Our Nerd Nite event scheduled for June 13th is being pushed back indefinitely. We firmly believe that having a show right now that does anything but center on Black voices would be disrespectful to the overdue movement taking place in our city and all over the world as we speak. Black lives matter, and we strongly and vociferously denounce the past and ongoing racist actions of the police. We apologize that we did not speak up about this issue sooner; while all of us here at DC Nerd Nite support this widespread push for racial justice, we were uncertain about whether or not to hop into your inbox with what may seem like empty platitudes. We’re sure you’re getting enough emails like that from every retail chain you’ve ever shopped at.
We’re serious about this: we have discussed at length (and unfortunately dragged our feet) on how to make the DC Nerd Nite team less blindingly and inexcusably white. DC and the larger DMV is home to an incredibly diverse population, and our team has not reflected that. Nor has our stage. While we have made efforts in the past to bring more diverse speakers to our events, we recognize that these efforts have not been adequate, and for that we deeply apologize.
We want to do better in both the short and the long term, and are putting our backs into it. In the immediate future, we will be putting out a call for a new producer to join our team. This position will be filled by someone non-white. We want to make sure our stage is a place that amplifies voices that have historically been under-represented or supressed; we also want to present you, our audience, with a better picture of the diversity of area Nerds. With both of these points in mind, we will be reaching out to local HBCUs (such as Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia) and other organizations in our community to circulate information about the producer position and speaking opportunities.
But this is still not enough. Before we get to the final topic in this email, we want to emphasize that all of us on the DC Nerd Nite team have been taking time to educate ourselves on the issues affecting Black Americans, and do not want our Black Nerds to be forced to do the heavy informational lifting for our benefit. However, we also recognize that our whiteness—and the privilege that comes with it—has caused us to have blind spots. So we want to hear from you:
What do you need from us now?
This could run the gamut from suggested speakers, topics, and theme nights to ways in which you feel we could better incorporate diversity into the way we host. It could include other places to advertise for our producer and for future Nerd speakers. All suggestions and criticisms are welcome.
Above all, the DC Nerd Nite team aims to create events and a community where you feel welcome. We don’t want to create “several white folks’ idea of what a welcoming place is for People of Color;” we want to listen to and take on your needs.
So stay safe, stay nerdy, and stay tuned for a better Nerd Nite DC.