How to be less racist

How to Be Less Racist

Ideas worth spreading: this is TED’s motto, and the reason it offers free talks on everything from media literacy and lifestyle to physics and history. We’ve hand-picked these TedTalks for you, and they’re all to do with race, privilege, and how we can change our minds and perspectives to build a more equitable world. We hope these brief perspectives from scholars, historians, activists, artists, scientists, and psychologists expand your perspective as they have ours.

Art & Beauty

  1. The symbols of systemic racism — and how to take away their power by Paul Rucker

    The stealth aspect of racism is part of its power. When you’re discriminated against, you can’t always prove you’re being discriminated against. Racism has the power to hide, and when it hides, it’s kept safe because it blends in.”

  2. How I change perceptions by drawing comics by Shawn Martinbrough
  3. How colorism shapes our standards of beauty by Chika Okoro
  4. An artist’s unflinching look at racial violence by Sanford Biggers


  1. How students of color confront impostor syndrome by Dena Simmons
  2. How we can start to heal the pain of racial division by Ruby Sales
  3. Why black girls are targeted for punishment at school — and how to change that by Monique W. Morris

It’s one of the reasons I like to say that education is freedom work. When girls feel safe, they can learn. When they don’t feel safe, they fight, they protest, they argue, they flee, they freeze. The human brain is wired to protect us when we feel a threat.”

Health & Psychology

  1. How racism makes us sick by David R. Williams
  2. The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

    “…a not-racist is a racist who is in denial, and an anti-racist is someone who is willing to admit the times in which they are being racist, and who is willing to recognize the inequities and the racial problems of our society, and who is willing to challenge those racial inequities by challenging policy.”

  3. How racial bias works — and how to disrupt it by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
  4. How to recognize your white privilege — and use it to fight inequality by Peggy McIntosh

    “I was raised, as many of you have been, on the myth of meritocracy, which is, the unit of society is the individual. And whatever the individual ends up with at death, is what that individual worked for and earned and deserved and wanted. Well, it isn’t true.”


  1. Why it’s so hard to talk about the N-word by Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor
  2. The real story of the Black Panther Party by Curtis Austin
  3. The real story of Rosa Parks — and why we need to confront myths about black history by David Ikard

    “See, old grandmothers are not scary. But young, radical black women who don’t take any stuff from anybody are very scary, who stand up to power and are willing to die for that — those are not the kind of people that make us comfortable.”

Law & Politics

  1. The racial politics of time by Brittney Cooper
  2. A prosecutor’s vision for a better justice system by Adam Foss

    “While each of you may have faced your own brand of discipline for whatever malfeasances you committed, barely any of you needed a day in jail to make you the people that you are today — some of the greatest minds on the planet.”

  3. We need to talk about an injustice by Bryan Stevenson

Social & Political Sciences

  1. We need to address the real roots of racial violence Megan Ming Francis
  2. Racism has a cost for everyone by Heather C. McGhee

    “You know, it’s tempting, perhaps, to focus on the prejudiced attitudes of the men and the workers that I heard in Mississippi. But I’m more interested in holding accountable the people who are selling racist ideas for their profit than those who are desperate enough to buy it.”

  3. To transform child welfare, take race out of the equation by Jessica Pryce
  4. How we can make racism a solvable problem — and improve policing by Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff

    “One of the foundational insights of social psychology is that attitudes are very weak predictors of behaviors, but more importantly than that, no Black community has ever taken to the streets to demand that white people would love us more. Communities march to stop the killing, because racism is about behaviours, not feelings.”

Tech & Media

  1. How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time by Baratunde Thurston
  2. How I’m fighting bias in algorithms by Joy Buolamwini

    “So what can we do about it? Well, we can start thinking about how we create more inclusive code and employ inclusive coding practices. It really starts with people. So who codes matters. Are we creating full-spectrum teams with diverse individuals who can check each other’s blind spots?”