Month: September 2006
TRA familia on Addicted to Race
Hey – check out my girls Ji-in and Jae Ran Kim in a roundtable dicussion on an Addicted to Race podcast. They discuss, among other ‘thangs’, the “. . . unique dynamics of TRA dialogue, the pitfalls of the “colorblind” approach to adoption, as well as the prevalence of cultural appropriation.” (from TTR)
I love these wimmins. (wiping away a tear).
(Addicted to Race is a podcast about America’s obsession with race, with specific emphasis on mixed race identity and interracial relationships created by hosts Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jen Chau of New Demographic and Mixed Media Watch)
Survivor Show Protest
I haven’t seen it – nor do I care to, and nor will I watch it “to become informed” and raise the ratings. But i know enough to know that this is such a mess. Who’s idea was this crap? I just cant see the purpose of actually pitting people against one another. It seriously reinforces the thing of.. well race doesn’t really matter, and there really is no historical context for race that informs how we are with one another in present day . . . so its okay to play with it like its meaningless. I’m so irate I could serious start a fire with just the heat coming out of my fingers right now.
Write to these people telling them to get rid of that show. Tell your friends to write. and tell them to turn off their tele’s.
Leslie Mooves President and CEO
CBS Television Network
New York, NY10019212-975-4321
Mark Burnett Executive Producer Survivor
Survivor Entertainment Group
9899 Santa Monica Blvd. PMB 2002
Beverly Hills, CA
Local CBS Station
San Francisco, CA
Ron Longinotti VP and General Manager
Talk show and Upcoming Shows
yay! Ive got 4 upcoming shows of “Ungrateful Daughter”! I hope if you haven’t had a chance to see it – that you will be able to come out and support. I’ve re-written a few sections and updated some. The first two are at the end of this month in SF and the last two are in October in the East Bay. Dates TBA.
San Franciso Solo Festival
Friday, September 29, 10pm
Sunday October 1, 8:30pm
at – Off-Market Theatre in SF – 965 Mission St. (btwn 5th and 6th) Parking near Metreon at 5th and Mission or you can take the BART, exit Powell and walk the 3 blocks.
to buy tickets – www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/6608 and for information about ALL the solo shows in the festival go to http://www.cafearts.com/sfsf2006/I hope to see you there!! and if I don’t know you, feel free to walk up after the show and say hi. Tell me you read the blog. Tell me you liked the show.. or not. 🙂
I’m also beginning to develop the next section. The first two sections have been primarily about my Afamily and my struggles as a child and adult attempting to deal with race. This next section is going to tackle some aspects of adoption in a bit more direct way that includes race of course as an overriding connection, but will also try to work through of of the issues I’ve been dealin with since finding the Bmom. (I know, I know.. I havent given you all an update on that in a while.. I promise its coming.)
On another note – Did I tell you I got called and invited to be on a talk show? Yeah i know. My first reaction was . . . HELL NO! But I’m doing some research on it and taking it under consideration. But seriously – Can you see it now?
Host:so, lisamarie, you were adopted at 3 months by a white family. Was your experience a good or bad thing?
Me:well, hostlady, it wasn’t either/ or, it was really just a complex thing. I think we have to be really careful when we discuss TRA experiences as to not just categorize them into these two little ‘ways of being’. Its wrong to simply say “Here’s a TRA with a bad experience, she had bad parents, she is not well adjusted to life, she fees unfulfilled and negative.” Or on the other hand to simply say “here’s a TRA with a good experience, she had good parents, she is well adjusted, she feels fulfilled and is thankful and grateful for her life.”
Host: well, which one are you?
Me:ummmmmm . . . I think i just explained that I’m neither and I’m both.
Host:come on lisa marie. what does that really mean? You mentioned to our producers that you parents still, even as you are an adult say and do racist stuff – I mean, this has to bother you. can you talk about that to us for a little bit?
Me: well, of course it bothers me, but I feel the same way about any white person or any person really who doesn’t attend to the way that race shapes their world. My struggle with my parents is about their inability to want to understand racism. Its much easier for white people to move through the world without being concerned with race.
Host: so really you’re angry about your parents being white, but would you have rather been left in an orphanage and to grow up in the foster care system? Would that have been better?
Host: Sooooo lisamarie, as I understand it – you are a product of rape. How does that make you feel? (shoves the mic in my face)
Host: Sooooo, lisamarie, I understand that you haven’t been able to find your birthfather because since you are a product of rape, he didn’t know you existed.Well, have we got a surprise for you! We found your father and he’s here on the show!!… come on out John Doe!!! (me flabbergasted, jumping up and grabbing the mic cord to wrap around her neck…)
I suppose my question to the producers is – how can you guarantee that your show will be different and will be willing to actually display the truth about TRA lives? Are you seriously willing to end on a note that doesn’t replicate the same crap about ‘love conquers all’ or ‘race doesn’t matter’ or even resist making the show more about the parents than about the kids? I know that nowdays many AP’s are willing to go places that AP’s couldnt go 30 years ago, but from what I’ve seen, Im not sure how much has changed. Sure, AP’s have alot more resources, they are really required on some even tiny level to consider what it means to adopt a child of color, but how many of them really are willing to change their lives?
I don’t know how I feel about the talk show and for some reason it feels way, way different than me doing my show. I suppose because I would feel like I wasn’t in control of editing, writing, framing.. etc.. and also because I’m such a critic of media. I dont want something like the NYTimes article to endup being as deep as they go. Are they willing to push? (god lisamarie, why does everything always have to be about race with you?)
We’ll see. You wanna come with me?
