On June 24, 2017, we had a warm and safe panel conversation about security, intimacy, and belonging in domestic/familiar settings. The guests actively asked questions during the panel discussion. It was all very organic and natural.
Panelists were Debbie Allen, a cisgender African American midwife, Angela Waseskuk, a cisgender transracial Korean adoptee artist (via Skype), and Umi W.F. Hsu, PhD, a non-binary Taiwanese American ethnomusicologist sound artist. Nicole Rademacher (myself), a cisgender transcultural Mexican-American adoptee artist, moderated the conversation.
Guests brought snacks to share and blankets to sit on the grass.
We were all completely engaged in the conversation we forgot to snap photos.
Why the Panel.
I wanted to explore deeper–and outside of myself and my own ideas–notions of “belonging,” as I had been examining them in my artwork, particularly in Gate Pass. What are these concepts seen through the eyes of a black midwife in Los Angeles? An Asian adopted person in the white Midwest? And a gender non-conforming immigrant? While I was interested in finding where these experiences intersected, I was not interested in “universalizing” these experiences. I took great care as the facilitator to give each panelist space to be heard and fully explain the complexity of their experiences, asking clarifying questions along the way–for myself and the audience.
As an adopted person, I have spent, at least, a small part of every day that I can remember thinking about, agonizing over, my relationship to belonging: do I belong? do I feel it? what does that feel like? is it real? In my many conversations with other adoptees, I hear these questions reflected back to me. I know in my heart that non-adopted persons also feel this. Through this panel on belonging, I wanted to broaden my concept of belonging as the adoptee experience. I invited others whom I knew I could speak to the entangled emotions and complex experiences of belonging. I was especially interested in spaces where one assumes that at least there we would feel as though we belong, we would feel at home, in a domestic or familiar setting.