BIPOC Podcast Creators co-founder calls for more inclusivity in networking events

Tangia Al-awaji Estrada says conferences still have work to do to improve diversity

There aren’t enough inclusive networking events for creators of colour, according to the co-founder of community group BIPOC Podcast Creators, Tangia Al-awaji Estrada. 

BIPOC Podcast Creators was founded in 2021 as a space to connect Black, indigenous and people of colour in the podcasting space with more opportunities to build their career. The organisation grew massive support in the first two weeks of launching, with over 200 community members joining. 

“Soon after that, the creators in the community started to ask for things,” said Estrada. “They were saying, we want organised networking events – that's what we're here for. We want to be able to network more, and build our networks, and meet more people and know what's going on out there in the industry of podcasting.” 

According to Estrada, who appeared as a guest in the latest episode of PodPod, networking opportunities can be very valuable for creators of colour but there isn’t enough thought that goes into it on a wider level. During the episode, she remembered an instance where she first met her co-founder, Maribel Quezada Smith, at the Podcast Movements in 2019 at a networking event for people of colour – but was disappointed with how the event was planned. 

“There was this room in the back of the conference space that was literally a small room in a corner and all of us, every single person of colour that was at the conference, I think, went to that networking event and we were stuffed in there shoulder-to-shoulder like sardines in a can,” said Estrada. “And we were like, this is not a good look. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, there was nothing malicious about it, but it was not great and it didn't feel great. And things like that are pretty common across the space.” 

Estrada also added that there is a “glaring lack of inclusivity” generally in those types of spaces because the people organising them aren’t thinking about who they are inviting to make sure there is enough representation and inclusivity to begin with; instead, it’s just an afterthought, or not a thought at all. Estrada also spoke about how although it is 2023, she still faces instances where people in these spaces would say things to her that are “either blatantly racist, misogynistic or just making it clear that you don't belong in this space in some way” without realising.

As a result, groups like BIPOC Podcast Creators exist to provide a space where creators of colour know that they won’t face these types of comments and to raise awareness, calling for the industry to do better for them. “You need to be doing better for the people that you claim to be serving here, because everybody that you serve isn't just like you and you need to expand your skill set around that,” said Estrada.

Since launching the community group, Estrada and Smith have worked with the Podcast Movement, which is considered one of their success stories, as the event now has more diverse speakers than it did before.