What the Mixed Remixed Festival, CMRS, and MASC Mean to Me

I’ve been part of the Mixed Remixed Festival since I was a featured writer in 2014. I was also a chair at the 2012 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference (CMRS). I’ve participated in three events for the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) and have promoted them through blogs. Suffice it to say, I have my hands in three of the biggest mixed race / multiracial organizations. And you know what? I love them all.

Each of these organizations brings something unique, valuable, and necessary for the mixed race community. I can’t speak as someone in a multiracial relationship, or as one who has mixed race kids, because neither is true for me. However, even when there’s an event that I don’t think fits my personal experience, I recognize its importance for others.

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Presenting my thesis at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference 2012

This year at the Mixed Remixed Festival, I saw parents and children of all different ages and hues, which has been true for all of its past four years. While the festival is for everyone, I think there is no denying that it plays a special role for those of us who are mixed race ourselves. Each year, people break down crying, including the founder, Heidi Durrow, who works tirelessly year round to see this event come to fruition.

We cry because we finally have a space where our very existence is the norm. Instead of being a zebra in an otherwise black or white space, we’re in a room filled with zebras, and with those who brought us into this world. In fact, for the past two years, the recipient of the Storyteller’s Prize has been a black male in an interracial relationship who works to bridge the color divide. The festival also makes us feel validated as artists, chosen to share our personal experiences through film, music, and the written word. In this space, our voices matter, and everyone in the audience nods their head in understanding — something we don’t get on the mean streets.

In order for the festival to run, it needs sponsors. This year, no one was allowed to film, and no one did. Sure, people took little videos on their phones and were encouraged to do so, but anything else would violate the contract between the board and the sponsors. And the festival needs those sponsors in order to exist. Does this take the limelight away from others? Maybe. But it doesn’t take away one’s ability to be present at the festival itself.

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At an event for the Multiracial Americans of Southern California 2016

I would hate to see those who attend Mixed Remixed, CMRS, and MASC to do anything other than support each other fully and without reservation. Mixed Remixed supports the arts, CMRS supports scholarship, and MASC supports families. Within these foci, there are of course necessary and important overlaps. And we’re strong because we’ve become strong together.

The Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference valued my scholarship on the “tragic mulatta genre” by accepting my master’s thesis about this topic for a panel. I felt recognized, understood, and in a community of peers. The same has been true for the MASC events I’ve attended, and the same is true when I walk through the doors for Mixed Remixed. I don’t know what the future holds for any of these organizations, but they each hold a special place in my heart, and I wouldn’t be who I am professionally or personally if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of those involved.

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With Heidi Durrow at Mixed Remixed 2017

I stand by Heidi Durrow 1,000%, just as I stand by Laura Kina, et al. of CMRS and Delia Douglas and Sonia Smith-Kang of MASC. It’s because of these organizations that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, made amazing friendships, written a book and countless articles, and have been steadily working on a memoir to discuss my life with my black father. Parents: we see you. We know you’re there. And we’re grateful for these communities that have popped up over the past few years that see us, too.

My White Childhood Best Friend Was Forbidden to See Me — Until She Found Me 29 Years Later

For those who remember my blog post about my friend Brandy, we’ve met now! I wrote about it for Ravishly:

In sixth grade, my best friend Brandy had the haphazard look of someone whose parents paid as little attention to their children as possible. I, in a similar fashion, had a bushy afro that didn’t know where it belonged.

Our school, which had just begun bussing, reflected the tense racial reality that would soon infiltrate our friendship. Lockers were removed after a series of bomb threats. Eighth-grade boys harassed me daily for being “white.” But inside our bubble, Brandy and I felt safe.

Read the rest here!

My New York Times Essay

I’ve been meaning to post this for what seems like forever! On March 10, I got an article published in the New York Times, called “My Grandmother’s Story Is Ending as Mine Begins.”

My grandmother knew she’d succumb to dementia long before she began to lose her memory, as her two older sisters had shared the same fate before they died. She fought against time to write her life story, but she will never see her dream realized.

Read the rest here.

While you’re here, I recently got another article published, this time in Ravishly, called “‘This Is Us’ Mirrors Watching My Absent Black Father Die of Cancer.”

I have a penchant for multigenerational family dramas. Brothers and Sisters, Parenthood, Six Feet Under — they all make me feel connected to my own family, which is more like Full House than The Brady Bunch. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and a strong matriarch make up the fabric of my day-to-day life. So when This Is Us debuted, I was all in. What I didn’t expect is that it would touch my heartstrings in a way I hadn’t prepared for.

