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Rebecca Walker Blog

Virginia Tech, U Penn and His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Hey everyone,

What a week. I was sitting in a hotel room a few hours before giving a talk at Penn when I heard the news about the shootings at Virginia Tech. I was immediately concerned about the students around the world who would have to go to classes suddenly unsure of their safety. For the first time in fifteen years of speaking at colleges, I felt fear myself and tried to think of ways to discuss the incident in a way that was helpful.

Amazingly, the students were not nearly as shaken as I was. Many had not even heard about the incident. Hard not to reflect on this generation. They have been through so much, and have had to keep going. Of course it is futile to generalize, and they don't seem numb, but a bit more pragmatic perhaps? Shocked by little? Not sure what the effect 9/11 would have had on me at 19 or 20, how that would have changed my view of the world.

I finally made it home, and was immediately brought into the whirlwind of welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the island for a teaching called World Peace: The Human Approach. Took the baby and listened to HHDL talk about building on natural human affection --which he discussed as biologically based and seen between most mothers and their children-- as a road to peace. Tomorrow he will speak on the Eight Verses for Training the Mind.

As I left the teaching sunburned but happy, I thought about how easy it is to dismiss points of view for any number of reasons. As a child of deconstruction there is always at least one thing I find problematic in any piece of art or culture I experience. But where does it end? When can we still appreciate something even though there are things about it we may not agree with? Don't we cheat ourselves of potentially transformative information by being so reactive and judgmental? Does that kind of response really help to solve the problems of discord between human beings?

Of course there is the Alec Baldwin tape and the Don Imus controversy...so much to say there.
Anyway. More on this later.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
April 25th, 2007

Pensacola and LA

Hey everybody! I've just done two talks, a reading and four interviews down here in Pensacola, and it has been a fascinating, moving, inspiring experience. I've made new friends, Kimberly and Denise, and met some truly amazing individuals who came out to hear me and share time together at the Women's Expo.

I don't know if I can sum this one up in a few words.

Many of the people here are quite religious and deeply committed to Jesus Christ and his teachings; that they were open enough to come and hear me and to, some of them, come to me in tears from my talk, with hugs and invitations to dinner, was really a miracle. And I learned so much about the Pentecostal and Charismatic faiths!

One of the other groups that sponsored me was the Coalition of 100 Black Women- Pensacola chapter, and the beautiful women who came from that group embraced me and also diversified the whole event, another miracle. On top of all those miracles and all that love, they put me up in a gorgeous place overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday the water was the most amazing blue-green, today is stormy and gray but beautiful just the same.

I miss the baby, but every day I get more letters from readers of Baby Love and they remind me of why I'm out here. Thank you!

I realize I haven't given you the LA update: It was great. I had a great time doing the KTLA morning show. We kibbitzed and one of the hosts had read Black, White and Jewish many years ago and talked during the segment about how much the book meant to her...I had a great escort, Lisa Becker, who had just been with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and said she was just wonderful, which I'm sure is true as her work and book are both so powerful and important. The booksellers in LA were amazing, too. At the Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica, I was showered with baby books for the baby, and at Vroman's I couldn't stop myself from buying a little Elmo and this incredible 3-D Frog book!

Okay so I'm pretty up to date, no? Tomorrow I go to Philadelpia again to speak at University of Pennsylvania. If you are around, come say hello.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
April 15th, 2007

Women's Expo

Pensacola, here I come! I'm still working on blog entries from Baby Love LA and Kahului, but in the meantime I'm hitting the road again to open and close the Gulf Coast Women's Expo. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the important topics facing women (and men) today. The title of the opening talk I'm giving at the conference is "Today is the Tomorrow You Were Promised Yesterday." It's all about how to have hope for the future and what we can do to bring about positive change, both within ourselves and our communities.

The expo should be a really energizing experience and I'm looking forward to connecting with all the women "down south" working on the great balancing act of friends, family, self, and career. If you are in the Pensacola area this Friday or Saturday, please stop by and see me! I'll be looking for you. Peace and love. Rebecca
April 12th, 2007

Book Tour Finale

Hey everyone! I'm finally home home home. So happy to see the baby and the rest of the tribe. It seems an eternity since I left for Portland, but it has only been two weeks. Incredible.

As I mentioned, Phoenix was great. The bookstore Changing Hands was an inspiration. An independent that is thriving, and full of books I want to read and beautiful objects I want to buy. Lots of wonderful people at the reading, asking great questions as usual. I met an architect from the South, a couple that had been at my reading in Portland five years ago for Black, White and Jewish, a precious mother-daughter team, two pregnant moms, a student of Chogyam Trungpa who studied at Naropa, and at least ten women who are on the fence about the whole pregnancy journey. I did some great TV in Phoenix, but my favorite was Pat McMahon, who had me on after a man with Concerned Citizens for Christ who, along with his wife, has made a personal crusade of challenging the Mormon church. It was a very dynamic segment! Phoenix was also notable for the totally swanky hotel I stayed at, the Mondrian Scottsdale, which had the best beauty products by Korres a natural product company in Greece. The small perks of being on the road: a tiny bottle of lemon basil shower gel and cold peanut M and M's in the mini-bar. Also: reading on the plane. I'm set to review When She Was White by Judith Stone for the Washington Post, so I started reading it on the way to LA, in between peanuts and a disco nap.

