MXRS Workshops: Healing and Activism in Marin

img_5723On November 4, MXRS board member, Kaily Heitz, presented “Social Justice Fatigue: Creating a Supportive Environment for Activism” at the Breaking Through Shades of Color: Transforming Race Relations and Conflict conference at Middlebury Institute for International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, CA. This workshop focuses on the idea of “social justice fatigue,” a term that has been defined and presented for several student organizations by our own Dr. Chandra Crudup. “Social justice fatigue” is a concept that essentializes the way that social justice organizers, particularly people of color, experience burnout caused by intentional and unintentional exposure to injustices. The workshop is designed to identify the various ways that we feel attacked and brainstorm how to balance sources of fatigue with practices of self-care.

img_5734The MIIS workshop audience was comprised of students, activists, and Monterey community members. Participants were first asked to pair up and discuss the ways that they felt attacked at multiple levels. Many discussed social identifiers of class and gender as a source of fatigue. After reviewing issues of structural racism and injustice, participants went back to their pairs and talked about how vulnerable members of their community might be facing compounded injustices. A poignant examples came from one woman, who discussed the relevance of considering micro and macro aggressions with regard to the large population of migrant farm and hospitality workers in the area.

We ended by drafting a toolkit that enabled participants to identify ways they felt fatigued, self-care routines that brought back balance in the fight for justice, and ideas for fostering a more equitable environment for other activists and people of color in their communities.

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Participants were asked to write down how they felt that their needs were being “attacked” (on the right side of the chart) and the ways that they find balance (on the left side of the chart).

Although none of us realized quite how necessary this workshop would be in the coming days, it could not have come at a better time. This election acts as a call to action, and a reminder of the ongoing importance of our work as activists, artists, and storytellers. It also reminds us to hold one another. The most important self-care advice I heard repeated at the workshop at MIIS was to find and reach out to one’s community when feeling anxious or stressed.

We are so grateful that you are a part of the Mixed Roots Stories community. We aim to make story a practice of self-care and healing, of  justice, and awakening–for ourselves and all those whose lives we may unexpectedly touch with our stories. Is writing or making art part of your self-care routine? We invite you to share with us how you are taking care of yourself in these challenging times.

And, we’re here to support you! If you are interested in bringing our “Social Justice Fatigue” workshop, or others, to your school or organization, contact us at info@mixedrootsstories.org.


Diverse Storytelling – with MERGE

Mixed Roots Stories was honored to join MERGE students from Pomona College in preparing mentors for incoming students to the Claremont Colleges. The “Claremont Colleges” is a consortium comprised of 5 undergraduate colleges, and 2 graduate institutions in Claremont, California.  MERGE (Multi Ethnic and Racial Group Experience) “is the Claremont Colleges’ club for multi-ethnic/multi-cultural students.” Their mission is “to provide a safe space for people of mixed heritage in which we may discuss issues of multi-racial and/or multi-ethnic identity and to raise awareness within the [Claremont Colleges] community.” Kaily Heitz, one of Mixed Roots Stories board members & Pitzer College alumna, is one of the founders of the organization.

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Dr. Chandra Crudup, also a Mixed Roots Stories board member, facilitated a workshop on Surviving Social Justice Fatigue through Diverse Storytelling. She led the group of students through defining social justice fatigue, identifying warning signs, and creating a survival guide. We then explored ways to creatively self care through sharing our individual and collective stories. The students were challenged to create an individual and/or group representation of who they are and what goals they have for MERGE.  They decided to create a zine! Each student created one to four pages that will be compiled into a MERGE zine. The students shared their pages with the group describing what each element they included on their page represented or why they included it. It was an inspiring, encouraging, fun time! Check out the MERGE Zine in this video:

If you are interested in having a Mixed Roots Stories workshop work with your student group, email us at info@mixedrootsstories.org.


Netflix Binge Watch with Mixed Roots Stories

Do you binge watch shows and movies online? We do! We found these 6 programs on Netflix  that feature mixed roots discussions. Check them out, critically discuss them with others, and learn more! We have provided some questions to consider while watching each one, as well as further reading/resources to keep you thinking and critically looking at mixed roots stories!

