Why So Few Black Presenters at Social Media Conferences?
Increasingly I'm getting these promotions and invitations to attend the "leading social media conferences". What's disturbingly missing from many of these events are African Americans as presenters, panelists and keynote speakers.
America has become more diverse than ever (ask the Republican Party) - and yet even the new media experts seem to be clinging to a racial version of America that does not reflect the reality. If you look closely at the speaker and panel lineups, you might imagine that it's 1950 all over again.
The African American $1.2 trillion niche is crucial to the US economy. What kind of opportunities exist knowing that African Americans are heavy users of social media and broadband for jobs? Consider that 92% of African Americans own a cell phone, and 56% own a smartphone according to a report from Pew Internet.
Also Blacks influence social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr among others. Even the industry journal Ad Age cautioned, "Marketers Shouldn't Bypass African American Consumers".
And major consumer brands are sponsoring, attending and relying on these event organizers for leadership. You'll see brands like IBM, Adobe, Walmart, Whole Foods, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hershey’s, AMC Theaters, LinkedIn, Boston Celtics, Intuit, Century 21, Marriott, Hilton, Aetna, Experian, Discover, Oracle, and Tyson Foods.
Wayne Sutton, founder of PitchTo, told Business Insider that there are tons of African Americans throughout the country doing amazing things in the field of technology, but a lot of people just haven't heard about them. Perhaps if more of them were included on these conferences and events their message could reach a broader market.
Of course many of the organizers will say this is a tech event, not a race conference. However, the reality is that you can find talent and African American in the same package *raises hand*. As Sutton stated whether it's social media, mobile, digital, or consultants you can find African Americans in the mix.
The question to event organizers and planners who "can't find them" is "where are you looking"?
In the meantime we'll have the Urban Tech Fair, which recognizes the need for access, education, and to drive commerce in our own communities. You can also gain more awareness of the impact of urban culture and music on brands, sports and pop culture. By supporting these types of events you'll be sure to meet and experience some of the professionals you won't find on the general circuit.