I’m thrilled to announce that my play “Ungrateful Daughter: One Black Girls story of being adopted into a white family…that aren’t celebrities” will have its NYC Premiere at the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival in August!! I got in!!! YEEEEEEE! NYC here I come!
I will be posting fundraising, production updates, and the specific show dates as soon as I get all that information!
HUGE HUGE thank you again to ALL of my donors, both individual, organizational and foundations! Huge thank you to the adoptee community who has has my back from the beginning. I could NEVER have gotten this far without your support. Lets DO this!!
Its been a long, cold and busy busy summer. I just came back from visiting my parents in WA state and it was warmer up there than it has been in the Bay Area all spring and summer! I just hope we don’t skip what is usually a warm fall for us and head straight into the rainy winter season.
I’m in full, unabashed production and promotion mode for the October 6, 7 & 8th shows of “Ungrateful Daughter: One Black girl’s story of being adopted into a White family… that aren’t celebrities” at La Pena Cultural Center here in Berkeley. I’m thrilled that for the first time, other than excerpts of the show, I’ll be performing the entire piece for my East Bay family. I also have a history of producing work at La Pena, so I’m doubly excited that they believed in my work enough to commission and fund the piece to help me get it up.
There’s gonna be stage, light and sound design – yeeee! I’m continuing my collaboration with local activist and visual artist Isaac Ontiveros for the further development of the multi-media aspects of the show and also with the talented dancer/movement artist Colleen “Coke” Nakamoto on choreography. There so much more, but ultimately, I just hope you all come out and check the full, finished piece. I hope this will be one of the final iterations before I do a full run in 2012 and head to festivals around the globe. Please let people know and buy your tickets here!!
What else is up? Well, its that time of year when AFAAD is in full swing planning mode for the Fourth Annual Gathering, November 11,12 &13th this year at the 2100 Building in Seattle, WA! For all of my supporters, all of you parents of black, brown and multiracial children, we continue to develop this organization for your child! and we continue to do this as an all volunteer board. Please spread the word to any Black/Multiracial/African/Caribbean – adoptee of African descent over 18 that you know and tell them to join us in Seattle!! Here is the Call for Sessions, so people can submit panel or discussion ideas and also so potential participants can understand the depth of the weekend! Finally, here is the full information about this year’s Gathering. Don’t forget, if you know any families or organizations in Seattle that support adoptive families and foster care alumni – let them know about our Education Event that is open to EVERYONE on Saturday night, November 12th!
In addition to spreading the word – WE NEED YOUR FUNDING SUPPORT!! Please, please DONATE TO THE FOURTH ANNUAL GATHERING! The only way we are able to continue our work is through generous donations from people like you. We need at least $15,000.00 to cover basic expenses, and what is especially important for this year, to cover special guest speaker travel, hotel and honorarium fees, to keep our Public Education event low cost and accessible to everyone in the adoption triad, and to provide scholarships to at least two Foster Care Alumni who otherwise would be unable to make it to join us and have access to the network and the activist space of the weekend. We have 28 days! Please help us spread the word.
Crazy busy my friends. School has started, teaching, students, academic work as well as balancing my creative work. You know how artists do. I have two or three other creative projects in the works and all I will say about that is one is adoption related and the rest, thankfully, are not! In academia, we call it “racial fatigue”, I think we adoptee writers, activists, scholars need to come up with the right phrase for us. “Adoption fatigue”? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my personal life is part of my professional life, and its great, but its also very tiring. I look forward to the weekend of the AFAAD Gathering where we will spend time talking together about being and adoptee or foster care alumni and being a professional and ensuring we are engaging in ‘self-care’, so we don’t burn out.
What seems contrary to what I just wrote, (ha!) I recently noticed that my subscribers to the blog have increased. I’m so excited about this – welcome to the blog. I look forward to engaging in conversation with you and answering questions! I’m here as a resource for parents as well as for my fellow adopted folks.
Finally, I have a special gift for the first 10 people who donate $50.00 or more to the AFAAD Gathering Campaign! I’ve recently finished a writing project that I want to share with folks who support AFAAD, its a secret, so you will be privileged to it before anyone! Donate, and I will get it to you in the mail asap!!
to the Japanese man
at the bar who asked me
if I knew that Filipinos
are the Black people
Im a nigger nigger?
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.
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!
This is actually the place where all the papers are. Don’t be fooled by the first cell phone photo that doesn’t really fully capture the mess that is my work space. Wait until I get home and take a photo of that work space. You’ll be like, “oooooooh!, I see how it is!”
So even though I’m technically on lockdown, I was able to get some internet yesterday at the Olympia public library to catch up on the mess that is Oakland. I wanted to share some resources with you that can be an alternative to the mainstream news about the young man, Oscar Grant who was shot and killed by BART police on New Years Eve.
When I get home I’ll post the actual videos, right now I’m just doing links because I don’t have the bandwidth to upload.
