besides hoarding articles, traveling too much for work, and evolving into a more holistic version of myself I had a fantastic time chatting with Heidi and Jennifer on the Mixed Experience podcast while I wasn’t blogging over here. Y’all know I love me some Heidi Durrow. She’s not only been a wonderful friend to me, but an inspiration as well! Oh yeah, there’s also that riveting novel she wrote called “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.” Such an important novel. Period. And in terms of the mixed experience it, like Heidi, is a true gem. Here’s the interview if you’d like to listen. I’ve been told it’s pretty good. I also further explain why I had to take a break…again.
I am so f’in excited about this that I can’t even organize my thoughts. But I’m gonna try. So yesterday, just like the first time I voted for Obama, I ran to the school where I vote to mark my ballot for…
Now, I must admit that though I do like what little I know of his politics and am not shy about my democratic tendencies, I was really voting for…
For the guy who prompted a good friend of mine to text, “Are those his kids!?” as de Blasio delivered his sagacious acceptance speech standing amidst his family.
I voted for the man who once made the bold choice to give up some of his white privilege to live the life he wanted with the woman he loved. For the guy with kids that remind me of me. For the family that looks like mine did once.
I voted for a future where people have learned to see this:
and think “family.” A friend of mine once wrote in a wonderful novel*, “What a family is should shouldn’t be so hard to see. It should be the one thing people know just by looking at you.” That is Truth. But for some of us it hasn’t been the truth of our experience. And that doesn’t feel so good.
Now…maybe, soon… people will see this
and think Father/Daughter, and not Age “Inappropriate” Interracial Couple?
I voted for the future I always wanted to be my present. I left that school and I skipped up the block. Just for, like, 17 seconds cuz I am 37 years old after all, but I just couldn’t contain the joy! I couldn’t have predicted that feeling either. I think that even though we have the Obamas, it’s not quite the same and I figured it wouldn’t get any better than that. It just did! Thank you de Blasio Family and thank you New York City! xo-Tiff
*The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
P.S. Here’s a fun, and totally non-political, article. I love what Chiara says about seeing what other people have to go through. She acknowledges her white privilege. Yeah, we get a fraction of that too.
The newly elected NYC mayor’s teens are just about the coolest kids in politics — and their edgy fashion senses, trendy hairstyles, and enthusiastic participation in their dad’s campaign are just the beginning. Here’s what you need to know about Chiara and Dante!
Chiara de Blasio, 18, and Dante de Blasio, 16 are such stylish young adults that they nearly stole the spotlight away from their dad, Bill de Blasio, who was elected the new mayor of New York City on Nov. 4. Learn more about the new first kids of NYC!
5 Things To Know About NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Kids
1. Chiara and Dante are really smart! Dante is a high school junior at Brooklyn Tech, which one of the city’s elite public high schools. Chiara, is a sophomore in college at a private liberal arts school in northern California. She plans to major in environmental studies.
2. Dante’s afro is so cool that absolutely everyone is noticing! President Barack Obama even mentioned it at a Democratic Party Fundraiser in New York in Sept. 2013. He “has the same hairdo as I had in 1978,” Obama told the crowd before complimenting his look. “Although I have to confess my Afro was never that good. It was a little imbalanced.” Chiara loves switching up her own style, from sporting floral crown hair accessories to trying out dreads.
3. Dante was featured in his dad’s campaign ads, and his videos quickly went viral. Chiara also expressed that she loved being part of her dad’s campaign process. “I like understanding what’s going on better. In every way I think that I’m lucky to live the life that I live,” Chiara told NY Mag. ”I don’t have a lot of the problems that other people have. It’s very important for me to see what other people go through.
4. Chiara’s fashion sense is completely new for a first daughter of New York City. She has ear gauges, an eyebrow piercing, and a nose piercing.
5. Chiara has publicly said that her dad is not “some boring white guy,” and that his cultural awareness comes from his global projects and his own multi-cultural family! Chiara and Dante’s dad, Bill comes from German and Italian American backgrounds and their mom, Chirlane McCray is African American. “A lot of people could look at him and just see the color of his skin, but it’s so much deeper than that,” Chiara told NY Mag.
I am beyond excited to be participating in the first annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. Fanshen and Heidi proposed a roundtable entitled “Exploring the Mixed Experience in New Media” moderated by historian/scholar Greg Carter and presented by Mixed Chicks Chat hosts and Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival founders/producers Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow, Tiffany Jones (Mulatto Diaries) and Steven Riley (mixedracestudies.org). It was accepted! Thank you Fanshen and Heidi! I can’t wait!
Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference
“Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies,” the first annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, will be held at DePaul University in Chicago on November 5-6, 2010.
The CMRS conference brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines nationwide. Recognizing that the diverse disciplines that have nurtured Mixed Race Studies have reached a watershed moment, the 2010 CMRS conference is devoted to the general theme “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies.”
Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) is the transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions of race. CMRS emphasizes the mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. CMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.
I am so, so sad to be missing this year’s festival! It just doesn’t feel right. If you are in L.A. this weekend, do yourself a favor and attend it. Shine some light there for me, please.
3rd Annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival (TM)
June 12-13, 2010
Japanese American National Museum
369 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA
The Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival is a non-competitive, annual arts festival dedicated to sharing and nurturing storytelling of the Mixed experience. The Mixed experience refers to interracial and intercultural relationships, transracial and transcultural adoptions, and anyone who identifies as having biracial, multiracial, Hapa or Mixed identity.
