aspire to inspire
These TED Talks are listed from shortest to longest. All descriptions are from ted.com.
UNDER 10 MINS———————————————–
An artist’s unflinching look at racial violence (5 mins)
Conceptual artist and TED Fellow Sanford Biggers uses painting, sculpture, video and performance to spark challenging conversations about the history and trauma of black America. Join him as he details two compelling works and shares the motivation behind his art. “Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society,” Biggers says.
The hidden life of Rosa Parks (5 mins)
Throughout her life, Rosa Parks repeatedly challenged racial violence and the prejudiced systems protecting its perpetrators. Her refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus ignited a boycott that lasted 381 days and helped transform civil rights activism into a national movement. But this work came at an enormous risk— and a personal price. Riché D. Richardson details the life of Rosa Parks.
The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you (5 mins)
Slavery has occurred in many forms throughout the world, but the Atlantic slave trade — which forcibly brought more than 10 million Africans to the Americas — stands out for both its global scale and its lasting legacy. Anthony Hazard discusses the historical, economic and personal impact of this massive historical injustice.
How one journalist risked her life to keep murderers accountable (5mins)
In the late 1800’s, lynchings were happening all over the American South, often without any investigation or consequences for the murderers. A young journalist set out to expose the truth about these killings. Her reports shocked the nation, launched her journalism career and a lifelong pursuit of civil rights. Christina Greer details the life of Ida B. Wells and her tireless struggle for justice.
How to raise a black son in America (5 mins)
As kids, we all get advice from parents and teachers that seems strange, even confusing. This was crystallized one night for a young Clint Smith, who was playing with water guns in a dark parking lot with his white friends. In a heartfelt piece, the poet paints the scene of his father’s furious and fearful response.
The breathtaking courage of Harriet Tubman (5 mins)
Escaping slavery; risking everything to save her family; leading a military raid; championing the cause of women’s suffrage; these are just a handful of the accomplishments of one of America’s most courageous heroes. Janell Hobson details Harriet Tubman’s many fights for freedom.
The bill has come due for the US’s history of racism (6 mins)
The bill has come due for the unpaid debts the United States owes its Black residents, says Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, CEO of the Center for Policing Equity (CPE). But we’re not going to get to where we need to go just by reforming law enforcement. In addition to the work that CPE is known for — working with police departments to use their own data to improve relationships with the communities they serve — Goff and his team are encouraging cities to take money from police budgets and instead invest it directly in public resources for the community. (This video, excerpted from a panel featuring Rashad Robinson, Dr. Bernice King and Anthony D. Romero, was recorded June 3, 2020. Watch the full discussion at go.ted.com/endingracism)
The symbols of systemic racism – and how to take away their power (7 mins)
Multidisciplinary artist and TED Fellow Paul Rucker is unstitching the legacy of systemic racism in the United States. A collector of artifacts connected to the history of slavery — from branding irons and shackles to postcards depicting lynchings — Rucker couldn’t find an undamaged Ku Klux Klan robe for his collection, so he began making his own. The result: striking garments in non-traditional fabrics like kente cloth, camouflage and silk that confront the normalization of systemic racism in the US. “If we as a people collectively look at these objects and realize that they are part of our history, we can find a way to where they have no more power over us,” Rucker says. (This talk contains graphic images.)
Black life at the intersection of birth and death (7 mins)
“It is the artist’s job to unearth stories that people try to bury with shovels of complacency and time,” says poet and freedom fighter Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa. Performing her poem “The Joys of Motherhood,” Katwiwa explores the experience of Black mothers in America and discusses the impact of the Movement for Black Lives — because, she says, it’s impossible to separate the two.
“You Have the Rite” (7 mins)
In a breathtaking, jazz-inflected spoken-word performance, TED Fellow Marc Bamuthi Joseph shares a Black father’s tender and wrenching internal reflection on the pride and terror of seeing his son enter adulthood.
How to inspire every child to be a lifelong reader (7 mins)
According to the US Department of Education, more than 85 percent of black fourth-grade boys aren’t proficient in reading. What kind of reading experiences should we be creating to ensure that all children read well? In a talk that will make you rethink how we teach, educator and author Alvin Irby explains the reading challenges that many black children face — and tells us what culturally competent educators do to help all children identify as readers.
