Majora Carter is one of New York City’smost well-known activists for environmental justice and economic equality. In February2006, Carter gave an inspiring eighteen minute speech on “Greening the Ghetto”at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, California.More specifically, this convention calls attention to the prevalent issue ofenvironmental racism and inequality among minority communities.
Not only does Carterunderscore the importance of sustainable development and the imperative needfor a clean green economy, but she also presents a number of feasible ways inwhich we can maintain economic development without causing environmentalpollution or degradation. Taking everything into account, the illuminating TEDTalk was certainly worth viewing seeing as Carter wasable to effectively convey an empowering message across to her viewers about environmentaljustice.Toward the beginning of the presentation, Cartervividly narrates her fight for environmental equality in the South Bronx, NewYork City. This highlights Carter’s capacity to connect with the audience bysharing her back-story and life experiences. For example, she reveals the harshreality of growing up as an underprivileged black child in the South Bronx, andadditionallytalkedabout the loss of a loved one at one particular point in her poignantspeech. Carter’s detailed disclosure about her older brother Lenny’stragic death demonstrates her vulnerable side as well. Her vulnerability andcandidness seems to capture and resonate with people in a way that mere factsand statistics never will.
Notice how Carter displays agenuine level of sincerity and dynamism in her emotions too. By opening upabout her life history and experiences, Carter is better able to connect withthe audience on a more personal level. Carter’s storytellingprocess also pulls the viewers focus into her world and establishes a context forwhy her narrative matters.
Engaging the audience via a story enables one to seethrough someone else’s eyes. This type of involvement evidently appears to bethe key to Carter’s persuasion.An additional strong point that Carterexhibits is her confidence and passionate stance on the fight for environmentaland economic justice. For instance, Carter appeals to the viewers by vehementlystating “help me make green the newblack. Help me make sustainability sexy. Make it a part of your dinner andcocktail conversations” (Carter, 2006, min. 15:44).
In making this remark, Carter empowersindividuals to take control of their own lives and urges viewers to usetheir knowledge and influence to support sustainable change everywhere. Also, if viewers andlisteners feel a strong sense of why environmental injustice should concernthem, the more likely they are to inform and influence others about thisimportant subject matter. Moreover, Carter’s content-rich visuals,data, and statistics support her findings and help establish her credibility inthe piece.
For example, Carter utilizes visualimagery to strengthen and add emphasis to her research. Sheillustrates how minority neighborhoods and communities of color suffer the mostfrom flawed urban policies. Carterfurther explains that in due course, “economic degradation begets environmentaldegradation, which begets social degradation” (Carter, 2006, min. 7:05).
Carter’s main point is that the long-term consequencesof economic, environmental, and social degradation will adversely affect susceptible communities throughout various parts of the world. Thisis a fundamental aspect of Carter’s presentation because it offers viewers adeeper insight into understanding that we are all held accountable for thefuture that we create.Furthermore, with regard to audienceawareness, Carter is highly aware and mindful of what information to present toher viewers as well as how to convey it in an effective manner throughout theentire speech. She begins by clarifying the term environmental justice forthose who may not be familiar with it. According to Carter, “no community should be saddled withmore environmental burdens and less environmental benefits than any other” (Carter,2006, min. 2:40).
In other words,Carter believes that certain factors such as class and race are “reliableindicators as to where one might find the good stuff, like parks and trees, andwhere one might find the bad stuff” (Carter, 2006, min. 2:59) like toxic waste sites, power plants, andchemical facilities which pose detrimental health risks to minority communities.Towardthe end of the speech, Carter concludes by boldly stating “please don’t wasteme” (Carter, 2006, min.
17:35). In thiscomment, Carter encourages the audience not let their hard-earned experience,energy, and intelligence go to waste. She points out and acknowledgesthe fact that although we may come from diverse backgrounds and differentcircumstances, “we all share one incredibly powerful thing: we have nothing tolose and everything to gain” (Carter,2006, min. 18:08). The essence ofCarter’s argument is that in order to create change and make a meaningfuldifference in the world, sometimes the very first step is finding the courage fromwithin.All things considered, Majora Carterappears to have met her objective at the TED conference. Carter presenteda profound message about the adverse effects of environmental degradation, andmakes a compelling case about how a healthy and sustainable community isessentially attainable for everyone. Several other factors that strengthenedher overall presentation included her stage presence, confidence, passion, andaudience awareness.
For this reason, Carter’s “Greeningthe Ghetto” TED Talk was worth watching since she delivered aneffective, coherent, and poignant speech punctuated by moments of witand humor. Works CitedCarter,Majora. “Greening the ghetto.” TED: Ideas worth spreading, 2006,www.ted.com/talks/majora_carter_s_tale_of_urban_renewal.