Once in a blue moon: A manifestation and affirmation of Blackness

On January 31 there will be a Super Blood Blue Moon. For the kids at home, a Blue Moon is when two full moons occur within the same month; this is very rare. A blood moon is when the moon is eclipsed and is reflected red by filtered sunlight. The “super” part is the moon being at its closest point in its orbit to the Earth. I aim to take advantage of this wealth of energy and set a clear intention.

This is a calling in. Things are shifting; we can all feel it. On the whole, our country is coming into slow alignment with an understanding of where the cards truly lie. White people are learning what we as people of color (POC) living in this silo of whiteness already knew: this country is built on a crumbling foundation. Old systems are breaking, creating space for us to clear out the wreckage, set our own intentions and move forward with our collective healing, liberation being our single focus.

For the past two months I have been immersed in pools melanin and count myself as supremely blessed. I owe this to being cast in Theater Ensemble of Color’s play, “Rachel” (which boasts an all-black cast). Also, experiencing a life-altering Shambhala Cultivating Dignity meditation retreat. Historic, as this was the first POC Shambhala residential retreat in the country. (Shambhala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition which centers around the truth that all beings are basically good.) The experience was transformative and I am still processing.

Finally, I recently made a firm, though at times complicated (as is the world of whiteness)—but always rewarding—decision to focus on, center, and manifest with people of color. This commitment is the best thing that I have ever done (within living memory) for my soul. Committing to people of color has led me to the feeling of belonging and oneness that I have always looked for but never found in white spaces. Much may be said for being with people who reflect the beauty that POC are so often told doesn’t exist.

People of color revel in a richness which comes in large part from our struggle. Comprised of different (yet all-too-similar) experiences with a depth and sorrow which echoes far in our ancestral bones, driving us forward. When I am in POC spaces, my heart can barely contain the love being felt. When we are together, people are so vibrant and full in all of our brilliant iterations. Our comfort allows us to wear our stories on our skin. Within POC spaces comes the freedom to converse about anything and everything without fear intrusion or a demand of explanation.

The feeling of simply beingI mean really just beingand doing the most mundane things is incredible. Eating toast! Eating toast is one of my favorite things to do with people of color. It’s fascinating to see the ways we all eat. Unconcerned with who might think what. Some eat slowly, others quickly, a few go back for seconds. I’m talking about ease though. The fluid ease with which the toast is consumed. You may laugh but if you do, that might be because you don’t hear what I am saying.

There is a video going around related to the movie “Black Panther” coming out in February. Because it is going to be lit and I am the MOST hype, there are these Black humans standing looking at a poster. These dudes are freaking out because the poster is epic (obviously). They’re all yelling about the poster like, “Is this how white people feel all the time?! ALL THE TIME YO?!?! Shoot, I’d wanna feel like that too. I wouldn’t wanna give that up too!”

I have to tell you, that shit hit home. Watching that 30-second video struck me all of the different ways we as POC get left behind.

Waking up in this America is difficult. I sit in my room and think about all of the injustices that never stop coming. Al Jazeera pops onto my phone and tells me the latest headlines: more bombings, more government corruption. I hop online and hear of another Black body, another Black girl done wrong, another law being unwritten and it just is all so heavy.

I want Black people to heal. I want Black people to sit in rooms with Black people and non-Black POC (NBPOC) and just be. I want Black people to feel at ease. I want Black people to look at themselves in the mirror and know without the shadow of a doubt that they are beautiful. I want Black people to walk down the street and have no one cross the street for fear of them and their hoodie and their fuzzy purple mittens. I want Black people to make eye contact with each other. I want Black people to take yoga classes together, attend poetry readings together, ceramics classes, mindfulness courses, tea-making classes together.

I want Black people to breathe. To be at home in their skin. I want Black people to experience a life free of anxiety. Free of fear. Free of shame. I want Black people to have a reset, to get back to how our bodies are meant to feel. In our natural state of ease, openness and expansiveness. I want us to learn how our bodies would feel all the time if we were able to exist in the world without racism and without oppression.