I will post about LA and Hawaii as soon as I catch my breath. Until then, thanks so much for all of the beautiful emails. I love hearing about you all reading the book on the subway, on the plane, in bed, on vacation, in the middle of the night, while nursing, during naptime, and on the way to work. Keep em coming! You give me hope.
April 9th, 2007

Chicago Book Stop

This picture, from the reading at the wonderful bookstore Women and Children First, was sent in by Yanique--thanks! It was a great event. I got lots of questions about Buddhism (check my site for the article of Buddhism in the Black community with Lama Choyin Rangdrol) and balancing family and career. More on that to come, but in the meantime check out equallysharedparenting.com for a look at how some progressive parents are doing it. Other amazing sites for moms: mothersoughttohaveequalrights.org and singlemothers.org.

In Phoenix I had great fun with TV host Pat McMahon and a super groovy time with the host of Arizona Midday, four months pregnant herself.

More from LA soon...

peace and love,
Rebecca
April 3rd, 2007

Baby Love on the Road

Philadelphia and Washington DC are a blur. I did lots of interviews: a popular morning TV show in DC on Fox, a bunch for NPR, a segment for PBS, and a very special one on one with Literary Mama, one of my favorite on-line mags. But the highlight was the readings. In Philly, my old friend and now lawyer Dacque Tirado from Freedom Summer made an appearance, a wonderfully well adjusted mother and daughter duo sat in the front row and asked very good questions,and a sister who had been very upset about the biological/non-biological discussion (and who wouldn't have come to see me if her friend hadn't dragged her), said she was so happy she came and heard my thoughts firsthand.

In DC my reading was in Tyson's corner, where an old friend from fourth grade magically appeared, along with a family of long lost relatives from my stepmother's family, one of whom was doing a skit for her class based on Black, White and Jewish the next day! I was very well taken care of by a super cool regional marketing director who had come to Border's from thirteen years at Tower Records. She fed me apple pie and some kind of cheese sandwich and just generally rocked!

I'm still amazed by all the stories I'm hearing. About miscarriages, ambivalent couples, adoption, infertility, loss, love, triplets, insemination, IVF...it really is amazing how many of us are grappling in different ways with birth and parenthood. Very inspiring.

I've just wrapped Chicago, but that will have to come in another post.

Keep spreading the word about Baby Love, in all of its many forms! Thanks for all the positive energy. Now on day 10, I REALLY appreciate it.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
April 2nd, 2007

New York City

It was such an honor to appear on Good Morning America. The interview gave me a chance to reach a large audience to discuss some of the more relevant themes in the book, and to clarify my position regarding the more controversial aspects. It was also a lot of fun, and the hair and makeup team (thanks April and Kathleen!) taught me many new tricks. After the interview at ABC, I made my way down to Barnes & Noble in the heart of Chelsea. It was a wonderful crowd. My dad was there, and several dear friends, one of whom brought her beautiful little girl. There were many excellent questions from the audience and we discussed several important issues that the book raises. One was the mother-daughter relationship. Why is it that so many mother-daughter relationships are broken? I know very few women who have healthy relationships with their mothers.

I responded with what I've been thinking a lot about lately: this idea of sisterhood, and mothers and daughters being more like sisters or friends. Being "sisters" throws off the archetypal mother-daughter relationship. Daughters need mothers to be mothers: unconditionally loving, not competitive, etc. The role of a sister is more closely linked with friendship, which can sometimes turn into jealousy and rivalry. I think being more aware of these different models and paradigms may help mothers to form healthier relationships with their daughters. Finally, I am so appreciative of the people sharing their stories on this blog and elsewhere. We are engaging in an important dialogue. The participation, passion, and varied viewpoints are all important and add to the conversation.

Peace and Love, Rebecca.
March 28th, 2007

Book Tour Update

Hey everybody! Just finished up with Seattle and San Francisco and head out to New York in the morning. Seattle was super fantastico. I saw my old friends from Elliott Bay Books, Rick and Karen, and Warren Read, with whom I consulted on a manuscript that just sold (!!). The event was co-sponsored by Mavin, a resource group for multi-racial people, and though I thought it was going to be held at the groovy new Koolhaas library downtown, it was actually held an equally gorgeous newly renovated branch of the library called the Douglas Truth branch, named after Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth. I was happy to hear that when Seattle decided to spend millions on the new library, they committed to renovate libraries all over the city. Way to be civically responsible! Anyhoo, I read to the standing room only crowd and took lots of questions. Heard from at least one pregnant mom. It was really a lot of fun, and I want to thank everyone who came and made it possible, including my great media escort and playright, Rosalind.

