Let’s Stop Celebrating Non Racial or Cultural Diversity In Edtech

It’s odd to me that some view the questioning of our ceremonial norms, like non-diverse “best of” lists, “all male” or “all white” panels, as a slap in the face to those being lauded as the “go to” voices of Edtech. Why do we have such a problem with understanding the need to have a wider lens on the messages being circulated in this educational space? Do people really not understand the power structures of how this Edtech world works? Really??

I hate that I needed to write this blog and to be honest, I tried to ignore this very idea the moment that I saw Edtech Magazine’s 2016 Honor Roll of Must Read IT Blogs. I clicked the link, looked over the list, rolled my eyes and went about my business because listing isn’t something that I generally care about…especially one that is super “same white techs as always” because this happens weekly and in the big scheme of things, this one blog doesn’t matter…except it does.

This line…

“EdTech is proud to spotlight some of the education industry’s most influential thought-leaders in our latest crop of the top K-12 IT bloggers.” 

…Pauses for a second to envision the numbers of speaker bios updated because of lines like this. There’s a bigger picture here (like it or not), the business of educational technology…consulting, speaking, writing, blog advertisements and in that sense, lists like these play a role…a major one at that…sadly. 

Why Does She Always Have to Make it About Race? 

Can We Not Just Focus on the Great Work that People Do for Kids Regardless of Race?  

It’s Not About Race…It’s the Learning


When I see lists such as these, I imagine these very people in a room at my favorite conference. They’re all simultaneously on a panel, talking about edtech and the work that they do as thought leaders. I’m in the audience, sitting with my fellow POC in edtech community…giving side eyes and shaking our heads at the lack of perspectives that relate to us, our world or communities. We’re also counting the numbers of people who consult outside of school and don’t actually work in a school district, even though they’re on the “school leader” panel…lol

prince side eye

Since ISTE, I’ve been contacted by countless conferences, organizations and schools to give talks on diversity in edtech. It bothered me to see the very people who have asked for such “necessary” conversations to be applauding this list or any list that lacks the highly influential work of techs of color…not because they are of color but because their work is brilliant and should be recognized too!

If you don’t know any people of color who do this work, you must widen your lens. Here’s a start…Have you seen Patricia Brown’s website or blog? (She was just named to NSBA’s 20 To Watch along with a couple of people on this list)

This blatant “black/brown out” of techs of color, doesn’t just limit itself to this list or the countless others like it. It also extends itself to the very learning spaces that we inhabit especially those like Tech & Learning’s CIO Summit and even the upcoming Edsurge Summits where “entrance is determined by school/tech leadership title”…but that’s an issue for school districts, isn’t it? Clearly, we need more techs of color in school technology leadership but creating a conference that starts from a place of racial bias…doing nothing to influence change within it, doesn’t do anything but put more white tech leaders in a room inviting more social media backlash once those non-progressive images are published.

A little insight into the selection process for being an EdTechMagazine Influecer…

  1. This list was created from “veterans of year’s past”, the editorial staff and a nomination process through “Listly” (which didn’t garner a lot of nominations) and even fewer that made the cut from that process so it’s basically all about editorial staff here.
    1. Listly makes users connect their social media accounts to “log votes”. As a rule of thumb, I don’t connect tools like this to my twitter or facebook…because data/information matters.
  2. Isn’t this supposed to be about Informational Technology? Or is this about shares and badges?
  3. There’s a diversity of women and men…that’s it.

I mentioned earlier that people have something to say when one questions diversity. That’s simply not the case. We stand in disgust when the list is “all men” but when it comes to race, we don’t always fight on the same team…or at all.

A few months ago, someone that I used to respect greatly in this space made the comment that he remains quiet on issues of social justice because people treated him differently for speaking up.

Imagine if we all remained silent…or had the privilege to do so.

One more thing…I was asked on twitter how we should “honor” those on this list while also being inclusive.

Therein lies the problem.

Suggested reading (Cross out hiring and replace it with “suggesting leaders/voices in educational technology”):

What You’re Really Saying When You Talk About Lowering the Bar in Hiring


Comments 2

  1. Thank you for speaking up for us! I know that there are many people of color that could contribute to edtech spaces, but are never invited in. I attend an edtech conference each year that has the same faces on the panel and not many new or innovative ideas. I feel that there is truly a glass ceiling for recognition of poc and that our diversity of thought overlooked.

    Thanks again for writing this article!

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