social psychology

A Poem For Wounded Relationships


I wrote this poem without any intention of making this public. However, in the last couple of days, I have received hundreds of emails from people who watched Closure on Netflix and felt inspired not only to write me, but to mend personal relationships that had previously been estranged. I hope this poem can serve as a response to your messages and as further fodder for positive reform.


As I walk with my phone on airplane-mode

Uninterrupted by calls or texts

One song repeats, as my mind retreats

Into a fury of questions and hope

I wonder if The Bridge is strong enough

to hold my joys and your fears

Will his melanin and your lack thereof 

impact the color of our tears?

I've come to find beauty amidst the wondering

to embrace my partial truth

Your silence has demanded that I become content

with the unknowns about my youth

Here we stand at opposite sides

ready to venture across

You bring your frustration and I'll bring my pain

Together we can relinquish these thoughts.

Without this meeting our song would sound different.

incomplete and empty, one-sided, not strong.

Without this attempt we’d stay disconnected

Cut off, detached, all wrong.

It is only through our mutual pain

and the trust hidden underneath our skin

That we can we truly respect ourselves enough

To face the truth within.

You think yourself to be so esoteric

so abstract, so strange, so rare.

we are actually way more alike than dissimilar

We both know alienation, trepidation and despair

The Bridge is our connection point

I hope you’ll meet me halfway

Let’s set aside the classism,

Let’s mend our gaps today.

We all experience dissonance in our lives. Times when we feel so disconnected from those for whom we care for so deeply. One key towards a healthier world is to strengthen relationships. Cross The Bridge.

Whistling Vivaldi

An African-American man, Staples recounted how his physical presence terrified whites as he moved about Chicago as a free citizen and graduate student. To counter the negative effects of white fear, he took to whistling Vivaldi. It was a signal to the unvictimized victims of his blackness that he was safe. Dangerous black men do not listen to classical music, or so the hope goes. The incongruence between Staples' musical choices and the stereotype of him as a predator were meant to disrupt the implicit, unexamined racist assumptions about him. It seems an annoying daily accommodation, perhaps, an attempt to make whites feel at ease to grease the wheels of social interactions—unless we fully recognize the potential consequences of white dis-ease for black lives. -          Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele, Provost at Columbia University

I understand this sentiment all too well, as though I'm an African-American female, there are ways that I feel that I am a recipient of White Privilege. In the same way that this gentleman whistled Vivaldi in order to lessen others' fears, sometimes I wonder if people's awareness of my transracial adoptee status and primarily Caucasian upbringing make me seem more approachable?

I can't help but think of the now deceased Jonathan Ferrell, and the tragedy in his death. Had he whistled Vivaldi, or been a known female trans-racial adoptee raised by Caucasian parents, would that have helped him to be alive today?

Your children are not your children

Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

-Khalil Gibran

This beautiful poem was written in 1923 got me thinking about child-rearing and ownership.

The Copyright Act of 1970 provided an initial term of ownership for 14 years – at the time 14 years was about the time it took to raise a child to adulthood. After 14 years (or 18, 22, 25 or even older as we’ve kind of extended legal infancy) parents really have to let go of their children, and acknowledge they don’t “own” them. In fact did they ever truly own them in the first place?

American culture has become so individualistic and children it seems are born with a "belong to" label, or if they are adopted their adoption decree seems to serve as a "proof of purchase" in a sense. When birthparents terminate their parental rights some view this as something to say that they are completely cut off, disconnected and no longer able to have a voice or say in the child's upbringing.

What would a society where we believed that we all belong to each other look like? Would this worldview help to eliminate racism, white privilege, hierarchy, social stratification and other creations that come with ownership and power?