What if I told you that Superwoman was a 5'5" Black woman from South LA? Her name is Zaneta Smith, and when it comes to “getting it done,” our good sis Zaneta does that and then some.
In a typical week, Zaneta can be found working as the Associate Director of California Policy and Research Initiatives and teaching Social Work at California State University-Los Angeles.
How does Zaneta follow up working with all of this? By taking on her passion projects. After a full day of work, she can be found directing the staff of TEDx Crenshaw (as she is the Lead Organizer, Director and Executive Producer) and planning and executing events for her company Kolor Society, a social club for members of the African Diaspora.
The pro-Black work Zaneta does in LA is almost endless. Her mission? Turn South LA into a hub for the African Diaspora via Kolor Society. She wants South LA to be a place where you can come and engage in the culture — just as you would in Little Tokyo or Little Armenia or Little Ethiopia.
Zaneta was born and raised in Los Angeles, and attended the historic Spelman College in Georgia. She thrived in the HBCU environment, falling in love with being surrounded by people who looked just like her. After Spelman, Zaneta received her Masters from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The sense of belonging she felt in Georgia followed her to Chicago. When she moved back to LA, that feeling sort of faded.
Now back in LA, Zaneta made it her mission to find that sense of community she experienced while in school. She attended several events that forced her to leave South LA. She headed to places, like Santa Monica and Hollywood, in search of that community feeling. “I wanted to go to innovative events in my neighborhood,” Zaneta said. “I knew people who were doing dope and innovative things who looked like me, but I didn't understand why it wasn’t happening in my neighborhood.”
Making dope events accessible to South LA natives was the driving factor in Zaneta becoming the TEDx Crenshaw Coordinator. Since 2015, TEDx Crenshaw has given a stage to some of the most interesting people Los Angeles has to offer. In October 2019, TEDx Crenshaw will have its 5th go.
As amazing as TEDx Crenshaw has been for the South LA community, it just wasn’t enough. "Individuals would come up to me after the event and say ‘we need more of this in South LA, how could we have more of it?’” Zaneta said. “I would tell them, ‘when you find it, let me know. I don’t have time to plan another thing.’ I said that to people for 2 to 3 years. It was really the people of the Crenshaw that sparked Kolor Society because they really needed it.”
When asked what was the push to bring Kolor Society to fruition, Zaneta said an advisor, who was a past TEDx Crenshaw speaker, told her it was time to get the ball rolling on starting a business. Kolor Society had its first event in February of 2018 (the most lit way to kick off Black History Month — by making it).
So hold up, let's rewind and talk about Zaneta’s full scope of work.
- Works 2 impactful jobs: One as a professor of Social Work, the other in public policy.
- She runs TEDx Crenshaw, organizing and coordinating a group of 13 + people to create memorable experiences in the Crenshaw District of South LA.
- Created Kolor Society, a social club exclusively for members of the African Diaspora based in South Los Angeles that promotes connectivity.
- Is co-Chair of Community Action Partnership Alliance, a reentry organization in Los Angeles County which consists of professionals that come together to progress reentry efforts for those reentering society from incineration.
Yeah, I meant it when I called her superwoman (and our good sis). This woman gives back consistently to the community that raised her. So I had to ask her what was the most fulfilling part of it all. “People continually saying they want it and need it. Seeing people create partnerships out of Kolor Society,” Zaneta said. “Kolor Society members have brought other members to Kolor Society.” Another fulfilling thing she mentioned was the recycling of the Black dollar. The social club uses members within before seeking outward. Allowing money to flow within the group.
Kolor Society is a social club based in South LA that is growing like wildfire. If you live in the area, you may have seen one of their event fliers at your local coffee shop. The club is currently looking for its first one hundred members.
“Those 100 members will always be known as the founding members. Once we hit 100 members, we will start having members-only events and all of our events will have ‘members only’ pricing, members will receive member only gifts.”
Notable Kolor Society members include Sebastian Ridley Thomas, former assembly member of California; Brandon Frame, Founder of TheBlackManCan, a conscious social community that reflects positive images of black boys and men of color; Vincent Brathwaite, former TEDx Crenshaw speaker and professor at General Assembly; and Kiaundra Jackson, America’s #1 Relationship Therapist.
Our Superwoman tries to create boundaries around her work and time for herself. Typically, she tries to take one international trip a year (this year, it was Capetown and Johannesburg).
When she can’t jetset, Zaneta settles for low-stimulation activities like reading a magazine, not working on Saturdays, and spending one night a week with herself — typically spent doing nothing at all. She also tries to get a massage once a month.
There you have it. From working on the community to taking some well deserved time to herself, Zaneta Smith proves that not all heroes wear capes. Do you want to check out a Kolor Society event? Head over to the website at Kolor Society.
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