We humans

My personal lesson in “White Privilege 101” and other of this week’s comments

Jun 24, 2014

Each week, we collect sharp critique, thought-provoking questions or interesting insights in response to TED Talks. This week’s haul includes thoughts on Jamila Lyiscott’s spoken word essay on “Broken English,” the happy memory of an excellent teacher, and a shared photo of a cockroach carcass, inspired by Ed Yong’s tales of dastardly parasites.



On Facebook, Erin Nolan responded to Jamila Lyiscott’s TED Talk, 3 ways to speak English:

“I grew up and spend much of my time with the same socioeconomic group that holds most of the power (that is, most of the people in a position to hire me, grade me in class, or network with me for later advancement) so I just have to learn Midwestern American “proper English,” and I’m fine in all versions of my real world.

But I mentor a kiddo who would be eaten alive if she sounded like me when talking to other kids at her school or neighborhood. She would be ostracized as an outsider, out of touch with the real world if she used my grammar structure.

So, if she wants to be successful in my ‘real world’ and hers, she’ll have to learn to code switch in ways I’ve never had to deal with. And that, my friends, is White Privilege 101.”

[ted id=2028]



Also on Facebook, Stacy Shores responded to Christopher Emdin’s TED Talk, Teach teachers to create magic with a memory of a teacher who had a huge effect on his life:

“Mr Mackay. 10th grade science teacher. He answered my questions. When everyone else was teaching to the curriculum, he never said, ‘you don’t need to know that for the exam.’ He’d make sure that everyone else was working on something, then he’d grab the three or four of us who needed to understand why, or how it fit in with something else we’d learned, or we just wanted to know more. He’d carve out a corner of the blackboard and answer our questions (and inspire even more questions). He allowed me to believe that just because it wasn’t on an exam didn’t mean it wasn’t worth knowing — when so many others tried to assert the contrary.

Honestly, I don’t believe that he possessed unusual talent. He was just a nice guy with a genuine desire to help kids learn, who wasn’t overworked within an inch of his life, and who wasn’t judged by how well his students performed in exams (or if he was, he didn’t transfer that pressure onto his kids’ shoulders). And that made all the difference.

I’m sure that most people go into teaching with the intent to be like him. Why we don’t make it easier for them is beyond me.”

[ted id=1965]



Daniel Alegi wrote this in response to Ed Yong’s TED Talk, Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales:

“I recently spent time in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Of all the creatures I saw, the most fascinating was a cockroach carcass driven from within by a parasite fungus up to a strategic final resting spot on a plant. There the slave vehicle became a tree-house for this deadly hitcher. I’ve had this beautiful weird image on my phone ever since.

Ed, thank you. I’ve shared your talk in the context of developing ideas and process for audience engagement and transformative education. Kudos for how you mix humor, a tight script, pace, flow and performance awareness. You know the wow-factor your story can deliver, you treat others to their own discoveries, you transform the dark unfamiliar into a quirky journey of wonder and light.”

[ted id=1955]



Annie Delyth Stratton wrote this in response to Stella Young’s TED Talk, I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much:

“I call something or someone inspiring only if they move me to action of some sort. One of my relatives had a disability; he had the idea that the world owed him. He was, to be polite, a jerk. He used people, was verbally and on occasion physically abusive, and took things that belonged to others that he felt should belong to him. He demanded being the center of attention, no matter the occasion, and had tantrums if he wasn’t. Yet, because of his disability and his ability to be charming when it suited him, he was regarded by many who met him as ‘wonderful’ and ‘inspiring.’ A lot of disillusionment when they got to know him better. The only thing he inspired in me was a desire to avoid him.

My mother had the same disability. She simply lived her life and, unable to be hired in a job because she was perceived to be unable to do things, created a job on spec that she then developed into a regional department for the employer willing to give her the chance to prove what she could do. She also was charming, but she used her charm to help others feel comfortable and capable (she supervised a large number of people). Both my mother and my other relative had the same opportunities in life. One went with them, the other threw them away. He died in debt, disliked even by the woman he married, the latest in his series of victims to sponge off, hardly an inspiration. My mother was just an ordinary woman who used her natural talents and succeeded. If she is an inspiration, it is because she did this in an era when women rarely achieved the level of professional success she did. People just plain liked her and respected her. That’s the crux of it. And that’s how I feel about Stella Young.”

[ted id=2017]



Finally for this week, Stephen Dolle wrote this in response to Sebastian Junger’s TED Talk, Why veterans miss war:

“Sebastian raises some very telling facts about young males and their need for connectedness. I am now 59, have never been in military combat, yet numerous times in my life I missed that ‘high’ that comes from another person [usually a male] watching out for you. I’m convinced it is related to the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, some of the same brain chemicals that lead men into drug and alcohol addiction. Some of my work as a neuroscientist is in putting on drum circles as healing and teambuilding workshops. In that, I see a lot of brain and behavioral disorders become improved through the dynamics of group play of drums, which also leads to the secretion of some of the same brain chemicals as from the heightened connectedness of combat. In addition, I think the unique developmental needs of young males today are not being met nor are well understood. But it would seem that any efforts we undertake to satisfy those connectedness and developmental needs — short of combat and violence — would be a good thing.”

[ted id=1999]

Post your thoughts alongside a talk or on social media; we read everything and will publish a collection of feedback each week on ideas.TED.com. (Note: comments are lightly edited for spelling and grammar.)