This past Saturday, October 19th, 2019 I along with several other amazing insightful human beings had an opportunity to share our ideas with the Jacksonville community. The theme for TEDx Jacksonville 2019 was POP-while just one word, it entails so much more. Topics included: Prison reform, the correlation between illiteracy rates and prison populations, building community identity, taking a seat at the political table, planting hope and many more. All the talks recognized that we have work to do if we are to create a more just and equitable society.
My talk was entitled “Deconstructing Race.” As a biracial person reared in a predominately white space in one of the top three most segregated metropolitan cities (Milwaukee) in America my experience has been unique. I discussed how fluid the construct of race is in America and how at different times in our country’s history some groups that are now considered white initially were not. White ethnic groups such as Polish, Irish, Italian and those of Greek descent were not considered white but now have been absorbed into the construct of whiteness and we now see instances of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.
Imagine when my parents married in 1962 that my father was considered a Negro, then during the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s he became Black and around the mid 1980’s he was identified as African American. My dad’s beautiful dark complexion never changed but the way the U.S. Census categorized him changed. It took my mother awhile to figure out why he was being labeled different things and why society considered her biracial children to be black as soon as we left the comfort of her privilege.
Stay tune as I will share the video that will be on YouTube as soon as it is available.