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Blog Entries tagged 'identity'

Madagascar

Bernard Descamps. View the gallery

December 4th, 2009

The One Thing

I just read a blog post about the importance of specifity on one's blog. You should focus on the one thing you do, the one message you have, the one idea you want your readers to take away.

Which made me think, and look down at all my blog posts to try to find the one thing, the big idea, the one message. 

What is it, exactly, I'm saying over here? Why do people visit? What are you looking for? How do I provide it? 

And it came down to a basic credo:

Clarity. Courage. Faith. Freedom. 

That's my message, told a million different ways. 

See your truth. Tell your truth. Believe in the power of your truth. And then, fly, fly away.

Be free.

April 13th, 2009

What It Looks Like

From the New Yorker:

On May 26, 1996, Mariana Cook visited Barack and Michelle Obama in Hyde Park as part of a photography project on couples in America. What follows is excerpted from her interviews with them.

MICHELLE OBAMA: There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.

When you are involved in politics, your life is an open book, and people can come in who don’t necessarily have good intent. I’m pretty private, and like to surround myself with people that I trust and love. In politics you’ve got to open yourself to a lot of different people. There is a possibility that our futures will go that way, even though I want to have kids and travel, spend time with family, and like spending time with friends. But we are going to be busy people doing lots of stuff. And it’ll be interesting to see what life has to offer. In many ways, we are here for the ride, just sort of seeing what opportunities open themselves up. And the more you experiment the easier it is to do different things. If I had stayed in a law firm and made partner, my life would be completely different. I wouldn’t know the people I know, and I would be more risk-averse. Barack has helped me loosen up and feel comfortable with taking risks, not doing things the traditional way and sort of testing it out, because that is how he grew up. I’m more traditional; he’s the one in the couple that, I think, is the less traditional individual. You can probably tell from the photographs—he’s just more out there, more flamboyant. I’m more, like, “Well, let’s wait and see. What did that look like? How much does it weigh?”

BARACK OBAMA: All my life, I have been stitching together a family, through stories or memories or friends or ideas. Michelle has had a very different background—very stable, two-parent family, mother at home, brother and dog, living in the same house all their lives. We represent two strands of family life in this country—the strand that is very stable and solid, and then the strand that is breaking out of the constraints of traditional families, travelling, separated, mobile. I think there was that strand in me of imagining what it would be like to have a stable, solid, secure family life.

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her. And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.

January 26th, 2009

Double Blood

Thanks Ayo, who wrote yesterday that she's transracial. Even though the term has primarily been used to describe of color adoptees adopted by white famillies, I love the potential for the term and I've been pondering it quite a bit in the last year. It's much closer to how I feel than biracial. I belong to many "races" rather than feeling an outright, pure allegiance to one or two. And isn't that the future we all want, one that's fluid, one that identifies with struggle, but with the transcending of that struggle as well? This, fundamentally is a discussion about home. Where it is and how we define ourselves within it in a way that is empowering rather than disempowering.

On a similar note, at one of my lectures in Amsterdam last month, many in the audience were part Dutch, part Surinamese, and when I spoke of being "mixed" they shared their term: Double Blood. And when the daily paper in Amsterdam, Het Parool, did a spread on me, that was the headline: Double Blood, and I was thrilled by the shift. I feel we are finally at the place where our two or three or four sided identity can be seen irrefutably as a place of power and not victimization. Why not claim it all?

We have two traditions, we are not half of anything; we are transracial, we are not bifurcated. I like too, how transracial is different from postracial; it doesn't deny that ideas of race exist, it just chooses a different position towards those ideas. I also like that the term is open and inclusive, all people can embrace it, not just people of color or of many backgrounds, thus allowing allies to use it rather than feel perpetually on the outside. I really think transracial is a term of the future.

Thanks Ayo and all of my Dutch Afro-Surinamese sisters. You've given me a new way of seeing myself. The best present of all.

Check out both Ayo's blog: www.rainbowfriends.net and also the blog for Outsiders Within, an important discussion regarding adoption that I find especially relevant as I have received so much criticism for my statements in Baby Love about the desire of some adoptive parents to erase the reality of biological parents by denying the difference between the two.

And of course, this seems a particularly important discussion to be having on Martin Luther King Jr.'s official birthday. I'm sure he would approve.
January 21st, 2008