Conf Report: Alterconf NYC
December 22, 2016 Jamey Alea 1 Comment
A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to attend and speak at Alterconf in NYC. For those not in the know, Alterconf is a series of conferences run by Ashe Dryden that focus on issues relating to diversity in the tech and gaming industries. Alterconf isn’t like other conferences and it was obvious from as soon as I arrived. Everyone there was wearing nametags labeled with their pronouns and it seemed like approximately a full third of attendees were proudly sporting “they/them” on their stickers. The regular male/female bathrooms had both been relabeled with this sign:
I wasn’t misgendered once and I felt completely safe and supported to express myself in whatever ways I preferred. It was… a pretty amazing feeling, although it definitely highlighted how un-true that is much of the rest of the time, which did make me a little bit sad.
More than just being a place of safety, however, Alterconf is a place of learning. Intersectionality is so important, but even as a member of a marginalized group, it can be so difficult to reach out to people outside of your own little sphere and understand the issues that members of different marginalized groups face. Candace Williams talked about the cultural appropriation issues, particularly those faced by the black community. Juan Pablo Buritica spoke on the practicalities of opening your remote team up to developers in developing nations. Christina González and Aditya Mukerjee both focused on making the internet more welcoming to non-English speakers and Aditya also presented Koro, an amazing localized programming language that he has been working that translates Go to Bengali. These are only a few of the fascinating talks that really opened my eyes to issues that hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind before and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to learn so much from so many amazing, smart people!
My talk, “Dismantling the binary, one microaggression at a time” went really well, even though I was super nervous about it. Thanks SO MUCH for Alterconf for giving me a platform to speak and for the extremely kind words of everyone there, both before and after I stepped up to speak. If you missed it, please consider watching my talk!
Here are a couple of other great articles about what it was like being at the conference, and a few tweet highlights from my talk (:
“I went to AlterConf and never wanted to leave” by Mandy Moore
Being in the Minority by Charlie O’Donnell
Create safe space for people to choose their pronouns by a) not assuming & b) not getting offended when asked yours. – @jameybash #alterconf
— Lauren Bacon (@laurenbacon) December 10, 2016
If you refuse to use singular they, you're saying grammar is more important to you than the person. @jameybash #alterconf
— Sarah Judd (@SarahEJudd) December 10, 2016
Self care is not a selfish act. @jameybash #AlterConf
— 🎄Lena 🎅🏽 (@LenaLovesStuff) December 10, 2016
Plus, I got to be in New York City for part of the Christmas season, which is my favorite time of the year in NYC! Happy holidays, everyone! (: