I wish I had been able to get this up sooner, but I needed a couple of days to process all of the magnificence that was the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival. It was kind of magical. I think I’d been waiting 32 years 7 months and 10 days to get to a place where everyone was like me and, without questions or explanations, understood who I am. Not just half of who I am.
I arrived a little late and, after a warm welcome from Fanshen and Heidi, my mom and I rushed in to catch some screenings that were already in progress. I really enjoyed Kim Noonan’s Running Dragon and Mike Peden’s What are you? A Dialogue on Mixed Race. I missed Maija DiGiorgio’s excerpt from Hollywood Outlaw, but so enjoyed her q&a session and her live performance the following evening. Such talent! You can watch the whole movie on youtube at hollywoodoutlawmovie. I did. Brilliant!
Next were readings. After moving pieces by Tameko Beyer and an especially great essay by Susan Ito, Jennifer Lisa Vest had the audience in tears with her beautiful poetry. Here is a sample of her work not taken from the festival…
Finally, Danzy Senna read from her new memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night? OMG, Danzy Senna! If you read my “biracial books” post, you know I love her for Caucasia. The reading was hilarious and meeting her was great! I bought the book and can’t wait to read it.
That night was the Loving Day Celebration honoring the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the Loving v. Virginia case that legalized interracial marriage nationwide. It was so fun! Meeting so many of the wonderful people I’ve connected with online in the last year was more gratifying than I had imagined it would be. Having my mom and my (step)sister Megan there was icing on the cake. There actually was cake. It was good! To be continued…
Black, White, Other (Funderburg) was the first book I read when I embarked on my “from black to biracial” journey. Caucasia (Senna) was the second. They couldn’t be more different, one being fiction the other non, nor could they have had a more positive influence in guiding me through the paradigm shift.
I love what they had to say about “biracial” in the age of Obama:
Senna stressed that she in no way trying to compete with the president before noting, “I’ve been thinking about this long before Obama.”
Asked if it bothers her that Barack Obama identifies as black, Senna answered that it did not. “He’s very open about his multiracial background. I identify as black. It’s a very mixed-race experience.”
Funderburg agreed, saying that the influence of his biracial heritage emerged prominently during the speech Obama made in Philadelphia last year in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding his former minister the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“I have the great, great fortune of having loving connections to the white and black sides of my families,” Funderburg said. “I’ve had from birth the chance to understand how identity forms on different levels, to understand more than one side in every story.”