Beans are Gud

Let me just say – i can cook the hell out of some beans. Black beans, pinto beans, red beans, lentils, mung beans, edamame, chickpeas …. you get the idea. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about cooking is that of course as cheesy as it sounds – the best ingredient is love. I love food, and i love making my guests happy, so when i cook, i just make sure it tastes good to ME and it follows that my guests will feel the love.

I didnt learn how to cook from my mom. My mom is a hell of baker and canner. I grew up in Washington State where we grew alot of our food in the backyard. Nowadays my mom is a full on organic gardener with about 3 acres to play with. Ive shoveled manure, made compost, and done almost everything it takes to take a seed and make it grow. During the harvest season we would take the food we grew and freeze or can alot of the stuff. I know how to can come jams, how to make jelly, how to bake bread, cookies… yum!

But while my mom can bake the hell out of some zucchini bread and makes the best raspberry jam I have ever tasted… ummm… while i was growing up.. she was still learning how to cook. I learned how too cook from my first mentor, a black woman who taught me all of the major ‘soul food’ and Caribbean influenced items: Greens, mac and cheese, jerk chicken, yams, the proper ways to spice things and of course – how to make beans. For a black woman – learning to cook these things properly was and is very important to me.

so here goes. lisa marie’s secret to making the bomb beans. lol.. and really – its nothing at all.

1/2 bag of beans in a big pot (red, pinto or black beans)

Water and chicken broth up to about 1/2 the pot

1 big dried chili pepper

one whole red onion

about 4-5 cloves of garlic

1/2 small can of tomato paste

salt, pepper, cayenne to your own taste. (and this means checking it over and over during the 4 hours to continue to add all of these spices)

handfull of cilantro – chopped and put in right b4 serving.

some grated cheese (also put in at the very end) (not american or cheddar- something yummy like … not american)]

 So there is a great bean debate about whether or not you should soak your beans overnight before cooking them. My personal opinion is that unless you seriously only have an hour to make the beans – dont do it! I rinse off my beans a few times, and maybe soak them for about 20 mins, but every time i soak them over night and then rinse them off -its like ALL of the flavor just goes right down the drain. So basically, yes, unless you’ve got about 4 hours to make these beans – just hold off. Many times I make them the day before Ive having guests or if i’m having a marathon cooking day – i put them on first.

Ok – so rinse your beans, put them in the pot and add everything. Bring them to a boil, stir and reduce heat to simmer and just let the yumminess begin! Keep stirring about once every 15-20 mins or so. Check the water adn heat levels, you will probably add water about 2-4 times. If they look like they are starting to stick to the bottom – more water!!! You dont want the beans watery tho – what you want is the fabulous red or black sauce that naturally develops as you are going. Towards the last hour you want to continue to taste the beans to make sure they are soft. Hard beans SUCK. its like bad pasta. If you dont cook it long enough its gross.

at the last minute stir in the cheese (about 1/2 cup) and then throw in the cilantro for some added taste and enjoy!


She’s just bitter

I need to comment on a post I read on a TRA list that caters to parents who are considering adoption. The woman posting was writing for support from other folks who have had issues with thier families and how thier families have reacted when they say they are bringing a black child into thier homes. This woman wrote (and I am paraphrasing because I dont think in this case its right for me to just cut and paste) that her father in law (FIL) uses the word "nigger" on a regular basis, and that he has indicated that he will not acknowledge the child, or pay for the child's education when he has already set aside funds for the other white children in the family. The woman and her husband of course are appaled by this behavior and are planning to divide up the educational funding between all the children and (I hope) not say anything to them about thier grandfather's racist words and actions. At this moment – today – the black little boy is still a foster child and not adopted.

how can i say this without getting hate mail. STOP!!! just stop. just send the kid back and just stop. this isnt a fucking experiement. this isnt something we can 'try out' and hope that it turns out ok. this is NOT a toy, a piece of property that can be fixed. This is a human with spiritual energy – and the ability to read and understand MUCH more than people can give him credit for. Do these parents really believe that thier child wont grow up and wonder why grandpa wont look at him in his face? Do they really thing they can avoid going to grandpa's house for the next 10 years? the next 20 years? and when/if they do – how dare they assume that it is ok to put all of that energy on to that child as if he can handle it! I repeat – potential TRA parents: this is not about you! This is about a child who you supposedly love and want to protect. Do all of us adult TRA's a favor and just stop and check yourself! damn! and as John in Struggle for Identity says  ask yourself – WHY are you adopting this child? What are your motivations? "Is it to raise a child to make him white? Or [are you adopting a child] to raise a strong, culturally connected individual of color that is going to help liberate thier people. . . ?"

