Just left an introductory event designed for newbies to the conference. Very helpful. Emphasis on setting aside the nerdy impulse to hide away and not introduce yourself to other participants and presenters. I think it's mildly funny that half of an entire talk was about this emphasis on not being shy. Hmm...are sociologists generally lacking in the sociability factor?

I also had no idea how large this conference is. They're expecting over 5,000 people to attend events across two major (and quite nice) hotels.

Currently waiting for the Plenary Session on Obama to start (Why Obama Won [and What That Says about Democracy and Change in America]).

Update: Went to most of the plenary session, and I'm not going to lie, the first presenters were pretty fantastic. Not only did Patricia Collins' welcome bring me the same joy that her YouTube welcome video did, but some of the other panelists shared her inviting enthusiasm by making some off-the-cuff jokes. Melissa Harris-Lacewell (a prof. at Princeton) talked generally about the path that black community/politics took to assist in the election of Obama. Some notable quotes:

"Let's just pretend we know who black people are and that they have politics." (on the various definitions of black community and black politics)

"White people are black people on this question...doesn't happen very often." (on changes in perception of the war in Iraq)

"Young Americans helped make Barack Obama Blacker."

"McCain's use of green screen technology made him look like a "weird lizard dude."

"You gotta end on Jay-Z...why not."

I think the only real commentary I had after this event had to do with this overarching question about what Barack does for black communities -- echoed by Harris-Lacewell's Jay-Z reference about how he is helping include black people in the American dream. While many might assert that his election "finally makes this possible," what does this say about how our society is organized and the paths for inclusion? Do marginalized groups always have to be "elevated" like this into the American Dream? If this is so, it sounds like a lot of discussions I've heard people make about neoliberalism in our country, and how this is a problematic, nationally-sanctioned approach for reaching out to people in need.

Creative Commons License