Dialogues are back! And Here's How Cohort 1 went.
Our first Cohort One Dialogue took place on Sunday, November 4th. We had incredible turnout with about 23 folks attending.
We started Cohort One by reading and discussing the Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage written by psychologist and educator, Dr. Maria P.P. Root. Many of us who identify as mixed and/or as transracial adoptees struggle with a positive affirmation of our identities and our positionally. Some attendees really connected with the affirmation of identifying differently than our parents expect us to identify. Often we are defined from the outside, and we found strength in affirming our own identities despite the conflicts that may come, particularly from those close to us. The idea of changing how one identifies over their lifetime also resonated with dialogue participants. These two ideas were connected by some folks because how we identity can be source of conflict, despite it being a right of ours to define that for ourselves. As we acknowledge our mixed identities and/or take on the work of discussing with those close to us all aspects of our ancestry we frequently experience the pain of that shift being rejected. Folk’s willingness to share these difficult experiences and the reasons behind their choices enriched our discussion. We felt grateful as organizers for the gentleness and bravery we saw. Speaking for myself, I am consistently amazed at the commonalities in our stories, ones I didn’t imagine as existing growing up, and the sense of community that comes from speaking those truths in a shared space.
Though the Bill of Rights and the affirmations it contains is powerful, attendees also felt that it lacked in its ability to address the pain, shame, and guilt that many of us experience. As mixed folks and transracial adoptees we frequently struggle to embrace our whole selves while engaging in solidarity work while remaining accountable and protecting our hearts. Perhaps due to the increase in violent white supremacy there was expressed desire to become involved, to be accountable for colorism and its history in America while acting positively to create change. Many of us feel a sense of urgency in action. While we engage, we also have a right to continue to form our identities, question our assumptions, and journey toward healing.
Conversation was not limited to these topics, but these were some areas that felt marked in my mind. As we neared the end of our dialogue conversation shifted to practices of raising children, and our own upbringing. We were blessed to see a wide range of ages and experiences in the group which we view as an essential aspect of quality dialogue, and so we are looking forward to our December dialogue. This will focus on the formation of identity, childhood, and raising children. I left feeling fulfilled and energized around our re-launch. Thank you to all who attended and shared with us. We look forward to holding space with you in December.
Nathan Zeckmeister, Cohort One Co-Facilitator