ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Tracee Ellis Ross - Actress, performance artist, motivational speaker
Tracee Ellis Ross is the star of the ABC comedy series “Black-ish” and an influential voice in the modern conversation around equality, respect, beauty and feeling empowered in your skin.

Why you should listen

Tracee Ellis Ross, a global influencer with a cross-cultural and joyful point of view, is a co-founding signatory of the Time's Up movement. In November 2017, she gave a powerful speech that went viral about dismantling expectations and claiming your own life at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit.

When Ross was Emmy-nominated for her work on Black-ish in 2016, it made her the first black woman in 30 years to garner a nomination in the category and only one in five all-time. She's the recipient of multiple NAACP Image awards and nominations for her work. You also may spot her as the host of many award shows, including Black Girls Rock! and the 2017 American Music Awards, where her heart, humor and style are on full blast.

More profile about the speaker
Tracee Ellis Ross | Speaker | TED.com
TED2018

Tracee Ellis Ross: A woman's fury holds lifetimes of wisdom

Filmed:
1,437,213 views

The global collection of women's experiences can no longer be ignored, says actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross. In a candid, fearless talk, she delivers invitations to a better future to both men and women.
- Actress, performance artist, motivational speaker
Tracee Ellis Ross is the star of the ABC comedy series “Black-ish” and an influential voice in the modern conversation around equality, respect, beauty and feeling empowered in your skin. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:13
So, I have a friend.
0
1001
1536
00:15
She's an actress, she's in her 60s.
1
3828
2096
00:18
She's super bright,
2
6485
2251
00:20
badass,
3
8760
1415
00:22
emotionally intelligent.
4
10199
1833
00:24
And a couple of days before Christmas,
she was at the post office.
5
12056
3395
00:28
It was really crowded,
as it is around the holidays,
6
16258
2875
00:31
and she was filling out some forms
7
19157
2423
00:33
and she was really focused.
8
21604
1823
00:35
And out of nowhere,
someone moved her out of the way --
9
23451
3740
00:40
just physically put their hands on her
and moved her out of the way.
10
28041
4447
00:45
He apparently needed something
that she was blocking,
11
33208
2957
00:48
so he moved her.
12
36189
1264
00:50
Maybe he had said something to her,
maybe he didn't, she didn't hear it ...
13
38580
3690
00:54
Either way, she was focused,
she was filling out the form.
14
42294
2772
00:57
And the next thing you know,
there were hands on her,
15
45090
2539
00:59
and she was being moved out of the way.
16
47653
1870
01:01
He then got what he was reaching for,
17
49867
2062
01:05
whatever she was blocking,
18
53102
1847
01:06
and went on his merry way.
19
54973
1578
01:09
She said that she was shocked at first --
20
57718
2900
01:12
yeah.
21
60642
1491
01:14
And then a fury rose up in her
that she could not explain:
22
62157
3548
01:17
not annoyance,
23
65729
1349
01:19
not frustration,
24
67649
1920
01:21
but "fury" was the word that she used.
25
69593
2735
01:24
And she went on to say,
26
72352
1649
01:26
"I mean, I wanted to get physical.
27
74609
3355
01:30
I don't know -- I was furious.
28
78959
2892
01:34
And I don't know why.
29
82879
1535
01:36
I mean, he didn't hit me.
30
84438
1853
01:38
He didn't hurt me,
31
86315
1211
01:39
he didn't violate me.
32
87550
1484
01:41
He moved me,
33
89702
1209
01:43
and I wanted to hurt him,
34
91317
2735
01:46
or at the very least,
35
94076
1215
01:47
run after him and yell in his face."
36
95315
2108
01:50
So later, I was left pondering this fury,
37
98952
2857
01:55
and looking for an explanation as to why,
even in her telling of it,
38
103408
4989
02:00
I felt fury, too,
39
108421
1485
02:01
and why this was a word and a feeling
that I was hearing a lot about lately.
40
109930
4584
02:07
I feel like this is the point in the room
41
115792
2009
02:09
where all the men are getting
a little bit uncomfortable.
42
117825
2880
02:12
(Laughter)
43
120729
1006
02:13
It's OK.
44
121759
1150
02:15
Stay with me.
45
123307
1150
02:17
This fury is something
that I have been chomping on
46
125659
3919
02:21
since the last US presidential election.
47
129602
2802
02:25
And it seems that many women have.
48
