ASAT Awards: honoring unsung black women who toil in the trenches

Self-described ‘broker for change,’ Brandi Williams, launches celebration of unheralded women in the areas of fashion, business, creative arts, and social justice, to name a few.

Brandi Williams (Photo: Courtesy of Brandi Williams)

In a city known for its button-down banking culture rather than its creative edge, something different will unfold Sunday, March 18.

Brandi Williams, a self-described “broker for change,” will launch the inaugural “A Seat At the Table” Awards (ASATA). Williams, a public relations professional, said the black-tie event will be unlike anything the Queen City has seen.

We caught up with her to talk about the ASATA awards and why she thinks the event will be so special.

Q. What is ASATA all about?

A Seat at The Table Awards is all about celebrating black women in Charlotte who are having an impact in the areas of fashion, business, creative arts, and social justice — just to name a few. We aren’t looking for names from the establishment. We want to recognize the women who are in the trenches every day pouring into the men, women and children in the black community. We want to honor women who are supporting other women and encouraging us to keep going.

Q. Why does Charlotte need another awards event?

I won’t say that Charlotte needs another awards event, but Charlotte needs this event. Charlotte has a lot of awards events that honor the same people, but they aren’t the only people who are doing the work, and they definitely aren’t the people in the community every day fighting for the rights of black people and black women. Plus, you saw what black women did in Alabama. We make shit happen, and we need to recognize the women — black women — who are making it happen every day.

Q. At the risk of slighting all the other nominees, tell me about one who represents the spirit of ASATA.

So, our categories are very non-traditional. My favorite category is “She is Nola.” If you have seen Spike Lee’s “She Gotta Have It,” then you know Nola. She’s the main character in the movie and is sexually free. The nominees in this category exude that, and they are helping other ladies become sexually free. One who I have been following since she was nominated is Kay Jones. Through her website/blog, www.melaninmilk.com, Kay Jones shares tips and short stories that are full of excitement. Kay does not hold back when it comes to her sexual desires; she is the definition of living unapologetically. She does all she can to help others feel more comfortable with their sexuality. Let me just say, Kay’s IG page was so sexually free that she got taken down. Lol. I love it though because black women have become prudish and sexually reserved because we were made out to be sexually promiscuous throughout history. We shouldn’t have to deny our sexuality. We need that to be whole. So, I am particularly excited about this category and the women in it who are helping reshape the narrative around black women and sexuality.

Q. How were nominees selected?

The community nominated women. We had a little more than 90 women nominated. We had a team of judges select the 24 finalists. The eight winners will be announced at the awards show on Sunday, March 18, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Camp North End.

Q. What comes next?

The awards show comes next and then we do it all over again. Our goal is to take this across the country. We want to go to cities all over, honoring and celebrating the women who make shit happen every day. FYI: The women who win won’t receive a plaque or an award. We will pin each woman with a pin that we had designed specially for the winners. Presenters include Jessica Williams, WPEG/Power 98; Sunshine Anderson, R&B songstress and radio personality at Old School 105.3; former District 2 City Councilwoman Carlenia Ivory; and County Commissioner Vilma Leake.

Q. Is your event open to the public?

Yes.

Q. What else can attendees expect?

To meet some amazing women, to laugh, to be inspired. To experience #blackgirlmagic.

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