The US needs a radical revolution of values (7 mins)
To cultivate a society grounded in equity and love, we must uproot systems of oppression and violence towards Black communities, says Dr. Bernice Albertine King, community builder and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In a time of mourning and protest, King calls for a revolution of values, allies that engage and a world where anger is channeled into social and economic change. “Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation,” King says. “Every generation is called to this freedom struggle.” (This video, excerpted from a panel featuring Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson and Anthony D. Romero, was recorded June 3, 2020. Watch the full discussion at go.ted.com/endingracism)
How to channel your presence and energy into ending injustice (8 mins)
The presence and visibility of a movement can often lead us to believe that progress is inevitable. But building power and changing the system requires more than conversations and retweets, says Rashad Robinson, the president of Color Of Change. To create material change in the racist systems that enable and perpetuate violence against Black communities, Robinson shares how we can translate the energy of global protests into specific demands, actions and laws — and hold those in power accountable to them. “This is the time for white allies to stand up in new ways, to do the type of allyship that truly dismantles structures, not just provides charity,” Robinson says. “You can’t sing our songs, use our hashtags and march in our marches if you are on the other end supporting the structures that put us in harm’s way, that literally kill us.” (This video, excerpted from a panel featuring Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Dr. Bernice King and Anthony D. Romero, was recorded June 3, 2020. Watch the full discussion at go.ted.com/endingracism)
Does racism affect how you vote? (9 mins)
Nate Silver has data that answers big questions about race in politics. For instance, in the 2008 presidential race, did Obama’s skin color actually keep him from getting votes in some parts of the country? Stats and myths collide in this fascinating talk that ends with a remarkable insight.
The ACLU’s call to defund the police (9 mins)
“We need to defund the budgets of police departments. It’s the only way we’re going to take power back,” says Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Calling for allies to get involved in the efforts to dismantle systemic racism, Romero explains why police reform isn’t enough anymore — and shows why it’s time to take money from militarized law enforcement and reinvest it in the community. (This video, excerpted from a panel discussion featuring Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson and Dr. Bernice King, was recorded June 3, 2020. Watch the full discussion at go.ted.com/endingracism)
UNDER 15 MINS———————————————–
How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace (11 mins)
Imagine a workplace where people of all colors and races are able to climb every rung of the corporate ladder — and where the lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside the office. How do we get there? In this candid talk, inclusion advocate Janet Stovall shares a three-part action plan for creating workplaces where people feel safe and expected to be their unassimilated, authentic selves.
The racial politics of time (12 mins)
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.
How we can make racism a solvable problem – and improve policing (12 mins)
When we define racism as behaviors instead of feelings, we can measure it — and transform it from an impossible problem into a solvable one, says justice scientist Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff. In an actionable talk, he shares his work at the Center for Policing Equity, an organization that helps police departments diagnose and track racial gaps in policing in order to eliminate them. Learn more about their data-driven approach — and how you can get involved with the work that still needs to be done. (This ambitious plan is part of the Audacious Project, TED’s initiative to inspire and fund global change.)
What it takes to be racially literate (12 mins)
Over the last year, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo traveled to all 50 US states, collecting personal stories about race and intersectionality. Now they’re on a mission to equip every American with the tools to understand, navigate and improve a world structured by racial division. In a dynamic talk, Vulchi and Guo pair the personal stories they’ve collected with research and statistics to reveal two fundamental gaps in our racial literacy — and how we can overcome them.
Why is colonialism (still) romanticized? (12 mins)
Colonialism remains an inescapable blight on the present, lingering in the toxic, internalized mythologies and stereotypes that have outlived the regimes that created them, says historian Farish Ahmad-Noor. Examining why these prejudices and narratives persist (and sometimes thrive), he suggests a multidisciplinary approach to reject cultural obsessions with romanticized history and prevent this nostalgia from perpetuating past oppressions.