I want Black to experience liberation. I want NBPOC to experience liberation. If only for an hour, so we may all know liberation is possible. So we may all know what to strive for and dream of. I want us to understand that dreams are tangible. Stars shine within us, not beyond us. We must only reach inside ourselves and dream.

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Nurturing the third eye

This past weekend, “Rachel” opened at Portland Stage. Set in the 1920s, the play explores racism, colorism, and the effects of the two on the black psyche. I am blessed to be a part of the production. Rachel has an all-Black, intergenerational cast with several kids aged about 6-10. We call them thelittles,” and they just about burst my heart. A few of them are adoptees, and being one myself, I confess they have a special place in my heart. Working with them is a reminder that children are incredible teachers.

The littles came to rehearsal this week with stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he cured racism, having just learned about him in school. This week, of course. The littles want to tell me about his dream, saying “It’s a good thing that we don’t live when this play was set, because then we would have people who hate us and want to hurt us because of how we look.

I take a pause, and then a breath, before telling them gently but firmly that things arent much different today. I watch light fade slowly in their eyes as pieces from family, friends, and bits of news clicks together. Air slips from their previously proud chests. I can see in their eyes that my words have just taken some of their hope.

I want to tell them that yes, MLK was a great man, but he wasn’t the end-all. Crave to explain to them that whiteness propped him up after they murdered him and his dream. That yes, he had a dream, but the nation wasn’t ready, that Martin wasn’t the only one who dreamed of freedom. Wasn’t the only one with fire burning in his chest and wind filling his lungs. I want to tell them about Assata and Stokely and Malcom and Angela.

I want to tell them that we need to devour our history before it is taken from our hands and our mouths; peeled from our lips, as it was done before. As people will try to do again. I want to tell the littles that they can add their names to the history books which we will write and rewrite to include us. Include our truth. Undiluted. Free of whitewashing and white history. I want to tell them it is OK to be mad. To be sad. To be filled with confusion and rage.

I hand one of the littles a comic book I found in a booth at AfroPunk. The story is about a kid who discovers she has psychic and empathetic powers, with an abilities related to chakras and auras. The kid has an older brother who skeptically follows her through the journey. The little wants to know if the brother gets powers too, and I wonder if he is thinking about his younger sister and himself. Wonder if he sees his sister as a superhero. I wonder if he sees himself.

He asks me if I think the third eye is real. I tell him, “Yes, I am trying to activate it.” He nods, then tells me about his friend that he watches Naruto (a Japanese manga series about a young ninja on the quest for belonging). He tells me his friend liked to bring a demon into their third eye then activate it, like on the TV show. Then he told me his friend later realized how foolish that was. They said it didn’t feel good bringing in the demons energy. I said “That’s good. We don’t want to welcome in that negative energy, do we?” He shook his head emphatically “Oh, no!”

Conversations like these show me kids have the basic tools for understanding this world we live in. They don’t need to be spoon-fed stories about Martin and his shiny dream. Kids can be told about the world they live in, in terms they can understand. Living in silos of whiteness, it is easy for us to forget that we are not alone in our blackness. Whiteness creates walls to keep us away from each other and afraid. Whiteness rewrites our history and serves it back to us once per annum, requesting us to be grateful, while shouting “reverse racism” and “Why is there no white history month?!” Kids need to be armed and ready for the world of whiteness that awaits them, gearing up to break them down. Today’s children are going to save the world. In order to do that, they need to be prepared, with spirits intact, and curious. Kids need to believe they are magic and to learn their history. In doing so, they will have acquired the tools to call on their ancestors and love themselves now, so as life rolls on they’ve nowhere to go but up and out, and soar beyond the stars.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Adoptees adopting themselves

Family is a word on everyone’s tongue. It is no doubt that family can be a difficult thing across the board.  For some of us though, it tends to be more complicated. I am teaching myself how to cry. How to really let out the grief that has lived in my body since time before remembering. Last week, I found myself on a sidewalk crouched in the fetal position, weeping. It was in that moment which I realized with a profound certainty that there are people on this planet who belong to me.

I have found my birth mother and I am filled with fear and confusion with no clear end in sight. And I couldn’t be happier. Despite the questions. Despite the emotions which are clogged in my body. I had given my mother up for dead. Maybe it was the fatalist in me. Maybe it was the realist. Or maybe it was me trying to reconcile my place in the world, and understand that I may never know my origins. Not truly.