Read the rest here.

Life is heartbreaking, but also beautiful.

That’s all for now, folks!

Doctors Told Me I Was ‘Too Highly Educated’ to Be Sick, and other stories

I’ve been very remiss with sharing my new bylines here! So without further ado, here are my most recent articles. I’ll also probably be starting a newsletter soon.

Doctors Told Me I Was ‘Too Highly Educated’ to Be Sick, published in SheKnows:

Beginning in 2006, I slept 12 hours most nights and often took a two-hour nap in the afternoon. I wasn’t lazy — I was exhausted. I talked slowly, moved slowly and had difficulty driving because my brain couldn’t keep up…

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If 19th Century Novels had Clickbait Titles, published on Buzzfeed:

Ever wonder what classic authors’ titles would have been if they had to rely on clicks?

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The Historical Need for Black Colleges, published in JSTOR Daily:

Historically black Talladega College was widely criticized for its decision to have its marching band participate in President-elect Trump’s inauguration parade. Much of the uproar has to do with black colleges’ roots in combating unequal education, a feat that many argue will deteriorate under Trump’s presidency…

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More Hidden Figures of NASA History, published in JSTOR Daily:

By now, just about everyone has heard of the 2016 film Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, who portray of a group of black female “computers” at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The film, which has already garnered a number of awards, cast these once unsung pioneers into the public eye…

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Rory Gilmore Will Not Get Rich From Her Memoir, And Neither Will You, published in The Financial Diet:

As I binge-watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, every so often, I checked my email to see if my article about the original series had been accepted for publication. This constant tug at my attention felt surreal, as the protagonist Rory was going through the same anxiety throughout much of the revival…

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Does the Multiracial Community Like The Loving Movie?, published in Multiracial Media:

I didn’t want to cry. I had seen the trailer for Loving, and honestly, I was afraid it was going to be a subpar movie. Partly because I thought the trailer sentimental in a Hallmark-y sort of way, and partly because I wasn’t sure Hollywood could do an interracial story justice…

That’s about it for now! You can see more of my articles by clicking on the “Portfolio” tab at the top of this page.

Love to all,

Shannon

2016 Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought…

Like most people, I’ve been thinking a lot about 2016. While there have been tremendously heartbreaking setbacks, like Trump’s election, celebrity deaths, more personal sick days than I would have preferred, and not enough money in the bank, last night I began listing meaningful achievements and moments from the past year, and I was surprised by just how much 2016 has brought me.

  1. I interviewed Olympic swimmer Lynne Cox in my role as content coordinator for a neighborhood magazine.
  2. I got my first byline in Essence.com for an interview with teen filmmaker Gabrielle Gorman.
  3. I got a book published as a writer for hire and now have an Amazon page!
  4. I got an article accepted at The New York Times that I’m hoping pans out (I’m still holding my breath because I can’t quite believe it).
  5. I attended my first premiere in Beverly Hills, for the movie Loving.
  6. I got to hang out with Grey’s Anatomy actor Jason George.
  7. I shadowed writer and performer J. Ivy at a social media conference.
  8. A writer friend published a chapbook for me, and used it for three readings in L.A.
  9. My highest paying article rate increased by 800%.
  10. I was miraculously reconnected with my best friend from 6th grade.

This list isn’t meant to position myself as some sort of success story (and I haven’t included links for that reason). Rather, I often make myself list what I’ve been able to achieve because I’m usually too focused on what I haven’t accomplished.

It’s easy to get down on ourselves we compare our lives to others’. There will always be someone with a better resume, a better job, better health… you name it. But if we’re always focused on the carrot just out of reach, sometimes we forget those that have already come into our lives–even those carrots we never expected. One of those unexpected carrots was seeing my 2-year-old niece squeal for joy in the Santa Monica ocean. That was perhaps the best moment of the whole year.

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Take some time to look back at your 2016… What from the year brings you joy? What meaningful experiences have you had? How has your heart soared? I’d love to hear your list in the comments!

8 Things Fans Want Answered in the Gilmore Girls Revival

This didn’t get picked up anywhere, so I’m posting it here for any Gilmore Girls fans who haven’t yet seen the revival!

8 Things Fans Want Answered in the Gilmore Girls Revival

Women of the world rejoiced when speculation led to confirmation of a Gilmore Girls revival. Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino may have attempted to shut down rumors after Scott Patterson (aka Luke) accidentally spilled the beans at the reunion panel in Austin, Texas last year; however, her backtracking never quite seemed solid enough to accept. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t want to accept it. Now that Netflix has picked up a four-part revival set to begin this fall, I hope some of the scenes will further a few key storylines.