What prosecutors and incarcerated people can learn from each other (12 mins)
A few weeks before his release from prison, Jarrell Daniels took a class where incarcerated men learned alongside prosecutors. By simply sitting together and talking, they uncovered surprising truths about the criminal justice system and ideas for how real change happens. Now a scholar and activist, Daniels reflects on how collaborative education could transform the justice system and unlock solutions to social problems.
How racism harms pregnant women – and what can help (12 mins)
Racism is making people sick — especially black women and babies, says Miriam Zoila Pérez. The doula turned journalist explores the relationship between race, class and illness and tells us about a radically compassionate prenatal care program that can buffer pregnant women from the stress that people of color face every day.
My road trip through the whitest towns in America (13 mins)
As America becomes more and more multicultural, Rich Benjamin noticed a phenomenon: Some communities were actually getting less diverse. So he got out a map, found the whitest towns in the USA — and moved in. In this funny, honest, human talk, he shares what he learned as a black man in Whitopia.
The most powerful woman you’ve never heard of (13 mins)
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.)
The little problem I had renting a house (14 mins)
Fifty-three years ago, James A. White Sr. joined the US Air Force. But as an African American man, he had to go to shocking lengths to find a place for his young family to live nearby. He tells this powerful story about the lived experience of “everyday racism” — and how it echoes today in the way he’s had to teach his grandchildren to interact with police.
How racial bias works – and how to disrupt it (14 mins)
Our brains create categories to make sense of the world, recognize patterns and make quick decisions. But this ability to categorize also exacts a heavy toll in the form of unconscious bias. In this powerful talk, psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt explores how our biases unfairly target Black people at all levels of society — from schools and social media to policing and criminal justice — and discusses how creating points of friction can help us actively interrupt and address this troubling problem.
Racism has a cost for everyone (14 mins)
Racism makes our economy worse — and not just in ways that harm people of color, says public policy expert Heather C. McGhee. From her research and travels across the US, McGhee shares startling insights into how racism fuels bad policymaking and drains our economic potential — and offers a crucial rethink on what we can do to create a more prosperous nation for all. “Our fates are linked,” she says. “It costs us so much to remain divided.”
Color blind or color brave? (14 mins)
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.
The problem with race-based medicine (14 mins)
Social justice advocate and law scholar Dorothy Roberts has a precise and powerful message: Race-based medicine is bad medicine. Even today, many doctors still use race as a medical shortcut; they make important decisions about things like pain tolerance based on a patient’s skin color instead of medical observation and measurement. In this searing talk, Roberts lays out the lingering traces of race-based medicine — and invites us to be a part of ending it. “It is more urgent than ever to finally abandon this backward legacy,” she says, “and to affirm our common humanity by ending the social inequalities that truly divide us.”
UNDER 20 MINS———————————————–
Scenes from a Black trans life (15 mins)
At the crossroads of life and livelihood, scholar D-L Stewart invites us into scenes from his own life as he resists and reflects on the dehumanizing narratives that shape the Black trans experience in the US. With each word of his captivating and poetic dissection, Stewart emphasizes the magnitude and urgency of the rallying cry “Black trans lives matter” — and calls on others to uphold that truth, too.
An interview with the founders of Black Lives Matter (16 mins)
Born out of a social media post, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussion about race and inequality across the world. In this spirited conversation with Mia Birdsong, the movement’s three founders share what they’ve learned about leadership and what provides them with hope and inspiration in the face of painful realities. Their advice on how to participate in ensuring freedom for everybody: join something, start something and “sharpen each other, so that we all can rise.”
Shouldn’t sports be color-blind? (16 mins)
Sports should be the great racial equalizer, a place where meritocracy reigns and skin color is irrelevant. But journalist Patrick Ferrucci begs to differ. Using sports journalism as his lens, he demonstrates how racial stereotypes have infiltrated the language we use to discuss athletes — and how everyday racism bleeds into other aspects of life too.
The trauma of systematic racism is killing Black women. A first step toward change… (16 mins)
T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of the health nonprofit GirlTrek, are on a mission to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among Black women — and build communities in the process. How? By getting one million women and girls to prioritize their self-care, lacing up their shoes and walking in the direction of their healthiest, most fulfilled lives.
