Dr. Kira Banks

We asked our upcoming speakers a series of questions to get to know them a little better in advance of their presentation. In this post, we’re featuring Dr. Kira Banks, psychology professor.

What was your reaction when you learned you were chosen as a speaker for TEDxAM18?
I was excited and nervous! It’s an honor to be chosen to be a TEDxAM18 speaker, and I want to do my best. So, it’s a balance of not putting too much pressure on myself yet feeling the pressure to step up to the challenge.

Who is an inspiration or mentor who has influenced your work?
Beverly Daniel Tatum, former president of Spelman College. She became a mentor to me while at Mount Holyoke College and has heavily influenced my work. She introduced me to racial identity development theory and the psychology of racism. Working on a Carnegie Foundation grant on improving the interethnic lives of youth was the first time I saw research applied to people’s everyday lives. It changed the way I see research and continues to shape my thinking about how psychologists can, and should, contribute to the world.

What is your favorite TED or TEDx Talk and why?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s “Danger of a Single Story” is my favorite TED talk, because it’s so simple yet powerful. It tells us a bit about how she came to be and is a beautiful reflection of how we are shaped and resist shaping. It’s a balance of personal and profound, and I use it often in teaching and trainings.

How does what you wanted to be when you grew up compare with what you’re doing today?
It matches eerily well, given I didn’t know what I was talking about. I said I wanted to be a cross-cultural psychologist. Currently, I’m a psychologist that focuses on aspects of culture and how that influences how we think about ourselves and interact with others.

If you could pick one person to present a TED talk, who would you choose? Why?
I would love to hear what my mom would say in a TED talk. She’s lived an interesting life — from integrating schools in St. Louis, to being the first in her family to go to college — from being in the last all-women class at Vassar, to one of the first women programmers at IBM, to being CEO of a National Urban League affiliate. Perhaps selfishly, I want to capture her wisdom. She’s always been a favorite “mom” in our friends’ groups, so I think others would appreciate hearing from her as well.

You can see (and meet) Dr. Banks when she presents at the TEDxAmoskeagMillyard event on June 2, 2018. Register now. 

Join the conversation on social media! #TEDxAM18