  1. Did Kirk and Lulu ever move in together?

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Kirk and Lulu became the younger “Babette and Morey,” with their quirky romance that seemed to just work. They did have some hiccups though. Kirk couldn’t part with his mother, and his night terrors got in the way of “sleepovers.” Did he ever get over his night terrors? Did he decide his million dollars was worth spending on the Twickum house after all? Of course, that might mean he’d have to trade in his borrowed pants for some grownup clothes, and I’m not sure that’s the Kirk we know and love.

  1. Does Lane like sex now?

Just before her pregnancy announcement, Lane told Rory she abhorred sex. Granted, she’d only done it once, and on a beach in Mexico. But I hope beyond hope that regardless of her quick pregnancy (and the inevitable discomfort that followed), she realized the world wasn’t conspiring against her after all. She’d waited too long only to be disappointed, and I want Lane to have everything. Plus, bad sex is so not rock and roll.

  1. Did Rory ever go back to the DAR?

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Once Rory decided to put her life back together and re-enter Yale, she disappointed both Lorelai and Richard by telling Emily she wanted to continue with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). We never see her back in this role, though. Does she continue to dip her toe into her grandparents’ world, or does she trade her pearls for a more Jess-like lifestyle?

  1. Did Rory call Christiane Amanpour?

In the very last episode, Lorelai gave Rory a career-enhancing gift that didn’t come either from Richard and Emily’s connections or those Rory made through Logan. Lorelai has famous guests sleep and dine at her inn, including Norman Mailer and Rory’s idol, Christiane Amanpour. Did Rory ever contact Amanpour? Did they form some sort of mentorship? Regardless of any further communication, I bet Amanpour’s business card is framed on Rory’s wall.

  1. Is Paul Anka still alive?

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Lorelai was notorious for neglecting her pets, including her hamster Skippy, whose cage she stuffed with Kleenex before returning him to the pet store. So when she adopted Paul Anka, no one was sure the lovable dog would be safe in her hands. Lorelai and Paul Anka seem to have a special bond, though, that goes beyond a human-hamster relationship. How is Paul Anka doing? Does he still have his neuroses? And has Lorelai broken her pet curse once and for all?

  1. Does Lane have a father?

Up until the end of the first season, Lane refers to her two parents even though her father is never seen. His absence on screen was no doubt meant to be reminiscent of characters in other TV shows, like the neighbor Wilson in Home Improvement who only shows the top of his head over the fence. But once the series got into season 2, Amy Sherman-Palladino seemed to drop his existence, and Lane started referring to her mother only. Will Lane’s father—and lack thereof—ever be explained?

  1. Is Paris still attached to Rory at the hip?

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When Rory and Paris parted after graduation, they knew they were destined to remain a part of each other’s lives. Now that Paris is probably finished with med school, does she end up living annoyingly close to Rory? Does she move to Stars Hollow, the town she loves to hate? Do she and Doyle have children they teach krav maga? And most importantly, does Paris retain her long locks instead of succumbing to Bonnie Winterbottom’s mousey hairdo in How to Get Away with Murder?

  1. Who do Lorelai and Rory end up with?

Okay, this answer is quite obvious in terms of Lorelai. If she doesn’t end up with Luke, the world as we know it will implode. But what about Rory? Dean was never right for her, and even though Jess could have been, he made a horrible boyfriend. Rory seemed to have a lot more in common with Logan, but he lacked the maturity that Rory needs in a relationship. Which man won her heart in the end? Will she be a Stars Hollow wife with Dean, a hipster freelancer with Jess, or a country club career woman with Logan? Perhaps there’s a fourth man out there who will fit the bill, though he’d better be amazing to win our girl’s heart.

On November 25th, fans get to re-enter this “little corner of the world,” and I can’t wait to see what Stars Hollow is up to—Taylor and all.

I Grew Up in Alateen and Al-Anon

My latest article for The Fix:

Four people describe their experiences as children in the rooms of Alateen and Al-Anon and whether it helped them cope with their family member’s addiction.

My mother has attended Al-Anon religiously for as along as I can remember. She left my dad when I was three after a particularly bad physical fight, in which he slapped her around while intoxicated. We spent that night at my grandmother’s house, and the next day my mom decided we were done for good.

Read the rest here.