Tuesday, September 21, 2010

are visible minorities invisible in canadian social media?

I got an email from BlissDom Canada yesterday announcing the speakers of their upcoming conference in Toronto. A quick scan left me feeling underwhelmed. A closer look left me feeling disappointed and questioning if I even want to attend anymore. Before I go peeing in my own cornflakes, I will point out that there were a few presenters/panelists that I am most definitely excited about and they are Julie Cole and Tricia Mumby from Mabel’s Labels. I consider them to be brilliant at social media and marketing and I am quite interested in what they have to say.

But, the thing that absolutely blew my mind about the speakers who were selected is that every last one of them is white. All but two of them are moms. Three of them are men.

The issue I take with this is that I can’t believe there isn’t more diversity. This is Canada – aren’t we supposed to be a cultural melting pot? Are we really that limited in our pool of blogging and social media talent that there isn’t a single interesting/influential person who is a visible minority worth hearing from? Data based on the 2006 Canadian census highlights 16% of the total population (over 5 million Canadians) identify as a member of a visible minority, up from 13% in 2001 and with higher concentrations in urban areas. Clearly an opportunity has been missed.  (It should be noted that on the BlissDom Canada homepage the featured photograph is of three women - two of whom are visible minorities.)

Add to that, a lot of these speakers are ones that have been part of the social media conference circuit for the past few years, so they aren’t new to me. I get that I am not a typical attendee. I’m fairly advanced in my understanding of social media, marketing and writing – so it would take a lot to impress me anyway. I don’t have a big blog, and I don’t have much advertising, if any. I was just hoping for this conference to be more than a great opportunity to network, which I’m sure it will be. I wanted to have my horizons expanded.

14 comments:

  1. Good for you for pointing it out.

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  2. Hopefully it helps organizers of future conferences think a little differently about who they select.

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  3. maybe things changed...will have to take a look because when speakers list originally posted I know two women of colour on it. Maybe they cancelled.

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  4. They should have Lainey from Lainey Gossip and Bariah from Stranded Mom.

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  5. Good god I love Lainey. I read her and you everyday!

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  6. I am confused. Why does it matter if they are all white or if there are speakers of visible minority? What difference does it make? I never made the connection and I also didn't make the connection on the picture. To me the picture on the site is 3 women. That's it. I am being honest here. Should they really say no to one speaker because they are white and they need to save a spot for a visible minority? Isn't it about what the speaker know and can offer to the attendees?

    I am being honest with my questions as I am honestly confused on why this is an issue.

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  7. Anonymous4:25 PM

    It is important that all women, not just white women have a voice. That is why. I want all young girls to have role models, not just little white girls. That is why. The experience of visible minorities is important. That is why. Perhaps you don't remember when history was jut that, the history of men. ALL WOMEN NEED VOICE. YES,I AM SCREAMING THIS. And yes, I voted for Barak Obama.

    mb

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  8. I'll echo a big AMEN and what she said. In addition to that, there are a tonne of talented social media experts/bloggers/technical people available in all colours. It isn't about picking someone only because they are from Pakistan or Japan or the Sudan who will fulfill a "need" to have a diverse array of speakers and panelists. It's about widening the circle of people who are selected to present at these social media conferences. Right now there is very much an "in" crowd that is quite comfortable with themselves. It would be wonderful if they made a true conscious effort to embrace new (to them) talent that could offer different insights and ideas. This would benefit everyone while also ensuring that all women have a voice.

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  9. Anonymous7:40 PM

    I agree. I love Stranded in Motherhood's blog. She offers a very unique perspective and is very articulate.

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  10. Anonymous10:16 PM

    The thing is.....white people have no idea of the priviledge of their existence. I realize that social class,etc., means that not all whites are equal. However, we white moms never have to worry about how our children will be accepted because of their skin colour, or how we will explain the cruelties of racism to them. We never have to worry about so many things.....the voices of women who come from different perspectives enrich us all, and not just about lack of privilege. All women are not created equally. We face some common issues, but we face them from different social locations. Ok, I am done.

    mb

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  11. There's also the issue of power imbalance. If everything in society actually was equal, then maybe this wouldn't be an issue, but until the pendulum swings into the middle, we need to be aware of how we invite and include people of a variety of races and classes when it comes to things like planning these types of conferences.

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  12. Your post is exactly why I struggle with reviving my online mag for women of colour. We are always the token, never the majority, in spite of making up a good chunk of the Canadian populace. Nolie's question of "why does it matter" is PRECISELY why it does matter. Imagine, if every day of your life you never saw a representation of yourself in mainstream media... You would start to question your validity and your very existence in this country, in media... at all.

    Thank you, Kat, for bringing this up. It's why I heart you madly, and will forever be a follower of your blog.

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  13. (ps - that was me, dalia)

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  14. I did a social media round table two years ago. There were 11 participants. I was one of 2 non white people and I was the only woman. Here's a photo of me looking way unhappy about that: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/20088152/1-Social-Media-UTM-Round-Tables

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