 

We are just getting started with our Netflix recommendations, and we’d love your contributions. What films/TV series have you seen that are relevant? What critical questions can we explore when/after watching them? What mixed identity groups aren’t represented here? Send us an email to info@mixedrootsstories.org.

 

Trevor Noah: African American

From Trevor Noah:
Trevor Noah brings to film his unique brand of observational humor born of his mixed-race experience under the South African apartheid system. In his most recent stand-up special Trevor weaves together compelling stories with wicked smart observations on the inanity of the racial construct in the United States. The theme of Trevor’s presentation is his journey to America, because he believes he can be fully black here. A clip from Gabriel Iglesias StandUp Revolution:

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:

1) Can humor be an effective storytelling tool for change, especially on matters of race, culture and ethnicity?

2) As you watch Trevor Noah: African American, do you think his point-of-view effectively challenges our racial assumptions?

3) How does idea of mixed/blackness transfer between countries?

4) What does it mean to be “fully black?”

For Further reading/discussion:
Nancy Goldman makes an argument in her paper that humor can be a powerful tool for social change – Comedy and Democracy: The Role of Humor in Social Justice. 


 

The Fosters

From abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters:
The Fosters is a one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Stef and her partner Lina have built a close-knit , loving family with Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon, and their adopted twins Mariana and Jesus. But how will things change when they meet troubled teen Callie and her little brother Jude?

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What responsibilities do parents raising kids from different cultures than themselves have in teaching their children about those cultures?

2) Lina identifies as biracial – how does this affect her relationship with her partner, Stef, and her children? Do the conversations she has with her African American mother surprise you, or not? Why?

For Further reading/discussion:
Lisa Marie Rollins is a TRA (TransRacial Adoption) Activist. Her blog, poetry and live performance provide lots of insight into the TRA experience. Learn more here: https://birthproject.wordpress.com/


 

The Loving Story

From lovingfilm.com:
The Loving Story, a documentary film, tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What do you think were the most compelling arguments made by the Loving’s legal team to persuade the Court to rule in their favor?
2) What are some of the other Supreme Court decisions that have had a strong impact on the mixed community?

For Further reading/discussion:
For a more in-depth analysis on Loving v. Virginia and the people involved, see Race, Sex and the Freedom to Marry by Peter Wallenstein (mixedracestudies.org).


 

Parenthood

NBC recently aired the final season (season 6) of Parenthood. You can catch up/re-watch the first 5 seasons on Netflix. “Parenthood bravely and delicately take on the complexities of family life leaving viewers full of emotion after every episode like all good comedy/drama stories should! In addition to other major topics (cancer, post traumatic stress disorder and more), this series follows an interracial marriage and their child, the process of a transracial adoption and has explored an interracial teenage dating situation.” (http://mixedrootsstories.com/parenthood/)

A few key seasons/episodes:
Season 2 – Crosby and Jasmine (an interracial couple) are trying to figure out how to raise their child and if they are going to work on their relationship or continue to be separated. Addie begins dating Alex, and her parents begin to question the relationship, pushing her to move in with her grandparents. But are they questioning it because he is a different race or because he has a history of substance abuse?
Season 3 – Crosby and Jasmine work out their differences. Julia and Joel interracially adopt a son.
Season 4 – Crosby and Jasmine have a discussion with their son about race (Episode 4). Julia and Joel take on the challenge of raising their adopted son.
Season 5 – Crosby and Jasmine expand their family with a new baby girl. Jasmine’s mother has ideas of how religion should play a role in the families life.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) If your child brings home a partner with a mixed background (different race, culture, religion, gender orientation, country of origin, etc.) than what you expected, would you be concerned? Why? Would you voice your concern? How?
2) In Season 4 Episode 4 Crosby realizes there are situations his mixed race son will have to deal with that he won’t be able to protect his son from. How would you or do you answer these/similar questions?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
Raising Biracial Children by Kerry Ann Rockquemore & Tracey Laszloffy, takes on identity development with mixed-race individuals within a historical context and creates a framework to assist parents, educators, social workers, counselors and anyone who works with multiracial individuals.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote Does Anybody Else Look Like Me: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children out of frustration in a bookstore, when she was unable to find a book that provided guidance on how to address the situations she was facing in her mixed roots family.

The appendix of both books have lists of useful resources!


