Part I: Violence, Discrimination and Hope

It’s about time! Lessons from TED Women 2016


I have a confession to make. I am addicted to… TED! Last month was the third time I attended a TED Women conference and once again I was amazed with the people I met and the conversations I had. Where else could I meet a women test pilot, a journalist living in Kenya and a TEDx organizer from Israel?  We tend to live in silos; mostly meeting people like ourselves, so TED conferences are a fantastic way to break through those barriers.

The levels of violence, racism, sexism and sheer meanness post-election, has reinforced the power of women united to create to changes we want to see happen in our life and the world. The amazing speeches will hopefully provide inspiration for continuing to make changes for a better world.

In this first article, I will highlight talks around violence and prejudices, with a hope for tolerance and creative changes.

  • Suzanne Barakat, conveyed a heart-breaking story about having her brother and sister-in-law killed by a neighbor, just for being Muslim. She went on to explain how she has had to live with daily “micro-aggressions,” even as a doctor in San Francisco, because she is a Muslim. She concluded by reminding us of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “We will not remember the world of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  View Ted Talk
  • Rabbi Sharon Brous explained how religions have failed us with extremism and “routine-ism,” and that it is time to innovate and make religion part of the solution. Her successful approach (she is a leader of a growing community in LA called IKAR) includes innovative approaches based on four commitments: Wakefulness, Hope, Mightiness and Inter-connectedness.
  • Brittney Cooper, a Professor at Rutgers University explained how the past for African Americans “Won’t let us go,” and how “… the defining feature of being drafted in the black race is the robbery of time.” She goes on to explain how life expectancy is affected by zip code (one lives in average 20 years more in a wealthy neighborhood!) and conclude that time should “belong to all of us.”
  • Miriam Zoila Pérez, a doula and reproductive health activist explains how racism “makes us sick.” She explained how lack of money for prenatal care contributes to stress for the mothers, and in turn affect the baby’s health. Maternal/infant death rates in the deep south of the US are comparable to sub-Saharan Africa. She then explained how a creative midwife Jennie Joseph, created a different approach with the JJWay ®; a clinic opened to all, providing support, education and empowering women to make their birth decisions, resulting in less stress and birth rate in par with other environments. She concluded that, “a little bit of unconventional support can go a long way.”
  • Kimberlé Creenshaw introduced the concept of “Intersectionality,” explaining how the prejudice around women and race is combined and cannot be solved by just looking only at women or only at race issues. As a stunning example, she had the audience stand up and then sit down if they had not heard about a specific name of victims of police violence. It soon became evident that while many have heard about men being killed, the women were much less known! We discriminate even in death. You can learn more at #sayhername.