The Incessant Negative Imagery of Black Lives with Martha Underwood

awareness candid craic dei leadership Apr 01, 2021

In this Candid Craic, we talk to Martha Underwood about the experience of being a black, female leader in the Deep South of the USA.

Having been presented with a Leadership in Diversity award by Birmingham, Alabama, Martha explains the role she and others are playing in changing perceptions of the city, and the increasingly integrated plurality of the community.

She talks about the origins of narrow perceptions about black Americans, highlighting the incessant negative imagery that has characterised the presentation of black lives in US print and media, from stupid illiterates in the 1930s to gang members, drug addicts and welfare queens in the late 20th Century.

She goes on to outline numerous ways in which she helps young, black Americans overcome related perceptions of their abilities in contemporary society.

We explore even deeper roots of racism and how even Enlightened Abolitionists contributed to "scientific" denigrations of the character and ability of black Americans, before turning to the tactics, stories and discourses that are generating hope for a more pluralistic, egalitarian future.

We look at how grassroot change is developing better complexity of thinking in many young people of all races; how the emergence of female leaders can help shift outdated, narrow and problematic leadership discourses; and how the future might be so bright we'll need to wear shades.

Amid all of Martha's wonderful insights is the impossible to answer question of what on earth happened to Oscar's hair during this Craic!

00:08 Hello Martha
00:24 Just what is it that Martha does?
02:11 Leadership in Diversity, Master of Conflict
05:57 Birmingham, Alabama: Problems of Perception
15:22 The Weaponization of Imagery...
18:42 ... and Beyond. Coaching, Confidence (and Conformity!)
21:38 Hope, Curiosity, Courage. A New American Consciousness?
30:22 Enlightened, Much? Tactics of Plurality
35:50 Seeing Stories of Humanity: The Green Shoots of Grassroot Change
43:13 Women in Tech and the Problem of Belonging
47:16 Moving the Needle of the Leadership Discourse
52:47 Standing Ground, Walking Away & Learning to Sit in Uncertainty
55:37 Developing Future-readiness in our Youth
57:10 The Nine Trillion Dollar Question