High School Haze
So as most of you know – i’m on myspace – A networking tool which I totally love and have come to utilize heavily to advertise my shows and readings. One of the coolest things about myspace is that I’ve been finding friends from high school!
One of my dearest friends that I never thought I would find emailed me and after our exchange of a few emails – she asked me if I had found my birth parents and of course – I sent her to my blog. Later that night I got this amazing email from her. Its divided into excerpts to protect her identity, but damn – this is some shit.
“I printed your pages (all 27 of them), sent my son off to bed with his daddy and climbed into the tub. Girl, I have to tell you, my heart was pounding as I read your blog posts. There was so much in your writing, I could feel it. …”
“. . . I am a very honest person, I dont know if you remember how I was in high school, but I think I was then too…so hopefully not much has changed with me. I feel I can tell you this, so please dont get mad. I think back at high school, Lisa, and I dont know if you remember this, but when you came to our school, new …it was such the topic of conversation as to what you were – ethnically. . . here was I?? I can remember other kids at PHS talking about your ethnicity. And I remember people saying you said you weren’t black…..and many of them thought you were in denial. I of course, would never have told you this in high school because I knew it would have pissed you off and/or hurt your feelings. It’s funny because I believed you. Hell, I figured if anyone knew what YOU were it was YOU? Right? But most importantly did it really matter? I guess (after reading your blog) it really did matter to you.”
“While I was reading your blog, I felt so mad that you had to defend yourself against people who felt the need to ask “What is she?” Do you know that when you went to prom/homecoming with ****, I remember it was a big freakin’ deal because he was white and you were (NOT) black among the black kids! LOL! I dont know if you ever knew, but it was! Even though half the PHS football team was dating white girls…and are married to them still today! (DONT GET ME STARTED!)”
“BTW, I loved “I KNEW I WAS FREAKING BLACK!” (Blog entry 2/6/06) I am just wondering though, Lisa how would you knowing you were black (and or finding your birth mother sooner, let’s say in high school) HOW would that have somehow changed your life experience? Just curious……”
So a few things.. if you dont know the back story on the complexity about my racial identity, how i used to think that the adoption agency packaged and marketed my body for adoption. Do some back reading in TBP. My first thought after reading this email from my friend was that I had no idea that i was such a topic of discussion in the black community. I don’t even remember people asking me if I was black and me saying no, that I wasn’t. How fucked up this is though!!!
For many black folks though, coming into a ‘black identity’ is partially related to having what one would consider a true black experience. Authenticity. “Real blackness”. Growing up in the hood, living in poverty, eatin’ soul food, listening to r&b and jazz.. these things are considered ‘black’ (not in a good way). So because I grew up in an all white community. Am i somehow less black? Many black people go through a questioning of identity even if they grow up in a black family. What if they grew up in the suburbs? What if they dont like rap music? What if they have white friends? What if people make fun of the way they talk? But of course for us – as adoptee’s – its an even harder questioning process if you have no roots to look back to.
What does it mean that the moment I took my first black studies class I understood that it didn’t matter what anyone said to me, what the adoption papers documented, what my parent and entire family wanted to believe – that I knew what I was. I knew that I was part of the African Diaspora. I knew that it didn’t matter that I was supposedly far away from all those things that in the popular imagination, in a white supremacist culture, in a culture that used ‘blackness’ to enslave and murder millions and millions of bodies with my skin color., that . . I knew what i was.
I dont blame my parents. They didnt know. They were just following the documentation. They just wanted to believe that i *was* that Asian-mix child they went looking for.
But what i *do* know, is that them being able to keep me ‘not black’ is the same kind of exceptionalism that so many white people try to put on “those good ones”.
“Youre not really black – black!” (nervous laughter)
“I don’t really think of you as black, you know?” (patronizing pat on the shoulder)
“I mean, you’re not like those other black people in the hood” (vigorous nodding from other co-workers.
What is it about denial and cultural/ racial identity that makes it easier for white people to be friends with, work with, live next door to black people? This denial allows for the gaze to be what they make it. It can be a look cast upon a black body that makes it “not black” in the same way those other black bodies are black.
“She’s so articulate”
Denial of blackness doesn’t make a black body any less black to the outside world. Growing up, i had what I’ve referred to as “hyper-black” experiences. I am the only the only black child for miles and miles, I am the only black body in a sea of whiteness that does nothing but want my blackness to be erased.
“but if we love her, and give her everything she needs, her race doesn’t matter”
Erasure of blackness. What does it take to ignore racism? What does it take to ignore blackness? What does it take to teach a child how to recognize when adults are targeting them with stereotypes that they don’t even know exist!! My own sibling said “nigger” in front of me once. They said it in passing, not to me or about me, but something about ‘nigger hair’. I froze. I controlled rage, I spoke gently and calmly about inappropriate that moment was.
but i sat with that moment and thought about what that meant. That moment and for so many other moments – I was invisible. The word was spoken as a white brother would say to his white sister. Without consciousness, without any understanding of my own life walking around as a black woman. He had no idea what it meant for me to be walking around as a black girl/woman.
What does it mean that one grounding moment for my life begins with a piece of paper that deny’s my identity? What kinds of denials do white parents enact and re-enact when they adopt a black child and then raise them in a community with no other black people? Are they hoping they will be ‘not black’?
Let me educate: there is no monolithic blackness. There no one way to ‘be black’. We are a diaspora. We are scattered, culturally hybrid and its what makes black people across the globe such a powerful sleeping giant. Its what makes the diaspora so beautiful. – but that doesn’t mean that outside, in the world, when I walk down the street that I can avoid the hate that makes me for so many people – nothing but a negro. and that’s what also makes my diaspora – a black diaspora.