The recent protests across America’s fifty states have spoken: issues of racial inequality are a matter of life and death. Always, but especially now, everyone should be paying attention to discussions about race. The internet has exploded in the last couple weeks with resources for self-education, a vital step in revolutionizing our attitudes. Countless writers, educators, and activists have dedicated their careers to identifying and ameliorating racial injustice, and some have taken their message to the people, ripe for consumption. Here are six Ted Talks that take a critical eye to our country’s racial status quo.
How we can make racism a solvable problem — and improve policing
Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff of the Center for Policing Equity is using data to hold law enforcement accountable. His goal is to stop treating racism as an impossible problem and start taking steps toward solving it by measuring what it looks like on the ground. He promotes a shift from thinking about racism as bad feelings to understanding it as a system of bad behaviors. Through this lens, track racial disparities in policing becomes easier, and we can identify what exactly needs fixing.
The trauma of systematic racism is killing Black women. A first step toward change…
Every eleven minutes, a black woman in America dies from a preventable heart disease. The founders of GirlTrek, T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, claim that public health interventions haven’t worked for black women because they’re cosmetic, too focused on weight loss where they should be acknowledging the bodily impact of inter-generational trauma. So they’re empowering black women to walk, for their health and for the benefit of their communities. Dixon asks “what would happen if there were groups of women walking on Trayvon [Martin’s] block that day.” They see self-care as a revolutionary act, one that can help heal our country.
What it takes to be racially literate
After graduating high school, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo traveled to all fifty states, collecting personal stories about race. Their goal was to help Americans see the structures of inequality that lie behind stories about racial injustice and identity, aiding us have better conversations about race. They compiled a book from the stories they collected, which they hope will become a classroom resource for making race relevant to young people, and will help “bridge that gap between our hearts and minds.”
How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time
Headlines can help us see the structure of white supremacy. Baratunde Thurston, a writer and comedian, diagrammed the headlines of the all-too-familiar news stories of white people calling the cops on black people simply for existing. Thurston calls for a shift of action on the part of white people, claiming that calling the cops means weaponizing discomfort, and forces black people to carry the “invisible burden of other people’s fears.”
The racial politics of time
Author Brittney Cooper argues that time belongs to white people- that they’ve set the pace of our past, present, and future. She explores the white supremacist idea that black people have had no impact on history, and the thought that white power structures have stolen time from people of color by deciding how long they have to wait to achieve racial equity. Cooper notes, “time is used to displace us, or conversely, we are urged into complacency through endless calls to just be patient,” ultimately hoping for a future that runs on everyone’s time.
How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them
According to activist Verna Myers, preventing events like Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson can start with facing our own personal biases. She claims the problem isn’t that we see color, because of course we do, but it’s what we do when we see it. Myers urges us to walk toward discomfort, stare it in the face, and try to replace our learned biases with “disconfirming data”- faces of black success. The goal: diversity in our inner circles, in our workplaces, and on our screens, helping us un-learn negative associations about those who are different than us.