London Calling Me! Callaloo Writing Workshop – Oct 26th

My new manuscript and new Adoptee Artist Collaborations ahead!! 

I’m honored to have been invited to attend the CALLALOO Literary Journal’s 2014 Writing Workshop hosted by the Black Cultural Archives, in collaboration with The Equiano Centre at University College London, England. I have a chance to work with esteemed poet Gregory Pardlo and be in residence with fiction writers Maaza Mengiste and Jackson Brown as well as 20 other multi-genre writers selected from across the global African Diaspora.cal.36.1_front

CALLALOO is a journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters based at Texas A&M University, and ranked one of the top 15 literary magazines in the United States by Every Writer’s Resource. Ranked among such periodicals as The New Yorker Magazine, Paris Review, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and Kenyon Review, Callaloo is edited by Dr. Charles Henry Rowell, a professor of English, and published quarterly by the Johns Hopkins University Press in Baltimore, MD.

Unfortunately, CALLALOO is unable to provide funding support for the writers who are attending, so we are asked to pay our own transportation, room and board. Your individual support ensures my ability to attend this workshop, to further my artistic development and to collaborate with other artists from across the globe.

1) While in residence at the week long workshop, I will be continuing the development of my current poetry manuscript, “Anchoring the Compass”. This manuscript furthers the artistic exploration I began in my solo performance play, “Ungrateful Daughter: One Black Girls Story of being Adopted into a White Family . . . that aren’t Celebrities.” (awarded Zellerbach Foundation, James Irvine Foundation grants).  This play examined my relationship to my Black and Filipino ancestry and the many historical secrets as a result of being adopted by white parents. “Anchoring the Compass” manuscript extends many of the themes I began to explore in my play, including the complexity of a hybrid, diasporic identity when one does not know one’s birth family history nor has any visible, mirrored link to a particular ancestral homeland. Many of the pieces in “Anchoring” explore how searching, speculation, story-making, mythology and invention all play a part in the development of the constantly moving, changing identities of adopted bodies. Reproductive justice, family preservation and the resistance to human trafficking are strong threads in this work.

Post workshop – I play to extend my trip for one week: 

2) to continue my research on diasporic black adoptee communities. This research is a major part of the work that is informing my new play in development, “Side Effects”.  “Side Effects” is a theater/ dance / visual art project that explores the personal and geopolitical impacts of inter-country and domestic transracial adoption on Black, Asian and multi-racial bodies of color. This multidisciplinary theater project speaks to the phenomenon of global adoption, and adds to conversations around concepts of multiple diasporas and the dispersal of bodies of color for white consumption, under the guise of multiculturalism and philanthropy.

3) to make connections to other adoptee artists working, writing and performing in London for potential transnational artistic collaboration.

Please check out my INDIEGOGO Campaign Here  – share it with your folks who you know support writers, who support adoptee artists and who are interested in getting on at the beginning to support the development of my next multi-disciplinary play.

Your contribution goes directly to assist with airfare, room and board for the duration of the workshop and for the week of collaborative artistic meetings post workshop. Your donations also go to the percentages that Indigogo and PayPal take for fees.

Thank you in advance for your support! 

I’m a New Columnist at Lost Daughter’s blog! Yay!

Been missing my blogs that focus on adoption and race? Well I’m happy to share that I will be regularly blogging for the wonderful “Lost Daughters” blog about once a month. Please check out my first post with them – up today!

Not Holding My Tongue: On Blogging and the Politics of Adoption

In other news – I’ve also been added to the Arts & Culture feature columnist list at the amazing Land Of Gazillion Adoptees Magazine! Look for my first article in Issue #3 coming in November. Yay!

Some upcoming work: 

October 16th at StageWerx in San Francisco,  I’m directing a new show with three new solo performers who are developing full length performances, “An Arab, A Showgirl & A Blonde…Walk into a Theater”  featuring Lisa Kotecki, Kellita and amazing youth performer Rebecca Marshall.  There are only a few tickets left so come out!

I’m offering another SoloHouse: Writing and Performing the One Person Show workshop starting October 19, 2013.

