BY TASHA BURGOYNE, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
Tasha is a wife. A mother. A Hapa. A French Fry lover. A writer. A dreamer. A coffee-drinker and Kimchi-eater. She's made to walk where cultures collide on dirt roads and on carefully placed cobblestone streets. Jesus is her heartbeat. See Tasha's response and thoughts to what is going on in the broken places of hatred and injustice.
My Existence: Formerly Against the Law
50 years ago, the country I was born in had laws in place to prevent my birth. With a righteous-sounding title like ""The Racial Integrity Act,"" racism was formalized and normalized in the United States of America, and up until 1967 there were still 15 states that had anti-miscegenation laws. Miscegenation means, ""the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types."" Does that make anyone else want to cringe? So, it was illegal for a white person to marry a non-white person. The first time I read about The Racial Integrity Act of 1924, I cried. Evil, oppressive and dark, the laws were similar to the Nuremberg Laws in Germany, “laws to protect German blood and honor,” that led to the Holocaust itself. Some of the very same ideology and blatant racism was written into the American laws to “protect whiteness.”
I find it ironic that some of America’s beloved Hollywood films throughout history have made a point to further vilify some villains on screen with thick German accents (and this still happens today). Yet, America had Nazi-like laws in place long after the Holocaust.
It wasn’t until June of 1967, because of Loving vs. Virginia, that the Supreme Court decided to remove all existing laws that prohibit interracial marriage. My parents were married in 1971 in California. While it had been legal in California since 1948, it’s hard for me to comprehend that in many states, just 4 years prior, my parents' marriage would have been illegal.
Can you imagine for a second what it feels like to know that there were laws in your own country to prohibit someone like you from existing?
As a mixed person, I am not one or the other; I am both. 100% both. I have spent time wishing I was one or the other. I have spent years ashamed of one or the other, or the fact that I was both. Today, I refuse to linger in that division. No matter what laws have been removed or put into place, and though progress has been made, reconciliation is the only thing that I believe will bring true, lasting change. In the simplest terms, reconciliation starts with moving towards different in honesty and humility. As a mixed person, my own personal reconciliation has had to begin with moving towards the different inside of me. This takes on even more significance when I consider that mixed race individuals are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. How will we model reconciliation for future biracial generations? What example will they give an even more mixed generation that follows them?
After the horrific events that took place in our country last week, I realize that I am no expert on racism. I can't speak to the black experience as if I know what my African American brothers and sisters have long endured because of institutional racism. However, I can speak-up for the value of life and the fact that black lives have been under attack and oppressed by systemic racism for as long as our country has had a history. I can’t speak to what it must feel like to be a white police officer in our country, working under the weight of reverse racism. However, I can speak-up against reverse racism and the fact that it has attacked our nation by taking the lives of those who serve Americans in one of the most courageous ways. What I have personally experienced as a biracial Asian American pales in comparison to these recent heart-breaking tragedies and the people connected to them. But here’s the thing. What took place this past week isn’t a new thing. The evil of racism has been here, laying right under the surface of everyday life, kept alive in part, because so many of us avoid moving towards different and the responsibility of reconciliation.
Read part 2 of the post.