I didn’t want it to end. I went to the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival to read from the memoir I’m writing, to meet many of the authors and filmmakers I admire and to learn a thing or two about race. I got all of that and more.
The festival was held at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. Japanese restaurants and shops, including a Hello Kitty store, surround the museum. I stayed at the nearby Miyako Hotel and welcomed the instant immersion in Japanese culture.
I saw the most amazing films, including Off And Running: An American Coming Of Age Story. The film features Avery, a black teen living with her white Jewish lesbian mothers and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean. When Avery starts wondering about her African-American heritage, she contacts her birth mother. The decision launches an exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the only family she knows. The movie will be featured on PBS in September.
I met writers Maya Soetoro-Ng, Kip Fulbeck, Teri LaFlesh, Heidi W. Durrow, Tara Betts, Carleen Brice and many others. There were poets, essayists, novelists and creative nonfiction writers. I was in good company and hope some of their publishing success rubs off on me. Durrow said she knew she needed to find one gatekeeper to get her novel published. It took her 12 years. The festival served as one stop on my journey to publication.
I saw and participated in Kip Fulbeck’s Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids exhibit. It is stunning. Fulbeck captured the personalities of the children in photographs and words. I am now a part of the exhibit. I placed my hand in blue ink and then placed it on a timeline. A photographer also took a Polaroid of me, and I wrote who I am below the the picture. My answer: Strong black woman, married to a wonderful white guy, mother of two beautiful biracial girls. The photo and my words were then pinned to a wire.
Like I said, I didn’t want it to end. I am already thinking about next year.