I’m speaking at Concerned United Birthparents Annual Conference this upcoming weekend in Carlsbad, CA.

and extra hyped to announce that I’ll be Keynote Speaker at the 2014 American Adoption Congress Annual conference in San Francisco.

National Adoption Month is coming up in November – I’ll be available for a limited number of lectures, workshops, readings or Skype’s to your classroom, nonprofit or organization! Please feel free to email me directly regarding my speaker /workshop fees.

I got Nominated for an Oakland Indie Award!

Friggin Sweeeet! I’m super excited to share with everyone I recently got word that I’ve been nominated for an Oakland Indie Award in the “Oakland Soul” category for my work with Third Root Art Collective and my activist work with UD and AFAAD. Yay! I’m honored that I can give love to Oakland and represent it with the love I feel for the Town. Indie Award logo 2013

Come celebrate with me! The winners will be announced at the 7th Annual Oakland Indie Award Celebration on May 30th, 2013. They will be held at the Kaiser Center, Rooftop Garden, 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland,CA. Buy a ticket, bring the family, come out and see some of Oakland’s amazing people.

Recent Mentions: Jet and Theater Bay Area

As I’m still coming off the glow and gearing up for the madness that is ensuing from my acceptance into the NYC International Fringe Festival, I’m happy to say I’ve gotten a couple mentions in mags lately that I wanted to share. I was mentioned in this months edition of THEATER BAY AREA MAGAZINE, in an article by the lovely and talented solo master, Sara Felder. The article “Juggling the Truth” explores solo performance, truth telling and autobiographical writing for the stage. Here is a LINK to the whole interview online.

I was also just recently mention in Jet Magazine. I’m totally excited about this because Jet Magazine is one of the oldest Black magazines still in circulation. Its a brief mention, but yay!!

I’m featured on “Land of Gazillion Adoptees”!


Just wanted to share that I was recently featured on Land of a Gazillion Adoptee as a guest.

Check out the podcast here!

We had a great conversation. I hope you all enjoy it. I had a chance to talk about fear, activism and artistic work. I’d love to hear what you all think!

What They Said

Since the CNN thing, I’ve found some pretty interesting analysis of the segment, but also a few newer folks who I think are doing some interesting thinking about transracial adoption.

Over at Womanist Musings, Renee has a great breakdown of her perspective of what happened with Dr. Walsh during the segment. I particularly liked the places where she attends to “hipster racism” and satire. As someone who produces comedians every once in a while, I get to see whats happening in comedy writing and how super sharp and conscious comedians of color are responding to this sort of ‘new’ way of talking about race that somehow ends up being just as racist as generations ago.

My favorite so far isn’t even about the CNN thing, but is Whitney Teal’s article, “Sandra Bullock, Transracial Adoption, and the Worship of White Motherhood”, an amazing analysis of the way white privilege and white womanhood can get conflated to replicate what, (if we believed everyone who keeps telling us that racism doesn’t exist, and if we would just stop talking about it it would go away) we would like to think are dated ideas about how the construction of white and black womanhood are created in opposition to each other and what that has to do with adoption and race. I love this analysis because i spent an entire chapter of my dissertation talking and theorizing about this.

Apparently some message boards and email lists are also discussing how crazy the segment was with the limited time, but also how interesting it was that the segment about TRA issues was put right before Soledad O’Brien’s special report “Rescued”, but there wasn’t really any attempt to talk about the Haitian children who are being brought to the US to isolated, all white places. sigh.

I’m on CNN with Don Lemon!

Yesterday morning I got a call from CNN to participate in a panel commenting on transracial adoption, race and of course, Sandra Bullock. As a rule, I stay out of conversations that center around celebrities or that would seem to be looking at or critiquing one person’s life personally. However, they ensured me I wouldn’t be commenting about her directly, but was asked to come on as a scholar to comment on the overall climate in the web/ blogisphere. Supposedly everyone is all a ‘twitter’ and blogs are blowing up with comments from everyone who has something to say about her adoption of a black child. I had no idea people would care so much and also chose not to even really read anything around it, do you know why?

