"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

Tiffany M. Griffin, PhD

Tiffany M. Griffin, PhD is a social psychologist with expertise in inter and intra-group dynamics, linkages between psychological processes and structural discrimination, as well as the implications of identity and discrimination for educational, mental health, and physical health disparities. Dr. Griffin has a wide range of public policy experience including legislative experience in the US Senate, international development experience at USAID, and advocacy experience with the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Griffin received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2009, where she was a NSF Predoctoral Fellow and recipient of the 2008 Innovations in Social Research Dissertation Fellowship. Tiffany’s work has addressed the connections between social psychological processes, social disparities, and public policies in the US, Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Dr. Griffin also possesses expertise in the areas of experimental research, survey design and research, data analysis and statistics, monitoring and evaluation, writing for publication, grant writing, and editing. Tiffany recently completed an American Psychological Association Congressional Fellowship in US Senator Bingaman’s (NM) office, where her portfolio included health (i.e., Medicaid, patent law, US-Mexico border health, FDA), food/nutrition (i.e., domestic food security, school-based nutrition, SNAP [food stamps]), and vulnerable populations (i.e., TANF [welfare]). Prior to her Congressional Fellowship, Dr. Griffin completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill, worked for the National Poverty Center, and engaged in consulting and service activities focused on ameliorating educational and mental health inequalities. In her “free” time, Tiffany enjoys running her vegetarian and vegan consultancy, Como Water, listening to Afro-Portuguese music, and watching documentaries.


This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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