Big thanks to the Colorlines team for posting this 23-minute section from Junot Díaz’s keynote…
by Guest Contributor Erica Mauter, originally published at SwirlSpice
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.
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. Read the Post How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event
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:
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? Read the Post My God, it’s Full of Internets