The power of art

Harlow's Monkey

Many of  my friends know that way back when, my first undergraduate (almost) degree was costume and textile design. I dropped out of school a semester before finishing my program. When I decided I was ready to finally finish my degree, I went into social work but I have maintained my love of textiles. I am particularly drawn to art that combines textiles and social justice and sometimes imagine that I will someday create some of my own art using textiles.

So imagine my delight when I saw an announcement on Facebook that a Korean adoptee artist and writer, Mary-Kim Arnold, had an installation, (Re)dress: One for Every Thousand as part of the CON/TEXTILE/IZED exhibit at the Jamestown Art Center in Rhode Island. Imagine how excited I was to know I was going to be at the Rudd Adoption  Conference in Massachusetts during the exhibit’s run at the JAC. As soon…

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One thought on “The power of art

  1. Hi Angela, there seems to be something wrong with the link? Can you resend it?

    I want to ask you a favor for advice. You don’t know me, but I’m a five-year Pact family participant and was part of a small group of parents that helped support its replication out East. My son Walker is black-biracial and his dad and I are both white (I’m attaching a picture in case you recognize us from camp). I track all your work and am so grateful for your point of view. Thank you for all you do!

    Sorry in advance for this long email.

    I am in the process of making a huge decision about possibly moving from back to Seattle from NYC after 18 years. I have shared this thought process with very few people for professional reasons (I run an independent nonprofit capacity building consulting business) and also not wanting to get the hopes of my family/friends up (and not be influenced by them). My motivations for moving back are many including aging parents, needing to get a “big job” and wanting to invest in that process wherever I plan to be for the next ten years, seeking family support to make that possible, wanting change for my husband, and so many more. Ironically my son has always begged to move to Seattle – we come 2-3 times a year.

    The #1 hesitation is raising my black-biracial son in Seattle and myself dreading the lack of African American culture. It is articles like yours about the tensions of a TRA family gentrifying the CD to be close to AA culture for their kids and this one that makes me so sad I am no stranger to the forces of gentrification in Brooklyn. But when I am visiting Seattle I am constantly asking where all the people of color are.

    The hardest thing to leave will be Walker’s school. He is finishing his second-grade year. It is black lead, majority black teachers and 30% black 30% Latino and 30% white and an all black lead afterschool program. Although the racism outside the walls has a nasty way of quietly replicated within, it remains a place where Walker (and I) have developed lasting friendships.

    However, there are many ways that we fall short of integrating our life. Our neighborhood is predominately Latino and increasingly white every day. Walker’s school friends live far away and our closest neighborhood network is all white. His tap dance classes (the thing he loves most) are now predominately white as he has moved up levels. Even his basketball practice is black coached but mostly white kids. Oh Brooklyn…

    However, we have both created lasting bonded relationships with African Americans friends/mentors/colleagues/business parters that are a lifeline. I have worked hard at this and leaving it scary.

    I am not asking you to tell me it will be OK. I know if we move to Seattle we will have to work very hard at building trusting relationships and frankly even just creating access. At least we would have the NW Tap Connection !

    With a look at data and maps it seems schooling in Leschi is possible. As a Seattle native likely needing to commute to downtown Seattle for a job, I just can’t see myself moving to Kent, Federal Way or Des Moines where I get the sense the black community is relocating – but who knows. And then we are back to the subject of your article.

    For me the #1 priority is to find a viable school solution path with at least 30% AA (hard to do with only 7% of the population).

    I also want to say that personally and professionally I have clarity that my work on advancing racial equity, justice and liberation is to work on/with my people — my family and dominant white spaces. I am fully committed to this, so in some ways Seattle feels like an important place for that work – wherever we are!

    So all this to say I am reaching out to you for advice. It is fine if it comes in the form of additional questions you think I should be asking myself. One challenge is Walker presents as racially ambiguous (really only to white folks – black people always know he’s black). In many ways it is this reason that I have been even more committed to ensuring he has deep, trusting, bonded relationships with African Americans so as he navigates his complex identity he at least has that experience to help.

    Sadly his birth parents are not physically in our life. We have quarterly emails with his white birthmom Danielle who lives outside Albany (we ask for a chance to meet every email and she expresses the desire to one day have the courage) and we don’t currently have contact with his black birth father Marcus. However I track him on Facebook and have noticed him stepping up in his other kids life more and can sense a potential opening with him one day (soon hopefully). He lives in southern VT. So one additional risk is as the future holds potential for physical contact with them (especially his four siblings) we are moving across country. Sigh…

    I know you have chosen to live in Wallingford and have your journey with that. Where would you live if you were me?

    Thanks so much for listening. I am hoping that just hearing about this dilemma is somehow useful for your work/thinking/writing. I’d be happy to talk on the phone if you have the time or whatever is easiest for you. And if we do go forward with this move back to Seattle I would love to be connected with you!

    Warm regards, ~Jess

    Jessica Walker Beaumont Consultant & Coach, CPCC 917.609.5788


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