Conversations in Color

I was so inspired, and even more motivated, by this TED Talk by Mellody Hobson. I’ve watched it twice already and know it will be there next time I need something to re-spark my fire. Race in America is becoming a more necessary discussion everyday and this talk is more than relevant.

The basis for her talk is how uncomfortable race is as a topic of discussion in most settings, and how that uneasiness is holding us back in multiple facets of society. Her biggest concern is that folks that are “colorblind” are creating bigger obstacles for future generations, and she’s right.

My favorite part of her whole talk was at 4:20. She shares a thought process of her own she uses to challenge ideologies of today’s society:

“Imagine if I walked you into a room and it was of a major corporation like                         Exxon Mobil, and every single person around the board room were Black, you would think that were weird. But if I walked you into a Fortune 500 company and everyone around the table is a White male, when will it be that we think that was weird too?”

That spoke volumes to me. I tried imagining it for myself and got chills. How much of society will have to change in order for that to happen, and what would it take to make those changes happen? One thing is for sure, people are going to have to start addressing the problem.

We see today that there has been an upheaval in discussion surrounding rights and perceptions of Black Americans, but as Melody Hobson points out we have to start taking those conversations to the board rooms and the classrooms.

Her challenge was that Americans need to be “color brave” and recognize that there are differences between people and why, but also using those differences as a strength in everyday scenarios.

Challenging the status quo is a necessity. I have a one-year-old daughter, with beautiful brown skin. I constantly think about what it was like growing up for me as a girl of color in an predominately-white neighborhood and finding myself as a woman of color and I have to ask myself, what will it be like for her and how can I do my part now to make sure she has every opportunity for success in whatever she wants to do.

The reality is that what people of color are demanding will not be immediate. That thought is coupled with the notion that the Americans of color should just wait it out and society will progress on it’s own time. That progressive time frame is flawed though. While this movement is asking for immediate policy changes to be enacted ASAP, this movement is not just for us in this time period. Like the last generation to speak out, this movement is for our children and grandchildren.

Anecdotes of young people protesting now are colored with the beliefs that our grandparents fought this same fight so we wouldn’t have to, but here we are now. Hobson also touches on this in her TEDx Talk. We have a chance to reverse racist and prejudiced mindsets and ideologies. While there is a much older generation that holds these beliefs near to their heart, there is still the chance at influencing our peer groups.

It’s true that you can kill a person and not an idea. Black Americans are more than familiar with that, being that civil rights leaders of the last generation didn’t make it to see the fruits of their own ideas. For those of you that believe demanding change is unnecessary because it will happen on it’s own, I have to challenge you on that. If people of color stop demanding for the simple privilege of being respected, influencers in the oppressive society will stop listening. They want our silence and they want us to move on, so that they can move on.

My review doesn’t do this video justice. I highly recommend if you read this, or even skimmed it, to take 15 minutes and watch this video.

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