August – October 2020
Small Great Conversations
Every January, the TEDxJacksonville team gathers for our annual retreat where we debate and choose the theme for that year’s conference. In 2020, inspired by the words of Martin Luther King, we selected Small Great Things as our theme. (King wrote, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”)
In hindsight, the theme was uncomfortably, perversely prescient. 2020 and 2021 were hijacked by a small thing (measured in nanometers) of such great and terrifying power that it has altered our lives and our planet. The coronavirus pandemic also laid bare some hard truths: Although we all weathered the same storm, we weren’t all in the same boat. COVID-19 disproportionately impacted communities of color, and also exposed the realities of racial injustice in the American experience.
To that end, TEDxJacksonville in 2020 introduced Small Great Conversations, a program of virtual gatherings built around honest dialogue about the realities of racial injustice and what each of us can do to stop perpetuating it. This series, hosted by TEDxJacksonville’s Organizer and Executive Producer, Sabeen Perwaiz Syed, featured in-depth conversations between team members and past TEDxJacksonville speakers whose talks have renewed resonance in a year of profound change and heightened clarity. The program began in August and took place twice a month through October. Audiences joined the conversations via Zoom and Facebook Live. It was free of charge.
We still are living through uncharted times. There is little precedent for how to navigate them. But we can still do small things that are great. We can activate empathy and bring visibility to injustice. We can choose every day to think, act, and advocate for equality. And we can each of us commit to ensuring we don’t pass through this period unchanged.
Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder is a sociologist and scholar specializing in diversity, race relations and gender issues. Her 2016 TEDxJacksonville talk is Race Talk: Activating the Power of Self-Definition. In this conversation with team member Ale’ta Turner, Dr. Wilder speaks about how important it is for white people who want to be allies to educate themselves about Anti-Racism rather than relying on people of color to do the foundational work for them.
Pastor Michael T. Smith‘s 2014 TEDxJacksonville talk, Black Murder Is Normal, has been viewed more than a million times. In this remarkable and frank conversation with team member Kinney Adams, Pastor Mike discusses how racism is a function of preserving existing power structures and suggests that Anti-Racism can be advanced through a recognition of the common experience of pain.
As a political strategist working at the highest levels of state government, Phillip A. Singleton knows that addressing racial injustice and inequality begins with changing the laws that perpetuate those injustices. His 2019 TEDxJacksonville talk is Real Change Comes Through Policy, Not Protest. In this conversation with team member David Johnson, Singleton says his perspective has changed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, but he insists that understanding and working through our political system is no less vital.
Dr. Jeﬀreen M. Hayes, a trained art historian and curator, has developed a curatorial and leadership approach that invites participation, particularly from those in marginalized communities. Her 2018 TEDxJacksonville talk is Arts Activism in Simple Steps. In this conversation with team member Yvette Angelique, Dr. Hayes addresses what it means to be Anti-Black, and urges Black artists and creatives to recognize and harness their power.
As a biracial woman, Dr. Tammy Hodo has experienced two different Americas: one for whites and one for Blacks. As a Ph.D. social scientist who studies the impacts that the variables of race, class, ethnicity, and sex have on life chances, she has unique insights into the lived experience of people of color. Her 2019 TEDxJacksonville talk is “The Social Implications of Race.” In this conversation with team member Jeanmarie Grimsley, Dr. Hodo discusses the pernicious effects of systemic racism and cognitive dissonance.
Brandon Griggs is a student activist and advocate for “at-risk” youth who, like him, have lived in the epicenter of gang and gun violence in Jacksonville and experienced its traumatic effects. His 2019 TEDxJacksonville talk is the Illiteracy-to-Prison Pipeline. In this conversation with team member Briana Johnson, Griggs discusses racial profiling of African-American students and what it’s like to be pre-judged because of the color of your skin.
What to Expect at a TEDxJacksonville Conference . . .
Expect the unexpected. In 2020, we had to recreate and reimagine all the elements that make an in-person event special for an online space. But just like our in-person conferences, our virtual events are designed to foster learning and provoke conversations that matter.