 

Rabbit Proof Fence

Set in 1930, western Australia, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true-life story of two “half-caste” girls who were taken from their families, by the government, and placed in a camp where they are trained to be servants for white families. The hope is for these children to end up marrying white Australian men so their aboriginal blood can be bred out. The girls escape and take off on a journey to find their family.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) The United States is not the only country that has had a history of hiding unspeakable events around race/color differences. What value, if any comes, from being aware of a global mixed roots history?

2) In what ways do institutions continue to support and enforce the separation of different people?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“My Place” by Sally Morgan

“Daughter Dies With Her Story Still Incomplete”


Black in Latin America: with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In this PBS 4 episode series, “Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Discusses the massive influence of African ancestry on the history and culture of Latin America and Caribbean.” He goes to: Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) As Gates interviews each country, how does his North American views of “Black” influence his questions, interactions, and expectations on what answers he is looking for in South America?

2) Both North and South America have a history of slavery with “Black” or African people. How are these histories similar and/or different? What lessons can be gleaned from both continents mixed roots histories?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“Black In Latin America” by Henry Louis Gate Jr. http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=31565

“Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies by Claudia Milian
http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=25463


Our Offspring Will Challenge Our Assumptions About Identity

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Wow! Omilaju Miranda’s story packs a punch.  She gives a snapshot of her particular struggle with raising a mixed-race daughter that does not have her phenotype. Her daughter has many questions on identity that were revelatory for the author and you too will be intrigued by her responses, so please read it and share on our Facebook page if you have had a similar experiences.

For further reading, I recommend The Family Pangea by our guest blogger Sky Obercam.

——

Omilaju Miranda (“Omi”) is the founder of Mixed Diversity Reads Children’s Book Reviewhttp://mixeddiversityreads.com/ , a nonprofit site, which reviews Young Adult and children’s picture books with protagonists from culturally marginalized groups including those with interracial, transracial, lgbt, gender non-conforming, bilingual, and single parents. Omi has been published in Mixed Nation and has also founded the art and literary blog zine, Parenting My Interracial Family http://myinterracialfamily.com/ . A former Javits Fellow, she is a graduate of Columbia University, received her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech, and can be followed @diversekidreads or @Multiracefamily or on Facebook.



Funding Your Projects – Creative Capital

We know what it’s like to try and get funding for the projects you’re passionate about, especially when you are just starting out, or when the ‘gatekeepers’ tell you they don’t think there will be enough interest in your story. That’s why we want to be a resource to help you find ways to garner financial support. One such resource is Creative Capital. Even if you haven’t begun to put pen to paper, take a look at their requirements, and the other projects they have supported – so when you are ready, you’ll have strong guidelines to help you get the funding you need.

Website: Creative Capital

 


Miss Manners on How To Respond to ‘Is That Your Child’?

For the most part I find it a pleasure living the mixed experience. I know the ‘What Are You’ question annoys some – and with good reason (I’m asked only because of my light skin, and the privilege that comes with that); but I often look at it as an opening for continued conversation (and occasional ‘schooling’) on the history of ‘race’ and racism. But THESE kinds of questions, I cannot tolerate. Here’s a great response from Miss Manners. How would you respond?

Miss Manners responds when a man is asked, “Where did you get your daughter?’

If you’re looking for more resources on this topic, check out our post on Becky Sarah’s book Grandmothering, which includes an entire chapter dedicated to families with mixed children. We also really like the podcast Is That Your Child – check out these resources when you have the chance!

 

http://www.journalnow.com/home_food/advice/article_102b269e-5624-11e3-a2da-001a4bcf6878.html




Grant Writing Specialist Needed – Intern/Volunteer Opportunity

Mixed Roots Stories is looking for a motivated person who is experienced, or wants to gain experience writing grant proposals. The Grant Specialist will work with the Mixed Roots Stories team to grow a database of grant opportunities as well as gather information, collect and organize data, and draft grant submissions. This could be either an intern or volunteer position. The intern/grant writer must be self motivated, organized, detail oriented, a team player and timely with due dates. This is an ideal position for someone looking for an internship or volunteer opportunity working with an up and coming, very active nonprofit.

 

Please send resumes/CVs (include references) and cover letters expressing your interest in Mixed Roots Stories and the Grant Specialist position to info@mixedrootsstories.org. Please put “Grant Writer” in the subject line.