133060
2106
02:28
This fury was not my friend's alone.
49
136202
2623
02:31
Her fury was ignited
50
139672
1870
02:34
by lifetimes of men
helping themselves to women's bodies
51
142122
4676
02:38
without consent.
52
146822
1520
02:41
There's a culture of men
helping themselves to women,
53
149744
2555
02:44
and in this case,
54
152323
1154
02:45
in a seemingly innocuous way,
55
153501
2144
02:47
where a woman's body is like a saltshaker:
56
155669
2092
02:49
"Get out of the way
so I can get to the fries" --
57
157785
2366
02:52
(Laughter)
58
160175
1150
02:54
to the most egregious,
59
162280
2531
02:56
violent
60
164835
1428
02:58
and horrific situations.
61
166287
1922
03:01
I imagine that some of you
are wondering what the connection is
62
169721
3016
03:04
between the innocuous and the horrific,
63
172761
2615
03:07
two things that seem to be
on opposite ends of the spectrum.
64
175845
3715
03:12
Well, the common thread is the spectrum.
65
180892
4005
03:18
The innocuous makes space
for the horrific.
66
186106
4029
03:24
And women have to live
with the effects of both
67
192429
4870
03:29
and everything in between.
68
197934
1727
03:33
Fellas,
69
201310
1406
03:34
can you imagine you're just on your phone,
70
202740
3029
03:38
and someone walks up to you
and just takes it out of your hand?
71
206480
3134
03:41
And they're like, "OK dude,
I don't know why you're getting so upset,
72
209638
3309
03:44
I want to make a phone call.
73
212971
1535
03:46
I'm going to give it back to you
as soon as I'm done.
74
214530
2487
03:49
Whatever."
75
217041
1150
03:51
And then imagine if someone takes
that cell phone out of your hands --
76
219140
3962
03:55
I don't know -- once a day,
77
223126
2393
03:58
twice a day,
78
226438
1158
03:59
random times.
79
227620
1278
04:01
And the explanation is,
80
229427
1151
04:02
"Yeah, well, I mean,
you got a fancy case,"
81
230602
3810
04:06
or "You shouldn't have
taken it out of your pocket,"
82
234436
3688
04:10
or "Yep. Yeah.
83
238148
2265
04:12
That's just the way it is."
84
240437
1470
04:14
But somehow, no one ever talks about
the person who took the cell phone.
85
242800
5559
04:21
Overly simplified, I get it,
86
249246
2348
04:23
but you see where I'm going.
87
251618
2273
04:27
Men are so used to helping
themselves, that it's like ...
88
255026
3426
04:31
they can't help themselves.
89
259118
1473
04:34
And not because men
are fundamentally less moral,
90
262482
3722
04:38
but because this is a very big
blind spot for most men.
91
266228
5716
04:46
When someone helps themselves to a woman,
92
274046
3035
04:49
it not only triggers
discomfort and distress,
93
277105
4746
04:54
but the unspoken experiences
of our mothers' lives,
94
282505
4907
04:59
sisters' lives
95
287436
1834
05:01
and generations of women before us.
96
289294
2582
05:05
That's lifetimes of women dealing with men
97
293600
4429
05:10
who assume they know better for us
than we know for ourselves,
98
298053
3621
05:15
being the property of husbands,
99
303657
2642
05:18
landowners,
100
306953
1961
05:20
and having old, white men tell us
the fate of our lady parts;
101
308938
4082
05:26
lifetimes of having our bodies used
for love and objects of desire,
102
314087
5366
05:31
instead of bodies that we get to wield
and use as we choose;
103
319477
6362
05:39
lifetimes of knowing that whether
we play by their rules or not,
104
327144
3320
05:42
we still have to tolerate harassment,
105
330488
3938
05:46
assault
106
334450
1415
05:47
and even worse;
107
335889
1253
05:49
lifetimes of our bodies being used
as property that can be hit and hurt,
108
337648
5137
05:55
manipulated and moved
109
343336
2906
05:58
and like objects that are not
deserving of respect;
110
346915
2838
06:03
lifetimes of not being able to express
the anger of our bodies.
111
351140
6767
06:12
It's no wonder we feel this fury.
112
360578
2329
06:17
And if you add in the history of race --
113
365446
3435
06:21
which is a whole other talk --
114
369602
1886
06:24
it gets exponentially more complicated.
115
372396
3267
06:30
When women get manhandled,
we start to rationalize,
116
378173
2918
06:33
try to figure out the ways that it was --
117
381115
2226
06:35
"It was probably our fault.
118
383365
1344
06:36
You know what? He probably said
something, and I didn't hear him.
119
384733
4272
06:41
I'm just overreacting.
120
389029
1485
06:42
I'm totally overreacting."
121
390538
1328
06:43
No.
122
391890
1150
06:45
No.
123
