Adoptees of Color Workshop in San Francisco, June 4, 2017


We will be conducting free-of-charge research workshop in SF on Sunday, June 4th, 12-5:30 pm


This workshop may be powerful for adoptees of color, particularly as it draws on the use of body and voice in an act of empowerment.  For participants who may have experience with more traditional forms of therapy, such as psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, this workshop may help expand healing by focusing on the body.

Past participants have had this to say:

“THANK YOU! It takes strength, energy, and courage to teach this work and it’s truly life changing.”

“I really liked the set-up & and the safe atmosphere for sharing our thoughts…”

“A totally different experience for me. Thank you both so much for this amazing afternoon. The workshop was powerful and facilitated beautifully. I will remember this experience with much gratitude.”

You do not need any previous experience, training, or special ability to participate. Archetypes are found across cultures through stories, myths, and legends such as the Lover, the Trickster, the Noble Warrior, the Creator/Destroyer, the Mother, etc. Exploring these archetypes may allow adoptees of color to explore the many dimensions of their identity, and to become inspired by the discovery of new embodied and imaginative possibilities.

The workshop is an essential part of a long-term research project sponsored by UCSC and Boston College. There is no cost for the workshop. Participants, as research subjects, will be asked to review and sign an informed consent form and complete a post workshop survey. This research has been approved by our institutions and its protocol # is HS2577.


About the facilitators/researchers:

Amy is a Korean American adoptee who has lived, taught, and performed in the US, UK, Argentina, Czech Republic, Ireland, Vietnam, and South Korea. She is an Assistant Professor at UC Santa Cruz and is the founder and owner of Vocal Context where she runs workshops primarily with people of color, women, and adoptees. Amy is a contributor to the online adoptee publication Transracial Eyes. She was recently featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, performed as part of a TEDx in Cheongju, and has been referenced in Reuters, Al Jazeera, and The Wall Street Journal.

Oh Myo Kim is an Assistant Professor of the practice at Boston College in the Counseling, Developmental, and Applied Psychology Department.  She is a transracial Korean American adoptee.  Oh Myo is a therapist who specializes in mindfulness-based behavioral therapy, and a researcher who researches cultural socialization and identity.

Please email Amy at  if you have questions. It is okay if this is a new experience for you; we are happy to address any concerns you may have!

And please share this with your adoptee communities. Thank you!

“Isn’t it sad that I can’t use my real voice with White people?”

Someone asked me recently what strategies I propose or support in encouraging effective and progressive engagement about race and identity. One such way I often respond with is different types of comedy and performance. Some of the most interesting cultural criticism and reflection can come from comedians, particularly comedians of color or from pluralistic backgrounds like Aziz Ansari, W. Kamau Bell, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Hannibal Buress, etc (although it should never be a PoC’s responsibility to discuss or educate others about these issues and people like Louis CK are doing a great job talking about Whiteness).

Aamer Rahman is a stand-up comic of Bangladeshi descent who spent much of his life in Australia and a lot of his material deals with identity, race, and White privilege. I first heard of him through this brilliant bit debunking the myth of reverse racism, which is I think still one of the most concise ways of commenting on this idea thus far.

Rahman has another bit from his show, Fear of a Brown Planet, where he talks about what workshops he wants to create for White people. As a voice teacher, this part struck a particular chord.

You know, we actually have speak differently, to White women? If I’m in a bank or any kinda of job interview, any kind of professional setting, I have speak differently, to a White woman, just so she doesn’t get scared. I have to smile more, I have to appear less threatening. I don’t pull out a knife or a gun, suddenly I actually have to make my voice higher, this is not even my real voice, this is my White voice. Isn’t that sad I can’t use my real voice with White people?

I think a lot of PoCs have a “White people voice.” It can vary depending on our background. Women in general can often change their resonance or pitch to be taken more seriously by men as well. My “White people voice” is actually louder and more forceful and masculine to convince White people that I’m not a passive, subservient geisha-type of Asian person. I believe that as a result, accessing a more vulnerable-sounding head, face, and mouth resonance has been most challenging for me in my personal voicework journey and that I tend to push or create unnecessary tension in my throat.

Rahman’s point here is important as many voice teachers in the US/UK/Australia, etc still are nice White ladies. And acting students of color are often trying to assimilate and code-switch in order to successfully navigate the socio-cultural constructs that still continue to play out in our education systems. Given the goals of many voice teachers to free the voice and make it a reflection of who a person truly is, I would say that we must be aware of the power relationship our own identities create and how they impact our students, no matter how caring and well-meaning we may be. And this is not to say, of course, that ALL PoCs have a “White people voice” or that people from White, monocultural backgrounds don’t have socially induced vocal hang-ups. But I think what Rahman’s talking about is a very real phenomenon and we should be dialoguing and reflecting about it more.

“You give voice to your grief”

This week I am in Cape Cod, MA exploring voice and movement through Archetypal Journeys with Janet B. Rodgers (formally of VCU) and Frankie Armstrong.

We started with the Archetype of the “Spiritual and Temporal Leader” (think of Mandela, Gandhi, Dalai Lama) and this part always resonates with me.

Now you round the corner, and for the first time in such a long time you see the habitation. You see the destruction that has happened. Many buildings have been destroyed. Many people walk thin and hungry. You give voice to your grief as you lament for the people and your community.

Especially given the devastating Zimmerman verdict yesterday, I always feel like I have so many communities to grieve for. And I am hyper-aware of how I am publicly perceived in that I am not allowed to appear as angry, hurt, or frustrated as I really am.

So yesterday, I had permission to grieve. And I grieved. I grieved through the Archetype and its narrative journey. I made sounds that are not acceptable or appropriate for a young woman of color in a Western society. I grieved for Trayvon’s family, I grieved for young black men in America, I grieved for my birthmother, I grieved for all 200,000 adoptees whose lives were manipulated from the moment of their birth.

The Archetypal mantra for the Spiritual and Temporal Leader is:

I have the right to be here./ And I have nothing to prove./ I am who I am.

I will keep saying this and believing it. Some days I’ll believe it more than others. I hope you are saying it too.