19 Sep, 2017

stepping away from TEDx…

19 Sep, 2017

photo by Gabriel Fuller

Over the last few months, I was immersed in preparing for a Pasadena TEDx talk, but last week, I withdrew my participation. I have a lot to say about the experience, but for now, I will remain short. I am disillusioned by how today’s TEDx culture is driven by marketing, money, and the goal to generate videos that go viral. The final straw: An environment where the same-age woman of a certain color felt entitled to call me, a woman of another color, “good girl” and not think twice about doing so.

I chose to participate in the local talk assuming that presented works would reflect the voices of those being showcased—just as in 2013, when I delivered a talk for TEDxHouston. Though my Houston talk and delivery could have been stronger, I felt respected and was never under pressure to censor myself or create formulaic work. Throughout the experience, I was moved by the integrity of the team, Javier Fadul, Shawna Forney, and others, who were committed to social justice and freedom of speech.

But while preparing for the Pasadena talk, I was reminded that I cannot write or perform to an imposed formula, that I cannot allow my voice to be diluted by the agenda of others, and that I cannot work in an environment where people talk down to others.

Reflecting over the past few decades, I am grateful that I have generated a vast body of writing and art in response to the world around me without any restrictions. After my recent experience, I remain committed to asking difficult questions and pushing past existing boundaries.

To view my TEDxHouston talk, please click here.