We need to talk about an injustice Bryan Stevenson
Well this is a really extraordinary honor for me. I spend most of my time in jails, in prisons, on death row. I spend most of my time in very lowincome communities in the projects and places where there’s a great deal of hopelessness. And being here at TED and seeing the stimulation, hearing it, has been very, very energizing to me.
And one of the things that’s emerged in my short time here is that TED has an identity. And you can actually say things here that have impacts around the world. And sometimes when it comes through TED, it has meaning and power that it doesn’t have when it doesn’t. And I mention that because I think identity is really important.
And we’ve had some fantastic presentations. And I think what we’ve learned is that, if you’re a teacher your words can be meaningful, but if you’re a compassionate teacher, they can be especially meaningful. If you’re a you can do some good things, but if you’re a caring you can do some other things. And so I want to talk about the power of identity.
And I didn’t learn about this actually practicing law and doing the work that I do. I actually learned about this from my grandmother. I grew up in a house that was the traditional AfricanAmerican home that was dominated by a matriarch, and that matriarch was my grandmother. She was tough, she was strong,.
She was powerful. She was the end of every argument in our family. She was the beginning of a lot of arguments in our family. She was the daughter of people who were actually enslaved. Her parents were born in slavery in Virginia in the 1840’s. She was born in the 1880’s and the experience of slavery very much shaped the way she saw the world.
And my grandmother was tough, but she was also loving. When I would see her as a little boy, she’d come up to me and she’d give me these hugs. And she’d squeeze me so tight I could barely breathe and then she’d let me go. And an hour or two later, if I saw her, she’d come over to me and she’d say, quot;Bryan, do you still feel me hugging you?quot; And if I said, quot;No,quot; she’d assault me again,.
And if I said, quot;Yes,quot; she’d leave me alone. And she just had this quality that you always wanted to be near her. And the only challenge was that she had 10 children. My mom was the youngest of her 10 kids. And sometimes when I would go and spend time with her, it would be difficult to get her time and attention. My cousins would be running around everywhere.
My stroke of insight Jill Bolte Taylor
I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who has been diagnosed with a brain disorder, schizophrenia. And as a sister and later, as a scientist, I wanted to understand, why is it that I can take my dreams, I can connect them to my reality, and I can make my dreams come true? What is it about my brother’s brain and his schizophrenia.
That he cannot connect his dreams to a common and shared reality, so they instead become delusion? So I dedicated my career to research into the severe mental illnesses. And I moved from my home state of Indiana to Boston, where I was working in the lab of Francine Benes, in the Harvard Department of Psychiatry. And in the lab, we were asking the question, quot;What are the biological differences.
Between the brains of individuals who would be diagnosed as normal control, as compared with the brains of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective or bipolar disorder?quot; So we were essentially mapping the microcircuitry of the brain: which cells are communicating with which cells, with which chemicals, and then in what quantities of those chemicals? So there was a lot of meaning in my life.
Because I was performing this type of research during the day, but then in the evenings and on the weekends, I traveled as an advocate for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. But on the morning of December 10, 1996, I woke up to discover that I had a brain disorder of my own. A blood vessel exploded in the left half of my brain. And in the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate.
In its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage, I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life. I essentially became an infant in a woman’s body. If you’ve ever seen a human brain, it’s obvious that the two hemispheres are completely separate from one another. And I have brought for you a real human brain. (Groaning, laughter).
So this is a real human brain. This is the front of the brain, the back of brain with the spinal cord hanging down, and this is how it would be positioned inside of my head. And when you look at the brain, it’s obvious that the two cerebral cortices are completely separate from one another. For those of you who understand computers,.
Our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor, while our left hemisphere functions like a serial processor. The two hemispheres do communicate with one another through the corpus callosum, which is made up of some 300 million axonal fibers. But other than that, the two hemispheres are completely separate. Because they process information differently,.