Creator Network: Questions and Actions."
The remarkable event was hosted by writer Rembert Browne and consisted of a panel discussion with guests rapper T.I., journalist/host Elaine Welteroth, Washington Redskins football player Josh Norman, Seattle Seahawks football player Tyler Lockett, and WNBA player for the Atlanta Dream Angel McCoughtry. Additional panelists included members of the Atlanta community including former PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT reporter Clarissa Brooks and President of the Morehouse College Student Government Association, Quintin Paschall.
The hour-long, candid conversation was centered around breaking barriers, increasing activism, and what it takes to pursue your dreams, with each guest offering his/her unique anecdotes about each topic.
McCoughtry kicked off the discussion by talking about her experience as a female athlete, saying: "We work so hard on the court. We go overseas to make more money. So, there are a lot of barriers. But someone told me, the WNBA has been out for 20 years. But, the WNBA is farther along than the NBA was in its 20th season. So, there is hope. But support women in what they do and how hard they work."
Then, Multi-platinum recording artist and entrepreneur T.I. spoke on the issue of gentrification in Atlanta and the importance of giving back to his hometown. He stated: "Being a true native and seeing the state of the community as a child, I saw the city get bigger and become more of a metropolis, but I also saw a very desolate state come over our community. If anyone should be able to reap the benefits of whatever gentrification brings to this community, it should be us. We also cannot expect to reap those benefits if the answer to our problems is to get rich and move out of the community. So, I decided to lead by example and put my money where my mouth is."
T.I. further elaborated on his desire to stay informed about politics, expressing, "I do want to be aware and involved with decisions and people being put into positions that will affect my life and the lives of my children and loved ones. Whether it's increasing minimum wage or the decriminalization of marijuana, we have to be attentive to matters even if it doesn't affect you per se. If it affects someone else around you, it affects you because we all share this Earth together."
Next, Lockett offered his perspective on activism and pushing positive narratives of minorities. Lockett said, "I call myself an observer. I look and I see everything that is going on around me. One thing that I said I wanted to do is to break barriers and change perception. I want us to encourage more Black people to show the positive things they're doing. I want to know that there could be more CEOs or doctors so that we can show that we can do whatever it is we want to do."
Norman discussed the importance of using his platform to uplift people, saying: "My sole purpose of why I live is to help others. I've been blessed beyond measures and the thing that I take from it all is what can I do for others. Now that I do have something, I give back like none other. I donate to organizations, natural disasters, charity causes. I believe if you do good, it'll come back to you tenfold."
Welteroth, who was formerly Teen Vogue's first Black Editor-in-Chief, talked about being labeled a trailblazer. "Ultimately, being a trailblazer can only happen by first embracing who you are and taking calculated risks, she said. "Don’t call anyone a trailblazer if they're not making it easier or less overwhelming for the people coming behind you. We're breaking down barriers so you can walk through and build something better."
Brooks, a Spelman College student and community organizer, later chimed in to chat about the role mentorship has played in her life. She said, "I haven't really had mentors but I have a community. I have people around me, and we're figuring things out for ourselves." Paschall added, "[Schools] like Spelman, Morehouse, or Clark Atlanta give you the opportunity to see a representation of yourself for what you have potential to grow into. That's why spaces like this are important because [they provide] an opportunity for learning and mentorship and developing."
The discussion ended with a final piece of career advice from Welteroth. "I don’t think the world prepares us for dreaming big. I don’t think the world prepares us for what comes next after all these prescribed steps that you’ve taken," she said. "I was so depressed, anxious, and riddled with anxiety during my last semester of college because no one told me that this is scary. No one told me that no one else can possibly give direction for what to do next. It has to come from within."
But before the session officially came to a close, Welteroth encouraged those in the audience feeling lost on their career journey to ask themselves a series of questions to help them find clarity along their path: What do I like to do? What brings me joy? What makes me feel alive? What lights me up? When’s the last time I felt bright?
After the event wrapped, panelists and guests were free to mingle for a few minutes and attendees were encouraged to keep the conversation going by using the hashtag #creatorsunite on social media.
The Adidas Creator Network was formed in 2014 as a safe space to create, foster and share continuous dialogue. Centered around inclusion and diversity, the conversations that take place feature an eclectic cast of creators, activists, and allies. To learn more about Adidas’ initiative and future events, follow Adidas on Instagram.