I am spent. When I touched down in Austin on Tuesday, I purposely spent two days driving around Downtown Austin, visiting their mega Whole Foods—barely controlling the jealous rage I have over the fact that their options are not present in New York City—and eating Franklin’s Barbeque like I have nothing to lose.

For the first few days, it was odd being a Black girl in Austin with glasses, a camera kit, huge camo laptop bag, and a head wrap; I felt like I was the only person in the city that looks and sounds like me.  Yet, no one cares.  Except for the random white lady from Minnesota that ran up on me at Whole Foods on Thursday to tell me that she wanted to know how to put on a head wrap.  Awkward indeed.

On Friday, SXSW 2013 officially began. Ahh, the familiar chaos of crowded streets, lines, annoying slow walkers, and really inept volunteers directing me to the wrong rooms. As a four-year vet, I should be used to this, but I always think that my new plan to avoid being annoyed is just “my plan.”  Alas, everyone else usually has the same ideas, which I have to chalk up to the fact that this is one of the most popular brand building conferences of the year.  If you are going to South By, you have to go in and accept the stress.

My first *official* day pretty much focused on being cute as possible, using Foursquare to get free things, taking Instagram photos, replying back and forth to brands on Twitter for their activations and running back and forth recording, reporting and taking shots of people within the Blacks In Tech community. This year happens to be interesting because I have not ever seen this many Black people in Austin since attending this conference…and it is incredibly awesome to meet and see fellow Black geeks that are just as chic or geeky as I am. I hope folks join me next year and come a little bit early! It’s a great way to get familiar with the conference grounds and the city…plus, I won’t be the only Black girl stomping around.

The Blacks in Technology (@wearebit) reception had more than 200 folks in attendance and salmon cakes. I know that I should not be focused on that but as a recently diagnosed Crohnie, that food selection is like manna from Heaven. I made a few new friends and saw tons of old ones.  Had my share of amazing updates via GroupMe pods amongst the Black tech scenesters and basked in the relative slow pace of day one…’cause it’s only gonna get crazy from here.

On the other hand, I see a bunch of people here that are all about open bars and getting “’bout that life.” I am not the one to throw shade, but why pay money to come all the way to Austin and act like Diddy at a Midwestern speakeasy given that you have no interest in digital. Whatever. I am judging.  

Day two should be interesting to say the least, I have to be company girl for my boss and pitch my new startup tonight.  No pressure.


-Mary Pryor, UrbanSocialista.com/ @laydeefly