Perception Institute provides “needs assessments,” “affinity spaces,” “connection circles,” “mind science workshops,” research and evaluation and communications strategies to help “organizations achieve their goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” While working for Friends Seminary, Harris created “affinity groups” and promoted the sharing of gender pronouns. One Friends Seminary student said he helped draft a student campaign against the school’s dress code. Another student said he helped with the student’s name change.

Harris began his talk by telling students, “What I hope to share with you comes from my own life as a black cisgender man bent on celebrating every moment of my glorious existence.”

He explained he would be speaking about “moments” in his life where he “experienced black joy” which were times when he felt like he was “enough” since “self editing is a form of violence.”

“Because society’s fantasies about me are so often confining and narrow,” he continued, “I have had to develop a capacity to tell myself a counter-story: When my kindergarten teacher told my mom that I had quote ‘a mental problem,’ I told myself in fact that I have mental gifts…when my teacher taught me that God was the one who sent Europeans to the continent of Africa to punish them for their heathenistic ways, I told myself that God was in fact a black woman…when they said I was too black, too white, too feminine, too poor, too nerdy, too, too, too, I told myself over and over again on repeat that I am worthy of love and esteem just as I am.”

“Maya Angelou said,“ he reminded students, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Harris said he was inspired by black organizer Fannie Lou Hamer, black activist and leader Ella Baker, black lesbian feminist poet Audre Lorde, black intellectual Cornel West, black gay novelist and essayist James Baldwin and black radical singer Adrienne Maree Brown.