March - June 2024

Where Do I Belong?

An embodied exploration of identity and belonging for bi-cultural and multicultural bodies*.  

What liberatory possibilities exist beyond the binaries?

As your commitment to countering anti-blackness deepens and your sense of anti-racism grows stronger — How might the thread of ambiguous belonging lead us all to explore new terrains that disturb the colonial project of race?

This March 2024, we’re inviting folx who identify as **bi/multi-cultural and who live in North America (Canada, United States and Mexico) into a 4-month online experiential course devoted to unpacking the experience of not knowing where you fully belong in conversations about race. 

**This course is specific to racialized identity . We use the term bi-cultural and multicultural after Resmaa Menakem’s usage for people who identify as mixed race.

'' You only are free when you realize you belong no place - you belong every place - no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great. ''

— Maya Angelou 

There is an as yet unbridgeable gap...

... that exists in our conversations and explorations about racialized experience in North America that centers around bi-cultural or multicultural identities in a cultural context that doesn’t make a lot of space for ambiguity in identity.  

This is a playful experiential space that we’ll explore through the possible avenues of authentic movement, psychodrama, sociodrama, playback theater, phototherapy, and song.  As well as through story sharing and unfacilitated conversation space.

Our interest is not to “figure out” where it is that we belong between the identities we hold, but to dream together into what could emerge from our experiences of non-belonging and the new meaning we might make for ourselves in the process.   

“ The clash of cultures is enacted within our psyches, resulting in an uncertain position. An identity born of negotiating the cracks between worlds…creating a hybrid consciousness that transcends the us versus them mentality of irreconcilable positions, blurring the boundary between us and others.

We are both subject and object, self and other, haves and have-nots, conqueror and conquered, oppressor and oppressed. ''

— Gloria Anzaldúa

There often isn’t space for ambiguity in racial identity.

What would it look like to craft a wise, intersectional, liberatory, and anti-racist space for racial ambiguity?

We’re often asked to check a box indicating our racialized identity, or occupy affinity spaces based on one aspect/dimension of identity, foregoing other experiences, heritages and lineages.

In many group spaces or programs, we’re asked to identify ourselves according to pre-select fields that represent our racialized experience - casting into concrete terms what is by definition ambiguous, luminous and hard to define.  What already betrays categorization. 

The Gift of Non-Belonging?

 “As a bi-cultural Black woman, I am sometimes black, never fully white, sometimes not black, but always mixed. I’ve held this line of tension in my body for as long as I can remember, and the notion of straddling worlds always made sense to me.  What has, at times, been the source of frustration and even despair (where do I belong?) has become something I embrace as a liminal space of non-identity and non-belonging that has powerful creative potential.” 

— Karine Bell 

Experience matters. 

As Resmaa Menakem has observed, “race is a myth with teeth and claws”. It is both an intentional project rooted in a colonial past, and a lived experience in how our racialized bodies move through and meet the world. In North America, and the U.S. in particular, this has particular meaning. 

Bi/multicultural experiences can create tension in our psyches and our bodies, unsettledness in our experience, effort in our relationships, and uncertainty about where it is that we belong in conversations about race, and in our relationship to lineages and ancestry.  

What if, further, those lineages and those ancestors represented both privileged and subjugated peoples?  People who enacted colonization and those who were colonized?  
Where are the spaces we go to wade and play in the murky waters of those identities, and how might we explore the borderland experience it opens us up to?

'' We've long thought of bi/multicultural identity - in all of the confusion it can create in us — as a bridge — an experience at the borderlands that longs for a new way to think and talk about this fragmented experience. "

In the crucible of these experiences we might find new ways of talking about and experiencing identity and belonging. Perhaps, too, can this ambiguous belonging lead us to explore new terrains that disturb the colonial project of race. What liberatory possibilities exist beyond it?

Much of our lives have felt defined by an experience of not knowing where we belong. 

One of us is a bi-cultural Black woman and one of us is a queer Latina immigrant,  our sense of self and belonging is persistently challenged within a cultural context that strives for purity within neat, predetermined, categories, our experience has been marked by the cracks and fissures that our bodies  embrace in a refusal to remain contained within categories, but use ambiguity as a tool against supremacy. We have a strong commitment to anti-racism and we want to bring that into how we socially locate.

Can you relate?

My name is Leticia...

My father’s people are from Veracruz  and my mother’s people are from Puebla, where I was born, in Mexico.

The range of racialization within my family is wide and conversations about identity tended to wrap around National identity above frank discussions about race. My ancestral roots include both indigenous exploitation and genocide by colonizers.  How these tensions live in the body, sometimes named meztizaje, is complex and potentiated.  The sense I now make is that colonization failed to extinguish those it sought to eradicate.  The saying, ‘they tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds’, is a poetic way to work with this durable survivance.

