June 2021 Update from the USENIX Committee for Black, African-American, and African Diaspora Inclusion


A year ago, USENIX published a statement on Racism and Black, African-American, and African Diaspora Inclusion. In that declaration, we, the committee, detailed specific steps we committed to take to increase USENIX’s representation of Black people across the axes of:

  • Conference organizers, presenters, and attendees

  • Campus representatives at HBCUs 

  • USENIX staff and Board members


This report tracks our efforts from November 13, 2020-May 31, 2021. During that time, the main committee met once, with sub-committees on USENIX’s policies and guidelines, outreach to HBCUs/campus representatives, and conference grant/mentorship opportunities meeting separately. During this period, program co-chairs of 3 USENIX conferences formed program committees, and organizers of 3 conferences initiated and finalized their programs. As with the last reporting period, the results of the ongoing pandemic, including a 25% reduction of the USENIX staff, has presented challenges to meaningful progress. As a result, the goal we were able to focus the majority of our energy on was a comprehensive update to our policies that focused on inclusive language.

Increasing representation and inclusion of Black people at our conferences

Ensuring that every conference has Black representatives on the list of program committee candidates

Across the conference committees formed during this reporting period, 6 out of the 357 program committee members self-identified as a member of the Africian Diaspora; 9 were invited and 3 declined. During the invitation process, program co-chairs prioritized invitations for members of underrepresented groups, including those who self-identify as part of the Africian Diaspora, to help increase the diversity of representation. We do not have baseline numbers prior to initiating this effort, so we can only report on the current representation of 2% for this period.

Providing conference grants specifically for Black attendees

USENIX solicited Black student grant sponsors for three conferences and received sponsorship for two out of the three conferences. USENIX did not receive any applicants for the three conferences and reallocated the sponsorship funds for other purposes, such as student grants and general diversity grants. USENIX is committed to advertising these grants more broadly to attempt to increase applications.

Modifying our conference and online magazine submission guidelines to eliminate discriminatory language

The sub-committee we created for this purpose has revamped and published a completely revised set of policies, reviewed and approved by the USENIX Board of Directors, that focus on inclusive language and include the Code of Conduct; Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Conference Submissions Policy.


The inclusion of and equity for Black people in our community remains remains a priority for USENIX, and we will continue to work towards and report on our efforts to achieve better representation. We continue to welcome your ideas and feedback via Black-inclusion@usenix.org.

Signed by the USENIX Committee for Black, African-American, and African Diaspora Inclusion:

Kurt Andersen, USENIX Board Secretary

Theophilus A. Benson, Brown University

Casey Henderson, USENIX Executive Director

Tadayoshi Kohno, University of Washington

James Mickens, Harvard University

Brian Noble, University of Michigan, USENIX Board President Emeritus

Laura Nolan, USENIX Board Member at Large

Tameika Reed, Women In Linux

Amy Rich, USENIX Board President

Carolyn Rowland, USENIX Board President Emeritus
Hakim Weatherspoon, Cornell University, USENIX Board Member at Large