The world is still shaken up after the death of George Floyd and the horrendous ruling for Breonna Taylor and it’s about time we listen to some TED Talks about racism that will really describe what has/is going on in America.
Many of us are committed to hearing and understand the impact systemic racism has on nearly every facet of life for BIPOC. And while attending protests, donating, and signing online petitions is a great first step, if we want true equality for all races, then we must actively make an effort to become “anti-racist” because being “not racist” isn’t enough.
So if you’re looking to further educate yourself on racism, I compiled the most passionate, informational, and powerful TED Talks about racism that focus on dissecting the hard truths about America’s justice system, race, and the reality of race and gender bias.
10 Thoughtful TED Talks About Racism
1. How Racism Makes Us Sick
Public Health Sociologist David R. Williams asks some pretty tough questions on his Ted Talk, How does racism makes us sick?
“What if we decided to tackle the striking levels of early death and poor health that are due to the color of one’s skin?” To that end, Williams developed a scale that measures the way discrimination affects a person’s overall well-being.
But he doesn’t focus solely on income or education. He highlights that components such as racial segregation, stereotypes, and racial bias help maintain inequality today. In his talk, he also gives several examples of incredible programs that are working against systemic racism, so grab a cup of coffee and kick back with this very insightful Ted Talk.
2. How to Raise a Black Son in America
Writer, poet, and educator Clint Smith reminisces about the time when he was a child and didn’t really understand why there were certain rules he needed to follow. He talks about a night when he went out to play with water guns in a parking lot with his white friends. When his father found out, he was both fearful and furious. He recalls his father saying to him, “Son, I’m sorry, but you can’t act the same as your white friends.”
In his Ted Talk, he provides a well-thought-out and poetic version of his life, which is similar to the lives of so many Black American men growing up and how Black parents raise their kids in an armor of advice so they don’t wind up hurt.
3. How to Deconstruct Racism one Headline at a Time
Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated writer, activist and comedian who addresses the strange phenomenon of white Americans calling the cops on Black Americans who were simply eating, playing, walking, or going about their days without breaking any laws. In this Ted Talk, Thurston takes listeners on a journey full of facts, data, and a bit of humor regarding how much fear can be felt in an otherwise innocent situation when you’re a person of color.
4. My Road Trip Through the Whitest Towns in America
Rich Benjamin is a social and political observer. For his 2009 book, Searching for Whitopia, Benjamin took a trip across America to explore the whitest small towns and communities. His book asks readers to imagine what America would look like if white Americans were no longer a majority.
But in his Ted Talk, Benjamin notices that while the country is becoming more multi-cultural, some towns are actually devolving and rejecting diversity. So, he talks about what he learned when he performed this social experiment and moved into these white towns, which gave him plenty of resources for his book.
5. The Path to Ending Systemic Racism in the US
Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson, Dr. Bernice King, and Anthony D. Romero discuss how to dismantle the system of racism and oppression that has cost the lives of so many young people in the Black community. This collective think tank of Civil Rights activists, which include King, the CEO of The King Center and daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., share insights on how to help America live up to its ideals of freedom.
6. We Need to Talk About an Injustice
Bryan Stevenson is a public interest lawyer and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative to challenge racial discrimination in the justice system. In this Ted Talk, he delves deep into some hard truths and myths about America’s justice system. This includes the major imbalance of racial lines where a third of America’s Black men have found themselves behind bars at some point. He does a wonderful job linking his presentation between statistics and his own personal experiences. His insightful talk also includes cameo appearances from his grandmother and the late Rosa Parks.
7. The Little Problem I had Renting a House
James A. White is an executive coach and management consultant of Performance Consulting Services in Columbus, Ohio. White has also dedicated himself to sharing his knowledge on how to overcome life’s obstacles.
But in his Ted Talk, he discusses how difficult it was to rent a house for his family to live in when he joined the US Air Force over 50 years ago. White also discusses how everyday racism affected every facet of his life and how today, the situation isn’t that much different, as he had to educate his grandchildren on how to deal with police.
8. Color Blind or Color Brave
Mellody Hobson is an investment expert and president of Ariel Investments. She’s also a strong advocate for financial literacy and investor education. In this incredible Ted Talk, Hobson highlights the importance of speaking candidly about race and diversity in hiring.
Essentially, Hobson believes that you get back what you invest. So, by adding diversity to businesses and creating an inclusive environment, this will influence societal change in the long run. Hobson provides practical steps along the way for people to put into place.
9. The Real Story of Rosa Parks – And Why We Need to Confront Myths About Black History
David Ikard is a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, and as a speaker, he explains that Black history has been whitewashed and why that’s a major issue. In his powerful Ted Talk, he discusses how US schools teach a watered-down version of Black history that is often full of inaccuracies and lack the context required. He also shares how angry he was that his 9-year-old had to educate the teacher about Black history. To that end, he brings up the real story of Rosa Parks, and why historical accuracy is so important and why when it’s overlooked, it can damage young minds.
10. What Prosecutors and Incarcerated People Can Learn From Each Other
Jarrell Daniels is an activist and education scholar at Columbia University who brings community members and policymakers together to improve social challenges that affect today’s youth. In his Ted Talk, he discusses that while in prison, he took a class where incarcerated men and prosecutors sit down and talk to uncover shocking truths about the justice system while brainstorming ways to make change happen. Daniels also reflects on how collaborative education can ultimately change the justice system for the better and create solutions to today’s social issues.
Final Thoughts on TED Talks About Racism
No matter where you are on in regard to your journey of learning about systemic racism, I hope you take the time to listen to a few of those TED Talks about racism in America.
If you want to hear more about systemic racism in America, I talk a bit about it and share news updates over on Instagram.