People in Cardiff said they were angry to discover that there were no people of colour speaking at the TEDxCardiff event.
TED is a nonprofit organisation that organises short, engaging talks on a number of different topics.
An independently organised TED event was held at the Tramshed in the Grangetown area of Cardiff last Saturday.
Cardiff locals took to Facebook to express their annoyance with the all-white line up. The list of speakers can be found here.
Resident, Jenny Howell said, “It begs the questions – what does TED stand for, what is it trying to achieve, how much money does it make, for whom, and why is it such a hot ticket?”
Local artist, Rabab Ghazoul said, “Those perfectly interesting speakers don’t in any way reflect Cardiff’s population, are all white, and a number are academics. It says a lot about where we think the people doing the interesting stuff happens. What a shame that in the heart of multicultural Grangetown, this line up lacks not even one single person from a diverse background.”
Hanan Issa, Cardiff-based writer, said she contacted the TEDxCardiff organisers a few months ago via the website but never got a response.
Cardiff, the very diverse capital of Wales, is teeming with people of colour doing incredible things… and yet the entire line up was white.
But some Cardiff residents think the criticism towards TEDxCardiff is unfair.
Christine Nelms, who volunteers with refugees at the Oasis centre in Splott, said, “I feel that it is so easy to criticise hard working volunteers for their efforts while sitting back and doing nothing.”
Neil Cocker is the founder of TEDxCardiff. He said they always try to create a diverse line up.
This year, our line up of 13 speakers and performers covered ages spanning a 60+ year age gap, LGBT and mixed race. Two of our speakers have English as a second language.
Our talks covered issues around mental health, hidden disabilities, preventing hate crime, the arts, technology and supporting disabilities.
The small team of volunteers behind the event comes from a diverse range of backgrounds including several races, different religions and formerly homeless people now in temporary accommodation who we provide opportunities to and then give references to in order to help them find work in the future.
TEDxCardiff is organised in evenings and weekends around work and family commitments purely for the benefit of the Cardiff community and to put Cardiff on an international stage, so we’re truly very sorry if people think that the above doesn’t do enough to represent diversity.
We understand and appreciate how important it is to try and reach those who wouldn’t normally get to experience an event like ours. It’s the reason we decided to bring TEDx to Cardiff in the first place.
We receive over 250 applications, suggestions, and recommendations for speakers each year. And from this, we have to select just 8 people to speak. There are many factors that we consider when curating the line-up, including topic, “idea”, and how they fit together in the narrative thread of the event. Race has not, and never will be a consideration.
We don’t share information about speakers that we approach, not least for issues of data protection and privacy. But I can assure you that BME speakers were approached this year, and I can immediately think of at least one person who was a Syrian refugee that turned us down.
Mr Cocker said that he and the Cardiff volunteers have no intention of running any future TEDxCardiff events, but if this changes they would be interested in having a line up and volunteer team that is more diverse.
This article has been updated.