From a chemistry scientist to an artist who uses her eyes to draw to a 13-year old entrepreneur and Theatre Bizarre, TEDxDetroit filled me with inspiration, exhaustion, motivation and wonder of the incredible talents that exist in this world.
TEDxDetroit was split into three sections. For me, the standout set of the morning were brothers Undra and Austin Mack. Two of Detroit’s youngest entrepreneurs at the ages of 12 and 11-years old, they have started a few different businesses, including an app development company, book publishing and a lawn service. Their message focused on inspiring other kids to go after a new idea, no matter what it is, and see what happens. I find it rings true for adults, too.
Kate Biberdorf, aka Chemistry Kate, was hands-down the most memorable part of the second section. Self-dubbed a Science Entertainer, Chemistry Kate takes the art of science and makes it fun and memorable, thus helping her students (or audience) learn. Her performance on stage was explosive (literally), and definitely broke down the boring stigma science sometimes carries.
The final section of the day has many memorable moments for me. At one point the Cass Technical
High School Marching Band joined Hip-Hop Artist Nick Speed on stage for a raucous and energetic performance that had everybody on their feet. Amer Zahr, an Arab-American comedian and adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, provided a funny and historical look on Arab Americans and their exclusion from the United States Census. His short documentary “We’re Not White” expands on it.
The most impactful was Detroit-native Melissa Butler. Founder of The Lip Bar, a non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free line of lipsticks, took the stage not to promote her business, but to challenge society’s standard of beauty. Poised, confident and full of passion, Melissa spoke of her childhood and the standard of beauty she knew was “light hair and fair skin.” She noted women are not the only gender to struggle. Often overlooked are the struggles men face to conform to “acceptable standards of beauty.” And, while we as a society will most likely always struggle with this, she impressed upon the audience to “stop listening to other peoples version of beauty and accept and work with whatever you have. Do not let anyone define your value because you are enough.”
*More on Melissa’s “Learning to Love my Flaws” message can be found at The Lip Bar Blog.