The unsettled nature of identity this can generate has been a powerful agitator and psychic activator in my life. 

My name is Karine...

My ancestral roots reach back to the African continent (Ghana/Ivory Coast/Nigeria), Ashkenazi Germany and England/Wales and Turtle Island (unenrolled and distant), I also hold that complexity in my body with both colonizer and colonized aspects, and experiences of what Chicana feminist and scholar, Globia Anzaldúa, calls  nepantla.  Nepantla is a Nahuatl word she uses to describe the liminal space between worlds and the bridges that represent “thresholds to other realities'”. 

My name is Malia Wright-Merer…

My multitudinal lineage grew from Chinese, Swedish, British and African roots. 

My Asian-American mother and white father’s marriage was not approved by grandmother, a mixed chinese, black and white woman, who wanted her to marry another Asian man. My grandmother, as a mixed woman, never felt like she belonged. With this experience, she leaned into deep assimilation, seeked simplicity, sameness. But through this love I was born. 

My body is not in sameness, it is not in simplicity, it will not check off a box. I have felt marginalizations and received privilege through the color of my skin. I have always felt like a bridge of sorts, conjoining complexities and seeking exploration of how my body is mirror of all things coming together.

Resmaa Menakem will be joining us as a special guest faciliator.

Resmaa Menakem, New York Times bestselling author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, is a visionary Justice Leadership coach, organizational strategist and master trainer.

Resmaa is a leading voice in today’s conversation on racialized trauma. As described by On Being with Krista Tippett, Resmaa “activates the wisdom of ancestors and a very new science, about how all of us carry the history and traumas behind everything we collapse into the word “race” in our bodies. He illuminates why all of the best laws and diversity training have not gotten us anywhere near healing.” Resmaa created Cultural Somatics, which utilizes the body and resilience as mechanisms for growth.

This course will not be for everyone, but all bodies who resonate with this experience are welcome.

This course is specific to racialized identity . We use the term bi-cultural and multicultural after Resmaa Menakem’s usage for people who identify as mixed race. We will focus on bi/multi-cultural experiences of those in North America in this iteration, acknowledging that how racialization and difference manifests in other global contexts is unique. Even within the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In this playful and exploratory environment, we will emphasize what Leticia Nieto calls an “ethic-to-encounter” rather than an environment of discussion and debate.  

This means that we enter in with a willingness to risk what we know, and release the need to know with certainty.  This requires a level of self-responsibility and a willingness to stay with the question with curiosity and a willingness not to know — to be surprised and be guided by what emerges for us in the process.  

We are co-creating a space of kindness, curiosity and mutual respect.  

Here we’re “working together to create new ‘stories’ of identity and culture…it’s about rethinking our narratives of history, ancestry, and even of reality itself. ''

— Gloria Anzaldúa

This is for you, if….

  • You identify as bi/multicultural (bi/multiracial) and your experiences have been largely shaped within a North American context.
  • You relate to the experience of not knowing where you belong in conversations about race.    
  • You wonder how or where you could explore the multiple, sometimes contradictory and paradoxical, aspects of your lived experience. 
  • You want to engage experientially with the diverse experiences of identity you hold. 
  • You want to do this communally! You’ve longed to connect with other people who identify as bi-cultural or ‘mixed’ to witness and share experiences.  
  • You are curious to know what new possibilities could emerge for how you experience belonging in your life now.  

When, Where, How Often, and What to Expect:

This course will run over 4 months from March to June. During which we will have 4 main gatherings that will take place once per month for 2 hours*.

  • In the 1st hour - Leticia will lead the group in psychodrama, authentic movement and other practices exploring aspects of bi/multicultural identities.  
  • In the 2nd hour - this is a co-learning and non-hierarchical connection space guided by Karine and Malia, who will offer some somatic practice as a way for you to connect with the somatic material emergent for you, and art-making & music-sharing opportunities.  Folks will then be offered prompts to guide spaces for connection and sharing in breakouts.  These connection spaces will be largely unfacilitated and will rely on self-responsibility and self-care - a set of agreements will be explored prior to breaking off into rooms. 

Additional Connection Spaces:

Depending on interest, additional 90-minute drop-in connection/conversation spaces may be offered between these 4 anchor sessions on a Wednesday during the same time period - these are to be determined.  
This could offer space to connect in breakouts based on resonant experiences that people within the group have. For example, questions for folks came up around what it means to: “have grown up with white mothers”, “have grown up with black mothers”, “be a non-white mixed race body”, “process colonization in the body”, “want to share stories told and untold”, “explore art, music & creativity from our cultures”, “feel disconnected from lineages and traditions”, “work with privilege” and more.  

