It is no secret that 2016 has been a tumultuous year. From the continued assault on Black lives, to a presidential election that truly made the country wonder if love could ever “trump” hate, times have been hard. Yet, what we have also seen in this year are artists, and communities based in creativity, pulling together and marching on, realizing that now—more than ever—messages of diversity, inclusion, and representation need to be pushed to the forefront, and not swept to the side in the face of the continued normalizing of hate and violence. So, with that, it’s a nice present, for any geek who cherishes the power of diversity, to receive the launching of Universal Fan Con (UFC).
The Black Geeks (TBG) and Black Girl Nerds (BGN) have partnered together to host a con with the mission of taking on the lack of representation in the geek community. The convention is set to take place in Baltimore, MD, (a city that has had its own struggle with turmoil given the Freddie Gray case), from April 27 to April 29 of 2018 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The focus of UFC will be on gaming, anime, TV shows, and movies.
It’s the first of its kind. It’s a large scale multi-fandom convention dedicated to inclusion that is long overdue. As CEO of TBG, Robert Butler explained in a statement to the press earlier this week: “UFC hopes to fill the void of diversity and give fans the chance to see the geek community through a diverse set of eyes.”
UFC aims to be a 24-hour convention, meaning that all day and night there will be panels and events happening. That’s right, there is no sleep for the brave, curious, and nerdy. “We felt that the only way to ensure that as many groups as possible were represented was to keep [the con] going 24 hours for the three-day event,” Butler expressed.
The UFC team is currently spending hours developing and planning innovative ideas to implement at the upcoming fan conference, as well. One idea being explored includes using geofencing technologies that could lead to shorter waits in line and a seamless check-in process. “The team and I are always looking for ways to incorporate technology into UFC. We want to employ new technology that will make long lines a thing of the past,” said Butler.
Butler, also a disabled Marine vet, hopes to incorporate more tools for geeks with disabilities. UFC expects attendees from every walk of life to leave feeling represented. “It’s incredibly important to The Black Geeks and Black Girl Nerds that everyone, and I mean everyone, feels as though they have a place at this con,” said Butler.
With over 900 Twitter followers, the buzz around UFC has already begun to explode all over the web. Many people have showed their support for the convention via social media. “This is going to be amazing. I can feel it in my bones,” said one UFC Twitter follower.
Supporters and future attendees can get in on the action starting NOW, by donating to the Kickstarter for the con. In a little over a week’s time of the Kickstarter launch, UFC has raised nearly $8,000 from 134 backers. “Honestly, we did not expect to gain popularity so fast,” said Black Girl Nerds creator, Jamie Broadnax.
As well-known TBG podcaster, and UFC team member, Baba Rob explained, “If we have learned anything in 2016, it is that the historical racism and divisiveness of the past still runs deep in foundations of many communities. Universal Fan Con is the counter narrative to the ignorance that we have seen and experienced in our world. This event will place before the world an example of unity, diversity, positivity, and hope.”
The UFC team hopes to raise $25,000 to assist with some of the costs associated with making UFC the best experience ever for the fans. The Kickstarter offers a variety of levels so that any backer can earn benefits for supporting the convention. As Broadnax put it, “We’re redefining what diversity is, and hope you will join us in 2018.”
Join the movement that is promoting diversity in a time when hate seems to be all too much. Go to the Facebook page, like it, follow, tell your friends. Be part of this. It is going to be EPIC!
Click HERE for the Universal Fan Con Press Release