Supporting Black Voices in WordPress

The Diverse Speaker Training group (#WPDiversity) has received a lot of questions lately about how to feature more Black voices on WordPress stages right now. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t pressure people to step up. It’s an incredibly challenging time right now, and people may not be available or have the emotional and/or physical capacity to do anything extra right now. 
  2. Recognize those who are feeling especially motivated to start sharing their voice more right now. Now and always, yes, you should be featuring people who want to.
  3. Welcome people who are interested in learning or participating, but who aren’t quite ready for getting on stage just yet. It’s great to think about the future!

What can you do?

  1. When inviting a potential speaker, be sure to highlight their specific contributions to the community, or ask if they have great stories to tell about something they learned. (See https://make.wordpress.org/community/handbook/wordcamp-organizer/planning-details/speakers/building-a-diverse-speaker-roster/#speakers-think-they-have-nothing-to-talk-about.) Don’t just invite them on the basis of being Black, as that is tokenizing.
  2. Make sure that whenever the person is ready to start speaking, now or later, everyone who helps them in their speaker journey will be welcoming and encouraging, particularly your meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. and WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. speaker wranglers.
  3. Make sure that Black speakers receive all of the same perks as your speakers of well-represented groups. This mistake is accidental, but it happens.
  4. Start including Black people in your leadership, particularly in your speaker selection committee. (Keep in mind point #1 about asking based on contributions or potential and not on being Black!) This will help ensure everyone gets a fair shake and people don’t feel tokenized when invited to apply.
  5. It’s ok to add to your invitation something like, “We are aware that our speakers/leadership do not yet reflect the diversity we aspire to, but we are learning that prioritizing diversity is important to make a supportive and welcoming space for all.” 
  6. Be mindful of microaggressions which may deter participation or make people of color feel unwelcome. Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephaniesarkis/2020/06/15/lets-talk-about-racial-microaggressions-in-the-workplace/

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