Ritchie Bryant, a resident of Austin recently posted three separate vlogs that explain about why he decided not to attend Street Leverage even though they were practically "in his backyard." One might not think that his reasons would apply to other people but they do.
His first vlog was an introductory vlog that explains more about what the purpose of these videos were and why it was important to share these videos with people. His introduction and two videos take place in the kitchen where people typically gather around to talk.
Before reading further, it is important to remember that his intent is not to put down Street Leverage as an conference at all but to bring awareness and ask Street Leverage to be a bit more careful in the future when deciding things that may affect who won't want to go.
The second video talks about diversity and how important it is to have diverse presenters especially for events like this. There are more and more biracial and people of color that use ASL and/or other signed methods and there is an increase in need for the same in interpreters. He initially gave Street Leverage benefit of doubt and checked to see if maybe the last two conferences had people of color or with diverse backgrounds present, but they did not. In all three years there have only been two people that are not white as presenters and this year's presenter, Angela Roth was a last minute addition so does that really count?
The third brings up some very disturbing news about one of the sponsors and how they dismiss the idea of CDIs being an important aspect of the community. It is already difficult enough to obtain jobs for CDIs but it is very discouraging that Street Leverage would allow such organization to sponsor their event. That was the third reason why Ritchie decided not to go to Street Leverage but the second reason had to do with one of the presenters. This segment of the video was not very clear but points out the importance of not allowing oppressors to present at conferences that attract the very group of people they oppress.
With some great points, it is hopeful that Street Leverage will take these points into consideration and perhaps be a bit more careful next year. It's not that they don't plan their conferences well and don't give great presentations, they have been given wonderful ratings by attendees in the past and are considered a truly all-inclusive conference when it comes to the community. This is extra important but with Ritchie's issues among other things, they have shot themselves in the foot and may continue to do so until they see what needs to be done to ensure adequate representation and non-oppressive behavior comes from their presenters/sponsors.