Tag Archives: conferences

One More #FacingRace Flashback: An Excerpt From Junot Diaz’s Keynote

Big thanks to the Colorlines team for posting this 23-minute section from Junot Díaz’s keynote speech at the Facing Race conference, which we focused on in our team roundtable of the event last week.

“I lost the printout,” Díaz confresses to start the proceedings. “I left it on the train up.” He then opens the floor for questions, partly because of the unique demands of his position.

“I’ve gotta read something,” he explains. “You know, when they give you this much time and they say that you have to do a keynote speech, you have to, like, write something down. And I never sound very smart or interesting when I have to read. So I feel like super-bad about it.”

Note: The speech does use NSFW language, but it’s still worth watching, as the author expands on the idea of “decolonial love” and more.

#FacingRace: The Morning After

By Arturo R. García

Fun fact: It wasn’t until this past weekend that I met my colleagues in the flesh.

Thanks to the internet, that’s not quite so weird to say anymore. But I can tell you that it felt great to hang and collaborate in person with Latoya, Andrea, Joseph, and Kendra–on top of contributors Tressie McMillan Cottom, T.F. Charlton, and Caitlin M. Boston–after four years(!) writing here, was a great turning point to reach in our association.

It was also, believe it or not, the first time I encountered not just many of our allies and collaborators, but our fandom in person; for whatever reason, it seems many of our Racializens are based out of the East Coast, so it was interesting to see that flicker of recognition for our work–and, thank goodness, appreciation for it–play out.

In a testament to both the amount of conversation the conference generated and how plugged-in of a constituency it attracted, Facing Race became a trending topic on Twitter both Friday and Saturday last week. At one point Tressie called the whole affair “TwitterCon.” And, over the course of the week, we’ll begin to do our best to retrace our steps for all of you, with Storifys, video, etc. And that’s just from the panels we were able to get to. There’s a whole host of signals out there just waiting to be boosted.

But this morning, at least, I’m going to enjoy the weekend just a little more. Big thanks to the Applied Research Center for putting this all together, and to our readers and supporters who were able to make it out there. If you weren’t, though, don’t sweat–we’ll catch you up soon.

How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event

by Guest Contributor Erica Mauter, originally published at SwirlSpice

This is the companion post to the presentation I gave at SXSW Interactive on March 12, 2011.

The hashtag is #diverseevents. Search for tweets. Tweets on the whole series can also be found at #F15Diversity. Tag your posts. My slides are embedded below.

Also, Invisible Knapsack LOLcats.

It’s an honor and a privilege to present this topic at SXSW Interactive of all places. Not only is it highly relevant, SXSW is an example of an event that is doing a lot of things right.

That said, I noted a strange irony in the seriously broad range of panel topics alongside the heavy big-brand marketing presence.

Let’s also remind ourselves that most events are not only not nearly as big as SXSW, they are way smaller. A lot of the concepts still apply, but things involving costs may work very differently.

I spent less of my time on actual how-to and more on the concepts of representation and building awareness. The key words and phrases are inclusion, representation, and structural barriers to participation. It’s really hard to distill the concept of privilege and oppression down to a 12-minute presentation, much less further apply it to why various groups are or aren’t represented at tech conferences of all sizes. But it’s critical to the conversation, so I did my best.

I can give you pages of ideas for outreach, but if you aren’t aware of the social forces behind all of it and aren’t willing to truly re-think how you go about things then no progress can be made. A conference is a manufactured environment; it necessarily reflects the ideology of the creator. Understand that some may reject that framework in favor of their own or none at all.

As promised here are some further resources specifically addressing how to increase representation of marginalized groups at your tech event.

Representation

The following posts address the topic of representation at conferences. Each one of them has a bulleted list of tips and hints.

Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognonvi – Top 4 Mistakes Meeting Planners Avoid If They Want Diversity and Inclusion at Their Next Conference

Savvy meeting planners carefully sculpt both their advertising and their agendas to appeal to a culturally diverse population. But far too many planners still don’t understand the fundamentals of culturally-sensitive hosting.

Here, then, are the four biggest mistakes meeting planners should avoid, followed by their more appealing and appropriate counterparts. Continue reading

My God, it’s Full of Internets

by Guest Contributor Christina Xu, originally published at Spread Too Thin

Editor’s Note: Christina Xu is one of the organizers of ROFLCon, a convention dedicated to exploring internet culture and memes. Before SXSW, she took the time to write about diversity and conference planning from an organizer’s perspective. – LDP

In a week, I will join my dear friends Tim Hwang and Diana Kimball in front of a panel at SXSW, where we’ll be speaking on the experience of organizing this crazy business we call ROFLCon. Like the conference itself, it’ll be part silly, heartwarming celebration and part serious introspection and discussion. And I (gladly! wholeheartedly!) signed up to talk about the only harsh criticism in a sea of loving responses to our creation:

ROFLCon Diversity

First, a warning: this post is going to be long, and it is going to be more full of Real Talk than R. Kelly.

There are three important things to know about the beginning of ROFLCon.

    1. I was 19 (Tim and Diana were 20) and not yet very hip to race or gender issues (see previous blogpost and below).
    2. ROFLCon was intensely personal; to make our first guestlist, Tim and I literally just wrote down everything we’ve ever LOLed at on the internet that we grew up on: Something Awful, GameFAQs, 4chan, YTMND. Places that are predominantly (and aggressively) white, male geeks. There are thousands of other sides of the internet; we picked this one out of personal nostalgia.
    3. ROFLCon became intentional SLOWLY and not of our own accord. In the bootstrappy beginning, we took anyone that we could get. We dreamed and worked ROFLCon into reality without any idea that it would become an institution of sorts. In other words, we had no idea that our choices would be scrutinized as political missteps, that we would somehow become arbiters of who should or shouldn’t be included in internet culture.

None of these are meant as excuses. They’re just to explain how a staff that was 43% female and 29% people of color could put together a conference with a tiny on-stage presence of either. I suspect this is the story with other conferences and endeavors of love, as well. We should have realized that being the first big, even vaguely serious conference about internet culture was not just a breakthrough, it was a responsibility. But at the same time, how could we have? Continue reading