Let me also add a comment that with the explosion of TRA blogs, TRA parent blogs, email lists, essays, etc.. how much more I have seen potential TRA parents attempt to invalidate or completely silence the anger that comes from adult TRA's who are just finding the language to articulate their experiences. It is written off as bitterness, or as 'not the way it has to be because we are some of the good parents' or 'with all the resources today… blah blah blah blah… I'm so tired of this arrogance that assumes to know better than the people who have lived the experiement of so-called 'coloblindness'.

 or what… maybe its just a bad day? i doubt it. one.


So my next performance is at the Brava Theatre in SF for the San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) on June 30th.

Im at rehearsal, standing up in front of this room full of women who have one way or another been touched by the violence and silence of rape and the sadness mixed with rage begins to wash over me and suddenly I am crying and overwhelmed. I have performed this particular piece "Song for Siren" about 4 or 5 times and have never experienced what i felt last night. The piece is a piece – not about adoption (?)- but about rape and the historical and continued rape of black women by white men. The piece itself was written as my own response to a few things – first, to the Duke Lacrosse case. If you havent heard about this – Duke University on March 13th, A sex worker was hired as an exotic dancer for a party thrown by the Lacrosse players. At some point in the night, the woman alleges she was raped in the bathroom by three of the players by force. For me, whether or not this story is "true" is not what I am interested in. What I am interested in is this incidents relationship to the history of black women raped by white men and the comment one of the men made to the woman –  “hey bitch – thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt”.

Additionally, the Duke incident rung a bell in me from the past – Sherice Iverson. For some reason I cannot let go of this little girl and the total disregard for her life in place of the men who raped and murdered her.

I said its not about adoption.

Later last night – im at another gig at a bar in SF – and i want to call my best friend, and she is not home. I want to call my mom, but its too late. How can i explain this to my roommate? I realize i have no one to talk to and i get on my cell phone and text/email these words to myself:

"No one 2 email but me n all alone w a reminder i am born from that which i condem".

What is it to be a product of rape? A body born out of violence? What is it to be unwanted and given away because of rape and more importantly – unknown? If the story is true. I dont exsist for the father.

Ungrateful Daughter Show, New T-Shirts and Site update

I feel so out of the loop! Ive missed you all while Ive been moving over to the new site, wrapping up the semester. So as mentioned in the last post. The Birth Project's site on blogger, started trippin out – and since I had already been considering a move to wordpress – the time seemed ripe! So here we are! Welcome and please pass the new site address on.

So much goin on with my reunion update will come soon, and with an update on the TRA Represent collection. Writings are starting to flow in, the response from people has been great.

The show on sunday night (2nd excerpt of Ungrateful Daughter) at the Off-market was great! I want to send out love for all the people who come out to see the show, those who gave me some feedback and those who sent me love by myspace.. etc.. much love to you all for your support. It means alot to me as the piece grows from a little 15 minute solo piece to an hour long show. The writing is going slow, but it is fun and very self-revealing.

Hey! I finally feel like we can start acting like we exsist and following in the steps of sister Ji-in – Im debuting some t-shirts I made about a year ago, but never put into the public! So yay! We finally have something that is ours, and sometimes i feel like there is a big stamp on my forehead, and sometimes i feel like wearing a shirt would alleviate so much pressure and explanation – so part of the beginning of these designs is to be vocal and kind of smart-ass about it. More designs coming soon with more variety to your annoucement! for now- check out TRA Represent! Store . and Enjoy!

technical diffculties

Greetings All-

Something is amiss with the birthproject blog. All of my entries on Blogger have disappeared!!! Im in the process of transferring to wordpress. Please be patient and check back while Im working out the kinks – learning a new blog tool and basically sitting in front of my computer until my fingers fall off!I've got lots of work to do.. ugh!

until then – email me at

Copper Rose


she is stark blue
in her school uniform
starched and clipped tight
class picture day
she is all bubbles,
sun and fire smiles with glossed
and combed pigtails
waiting for the camera man
to line her up with the other girls

that day
she is brown skin turning to fire
eyes full of thunder
as he lines her up on the boy side
a tornado of pain
a copper heart
like a cold penny taste.


