Yesterday, I received an email with the subject line “How Do We Get More Black Attendees at (insert name of conference)”.
I was busy working with a group of photography students and couldn’t respond right away, so I posted in my Facebook community and asked them their thoughts.
But as the day went on, I kept coming back to the thought- WHY do they want black attendees at their conference. Is it for their financial gain or is this a push to be truly inclusive?
So here’s my thoughts if you want black attendees at your conference and/or workshop:
First, stop asking us (black people) to do the work for you. Especially, for free. If you want to know who the great speakers and creatives are- go look for them yourself.
Follow the hashtags #blackphotographer #blackfemalephotographer #bgwac #creatorsofcolor #queenphotographers
Do not send another email asking us for suggestions unless you’ve done a bit of research first
Do not ask us to do your work for free for your financial benefit
Second, take a look at the line up of your previous years conference/workshop. See any brown faces?
Have you treated and paid your black speakers like you’ve treated everyone else?
Equal pay. Equal partnerships.
Features on your social media pages and emails. Are we featured? or just the #rockstars
Have you diversified your line up with more than just the same one person that you’re comfortable with?
Third, take a look at your friendship circle: Is your real life inclusive? What about your portfolio? What about your kids friends?
Fourth, get involved in your everyday life. Not just when you need to sell workshop or conference tickets.
Fifth, do not email us asking for our email lists of black photographers. That’s the job of your marketing team.
Six, support efforts already being in the works. Tomayia Colvin Education hosts The Photo Cookout? Have you supported? Have you sponsored an attendee? If not, send a few dollars to support our efforts Venmo @tomayiac or Cash App $tomayiacolvinedu
The Vision Conference by Black Female Photographers is also a great conference that supports black women.
Seventh, are POC on your executive or decision making team? If not, our voices are missing.
Finally, Black people are not for sale.
Bonus: Look into hiring myself, Nova Reid, Toni Black, Monique King, or L Glenise Pike for assistance.
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