NBITLO). The conference was held in Houston, Texas at the Houston Marriott West Loop. This year’s theme: Beyond STEM: Building Bridges for the Next Generation of Black Technologists, Engineers, Scientists, and Innovators was the perfect forum for me to deliver my talked entitled Spiritual Technology. As a software developer I have attended my share of technology conferences however this conference was different and I came away with several nuggets that I feel are worth sharing.
Keynote Speaker is a Technologist
Imagine that! I must acknowledge Founder and CEO of NBITLO Mr. Andrew West. I made a point to publicly praise him for having the audacity to commission a technologist to deliver the keynote address at a technology conference. I have been so very disappointed over the years when technology organizations convene for their national technology conferences and the keynote address is delivered by an actor or a journalist or someone else who has never worked as a technologist and certainly has no idea what it means to feel the isolation experienced being the only black person on the team. It was a bold move and it illustrates the commitment that the leadership of NBITLO has to its mission and vision. They are taking a different approach and they are to be commended.
The next thing I noticed was the content of the conversations taking place on the panels. The panels were not technology-centric. I loved this because in my opinion the lack of blacks in technology is not due to our not having access to proper training in the latest technologies or practices. Nevertheless many of the conferences that I have attended, even conferences organized by African Americans, focus on just that. For example, many conferences focus on technology disciplines such as cloud computing or project management. Not that these disciplines are not important to a practitioner, they are, but there is no shortage of conferences or avenues to have those conversations.
Questions that Matter
The kinds of questions we need to have answered are precisely the kind that was posed by Anjuan Simmons, author of the new book Minority Tech, when he posed the question to a panel of Black women technologists who made up the Women in Technology Leadership and Service Professions: Exploring Equity, Dispelling Gender Myths and Empowering Women for Promotion when he asked:. What Can Black Men in Technology Do to Facilitate the Careers of Black Women Technologists in the Workplace? Now that my friends is a question and one that gets to the heart of the matter. When we come up to answers to questions of this nature we will be moving toward true digital diversity. It was a beautiful moment and the wealth of information that came forth was priceless. My only regret was that more young African American men in technology were not present to drink from the hose.
The conference was well organized but as always there is room for improvement. CEO Andrew West has shared with me that the planning and refinements for 2014 are already underway. All I can say is bring on 2014. I can’t wait!