The Ethnicity and Diversity Online panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2018, in Panel Room C. Moderated by Taha Khan, the panel featured Lana Summer, Raven Navera, Ibrahim Mohammed, Alex Lathbridge and Ahmed Zaman.
Ethnicity and Diversity is always one of the more hotly anticipated panels, invoking endless debate and conversation, and this year was no different.
After quickly introducing themselves, the panel went straight into the thick of it by stating whether or not they felt a panel like this should exist. Lana said that it’s always important to speak the issues surrounding ethnicity and diversity. There was also an argument for more inclusivity, and that it’s important to be able to have these conversations on a variety of platforms, rather than just one.
Relating this to the world of YouTube, Ibrahim made a point of saying that diverse creators can still just be seen as ‘the black guy’ or ‘the Asian guy’ rather than just as great content creators.
A key discussion point was around networking, in particular, the places where connections are made. For example, a lot of the time a deal can be struck over a drink in the pub or you can get introduced to a fellow content creator at a party. As Ahmed and Taha both pointed out, some Muslim creators are not comfortable enough in these situations to be able to take advantage of this form of networking.
Ibrahim, who’s a university vlogger, spoke very honestly and passionately about his transition from Hackney to Cambridge University. It was only when he made this transition that he saw how he could be perceived because of his race.
On the panel, he spoke about being one of six people of colour in a lecture room and how identities such as sexuality, gender, and religion aren’t catered for within ethnicities. He began to see the underlying elements of microaggression which took place against those from diverse backgrounds. For example, that event such as mixers and formal do not generally cater for halal diets.
On the subject of being invited to speak at events, there was a feeling on the panel that a lot of the time, people of colour are asked to attend or take part in order to tick a box. They would be the only person of colour to attend and often told about the event days before. Whereas their counterparts would know about event weeks beforehand.
The panel was also quick to point out it’s not all negative. Taha pointed out, for example, how he was enlisted to help the Summer in the City organisers to make sure the panels are more diverse and inclusive, which is a big step in the right direction.
There was also a discussion about what ethnic minorities can do to create change, and the panellists agreed that it was important to lift each other up. There is plenty of room for more than one person of colour to be successful, and more should be done to help build each other up rather than competing against each other.
At the end of the panel, Lana said, “I think we had a great panel, everyone spoke truthfully. I think what came out of it we just need to be unapologetically who we are, fight for those spaces. We need to fight to raise each other up, hold each other hands and not compete against each other.”
Photos by Emma Pamplin.
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