San Francisco was also good. Spent the whole day yesterday at KPFA doing community radio. I was interviewed by at least four different people, including my dear friend Weyland, producer of Hard Knock Radio. We got lots of great calls from listeners, one of whom wanted to give love and thanks for spreading the word about ambivalence and motherhood and all the rest of it. Another who wanted to set up a reading in the East Bay because all of my readings were a little far out of town (thanks to the good booksellers at Keplers who gave me some Richard Scarry books for the baby, and the good people at Book Passage in Corte Madera, who gave me some great note cards with my name engraved on them. Perfect for thank you notes to all of you sending me such positive energy.) Lots of good dialogue happening because of the book, and I'm so proud it seems to be touching a nerve. I also had a much needed massage, which got me re-centered for the next leg, which includes Good Morning America! Stay tuned.

Peace and love,
Rebecca
March 25th, 2007

10 Money Questions, for Queercents

10 Money Questions

March 25th, 2007

March 25th, 2007

West Coast Book Tour

Portland was great! So nice to start the tour seeing familiar faces from Lewis and Clark, and even someone from my old high school in SF: The Urban School. I got to touch a pregnant mom's belly, and cheer on a gorgeous couple that just inseminated last night (encouraged to get to it by my talk last month). Also had a great conversation on KBOO with book club members, one of whom was the mother of five! I love how this book elicits birth stories and pregnancy narratives, and especially important discussions about how our culture can do more to support mothers, children and families.

For more info on that check out http://www.mothersmovement.com/ and http://www.momsrising.org/.

Can't wait to see who shows up in Seattle! Peace and love.
March 22nd, 2007

New York Times Clarification

I gather from some of the responses to the way I compare my relationship with my biological child to my relationship with the child I helped my ex-girlfriend to raise that I have been taken out of context. My situation is unique to my experience and it was this specific relationship that I describe in my memoir. I am sorry to have offended anyone, as it was not my intention.

However, I still do feel that this dialogue is important and worthwhile.
March 20th, 2007

Celebrate your success, know that many cannot

I am sensitive to the fact that discussing the intimacy of family relationships can be very polarizing in our society. The strong feelings that arise are the evidence that this topic deserves attention, and so we must all make sure that as parents we are listening to our children. This includes inquiring with an open mind and an open heart in a way that can receive that which we may not want to hear. If we find that those whom we love the most are free from the difficulties that face many step and adoptive families, then celebrate the unique and positive accomplishment of having created healthy relationships that can endure throughout a lifetime. There is no harm in doing this.

At the same time I hope that everyone will consider that there are millions of people who cannot celebrate this accomplishment. I believe that they deserve to have a voice that stimulates dialogue about their situation. Remember that while many families may be doing well, there may be many more that are not. Responding negatively to the discourse of the issues of those families is exactly the kind of response that suppresses the voices of those who yearn to be heard. It is injurious to them in a way that compounds an already difficult situation.

Until we can think of the families who are struggling with these issues and wish for them the support, respect, openness, and caring that they deserve, books like Baby Love will continue to raise an extremely important dialogue that is good for individuals, families and our society. Please feel free to offer supportive advice and acknowledgment of the difficulties others may be enduring as a way of expressing the depth of your understanding, compassion and altruism.
March 19th, 2007

Danzy Senna Book Comments

"In Baby Love, Rebecca Walker has shone a bright light on the Ambivalent Generation --those of us raised to remain daughters rather than become mothers, to wonder rather than to know. Moving, wise, and deeply honest, Baby Love has illuminated a crucial question for our times."

Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and Symptomatic, Whiting Award recipient.
March 18th, 2007

NPR Podcast

Here's a podcast from last month that NPR recently posted on biracial children. Michel Martin interviewed me on my experiences and Black, White and Jewish and we also talked about Mixed, the anthology I just wrote the Foreword to, and, of course, Baby Love. Hopefully, this Mocha Moms podcast will become a regular NPR segment.

Take a listen and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from other mothers exploring these issues.

March 13th, 2007

Asha Bandele Blurb

"Those of us who have followed Rebecca Walker have come to expect a brilliant journey, one that locates the balance between reason and emotion, blood and sinew. Baby Love does not disappoint. Walker's offering does what all finely craft memoirs should: expose the experience of the writer but only to illumine the experience of the reader. As a daughter, but most of all as a mother I read this book and was transformed." --Asha Bandele

Nice, huh?

Asha Bandele is an editor at Essence Magazine as well as a Revson Fellow at Columbia University. She is author of one of my favorite memoirs, The Prisoner's Wife.
March 9th, 2007