Heidi & Fanshen & Jenni
This is exactly how I felt while reading Heidi Durrow’s debut novel The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (available today yesterday wherever books are sold). Except that I do know her, and I thank God that she’s not dead because I need more from this author/friend of mine. Heidi has written one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading, biracial subject matter or not. Truly beautiful, profound, poignant. All that good stuff and more! I read (more like devoured) TGWFFTS during an extremely difficult time in my life. I felt as though the book was saving me. And reminding me of all the good things I have to offer. And that no matter what hardships and tragedies we may go through in life, the story goes on- there’s another chapter to be lived.
Though the book is not entirely about being black and white, there are many beautiful passages that honestly touch upon the heart of that matter. I often find myself lamenting the fact that this biracial identity is so misunderstood out in the world at large. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky offers much insight. I sincerely hope that it is widely read. We all need this book. Whether we know it or not.
A few of my favorite “themes” of the novel:
Loss of self, becoming the “new girl”, becoming “black”, forsaking white. Making deals with the self. Deals which become layers covering over the authentic self. The self that the biracial kid loses when they feel pressured to be just one thing. Then eventually you long to be just one thing because no matter how hard you pretend to be whatever it is they want you to be, you can never totally convince yourself that you are exclusively that one thing. Because you aren’t. But most people seem completely incapable of understanding that, of allowing that. So we find ourselves feeling alone and lonely in groups of people.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “I think what a family is shouldn’t be so hard to see. It should be the one thing people know just by looking at you.” Unfortunately, we’ve been trained to recognize families as homogeneous groups. Seeing interracial couples is still jarring for many. Mentally pairing a mother with a child that “does not look like” her can be a major stretch of the imagination. But it is not an imagined thing for many. It is a reality. And for whatever reason that people who don’t have to deal with this don’t seem to understand, we need our families to be recognized.
I could go on and on. I have pages of notes. But I hope this is enough to pique your interest and motivate you to buy (and read!) The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. I’d love to hear what you think!
Here’s a new book full of beautiful black and white portraits of interracial couples! The foreward is written by one of my favorite mixed chicks, Heidi Durrow. The photos are stunning. Thank you, Robert Kalman, for this wonderful book that will no doubt help us break our subconscious instinct to assume that these people do not belong together. You can purchase your copy here.
Even though I only got three hours of sleep, I couldn’t wait to get back to the festival Saturday morning. For me, the day started with two workshops: Mixed Race in Media Space: Tangible Ways to Voice Your Ideas and Concerns followed by Use It! Turning a Mixed Roots Experience into a Powerful Piece of Writing. I got a lot out of both sessions.
Next was the Mixed in Hollywood panel discussion moderated by the wonderful Elliott Lewis author of Fade. On the panel were Angel Nissel co-executive producer and writer for Scrubs/author of The Broke Diaries and Mixed, and Karyn Parsons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sweet Blackberry Productions. I filmed some of it and will have it on youtube pretty soon.
Another session of readings followed the panel discussion. Unfortunately, I missed most of them (a girl’s got to eat), but really enjoyed what I did hear from Liberty Hultberg.
Readings were followed by screenings of In the Name of the Son, Parallel Adele, and….
The other films were great and it didn’t kill me to have to watch my big face in a semi-large group of people. I liked listening to people watching it. And, from what I can tell, they liked it! Phew! There was a q&a afterwards, and seeing as I was the only director there, all of the questions were for me. Thank God people had some questions to ask! My mom filmed it and I intend to put that on youtube as well. Pretty soon
My best friend from college, Sophina, (who was also my first biracial friend) came with some friends, as did my (step)sister Megan, and of course my mom was there and it was really just wonderful.
The event ended with Angela Nissel and Maria P.P. Root being award The Loving Prize for inspirational dedication to celebrating and illuminating the Mixed racial and cultural experience, followed by performances by the very talented Jordan Elgrably, Juliette Fairley, Kaypri, Jason Luckett, Lisa Marie Rollins, Jennifer Lisa Vest, Maija DiGiorgio, and Chris Williams.
Wow! What a line-up, what a weekend! It all went by so quickly! It was like a whole week of stuff packed into 2 days. Heidi and Fanshen, I don’t know how you did it! But I’m so grateful that you did! Thank you for including me.
The weekend left me with lots of thoughts. Some old, some new. I’m still trying to process and incorporate and figure out what to do with it all. But if I had to sum it up in one sentence, (today) it would be…
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…
Happy 100th episode, Mixed Chicks Chat! You can download their 100th podcast for free on itunes or listen on Heidi’s blog at http://www.lightskinnededgirl.typepad.com/.
Here’s a link to an article featuring two of my favorite (biracial) authors: http://www.lawattstimes.com/life-and-style-mainmenu-31/community/691-times-book-festival-features-black-women-writers-panel.html.
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.”
I am very much looking forward to reading Pig Candy and Where Did You Sleep Last Night?. And speaking of favorite biracial authors, I’m also very much looking forward to reading Heidi W. Durrow’s novel The Girl Who Fell From the Sky which you can pre-order from Amazon…http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Fell-Sky/dp/1565126807/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241193951&sr=8-1