The Actual Video (Be WARNED! This is very intense! You cant help but think about the man’s parents and daughter.)
Davey D’s Channel (Video about whats happening on the streets of Oakland)
Local Oakland Hip Hop Artists responses (this amazing video articulates so much of what we already know about the racialization of black youth across the country by the police, the artists featured are such a great example of how deep Oaklands activist roots go. This is the video that you don’t see!)
Ahhh the NYTimes. So much for responsible journalism. I had so much hope when I read sis Sume’s beautiful piece Reclaiming Ownership of My History.
Then – BAM! There’s just so much irresponsible journalism to choose from nowadays its actually becoming too easy to spot the well meaning white liberal who continues to think they know better than those irritating people of color who are actually experts in the field. As many of you know, this month the NYT’s has a series going on adoption called Relative Choices. Ignoring the easy blast at the cheesy title, I have to take aim (along with other AD’s) at this week’s columnist, Tama Janowitz. Here is one choice excerpt:
A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.
So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”
And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”
Ummm. Say what? Did this mother of a Chinese girl seriously just use the “you would just be oppressed in your own country and since I know for sure that your life is better because you are with me because I am your mother” argument? Seriously? Did she really in such a joking manner make a mockery of those folks who are working under the conditions of economic slavery imposed by the U.S. that actually admits that the black, brown and yellow folks they utilize as a labor force don’t deserve basic human rights? And does she forget that ‘those folks’ are her daughters people? Does she really expect us to take the step of comparing refusing to get your child a dog at their demanding whim to a white parent refusing to acknowledge how race plays a major factor in the healthy identity of a TRA child? Oh Hell NO.
Ok, wait.. wait.. I thought most folks understood how m/paternalism plays a huge factor in discourses of colonialism and white privilege, but clearly folks need me to spell this shit out. Does anyone remember how manifest destiny or just general white supremacist rhetoric historically has a place in the circumstances of transracial/international adoption or is it just me? Paternalism: refers usually to an attitude or a policy stemming from the hierarchic pattern of a family based on patriarchy, that is, there is a figurehead (the father, pater in Latin) that makes decisions on behalf of others (the “children”) for their own good, even if this is contrary to their wishes. So just in case we’ve forgotten boys and girls, paternalism is also responsible for slavery, for colonialism, for going into those ‘savage’ countries and ‘saving’ those ignorant natives from themselves, because clearly they don’t understand that I know whats best for them. I’m their mother after all! Motherhood is the most important thing and since I am the mother, what I say goes! So what if I have to beat, rape and shame your Indian-ness out of you! As long as you understand that you are safer and will have more opportunities in my world than you would have ever had in your world. Your own religion? Pshaw! Your savage people worship a pantheon of gods and goddesses – we know there’s only one true God! Your ancestral connection? Oh that old thing? Wait.. did you know they left you in an orphanage? I mean, you would be over there just languishing away if I hadn’t found it in the goodness of my heart to answer the call to become your mother. You are SO much better off here. I mean, at least I let you have a Game Boy because you don’t need those pesky birth relatives hanging around like domestic adoptees.
Let me note here that as an Adoption Educator, I completely understand her point about wrestling with the crazy dynamics of an adolescent screaming at you, “you’re not my real mother!” in the context of parenting. AP’s have to deal with the guilt that comes along with punishing a child at this moment – and the very painful implications for how your child views you at the moment of vocal impact. Yes, you still have to be a responsible parent and handle your business and not get sidetracked by a demanding child. But what comes along with this responsibility? Is there a responsibility to not be racist in my responses to my adopted child of color?
TRA Jeopardy question: The ability to put my needs and wants over that of my child’s without regard for the racist implications.
Answer: What is – the ultimate white privilege, Alex.
Tama. Tama. Tama. You should know better. (Shouldnt you?) Your complete dismissal of adult adoptees who are working to share knowledge with other adoptees and with parents to hopefully change these relationships for the better is inexcusable.
But oh.. I forget.. your child is different. Because you say so. Because you know that for your child – race wont really matter. Love is enough. . . and I’m just an angry, bitter TRA in my 30’s and 40’s.
Careful Tama, you’re startin to sound like the ‘charity workers’ in Chad.
Additional Note: Please also be sure to read Harlow’s Monkey’s critique of this NYT’s article, and note that responses from adoptees and parents alike have been denied/ censored posting in the comments section!!!!
Update: 8:59pm. A group of Adoptees are looking for other folks (adoptees, adoptive parent allies) who have attempted to post on the NYT’s article and have also been censored. Please send me a note or post here. We’re working on a collective response to this censorship.
Update: Nov 14 12:17pm Its become more and more clear that the NYT’s has indeed censored the responses to this article. I just want to provide some links to voices who have also responded. I’m posting some more adoptive parent ally responses too. It aint just us who are upset!
Twice The Rice