How To Diversify Any Conference You Attend

SxSW 2012 Panel on Race & Diversity

SxSW 2012 Panel on Race & Diversity

On Monday, March 12th, I participated in my fourth panel at SxSW 2012 titled: “Race: When to Hold it and When to Fold it.” The purpose of the panel was to change the conversation from “What can technology conferences do about diversity?” to “What can attendees do about diversity at technology conferences?” If you have a few minutes to spare, listen to the full panel via the link above.

In this post, I’d like to focus on why recommendations are a big part of diversifying conferences and how conference attendees (and speakers!) can help.

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#BlackPeopleMovies: Racist or Just Playing?

Twitter Search
Right now, #blackpeoplemovies is at the top of the Twitter Trends. What does that mean? A lot of people are currently talking about about movies that black people like on Twitter. We all know sometimes just the mention of race in topics (notably those that are related to black people) can make people nervous. But there’s a twist in this hashtag, that isn’t uncommon to others before it and I think it should be considered before anyone pulls the “racist” card. Twitter Search

Racist or Just Playing?

Some of the tweets above would appear racist at first glance. This tweet by a fake CharIie Sheen is a perfect example. It’s also been retweeted over 1000 times. Digging into the stream of this hashtag may give you a different perspective if you’re willing to listen. Largely, black and spanish young adults and teens are listing movies they like that feature predominately black and or spanish cast-members like Friday, Set It Off, Baby Boy, and House Party 2. The rest are people cracking the best jokes they can possibly think of. Katt Williams, a hilarious black comedian, had the second most retweeted tweet, “The Devil Wears Polo“. Most people might not even see the joke in his tweet (it’s ok if you don’t). Once in a blue moon someone pulls the “racist” card (or tweet in this case). Is #blackpeoplemovies a racist trending topic? I don’t think so (some tweets may be). It’s childish and edgy, but overall harmless. Most of all, it’s exactly the type of conversation I’d have  with my friends on a Friday afternoon: a silly and pointless conversation.