I loved being around so many multiracial and multicultural people at the Loving Decision Conference last week. I felt an instant fellowship and belonging that often eludes me in other settings when I am so aware of my difference or exoticism or whatever it is that makes people stare at me and question my background.
It was a wonderful kind of "coming out" party for me. I didn't feel apologetic when I introduced myself at the Friday night extravaganza as African-American and Danish.
So the conference ended up being an affirming experience, but then still it seemed that there were silences that maybe we could address at the next gathering.
I kept stopping myself from asking a certain question all weekend until it accidently slipped out as I spoke to a biracial artist about a project she was working on--"Well, how did you end up doing that?" I asked. "What are you?" AWWK! The verboten question. And here I was asking it of someone. She was nice and answered, but really: what made me feel like I needed to know? And what made me feel like I shouldn't ask? At lunch we talked about how it was okay for another mixed person to ask because the question came out of "love?" and understanding, but it wouldn't be okay for a monoracial person to ask. Hmmm . . .
And then, there were the wonderful moments when I swapped hair stories - product recommendations and hair care tips-- but by the end of the conference I was longing for a more political discussion. I was pleased when a young panelist for the Topaz Club mentioned that her mission was to "abolish whiteness"--meaning she wanted to end the privilege of whiteness in America. I remember when I was 20 and had the same radical thoughts. I think I still do, but I don't give them voice in the same way.
The conference was a great social meet-up for me. I hope that next year, it will be a consciousness-raising one as well!