Phoenix College is proud to be hosting our first ever TEDx event on April 24. The event's theme is The Opportunity of Transformation. 

What happens when the world changes? What do we do as an ever evolving and shifting world finds the old way of doing things irrelevant, redundant, and no longer applicable? This TEDxPhoenixCollege event will explore, "The Opportunity of Transformation" when what used to work need to evolve, shift, and change - and how we use that urgency of now to do, create and move towards a better future.

One of the speakers for this event will be Director of the Office of Equality and Inclusion at Brophy College Preparatory, Dr. Matthew Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is an award-winning educator, author, community engagement specialist, motivational speaker, and founded the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, winner of the 2014 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance (DLA) Inclusive Workplace Award, at Arizona State University, where he was a professor of history for 15 years. Most recently he was given DLA’s 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Leader Award.

He specializes in U.S. history, African American history and life, race relations, social movements, cultural competency, equity and inclusion, teaching excellence, and community partnerships. Dr. Whitaker is the author of Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West. His forthcoming memoir is The Undisputed Truth: A Revolutionary Journey to Black Manhood. He has spoken throughout the world, including Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, Ghana, and Ireland. Twitter at @Dr_Whitaker and DSC can be followed on Twitter at @dstategiesllc.

Here is a brief synopsis of Dr. Whitaker's TEDxPhoenixCollege presentation.

“Why do you smile so much?” I’ve fielded this question more than I can recall, but I’ve always remembered the derisive, non-verbal, micro-aggressive rebukes that come with it.  Society often treats those who smile, especially in the face of persecution and struggle, as village idiots. Why would anyone smile amid racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, and religious intolerance?  

I smile as an act of self-love and resistance.  The many struggles that I have overcome, were surmounted with self-care—self-care that began with the simple act of affirming the humanity of others, and my own worth, with a grin.

“In battle,” Darlene English writes, “the enemy strives to wear down the opposition. Continuous attacks are a strategy to keep advocates off balance. Constantly being on guard, and consistently in a state of high alert, is stressful. If we aren’t careful, we will suffer fatigue and be of no use to the causes we care so deeply about.”  “Caring for myself” therefore, is not “clueless” or “self-indulgent, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,” declared Audre Lorde.  My smile is a declaration of dignity, resistance, and hope—one that has helped me defeat poverty, hatred, homelessness, and hopeless.  I smile because I fight, and I fight to win.

To learn more about our speakers or TEDxPhoenix College, please contact Rowdy Duncan. Rowdy.Duncan@phoenixcollege.edu

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