Register before Friday, February 29th 

The official stuff about your facilitators:

Meet your Primary Facilitator:

Leticia Nieto

Leticia Nieto, PsyD, LMFT, TEP is a leadership coach, psychotherapist, and educator specializing in liberation and equity, cultural responsiveness, motivational patterning, and evolutionary creativity. Her 2010 book, Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: A Developmental Strategy to Liberate Everyone, is an accessible analysis of the dynamics of oppression and supremacy that offers readers ways to develop skills to promote social justice.

 Dr. Nieto is internationally recognized for her expertise addressing social justice concerns from a developmental ecological perspective including orienting to systemic transformation, survivance, song and poetry, relational repair, joy, radical rest, intersectional coalition, and awakened activism.

Your co-Facilitator:

Karine Bell

Karine Bell is a bi-cultural Black woman, a mother, somatic abolitionist and educator, and a PhD candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her life’s work has been devoted to a kind of rebellion and disobedience that has made it possible for her to re/imagine her life situation, that of her people, and the world(s) she inherited and co/creates. Karine considers herself  a wayfinder, whose traumas are the coordinates. Her mother’s suffering was one of her greatest teachers, and her two children are firestarters that keeps the fire-in-her-belly for this work alight.

Your co-Facilitator:

Malia Wright-Merer 

Malia Wright is here for integration, embodiment, soft skills, digesting intergenerational and collective trauma, hanging in nuance and dissolving "boxes." She is a facilitator of DEIA with an emphasis in healing racialized and structural trauma, accessibility and belonging for all bodies. This passion stemmed from moving through life in a nuance body that felt resistant to believing the world existed in binaries.

Always questioning and being curious, she challenges they way our bodies remember, the way we think and the way we collectively care for one another in an approachable and playful way. She invites embodied exploration for individual and collective processing to support the progress for wider cultural change. 

With Special Guest

Resmaa Menakem 

Healer, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Trauma Specialist.

“Moving from race to culture to creation is important, transformative, and takes work. And a lot of reps. I help people, communities, and organizations find strength in healing that is holistic and resilient. Together let’s set a course for healing historical and racialized trauma carried in the body and the soul. I am a healer. I help people rise through the suffering’s edge. I am a cultural trauma navigator. I am a communal provocateur and coach. I am a Senior Fellow with The Meadows Institute. I consider it my job in this moment to make the invisible visible.”

“It seems that one of my functions is to go in and out of various worlds”

— Gloria Anzaldúa

Space will be limited, so register early!


What accommodations are there for people with disabilities?

Our focus will be on the live sessions together that will be interactive and exploratory, and you will always be free to move at your own rhythm and speed. As for any supplementary materials, we will likely offer some suggestions, but none will be required, and they will be there primarily to support your own exploration as/when you would like to engage them. 

Will there be recordings? 

This experience will really rest on the live interactive sessions we are in together. However, we will provide an edited recording. The personal shares and reflections from other participants will be edited out of it for important reasons related to vulnerability and consent. What we will be able to share then are any teaching/sharing portions from Leticia and others. We will also share any reflections/practices/resources that we provide the group. 

Is this course suited for people outside of North America?

This offering is focused on racialized experiences for those within North America (Canada, United States and Mexico). This was intentional because we wish to both acknowledge and honor the differences in ways racialization has operated globally. We are planning to offer an iteration of this specifically for people in other regions of the world. If you are on the Rooted email list, we will send more information out when we have it. 

Is this specifically for biracial, multiracial and mixed race people? And is there a distinction between people of color with mixed ancestry versus people who come from two or more communities and struggles?

Thank you for this very layered question - it sparks a lot of thought. 

This course is specific to racialized identity .

We use the term bi-cultural and multicultural after Resmaa Menakem’s usage for people who identify as mixed race. We will focus on bi/multi-cultural experiences of those in North America in this iteration, acknowledging that how racialization and difference manifests in other global contexts is unique. Even within the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Important to note, there will likely be people in the space who appear more or less bi/multicultural and we are making room for that. So you might find a range of representation and skin tones that will be a part of this space. I hope that is helpful - there are a lot of layers to what we're wishing to explore here. 

Can I earn CEUs for my participation?

At this particular point in time, no, but we are looking into it, so it could well be possible in the near future.

I noticed that Jewish people were not mentioned in the course description. Can you speak to whether or not this was intentional, and if this is a space for Jewish people? 

We appreciate the questions coming in for this offering, because it is already a space focused on the ambiguity inherent to our experience as folks who identify as bi/multicultural, and we're exploring the nebulousness of that experience.  That said, our focus for this iteration will be on bi/multicultural folks who identify as BIBOC (and Jewish folks identifying this way are very welcome).  

What is the refund policy?

  All purchases for this course are final. As recordings of the sessions will be available to each participant, no refunds will be issued for cancellation requests. We appreciate your understanding and commitment to the transformative journey this course offers.