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Talks to celebrate Black History Month
Insightful talks that offer fresh, thoughtful perspectives on Black identity.
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The radical, revolutionary resilience of Black joy
11 minutes 33 seconds
In the face of trauma, happiness is resilience: a revolutionary act of thriving despite all odds, rather than wilting or surrendering. Community organizer and activist Miracle Jones offers a heart-to-heart meditation on the role of joy as a form of radical resistance, survival and protection for Black folks in the US and across the world. A warm reminder to embrace the guiding light of hope in the presence of darkness.
The Great Migration and the power of a single decision
17 minutes 45 seconds
Sometimes, a single decision can change the course of history. Join journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson as she tells the story of the Great Migration, the outpouring of six million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to cities in the North and West between World War I and the 1970s. This was the first time in American history that the lowest caste people signaled they had options and were willing to take them -- and the first time they had a chance to choose for themselves what they would do with their innate talents, Wilkerson explains. "These people, by their actions, were able to do what the powers that be, North and South, could not or would not do," she says. "They freed themselves."
Can art amend history?
12 minutes 42 seconds
Artist Titus Kaphar makes paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. In an unforgettable live workshop, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, obscuring parts of the composition and bringing its hidden story into view. There's a narrative coded in art like this, Kaphar says. What happens when we shift our focus and confront unspoken truths?
T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison
The most powerful woman you've never heard of
13 minutes 8 seconds
Everyone's heard of Martin Luther King Jr. But do you know the woman Dr. King called "the architect of the civil rights movement," Septima Clark? The teacher of some of the generation's most legendary activists -- like Rosa Parks, Diane Nash, Fannie Lou Hamer and thousands more -- Clark laid out a blueprint for change-making that has stood the test of time. Now T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, the cofounders of GirlTrek, are taking a page from Clark's playbook to launch a health revolution in the US -- and get one million women walking for justice. (This ambitious idea is part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The danger of a single story
18 minutes 32 seconds
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
We need to talk about an injustice
23 minutes 24 seconds
In an engaging and personal talk -- with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks -- human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.
The urgency of intersectionality
18 minutes 39 seconds
Now more than ever, it's important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias -- and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term "intersectionality" to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you're standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you're likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.
The racial politics of time
12 minutes 20 seconds
Cultural theorist Brittney Cooper examines racism through the lens of time, showing us how historically it has been stolen from people of color, resulting in lost moments of joy and connection, lost years of healthy quality of life and the delay of progress. A candid, thought-provoking take on history and race that may make you reconsider your understanding of time, and your place in it.
Embrace your raw, strange magic
16 minutes 54 seconds
The way we're taught to live has got to change, says author Casey Gerald. Too often, we hide parts of ourselves in order to fit in, win praise, be accepted. But at what cost? In this inspiring talk, Gerald shares the personal sacrifices he made to attain success in the upper echelons of American society -- and shows why it's time for us to have the courage to live in the raw, strange magic of ourselves.
The Black history of twerking -- and how it taught me self-love
13 minutes 40 seconds
Twerking is mainstream now ... but do you know where it came from? Superstar Lizzo traces booty shaking to a traditional West African dance and tells how Black women across generations kept the rhythm alive, from blues and jazz singers to modern rap and hip-hop performers. With her characteristic energy, she shares how twerking empowered her to love her own body -- and explains why understanding its origins helps protect Black culture from erasure and misappropriation. (And, yes, she twerks on stage.)
Color blind or color brave?
14 minutes 1 second
The subject of race can be very touchy. As finance executive Mellody Hobson says, it's a "conversational third rail." But, she says, that's exactly why we need to start talking about it. In this engaging, persuasive talk, Hobson makes the case that speaking openly about race — and particularly about diversity in hiring -- makes for better businesses and a better society.