CFP and TRA email list

I have created a list for Black/African Adult TRA's on yahoogroups. Please pass this list on to folks you know. The group is an effort to provide resources, community, discussion and news space for Adult Transracial Adoptees (TRA's) across the globe who are African or African descent/Black, mixed- race etc. There are many lists that provide support for Parents of TRA's, but none for adoptees who many times never find support to express their particular strange position in a world obsessed with race. Although our numbers are not as great as say, our Korean brother and sister TRA's, I am convinced we simply need a space that is our own to become more visible. Join us!


CFP: TRA Represent!

TRA's I'm looking for you! TRA Represent will be a creative and collaborative work representing the voices of Black, African, African American and mixed-race transracial adoptees. If you are or if you know someone who is a TRA, and willing to try to write about their experiences perhaps this is your moment! Poetry, short stories, anecdotes and critical essays – are all acceptable. Themes can include struggles with the development of racial identity, guilt of critiquing a family who raised you, complexity of hyper-racialized living, dreams, stories, plays, reunion stories all welcome. This volume will fill a critical gap in TRA research and literature that has not specifically opened space for the adoptees themselves and hopes to be a contribution to the literature of the African Diaspora in that it focuses on the diversity of experiences that make the diaspora so complex and powerful.

Email submissions to Deadline September 15, 2006.


I got a card from G*** for my bday and I've been recieving emails from her as well. The birthday card was nice, but I have to admit it felt a little strange. But it seems like it never stops being strange.

This past weekend I saw my family for the first time since "contact". It was actually a great weekend (except for the car crash, sliding off the mtn at stevens' pass) and it was just a great stabilizer for me, to bring me back down to an emotional grounding that is safe and loving. The biggest thing about my mom and dad is that they are so full of love.

There were the usual questions – "Are they your in-laws?" – "How are you related?" – and my personal favorite – "Are you all on the same check?". (roll my eyes)

Dreams and Genealogy

"I have made it my task to reconstruct the text of a family with contextual clues, and my intent is this: to trust in the mysterious; to juxtapose the known with the unknown; to collect the overlooked, the debris – stones, broken mirrors, and abandoned things. With these I will sew a new quilt of memory and imagination, each stitch a small transformation, each stitch my work of mourning."

from The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka

I went to this talk today on campus by Alondra Nelson who is already someone whose work that I admire (see Technicolor: Race Technology and Everyday Life). But today, she did a talk that examined the rising usage of African American's and Black British families utilizing DNA testing in an attempt to 'trace their roots' to find out where in Africa they may have come from.

I find this study fascinating, not because I think that knowing where you are 'from' in Africa is important, but because of the cultural and political value we place on obtaining and claiming 'Africa'. When I put Africa in quotes here I really mean just that – the IDEA of the fantasy, homeland Africa that still is used as a symbol in so many different circumstance, not the reality of Africa. One colleague mentioned that this idea of Africa continues to be reproduced just by the simply buying into the fact that there is a root somewhere that we think we can find. Its a powerful imaginary – yes?

And it is this desire that fascinates me. Particularly because of the process/ moment I have been going through/ immersed within. Some argue that this desire to find a home is rooted in the actual dispersal of black bodies across the Atlantic, and others argue that it is the attempt to cut off and remove cultural, spiritual and community identities that cause this trauma to the black body across the globe.

There is something about this rupture of removal from home, something about Treong's 'language of blood' and something dangerous and simultaneously 'so right' about the biological thread – yet why does this connection to Africa become so important – especially if we are trying to express the difference and hybridity of 'blackness' that refuses a monolithic idea of racialization. We (black folks) are NOT all the same, we are diverse in powerful ways – ways that include the ways we imagine ourselves, the way we create our stories and how we come to know our own personal identities. (and we know the dangers of a language of biology that gets used to make us inhuman..)

Is my racial specificity important? does it change who I am? how I already imagined myself political and culturally? I don’t know. Does it legitimize me in a weird way? yes. But I'm not sure I care about that – I already moved with the knowing, the creating – the dreaming.