Culture Conversations: AfroTech and engaging communities of color within media

In this episode, we speak with Morgan DeBaun, the CEO and Founder of Blavity, about the 2020 AfroTech Conference, inclusion and diversity within the technology industry, and engaging communities of color within media.

(Instagram: Morgan DeBaun)

Morgan DeBaun: The COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on many in-person events and conferences this year, but Morgan DeBaun refused to let this global inconvenience affect her goals.

DeBaun is the CEO and founder of Blavity Inc., the largest media startup and lifestyle brand for Black millennials. She is also the founder of one of the largest technology conventions, AfroTech.

Originally based in Oakland Calif., AfroTech serves as a meeting ground for Black culture and technology.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson and Blavity Inc. CEO Morgan DeBaun attend AfroTech 2019 at Oakland Marriott City Center on November 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for Af

Follow AfroTech on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

As a St. Louis native, DeBaun relocated to Silicon Valley to begin her career in technology directly after college. Upon noticing the disconnect of black professionals in the area, she decided to create AfroTech to provide the opportunity for young, Black professionals to network and celebrate each other's success.

“Afro Tech is really a place for everyone to come together once a year to speed up that connectivity so that we don’t have to feel as lonely," she explained. 

With over 150 corporate clients, the conference is going into its fifth year operating virtually. This year it takes place Nov. 9- 14, 2020. Although there will obviously be no physical interactions, techies will still be able to find personal connections within the conference’s immersive digital experience. Conference attendees will be able to customize their own avatars, attend panels, and network with company recruiters and other attendees while exploring the conference’s virtual campus.

DeBaun hopes AfroTech will serve as a resource and companion for individuals throughout their journey in the tech industry, but changing the narrative of inclusion doesn’t stop there. DeBaun's company Blavity encompasses several Black-owned lifestyle brands such as Travel Noire, Shadow & Act, and 21Ninety.

To battle the lack of diversity across industries and challenge stereotypes, she uses Blavity to "leverage our collective power through content and storytelling and build platforms so others can leverage that huge scale to do good work for our people."

Follow DeBaun on Twitter and Instagram

Mimi Brown: Culture Conversations is hosted by Mimi Brown. She is a Segment Producer for Good Day LA and has also worked for NBC News, US Weekly, and ABC News. Brown earned her Bachelor's degree from Howard University and also holds a Master's degree from American University.  You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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