Filming Episode #2 in the Midst of #BlackLivesMatter Protests

Pictured: Kevin shares his adoption story with me on the set of The Adopted Life for episode #2.   Location:  Astroetic Studios . Los Angeles, CA  Photo Credit:  Audrey Matos

Pictured: Kevin shares his adoption story with me on the set of The Adopted Life for episode #2. 

Location: Astroetic Studios. Los Angeles, CA

Photo Credit: Audrey Matos

Filming the second episode of The Adopted Life, while feeling gutted by the senseless murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling was a challenge for me. Already mourning the losses of those men, I watched the Dallas shootings unfold in the airport, while sitting at my gate. Needless to say, I went in to the filming exhausted, distracted and sad. I always strive to be fully present and completely attuned to whomever I am with, but even moreso when meeting transracially adopted youth. I work hard to help them feel at ease to discuss their identity as transracial adoptees, while being surrounded by fancy camera and lighting equipment. No easy feat. 

The topic of racial bias and policing is a common conversation for me and transracial adoptive families - especially those with black children. I was excited to speak with each of the guests on the episode, but was specifically curious to hear how/if the youth had conversed with their parents about the ramifications of their skin color and the potential for being in harms way. 

Kristen Howerton is a white adoptive mother, of two black boys. Four years ago, she wrote a blog, that continues to have pertinence: 

This is what I know to be true about raising black boys: it will be imperative for me to teach them that some will look at them with suspicion or stereotype based on their skin color. I HATE THIS. I hate that it’s true and I hate that I have to burst their innocence and I hate that it may shift their view of the world. But it’s a part of our role as their parents, and we can’t do it alone. I don’t share that experience, and so I have to enlist other people to help guide them in this. It’s why it’s so important to us that our boys have strong black role models. It’s why it’s important for me to open my eyes to racism, instead of burying my head in the convenient sand of a mythical post-racial world. It’s why I subscribe to blogs like The Root and My Brown Baby and continually attempt to learn.
— Kristen Howerton

Kevin, an 18 year old transracial adoptee who participated in episode #2 of The Adopted Life, found out that he is black just 6 years ago. Since learning of his true racial identity, he has worked hard to assimilate black culture into his life. During the filming, I asked him if anyone had spoken with him about how to interact with the police if/when he gets pulled over. He said "No." My heart sank. I felt grateful for the opportunity to have this potentially life-saving conversation with him.

During a time when so many of us feel utterly helpless, I am honored to play a small role in helping to keep black bodies safe through conversations like this. 

Talking to Angela about all the hardships I had to endure, brings a form of closure and realization. The topics that we talked about came from my heart - something I don’t get to show to many people.

One of the discussions we had, was about the injustice of the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. As an African American teenager, this was something that I wanted to talk about. Talking about this to Angela made me feel glad that there is someone else out there who who cares about black lives. Angela is very sweet and kind. I can’t imagine a more perfect example of an adoptee role model!
— Kevin (age 18)

 

Episode 2 of The Adopted Life is now in its editing phase. The expected release date is late August. 


If you are wondering what actions you can take to support people of color. Here's a list, compiled by PACT:

- Sign the petition demanding accountability for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling's murders. The Color of Change—an excellent organization that specializes in net-roots activism and elevates the voices of Black people and their allies—has initiated a petition demanding accountability for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling's murders. Background information and how to sign and
share the petition is at: http://act.colorofchange.org/s…/justice-alton-and-philando/…

- Sign the MoveOn.org petition calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to track, document, and publish data on police killings nationally:http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/the-us-need-to-track

- Write to your local police department and ask them to mandate anti-bias training with all of their personnel. 

- Support the Black Youth Project's Agenda to Build Black Futures, a set of economic goals and structural changes, and a call to action to improve the lives of Black people. You can help publicize this agenda developed by young Black people and donate to support their work at:http://agendatobuildblackfutures.org/

- Connect to racial justice organizing by white people. Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and connect to a local SURJ affiliate in your area to learn about ways you can be an ally and activist for racial justice.http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/about

- Keep talking with your children about race issues and racial justice. Some resources are Embrace Race: Raising Kids in a World Where Race Matters (http://www.embracerace.org/) and Raising Race Conscious Children: Resources for Talking about Race (http://www.raceconscious.org).