Mellody Hobson On What It Means To Be ‘Color Brave’ In 2015

President of Ariel Investments on why a black U.S. president doesn’t mean MLK’s heart wouldn’t be ‘breaking’ today

In honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., MTV is having an honest and brave conversation about race across all screens. Share your story using the hashtag, #TheTalk. Your tweet may appear on-air, or on

The United States has certainly changed a lot since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his groundbreaking "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963. However, as we look back on the events of last year, like the #BlackLivesMatter protests, and the alleged racist comments from former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, it is obvious that there is still a lot to be done in terms of ending racial bias in this country.

In fact, bias is still so pervasive that it impacts all of us. According to a recent MTV study, 94% of 14 to 24-year-olds reported seeing examples of bias in their lives, and 78% believe that bias is at the root of a lot of the problems facing the world today.

But here’s the dilemma: only 20% of those interviewed said they were comfortable talking about it.

If we aren’t comfortable sitting down and having a conversation about racial bias, how will we ever make Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream a reality?

That’s why today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., MTV is having #TheTalk.

Someone who is bravely talking already is Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, and Chairman of DreamWorks Animation. Last year she gave a powerful TED Talk, where she insisted that we could no longer be “color blind” and instead introduced a new term to the lexicon, insisting we need to be "color brave." It’s this sort of open and progressive discussion about race that she thinks will ultimately help us to forge forward.

“You can be ‘color brave’ in a myriad of ways,” Hobson recently told MTV News. “If you are compelled to march you should do so, but young people can also take it upon themselves to simply have conversations with people who don't look like them, who don't come from where they come from, who don't share their religion.”

“They can invite other people into their lives who are different, and be willing to have conversations in a way that hopefully leads to shared experiences, and shared understanding.”

From a very young age, Hobson’s mother did something a lot of parents do – she kept a running dialogue with her daughter about race in America. Hobson is a firm believer that it’s vital this conversation continues in 2015, and even takes place in schools.

“Teaching history gives teachers the opportunity to apply those lessons to today’s life,” she said. “There’s a big initiative right now to get young people to see the movie ‘Selma’ because it will teach them their history and allow them to have these race conversations, against a backdrop of facts. That’s very important.” In fact, Hobson is such a fan of “Selma” that she and some friends recently paid for 10,000 students to see the film.

“If that conversation’s not happening at home, I certainly think it can be had at school.”

Hobson pointed out that while she herself has never marched in protests, her way of being “color brave” was giving that TED Talk about race (which has since amassed more than 1 million views) despite warnings that it might ruin her very successful career.

Have something to say? Share your story using the hashtag, #TheTalk. Your tweet may appear on-air, or on

During her informative TED Talk, Hobson pointed out that most boardrooms in corporate America are still seriously lacking in diversity, and they will be for a long time, unless we all “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” and work hard on being “color brave.” This means sitting down with your coworkers and learning more about them than how they take their coffee.

Hobson has one daughter with her husband, George Lucas, and even though her child is of mixed race, she will certainly be taught about being “color brave”, particularly in the context of being black in America.

"I will make sure she's aware of what it means to be black in America, and that she is not immune from these issues because she grows up with more money than I had,” she said.

“I will make sure she understands the responsibility she has to the world. When you’ve been given a lot in terms of resources, two loving parents and being born in America, you have to pay that forward. I want her to be a person who’s inclusive, a person who’s curious about all cultures and all people.”

“In some ways I think [Martin Luther King Jr.] would be so pleased because we have a black president – that says a lot for America and the world,” Hobson said.

“But in other ways, we have not made the kind of meaningful progress that I'm sure he hoped we would've made at this point—and that’s everything from the corporate boards and Fortune 500 companies that don’t have diverse leadership, to the Fergusons, Trayvons, to the cities that aren’t in the headlines and we don’t know their names.”

“I think on one hand his heart would be filled with joy, and on the other hand his heart would probably be breaking."

Want more? Watch all the artist, activist, and politician’s testimonials HERE.