Majora Carter: Greening the Ghetto Inspirational TED Talk 

Majora Carter is perhaps one of New York
City’s most well-known environmental justice activists. In February 2006,
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 of environmental
racism and inequality among minority communities. Not only does Carter underscore
the importance of sustainable development and the imperative need for a clean
green economy, but she also presents a number of feasible ways in which we can
maintain economic development without causing environmental pollution or
degradation. Taking everything into account, the illuminating TED Talk was certainly worth
viewing seeing as Carter was able to effectively convey an empowering
message across to her viewers about environmental justice.

Toward the beginning of the presentation, Carter
vividly narrates her fight for environmental equality in the South Bronx, New
York City. This highlights Carter’s capacity to connect with the audience by
sharing her back-story and life experiences. For example, she reveals the harsh
reality of growing up as an underprivileged black child in the South Bronx, and
about the loss of a loved one at one particular point in her poignant
speech. Carter’s detailed disclosure about her older brother Lenny’s
tragic death demonstrates her vulnerable side as well. Her vulnerability and
candidness seems to capture and resonate with people in a way that mere facts
and statistics never will. Notice how Carter displays a
genuine level of sincerity and dynamism in her emotions too. By opening up
about her life history and experiences, Carter is better able to connect with
the audience on a more personal level. Carter’s storytelling
process also pulls the viewers focus into her world and establishes a context for
why her narrative matters. Engaging the audience via a story enables one to see
through someone else’s eyes. This type of involvement evidently appears to be
the key to Carter’s persuasion.

An additional strong point that Carter
exhibits is her confidence and passionate stance on the fight for environmental
and economic justice. For instance, Carter appeals to the viewers by vehemently
stating “help me make green the new
black. Help me make sustainability sexy. Make it a part of your dinner and
cocktail conversations” (Carter, 2006, min. 15:44).  In making this remark, Carter empowers
individuals to take control of their own lives and urges viewers to use
their knowledge and influence to support sustainable change everywhere. Also, if viewers and
listeners feel a strong sense of why environmental injustice should concern
them, the more likely they are to inform and influence others about this
important subject matter.

Moreover, Carter’s content-rich visuals,
data, and statistics support her findings and help establish her credibility in
the piece. For example, Carter utilizes visual
imagery to strengthen and add emphasis to her research. She
illustrates how minority neighborhoods and communities of color suffer the most
from flawed urban policies. Carter
further explains that in due course, “economic degradation begets environmental
degradation, which begets social degradation” (Carter, 2006, min. 7:05). Carter’s main point is that the long-term consequences
of economic, environmental, and social degradation will adversely affect susceptible communities throughout various parts of the world. This
is a fundamental aspect of Carter’s presentation because it offers viewers a
deeper insight into understanding that we are all held accountable for the
future that we create.

Furthermore, with regard to audience
awareness, Carter is highly aware and mindful of what information to present to
her viewers as well as how to convey it in an effective manner throughout the
entire speech. She begins by clarifying the term environmental justice for
those who may not be familiar with it. According to Carter, “no community should be saddled with
more 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 strong
indicators as to “where one might find the good stuff, like parks and trees,
and where one might find the bad stuff” (Carter, 2006, min. 2:59) like toxic waste sites, power plants, and hazardous
chemical facilities which pose detrimental health risks to minority communities.
the end of the speech, Carter concludes by boldly stating “please don’t waste
me” (Carter, 2006, min. 17:35). In this
comment, Carter encourages the audience not let their hard-earned experience,
energy, and intelligence go to waste. She points out and acknowledges
the fact that although we may come from diverse backgrounds and different
circumstances, we all have one powerful thing in common: “we have nothing to
lose and everything to gain” (Carter,
2006, min. 18:08). The essence of
Carter’s argument is that in order to create change and make a meaningful
difference in the world, sometimes the very first step is finding the courage from

All things considered, Majora Carter
appears to have met her objective at the TED conference.  Carter presented
a profound message about the adverse effects of environmental degradation, and
makes a compelling case about how a healthy and sustainable community is
essentially attainable for everyone. Several other factors that strengthened
her overall presentation included her stage presence, confidence, passion, and
audience awareness. For this reason, Carter’s “Greening
the Ghetto” TED Talk was worth watching since she delivered an
effective, coherent, and poignant speech punctuated by moments of wit
and humor.

Works Cited

Majora. “Greening the ghetto.” TED: Ideas worth spreading, 2006,