In celebration of the University of Miami’s Black Awareness Month, UM’s What Matters to You (WMTU) series brought Tabitha Brown, also known as “Aunty Tab,” on campus to talk about all things faith, vegan and self love.
WMTU is a relatively new student-led agency under student government that organizes events with guest speakers for students on campus.
On Jan 8. WMTU welcomed social media influencer, New York Times best seller, actress, queen of veganism and “America’s Mom,” Brown for an inspiring moderated discussion covering unique vegan recipes, faith and self love.
Following the success of their last guest, Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh star, Josh Peck, WMTU has once again dazzled students, with Brown’s infectious energy and words of wisdom on Jan 8.
Held in the third floor grand ballroom of the Shalala Student Center at 6 p.m, a peaceful aura and inspired ambience filled the space throughout the night as Brown shared her journey to veganism and passion for encouraging others.
WMTU Chair, Junior Meera Patel opened the event raving about Brown’s influence as the crowd remarked in shared adoration for Aunty Tab.
In light of Black Awareness Month, Patel says Brown was the perfect guest for WMTU’s second event.
“We decided on Tabitha Brown because we knew we were going to have an event during black history month, or known as black awareness month at our university, we wanted to bring a powerful black woman who reflects the importance of intersectionality,” Patel said. “Ms. Brown was an excellent choice to kick off Black Awareness Month and we could not be happier with the turnout and feedback we received from our event.”
Speakers Kennedy Robinson, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs and Tiyah Snell, a senior majoring in creative advertising gracefully moderated the event.
From a round of rapid fire questions for Brown to live questions from the student audience and then a fun parting game of ‘finish the Tabitha Brown phrase,’ the discussion flowed.
The audience all exclaimed Brown’s famous concluding phrase to her Vegan recipe videos, “like so, like that” in unison at the end of the game.
Snell says interviewing Brown was like a dream.
“It was surreal interviewing Auntie Tab,” Snell said. “I don’t think it even really hit me until hours before the event. She is someone whom I admire and aspire to in more ways than one. She actually inspired my vegan journey, but I didn’t fully understand the impact she had on me until this event.”
Robinson, co-moderator speaker for the event, says she was surprised with the overwhelming news of her role as speaker.
“The way they surprised me and told me I was going to be a moderator was probably one of the best surprises I’ve had,” Robinson said. “I was in complete shock and beyond honored to be asked to moderate.”
Though the night was filled with Brown’s refreshing southern hospitable humor, veganism passion and anecdotals ranging from family to business, Brown’s advice often circled back to these main themes: faith, freedom, self love and limitlessness.
Senior majoring in English literature, Nhadya Lawes says as a Black woman, Brown’s transparency and unapologetic commitment to her peace was important for her to hear.
“In my last semester at UM, I am reminded to dream big, take care of my business and prioritize love and joy no matter where life takes me next,” Lawes said.
Jan 8. was evidence that Brown’s influence extends far beyond Tik Tok videos and vegan bacon recipes. She is a mother figure and “aunty” to millions, a bright light and inspiration for many.
Brown said she made a promise to God that she would devote her time to inspire others.
“I’ve been to some really low and dark places in my life and they’re not fun and I really made a promise to God that if he brought me out of that, I would always choose light and try to be a light,” Brown said. “And to be a light, that includes motivating other people to live their best life and to spread love and kindness to eat well, to laugh more, to love hard.”
Brown’s influential career skyrocketed in 2017 after going live on facebook raving about a Whole Foods vegan sandwich and hasn’t let up since.
She attributes her success to being herself.
“Just being you will set you free,” Brown said.
“For a very long time I wasn’t, I was trying to fit in and trying to be what I thought Hollywood wanted me to be or the world wanted to see,” Brown said. “The moment I gave all of that up and decided to just be me was when my whole world changed.”
Brown’s message to students is seeing their uniqueness and embracing it full force.
“The world is full of so many people, why do we want to be anything other than us? We are special, God created us to be just like us so embrace yourself, we are enough,” Brown said.
Brown’s advice to students of color pursuing their dreams is knowing that we belong no matter what the world tells us.
“I believe that no matter what, if nobody looks like me in there, that means I’m supposed to be there to represent,” Brown said.
Above all the quote worthy advice Aunty Tab imparted, the phrase of the night was definitely: “it’s my business.”