The Trouble With FutureEverything

I felt a right mardy bastard filling in the feedback form after the show – after all, everybody had worked so wonderfully hard, bless them! The fizzing volunteer who’d asked me to do the always-boring paperwork was visibly deflated after talking to me, making me feel a killer of tiny, gorgeous creatures. My review was unsparing – but she did ask.

What’s The Issue, Buzzkill?

Well, let me tell you the issue. This year’s theme was climate change, but what kind of host throws a party and fails to invite it’s most important guests? Bar the inclusion of Lemn Sissay as Magical Negro, both panels and audience were overwhelmingly light, bright and damn-near white.

scene from apocalypse now

Is Lionel Richie Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady?

There Was Not A Single Black Woman Delegate In Attendance At The Entire Event

Need I say more? Not one. I find it astonishing that one can organise an event tackling issues of sustainability and climate change, but those who make up the majority of the planet’s population – the dreaded “people of colour” – are not represented in significant numbers – or in any numbers at all. Did they think nobody would notice? How can an event like that be relevant?

race by numbers

Amazing conversations that might have been – like how the scarcity mentality of Europeans leads to eco-system destruction – were left wanting.

FutureEverything As Technological Colonialism

berlin conference, 1884

The Scramble For Africa, via Wandering Eyes

Technology conferences are displays of white European power and as such, serve their constituents flawlessly. Those constituents are white people. The panels are white people. The event was full of white people talking to other white people about the rest-of-the-world-as-object. We’ve seen this story before.

Diversity: Eat Your Greens

magic trick

Diversity: you don’t care about it. I don’t give a fuck if you claim to. It’s seen as a moralistic distraction from the fun things – like dutifully munching on greens when your angry mother told you “No chocolate unless you eat your salad!” The data tells a different tale with diverse teams out-performing all others – but be careful here, because I probably mean something different by “diversity” than you do. FutureEverything want to eat all the chocolate – and I get it – but bowel movements are better for a mouthful of lettuce. Unsexy advice, I know. This year’s event was technological colonialism in motion – but Your Half-Assed Diversity Initiatives Aren’t Going to Cut It In 2016.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The panels.

the panels

For ***** sake. Really?

Not Your Magical Negro

I’m tired. I no longer want to be included. I’m not here to make up the numbers. I don’t want to turn up at opportune moment: a “Magical Negro”, like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, designed to help white people find their moral conscience, only to disappear again at the end, usually through design or death.

To my friends at FutureEverything, I say: “Don’t worry about it. Everything’s cool.” You’re not any better or worse than any other technology company, festival or media platform in the space. You all perform abysmally – but it’s all good. I’m still that guy you can let onto at a party. I’m still the one-Black-friend you know. Eeeveryone knows me. You’re not like those other white people, who only know that one Black guy – John, I think his name is – the cleaner. Or is he security? It’s so easy to get these things mixed up! Modern life, eh?

White people mostly hang out with white people, and only know other white people. My god, there’s even a documentary that talks about this in brilliant detail called (you guessed it!) White People:

I don’t do funny speeches, won’t do a star turn to exit stage left and leave everybody with a warm, fuzzy feeling. What if you’re about to organise a tech event in 2017 but feel really bad after reading this rant? I have the answer.

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