Local entrepreneur and public speaker Ant Blair will be the first African-American from Columbus to speak at a TEDxBloomington event.
The April 17 flagship event, entitled “The Big Questions,” will highlight the questions “being asked by out-of-the-box thinkers, scholars, and citizens seeking to be allies and advocates for positive change.” The event is virtual and will be streamed live from the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington.
Blair said he will speak about “how African-Americans can liberate themselves in a modern age.”
That liberty entails “being able to enjoy social, political, economic rights” and noted that the pandemic has a shed a light on inequality, he said. In the talk, he’s proposing a way forward for African-Americans so that they can claim those inherent rights.
In discussing current events, Blair said that while there is a “lot of talk about equity and inclusion” and companies have implemented bias training and other initiatives, an aspect that seems to get left out of the conversation is that of mental liberation.
Liberation, he said, isn’t just about the Underground Railroad or the physical act of escaping.
“For me, I look at the mental effects of this system that has been put in place, the mental effects of the media especially,” he said.
African-Americans are often portrayed in a negative light, he said.
“There’s a mental liberation that needs to be reached, that needs to be gained,” he said. “Because we, as a people, we’ve been brainwashed. We’ve been mis-educated. And we have to liberate ourselves from that mis-education and that brainwashing in order to be able to put ourselves into a position to enjoy these social and political and economic rights that are inherent to every American citizen.”
Speaking at the TEDxBloomington event is not only a great honor and privilege, but also a big responsibility, he said.
Blair, who grew up in Flint, Michigan, said that he sees his talk as an opportunity to provide inspiration to people in his hometown and encourage them to pursue their goals.
“I want to be that beacon of hope for those folks back home who are struggling with keeping hope alive in the face of everything that they’re facing,” he said.
If you go
What: TEDxBloomington presents “The Big Questions.”
When: 6:30-9 p.m. April 17
Cost: $15 for general admission, $10 for students, $50 for “patrons” (includes a general admission ticket and an “Above and Beyond” donation). A link to purchase tickets can be found at www.tedxbloomington.com/the-big-questions/.
How to watch: Once you have purchased a ticket, you will receive a link to the event via email the day of the show. Create a Mandolin account to watch. The broadcast will be available on Mandolin for 48 hours after being recorded.
Ant Blair founded and led one of the first African-American-owned online advertising companies. He has won the Dale Carnegie Highest Award for Achievement and many Toastmaster awards for public speaking.
Blair is also the author of “Smart Ads: How To Sell And Make Money Online Using Clever Words And Ideas That Pay.”
According to TEDxBloomington’s website, TEDx is a program of “local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.”
“At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group,” the site explains. “These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.”