How we’re priming some kids for college – and others for prison (16 mins)
In the United States, two institutions guide teenagers on the journey to adulthood: college and prison. Sociologist Alice Goffman spent six years in a troubled Philadelphia neighborhood and saw first-hand how teenagers of African-American and Latino backgrounds are funneled down the path to prison — sometimes starting with relatively minor infractions. In an impassioned talk she asks, “Why are we offering only handcuffs and jail time?”
How racism makes us sick (17 mins)
Why does race matter so profoundly for health? David R. Williams developed a scale to measure the impact of discrimination on well-being, going beyond traditional measures like income and education to reveal how factors like implicit bias, residential segregation and negative stereotypes create and sustain inequality. In this eye-opening talk, Williams presents evidence for how racism is producing a rigged system — and offers hopeful examples of programs across the US that are working to dismantle discrimination.
How to recognize your white privilege – and use it to fight inequality (18 mins)
Many of us believe that we’re living in a meritocracy, deserving of what we have and compassionate toward those with less. But that’s not true: white people have been given a headstart and ongoing advantages due to the color of their skin, while people of color suffer from equally arbitrary disadvantages, says scholar and activist Peggy McIntosh. She explains what led her to recognize her privilege — and how it can be used by those with power to ensure a fairer life for others.
How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them (18 mins)
Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.
The Great Migration and the power of a single decision (18 mins)
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.”
A black man goes undercover in the alt-right (18 mins)
In an unmissable talk about race and politics in America, Theo E.J. Wilson tells the story of becoming Lucius25, white supremacist lurker, and the unexpected compassion and surprising perspective he found from engaging with people he disagrees with. He encourages us to let go of fear, embrace curiosity and have courageous conversations with people who think differently from us. “Conversations stop violence, conversations start countries and build bridges,” he says.
The real story of Rosa Parks – and why we need to confront myths about black history (18 mins)
Black history taught in US schools is often watered-down, riddled with inaccuracies and stripped of its context and rich, full-bodied historical figures. Equipped with the real story of Rosa Parks, professor David Ikard highlights how making the realities of race more benign and digestible harms us all — and emphasizes the power and importance of historical accuracy.
The urgency of intersectionality (19 mins)
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.
Why it’s so hard to talk about the N-word (19 mins)
Historian Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor leads a thoughtful and history-backed examination of one of the most divisive words in the English language: the N-word. Drawing from personal experience, she explains how reflecting on our points of encounter with the word can help promote productive discussions and, ultimately, create a framework that reshapes education around the complicated history of racism in the US.
How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time (19 mins)
Baratunde Thurston explores the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of … eating, walking or generally “living while black.” In this profound, thought-provoking and often hilarious talk, he reveals the power of language to change stories of trauma into stories of healing — while challenging us all to level up.
UNDER 25 MINS———————————————–
We need to address the real roots of racial violence (20 mins)
“Why does the killing of unarmed blacks continue to happen?” asks political scientist Megan Ming Francis. She makes an urgent case for a new approach to these tragic deaths, explaining that we need to look at the deeper causes of systemic racism rather than settle for easy fixes.
How we can start to heal the pain of racial division (20 mins)
“Where does it hurt?” It’s a question that activist and educator Ruby Sales has traveled the US asking, looking deeply at the country’s legacy of racism and searching for sources of healing. In this moving talk, she shares what she’s learned, reflecting on her time as a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement and offering new thinking on pathways to racial justice.
We need to talk about an injustice (23 mins)
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.
OVER 25 MINS———————————————–
The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist ( 51 mins)
There is no such thing as being “not racist,” says author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love. (This virtual interview, hosted by TED’s current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers and speaker development curator Cloe Shasha, was recorded June 9, 2020.)
The path to ending systemic racism in the US (1 hour, 6 mins)
In a time of mourning and anger over the ongoing violence inflicted on Black communities by police in the US and the lack of accountability from national leadership, what is the path forward? Sharing urgent insights into this historic moment, Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson, Dr. Bernice King and Anthony D. Romero discuss dismantling the systems of oppression and racism responsible for tragedies like the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and far too many others — and explore how the US can start to live up to its ideals. (This discussion, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers, was recorded on June 3, 2020.)