Prophetic stories of freedom: Connecting hip-hop and higher education

Lauren Whiteman discusses how she uses hip-hop pedagogy to motivate Black and African American students in higher education to succeed in college and aspire to greatness.

Lauren Whiteman, M.Ed., is originally from Dallas, Texas and received both her Bachelors in Public Relations and her Masters in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma. She served as Assistant Director of Student Life and the Coordinator for African American Student Programs and Services at OU, and now serves as Student Services Coordinator for the Multicultural Center at the University of North Texas. Her work focuses on advocacy, student development, and the miseducation of Black and African American students in higher education. Lauren has also written on some serious and not-so-serious topics related to Black culture for different media outlets, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

How I learned to draw people of color

Artist Jane Hsi discusses race aesthetics in art and how she made a conscious effort to create more diverse representations in her own artwork.

Jane Hsi is a senior at the University of Oklahoma triple-majoring in Biochemistry, Letters, and Studio Art. Although this seems like a strange combination of majors, Jane enjoys how the diversity of these fields allows her to use both the analytical and creative sides of her brain. Thanks to the incredible dedication and patience of her professors—from both the science and the art departments—Jane has found a passion for art academia and for oil painting. She hopes to continue working with her community and with fellow artists to challenge aesthetic standards in art and society. She is currently curating an exhibition at OU that will showcase artists from around the nation with the theme of the works being the relationship between race and aesthetics. Although she tries to keep herself busy with classes, student organizations, and studio work, Jane does find time to relax by reading a good novel, biking in cold weather, Skyping with her family in China, and speed-napping between class

Merleyn Bell On Being Biracial and Becoming Color Brave

Merleyn Bell is a biracial woman who founded a local radio show to talk about difficult issues centered around race. In this Talk, she stresses the importance of having uncomfortable conversations and shares insights she’s learned from doing just that.

Merleyn Bell is Art Director at the University of Oklahoma’s premiere literary publication, World Literature Today. In 2015, Merleyn created the radio show Race Matters as a platform for conversations with authors, activists, and scholars about the pressing topic of race. The show enriches the diverse offerings from World Literature Today, which celebrates its 90th year of continuous publication in 2016. During her decade-long tenure at World Literature Today, she has led the creation and development of the organization’s print and digital publications. Her design work has garnered many awards and made her a sought-after consultant to publications the world over. Before joining the staff at World Literature Today, Merleyn worked as a student intern for the organization. She now enjoys mentoring a new generation of students who are curious about the magazine publishing industry. Merleyn also works with a number of clients in the nonprofit sector, using her design expertise to help them

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at