For many of us scholars who are adoptees / fostercare alumni, the questions that are raised by SB adoption, and that were asked in this interview / panel were the same questions people have been asking over and over since transracial adoption became more of a public issue politically and racially during the 50’s when the Korean War adoptions began and the 1970’s when the Vietnamese Baby Lifts happened. So for us, So Sandra Bullock is like one tiny bump in a long history of black and brown children being adopted by white families. The issues remain the same except now we have moved to a place where we aren’t only concerned with domestic adoption but with the connections between child exploitation, paper orphaning, continued resistance to family preservation, devaluation of families of color and the entire economic market of children of color that continues to exploit unwed mothers who if they had the economic means, societal approval and support, would otherwise keep their children.

So regarding Sandra, its not really about her or her choices. Its unfortunate they have to be all over the media, but for us, its about an entire history and continue replication of a specific narrative around adoption and race and one that usually never includes adult adoptee researchers. So first, I have to hand it to CNN for taking the leap on putting someone, specifically an adoptee, who is a researcher and scholar on adoption issues who actually knows what they are talking about on their programming.

So. . . back to me. :) Personally, the whole day was super surreal, but I had a great time. I had my first ‘superstar’ moment when CNN ‘sent a car’ to pick me up. I actually found this incredibly important because everything happened so quickly, I really needed the time from my house to the studio in SF to go over notes, focus and stop giggling with excitement with my other AFAAD board member, Lisa Walker, who went with me for moral and technical support.

Talk back:

First, I couldn’t see either Don or Wendy in while I was set up in the satellite room, so I had no idea what Wendy looked like. I don’t have cable, so I don’t even watch CNN, so I had no sense of what they were putting on screen while any of us were talking. Overall, I’m pleased with how it went down, I was nervous but it felt great when I was done. yay!

For the most part, I will let the video speak for itself. My only overall comment is that I think its incredibly important for us to recognize the distinctions between mixed race biological children who are raised by a white parent and transracially adopted children of color raised in white families. As much as adoptive parents want to act like race doesn’t matter, sometimes they want to forget that adoption matters just as much.

Certainly for the mixed race person or adoptee, issues of struggling with the whiteness of your parent, the privilege of your parent who doesn’t want to recognize you as a person of color is similar. But what people forget is how the negotiation of two family histories is always part of the adoptee history, whether or not that adoptee acknowledges it or not or has the support from their family to explore issues what it might be like to think about a connection to a birth family and how that connection changes the parent – child relationship. (its not a good or bad change, its just a shift thats important to recognize.) In other words, a mixed race person with a white mother IS connected to that mother in a way where they can see their origins, their heritage, their family history as DIRECTLY connected to them. In a TRA family where the parent or parents are white, that connection is NOT there. Its there because of shared memories, its there because of a shared history since the adoptive relationship began, but not because the adoptee can look at the family and say, oh, i look like Aunt Edna, my nose is my mothers, I look like my brother, or I understand how great grandpa came over on the Mayflower and that’s a part of me. For and adoptee, that part is missing. There is no mirror of recognition in the faces of our families, or a history that spans back generation. Imagine how powerful it was for me to find out after 40 years that on the Filipino side of my family my grandfather came from the Philippines to work in the fields in Hawaii, and how amazing it was to find out that on my Black side of the family had a few active Black Panthers. Two tiny details that have given a kind of grounding to place my feet in. I am from somewhere.

Finally, I’m concerned about Ms. Walsh’s comment regarding her and her daughters being a ‘welcome racial curiosity’. Its this kind of language that forces me to remind parents of children of color that what is cool for you, is certainly NOT always cool for your kids. You may get off walking down the street with your beautiful exotic mixed race kid, who gets stares and comments. But how exactly do you think your child feels about being on display, about being stared at, about having people think that you dont really belong to your family. This is where the connection between mixed race children and adoptees DOES cross. Its not either or. Try to hold both at the same time folks.

Please comment and share. I’d love to get your thoughts on Don, Wendy and I. Lets talk folks!

What a great day. oh and to my OAKLAND folks. dudes, I’m SOOORRRY okay? I was looking at the reflection of myself in the screen with the picture of the GG Bridge behind me and SF just came out, I love and REP Oakland folks!! lol!