Blacks in Technology is the largest community and media organization focused on Black men and women in the technology industry. With a motto of “Stomping the Divide,” BIT is determined to reduce the disparity of Blacks in technology by providing resources, networking, and guidance, challenging its members to become leaders in tech innovation. According to a recent Brookings report, while Blacks make up 11.9 percent of all workers, they represent only 7.9 percent of those employed in computer- and math-related fields.
BIT successfully launched its inaugural Black in Tech Conference (BITCon) this fall as part of their effort to combat those disparities. Over the three-day interactive conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul, leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs gathered together to discuss how to increase visibility of men and women of color in the tech industry. The conference featured a wide array of keynote speakers from all over the country, and we’re highlighting five of the most impressive:
Christopher Lafayette is the founder of The Armada, a Silicon Valley technology hub integrating tech, training services, and communication strategies to help budding companies develop. BIT describes Lafayette as “A firm believer in the societal and technological accelerated benefit of diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley and beyond.” He sees himself as an explorer of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, who is interested in artificial intelligence, telepresence, and disruptive media.
After losing nearly a dozen close friends to gun violence, Arms learned to code in order to build an app to centralize obituaries of those who died by in shootings. At 23, Arms used those same skills to found the technology platform Kylar.io (the company’s name is also its web address). One of his initiatives teaches African-American kids the fundamentals needed to excel in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) careers — as a way of preventing gun violence. While building skills is important to keeping kids out of harm’s way, so too is finding healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety or exposure to childhood trauma. The therapy program Kylar.io for Trauma pairs individuals with licensed clinical social workers who can help them cope with mental health issues.
Christian Bishop found a way to combine his passions — gaming, esports, and technology — by creating GG Media Network (ggmedianetwork.com), a global esports and gaming production company based in Los Angeles. Bishop is also the brains behind 4Cast, a weekly first of its kind esports and gaming news show that launched in 2017. Bishop serves on a number of boards and takes part in community organizations to help sustain inclusive environments for gamers everywhere. He was also executive producer on the film Huntsville and is known for his work on reality TV, specifically ABC’s The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. (Photo: Caroline Tran)
By age 19, McKeever Conwell, a computer science major at Morgan State University, was already working for the Department of Defense with top security clearance. From there, he founded his first tech startup, Given.to, to distribute digital content. Following its success, he sold the company and launched another venture, RedBerry, which was accepted into a tech accelerator program in Philadelphia. Conwell was recently brought on by TEDCO to join their Builder Fund, investing in Maryland-based startups. He and his businesses have been featured on HuffPost Live, BET, CNN, and in publications like Black Enterprise and The Washington Post.
Greg Greenlee is the founder of Blacks in Technology (blacksintechnology.net) and BITCon. With over 15 years of experience in the information-technology field, he’s now using his knowledge, connections, and smarts to combat the disparity of Blacks in tech fields and bring together Black entrepreneurs from all over the country to network, strategize, and increase visibility.