I’m clicking my heart back into place. I’ve found my birth mother. I’ve heard her voice. I know there is someone in this world who belongs to me. Who I belong to. I love her, and I barely know her; nevertheless, I’ve loved her all my life. She is a constant steady flame burning in the center of me, guiding my way and lighting my path in even the darkest of times. Before now, loving her was complex. Truth be told, it still is. The difference now is that I know she exists.

I’m on a quest to reclaim my narrative. Twice robbed of my history—first when my ancestors were enslaved and shipped here, and again when I was shipped up here and then cut off from my birth mother. As a child, I had no say. Despite wanting desperately to meet my mother. See her in more than just a photograph.

This is the hardest piece I’ve ever written, and I don’t even know what it’s about. I feel compelled to write it down. Perhaps it’s because I know that many of the people who will read these words will hold a small dark child in their arms. Maybe it’s because I want them to know what it is to be a transracial adoptee in a white state. To have to adapt perceptions and stop looking for oneself in the face of those who love them. To understand the deep need which sits at the base of their being. A deep throbbing wound waiting to be filled by someone who looks like them. Sounds like them. Feels like them.  Last week, I heard my birth mother’s voice and I finally, finally, finally, felt kinship.

My story is unfinished one, scattered and uncertain. Until now it has been filled with the struggle of a child brought into a family who did not truly understand the magnitude of what it means to adopt a Black child. A family who felt an occasional Black babysitter, Black baby doll, kwanza ball would make up for the deficit of being without one’s history.

I know that there are children in this state who feel alone right now. Who are wondering where they come from. Who are sitting around their kitchen tables staring at faces which are paler and stranger than their own. There are children who have a deep and unquenchable longing to connect with someone who shares their blood, shares their face. Beautiful dark children who long to understand where they come from and to hear their own voice reflected to them.

I am writing this because I need adoptive parents to do better. I need adoptive parents to understand the importance of origin. Don’t buy into a color-blind love. It doesn’t exist. Not really.  If you are a white parent who has taken a Black child into your home, I need you to talk to them. Often. I need you to press them when they tell you that nothing is wrong. I need you to listen to their silences. To try to understand their grief. I need you to understand that to be given up is to inflict a wound so deep that it penetrates everything. I need you to understand that an adoptive child constantly questions their intrinsic self-worth. I need adoptive parents to understand that terror of rejection lives at the heart of that wound. As a child, I remember being constantly fearful that I would be given away. Given back after being found wanting. Being found ungrateful.

What I mean to say is, you cannot take a small dark child into your home, remove them from their blood, then expect them to naturally thrive. Expect them to forget. This shit is deep. It may be instinct to boil this down to my own sad experience. To reduce my story to an isolated incident. An unfortunate case of an adoption turned foul.

The thing is, my journey began with the best, if not hazy of intentions. I have deep love for my family. And begrudging though it may be, after a childhood demanding my gratitude, I have come to make some concessions. I’m not grateful for my adoption; I’m not there yet and may never be, but I am grateful for my life path, because I am proud of where I landed. I am proud of where I have carried myself on spirit, at times kicking and screaming. In this, my 28th year, I have given birth to myself. I am grateful that I had the strength and the faith to reach across my fear and find the woman who created me.

My birth mother was my first heartbeat. My first breath. My first love and my first question. After years of coming up short, I am now on a path to discovering answers to my own whispered questions. Finally, I will have more than a box of birth records and cards and photographs get me through; to connect me to where I come from. I have adopted myself. Adoption is deep. Adoption is painful. And some adoptees never can give birth to themselves.

If I can have only one wish for adopted babies, specifically, transracial adoptees, then I will break it into two parts, and in no particular order:

I wish that transracial adoptees are placed with adoptive parents who strive every day to understand the complexities of adoption. I wish that they recognize and address the significance of loving a child who lives in a home which does not reflect them. In a country which does not value them, and in a world which does not love them. This is my wish, and I pray to whoever is listening, that it come true.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.