I am biracial.
My father was Japanese (he passed away in 2005). My mom is Caucasian. Growing up I had very little awareness that I was biracial. I was simply Kevin. It was not until years later when I began to study race and ethnicity in school that I realized the significance of my upbringing. Yes, I heard the stories of my parents being the first biracial couple to get married at Ft. Wayne Bible College. Yes, I enjoyed hearing how they had to request permission to get married from the college trustees, primarily because couples did not intermarry in the 60’s. On occasion, my father would even share how being Japanese impacted their family growing up in Hawaii, particularly during World War II. Japanese were scrutinized for obvious reasons. In some respects, I understand. The country was at war. There was natural suspicion. I am appalled by the treatment of Japanese during the war: uprooted and placed in internment camps. Honestly, there is no excuse for such action. But for me, these opinions were formed outside the home. My father never once lashed out at such treatment.
After my parents got married, they settled in Indiana then Michigan. Most of my childhood was raised in a small town that was predominantly white. For me, I look more white than Japanese. However, my father clearly was not white. He stood out in such a town. Once in awhile, I would hear comments from my parents about experiencing some discrimination. Yet, it never became the subject of our home. It was simply realities of living in a sinful world. What I applaud most is that my parents never stirred frustration over such acts in our home. I never once heard my father express resentment towards how the Japanese were treated during the war. He never lashed out politically at the injustice of citizens being imprisoned simply for the color of their skin. There was never a day where he came home and vented about a neighbor, co-worker, or just some person on the street because he was looked down upon because his skin was darker.
Did it bother him? I am sure it did. But, why did he not vomit his anger to his family? It is because he did not want to be defined by things in the past or the ignorance of other people. To foster resentment over things that happened years or decades prior would simply suffocate his joy for today. If he became frustrated every time someone scorned him for the color of his skin, he would have become a bitter person hateful towards the world. Furthermore, he would have infected his boys with the disease of counter-racism (hatred towards those who discriminate against you). He did not want that for his children. So, I grew up free from a legacy of hate because he chose to let the past go.
Every time I turn on the news I am confronted with the deep resentment and bitterness that continues to plague our country over the issue of race. Do I think that racism occurs? Yes! Do I think it is wrong? Absolutely! Should there be consequences for those that discriminate or abuse another person simply because the color of their skin is different. Without a doubt! Should we ignore past offences and simply brush them aside. No!
However, as I watch the news, I am surprised at the venom that is being displayed. It makes me wonder if the emotional response is being enflamed because of past incidences, even those that occurred decades if not centuries early. Has anger over past events been stirred to the point where a violent reaction was bound to occur? How can that be good for future generations? Is there a time and place for justice? Yes. But I think that one needs to be careful that passion for justice does not suffocate joy today.
While on the cross, Jesus stated in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” He was mistreated yet he forgave. He was beaten yet he extended grace. He was spit upon yet he invited them to know everlasting life. He did not harbor bitterness. He did not scorn his accusers. He maintained joy by living a life of mercy and grace. He did not carry bitterness forward but left it buried in the cloak of forgiveness. He did not rally his disciples in response to his abuses but encouraged them to turn the other cheek. He taught a legacy of love. And, as a result, he preserved joy. Oh, I am thankful that we have a Savior who can free us from past offenses so that we can live freely today.
Is it possible I am oversimplifying it? Perhaps. However, I do know that joy is not found by looking in the rearview mirror. It is nurtured when we let go of the past and begin living in the freedom that Christ provides for today.