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Join The Conversation

2015 has been a huge year for civil rights, in large part due to social media. Not only are more people coming face-to-face with incidents involving gender, racial, religious, and political injustice, but more people are becoming involved in the resulting national and global conversations. Specifically, issues of race have come back out of the closet and back into the dialogue and spurred renewed demands for policy changes; police are being asked to wear body cameras, lawsuits have been filed against biased voting practices, and more action is yet to come. Movements like the popular #BlackLivesMatter are inviting more and more people to the conversation on racial justice in America; and let’s be honest, it’s getting uncomfortable for all those who thought the United States was a “post-racial society.”

With these reinvigorated conversations come new tensions and many questions, such as “Who should be involved in these conversations?” “What does it mean to be racist today?” “How does privilege impact society?” and “Whose responsibility is it to combat racist policies and practices?” The short answers are that it is everyone’s responsibility to be having these conversations; racism doesn’t only come from those wearing a white hood and waving a burning cross. Racism in 2015 is much more often about microaggressions and the disproportionate privilege that leads to devastating consequences;  ultimately, combating racist policies has to start with the acknowledgment of often unconscious unfair practice by the white majority. In other words: White males of the world, we’re going to need you to be an active part of this conversation and this movement if we are ever going to change a thing. TEDxBeaconStreet speaker Colin Stokes will join the conversation at our November conference with an important message: As uncomfortable as it may be, the world needs everyone to take a seat at the table on this one.

Equality and justice benefit us all. As a person of mixed race, I can imagine all that I could’ve focused on in school if I wasn’t trying to decipher whether a remark like “you’re the whitest black girl I know” was a compliment or an insult; or if speaking properly wasn’t constantly equated to “speaking white”; or if I was able to see myself as a princess in a Disney movie like all of my white friends could. (Colin Stokes also had some great things to say to Disney about the heroes in movies!) Microaggression seems less controversial than aggressive racism, but its impact is just as pervasive and divisive, and it is going to take an “all-hands-on deck” deep-dive into some really uncomfortable discussions in order to defeat this brand of racism.

Addressing this discomfort is one of the major challenges in race relations today, but TEDxBeaconStreet speaker Colin Stokes reminds us that is critical that white males (in particular) face up to uncomfortable subjects like inequality, privilege and systemic bias. How do we listen to victims of racial injustice? How are we portraying victims of racial injustice? How are we contributing to the problem? How can we change that? Luckily for us, more people are demanding a seat at the table and are engaging these high-tension topics.  Colin Stokes certainly is, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear what he has to say.