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From a Multi-racial API

October 4, 2009

hapa

Here’s another photo referencing that “Kip Fulbeck” guy again . . .

Anyway.

Earlier this week, when I was still living in Portland, I got to sit in a room full of people* that looked like me.  Just people that look like me (or had a similar racial/ethnic ambiguity, at least).  And then I got to talk to them about it.

Because my last “official” (or “professional”) act in Portland was to co-facilitate a Multiracial-API “Listening Circle.”  What that entailed was getting together a bunch of Oregon folks who identify as mixed-race Asians and facilitating a discussion on what that really means, and what shared issues/concerns we might all have.

And, ultimately, I can’t say it was my best work as a facilitator.  It wasn’t as organized as I would have liked it.  I was sharing the floor with someone I hadn’t worked with before, so the hand-over was a bit sloppy.

But that didn’t really matter, as it was pretty much the most personally-satisfying (meaning it filled my own needs) “professional” role I have ever filled.  I mean – honestly – getting together a bunch of people that share, so specifically, my feelings of being “the other other” and getting to hear their stories, and share my own, as well.  Sitting in a room where – for the absolute first time in my entire life – EVERYONE blended in with each other, and I blended in with them.  There were no exceptions.  I was just “one more mixed-Asian in the room.”  Nobody else present . . .

Absolutely amazing.  Because, obviously – that’s a relatively common feeling for a lot of people in this country.  Certainly, it’s the standard feeling (and thus taken for granted and unrealized) for white people.  For other folks of color (the “pure” ones), it actually happens from time to time (although not as often as, perhaps, it should).  But for me – and the others in the room?  Never.

Three hours was nowhere near enough.  Three hours out of a lifetime to feel fully, 100% included.  To feel a sense of community on a higher level.  Completely different backgrounds, but this particular shared experience connected us instantly, and three hours came and went like nothing.

It’s an experience I’d really like to have again.

And now – it’s possible.  From this workshop, the other attendees are already planning some sort of monthly get-together.  Obviously, I won’t be attending for quite a while, but it’s nice to know that I helped get that started, and that – if I return to Portland – I will have that option.

Not a bad way to leave that city.  From six years ago – isolated, surrounded by white folks and not knowing what to do about it – to now – a social community full of color, leadership roles in the Asian community, and now a group of folks that really just look like me . . .

I’ve got to say I got some good things going in that town.

And now?  Now I turn my head towards the East and prepare myself.  In three days, I’ll be setting my (still-swollen) foot on Chinese soil, and I don’t even know where that’s going to take me.

A lot of learning coming my way.  A lot of introspection.  And, hopefully, some blog-posts coming out your way.

My writing has gotten sloppy recently, but I hope to get myself more focused once I settle in a bit.  I’ve got one more post I want to drop here before I leave, but thank you all for reading, and I hope you’ll keep it going as I enter this whole new world  . . .

Surrounded by the white side my entire life – the CVT’s about to turn his world on its head.

* And by “full,” I mean 6 people.  But, for me, that’s actually a whole lot of people to be in a room that look like me with nobody else around.

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5 comments

  1. Despite not being “your best work” as a facilitator, sounds like Listening Circle was a success!

    Good luck in SH! You’ll have a great time, and hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for. I just left the ‘hai myself (somewhat unexpectedly), but I had a great time in that city, and I wish you all the best. And look forward to reading your insight.


    • Thanks for the well-wishes. I’m not even looking for or expecting anything specific, so I’m sure I’ll find “it.”

      Anyway – of course I didn’t get the chance to do a final “in the U.S.” post, but I’ll see what I can do on the other side. In less than an hour, I’m off to a last “American breakfast” then 16 hours of fun . . . I’ll check in next from the “Motherland.”


  2. This post brought tears to my eyes. I want to be on the mailing list for this group. I’m several hours away from Portland waaay over in the Eastern Oregon desert but I’m willing to drive over the two mountain ranges to experience this.

    Have you ever been to China? When I visited my homeland (Japan) as an adult, it was weird to be in a place with almost all black-haired people. I remember looking down onto the Tokyo streets from something like a 10th story window and the two rivers of bobbing black heads flanking the street in the center was stunning.

    Wishing you a most amazing experience.


    • Jackie -No reason you can’t experience this (if the group actually makes good on the plan to start meeting up). If that happens, I’ll make sure to forward you the info, so you can get involved.

      This is my first trip to “the Motherland.” You’ll be able to read my impressions here.

      By the way – was the info I sent you any help for your client?


  3. THIS. I want this. Everyone should have this experience. Sometimes I cannot believe how much I internalize (and don’t consciously note) how rarely that happens for me.

    (ps – I posted and lurked on your old blog, bookmarked it , and gonna check in on this one from time to time if you don’t mind.)

    Good luck in China – somebody as perceptive and thinking as you is going to have lots of new stuff to chew on, so rest up.



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