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TEDxOakland: A gathering of ground-breaking​ women

Photo by Alyana Willis

“TED: Ideas worth spreading” conference came on Nov. 3 to Laney College, which became home to this year’s TedxOakland. This year’s conference theme was “Dare to Dream,” and while the itinerary was filled with innovators, artists, scientists and advocates, it was a real showcase of women of Oakland fighting for Oakland. This high-level event within the heart of the city brought the community together as it showcased individuals representing Oakland.

Kicking off the conference was the Pacific Boychoir Academy which performed some of their Grammy-winning songs. Other performers in attendance were Oakland native Netta Brooks, who within her music advocates for mental health, and Muslim-Latinx comedian Sofie Lovern, who suggests that we all take time to laugh at ourselves.

Photo from Techbridge Girls

Present at the conference were speakers like Nikole Collins-Puri, the founder and CEO of Techbridge Girls. This nonprofit organization gives low-income girls an opportunity within the Bay Area community to experience STEM and then help those girls get jobs in the STEM field. During her time, Collins-Puri addressed “an ecosystem that prevents girls [from] entering STEM,” and that as tech companies begin to diversify their workers “a population of girls [is being] left out of tech revolution.” Collins-Puri summarized this exclusion of girls being left behind because they do not have social capital. “Who you know matters,” she concluded. With Techbridge Girls, she hopes to give 1 million girls the connections to make it in the STEM field by 2023.

Jamie Almanza at TEDxOakland
Picture by Alyana Willis

Also present was Jamie Almanza, a Mills College alum and executive director of Bay Area Community Services (BACS). Almanza gave a passionate talk on her ideal dream for Oakland, “where people don’t have to live outside.” During her talk, she described how Oakland in recent years has seen a 77% increase of homeless people, as well as some solutions to this crisis. Almanza went on to list the first solution as preventing homelessness by having proactive resources for people to use. The second solution was to create affordable housing that is accessible for any income, and the third was to fight stigma.

Another powerful talk, “How to Avoid Microaggressions in the Workplace,” was given by Tiffany Alvoid, a specialist on critical race theory who is now the Pipeline Chair for Charles Houston Bar Association, period. The organization focuses on helping Bay Area youth get introduced to the law field.

“Proximity to POC does not make you woke,” Alvoid stated as the audience cheers. This false idea of being in touch with other issues is what Alvoid asserts is a cause of microaggressions. In her talk, Alvoid asks the audience to consider three things before they speak to avoid this microaggression: 1) Pause before you speak 2) Think, is it necessary? 3) Do research to understand others.

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“We are not different from our incarcerated sisters and brothers,” award-winning author and life coach Dawn Morningstar urged the audience as she focused her talk on the time she spent coaching incarcerated women.

“We are all the same at our core,” Morningstar asserted as she addressed that many people make mistakes throughout their lives and that society should not define incarcerated people by their mistakes. If you want to help incarcerated people, Morningstar suggests to “pay attention to prison reform” and equip yourself with the tools to help stand behind these people.

Each of these speakers advocated for a change in this world and emphasized the close-knit nature of the Oakland community. With these ground-breaking women shaping the way for the future, along with 19 other speakers, TEDxOakland was a gathering of community thinkers ready to improve the world.