393719
1150
06:47
No.
124
395508
1150
06:49
No, no, no, no, no.
125
397244
2685
06:52
Women have been trained
to think that we are overreacting
126
400988
4509
06:57
or that we're being too sensitive
or unreasonable.
127
405521
3725
07:01
We try to make sense of nonsense,
128
409270
1827
07:03
and we swallow the furious feelings.
129
411121
2284
07:05
We try to put them into
some hidden place in our minds,
130
413429
3320
07:08
but they don't go away.
131
416773
1488
07:11
That fury sits deep inside
as we practice our smiles --
132
419794
4715
07:16
(Giggling) "Yes, of course" --
133
424533
2480
07:19
and try to be pleasant.
134
427037
1476
07:20
"I know --" (Giggling)
"Yes, yes, of course,"
135
428979
3532
07:24
because apparently, women
aren't supposed to get angry.
136
432535
2618
07:29
That fury that my friend felt
holds centuries
137
437925
5748
07:35
of never being able to directly address
or express our indignation,
138
443697
6167
07:43
our frustration
139
451028
1919
07:44
and our rage.
140
452971
1407
07:48
When someone thinks
they can help themselves to our bodies,
141
456022
3243
07:51
it not only ignites the current fury,
142
459289
3219
07:55
but it lights up the past.
143
463289
1945
07:59
What seems like a benign moment
at the post office
144
467686
2523
08:03
is actually an anger grenade.
145
471560
1906
08:07
Well,
146
475100
1151
08:08
kaboom!
147
476907
1168
08:12
Today, the global collection
of women's experiences
148
480627
3602
08:16
can no longer be ignored.
149
484253
1914
08:19
Time's up on thinking
that we're overreacting
150
487236
2565
08:21
or "This is just the way it is."
151
489825
1708
08:24
Time's up on women being held responsible
152
492630
4024
08:28
for men's bad behavior.
153
496678
3140
08:31
It is men's responsibility
to change men's bad behavior.
154
499842
5212
08:38
(Applause)
155
506104
5856
08:46
Our culture is shifting,
156
514183
1644
08:48
and it's time.
157
516810
1252
08:52
So my fellow women
158
520101
1655
08:54
and our gentle men,
159
522852
1843
08:58
as we are here together
within this particular window
160
526841
3820
09:02
of this large-scale movement
towards women's equality,
161
530685
4656
09:08
and as we envision a future
that does not yet exist,
162
536532
3040
09:12
we both have different invitations.
163
540181
1930
09:15
Men,
164
543935
1215
09:18
I call you in as allies,
165
546959
3864
09:23
as we work together towards change.
166
551955
2718
09:27
May you be accountable
and self-reflective,
167
555982
3788
09:33
compassionate and open.
168
561679
3191
09:38
May you ask how you can support a woman
and be of service to change.
169
566590
4765
09:44
And may you get help if you need it.
170
572721
1938
09:48
And women,
171
576676
1197
09:51
I encourage you
172
579750
1563
09:54
to acknowledge your fury.
173
582127
2576
09:57
Give it language.
174
585990
1609
10:00
Share it in safe places of identification
175
588528
3193
10:03
and in safe ways.
176
591745
1587
10:07
Your fury is not something
to be afraid of.
177
595788
2889
10:11
It holds lifetimes of wisdom.
178
599488
3122
10:15
Let it breathe
179
603857
1477
10:19
and listen.
180
607062
1150
10:21
Thank you.
181
609366
1150
10:22
(Applause)
182
610540
3546
10:29
Thank you.
183
617237
1340
10:30
(Applause)
184
618577
2050

▲Back to top

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Tracee Ellis Ross - Actress, performance artist, motivational speaker
Tracee Ellis Ross is the star of the ABC comedy series “Black-ish” and an influential voice in the modern conversation around equality, respect, beauty and feeling empowered in your skin.

Why you should listen

Tracee Ellis Ross, a global influencer with a cross-cultural and joyful point of view, is a co-founding signatory of the Time's Up movement. In November 2017, she gave a powerful speech that went viral about dismantling expectations and claiming your own life at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit.

When Ross was Emmy-nominated for her work on Black-ish in 2016, it made her the first black woman in 30 years to garner a nomination in the category and only one in five all-time. She's the recipient of multiple NAACP Image awards and nominations for her work. You also may spot her as the host of many award shows, including Black Girls Rock! and the 2017 American Music Awards, where her heart, humor and style are on full blast.

More profile about the speaker
Tracee Ellis Ross | Speaker | TED.com