Growing up, my dad would sometimes ask me, "How do you feel being half Asian? Do kids tease you?" His question mystified me, yet as I grew older, I did become more sensitive to the nature of being biracial. Never quite feeling like I fit in at school or during visits to Koreatown, confusion over what to check off on the "race" box on forms, and yearning to see people that looked like me--in person, in books, on tv, anywhere.
But at the same time, I had so many advantages: a diet of kimchi, bulgogi, burgers, and fries; stories about my grandma's adventures in Ireland; my own trip to South Korea. But most of all: my parents both loved me and treasured me and always let me know it.
The film Loving, released last year, dramatizes the story of interracial couple Mildred and Richard Loving's fight against anit-miscegenation laws, beginning with their marriage in 1958. Arrested and jailed multiple times, torn apart from their extended family--the Lovings and their children endured so many hardships just for being a mixed family. Their case was picked up by two young lawyers via the ACLU, and eventually made it to the Supreme Court in 1967. Though victorious, it took years for their landmark case to change laws; in fact, Alabama was the last state to lift the ban on interracial marriage--in 2000.
Learning about this story made me appreciate my parents so much; though I was born after the case of Loving vs. Virginia, it was still unusual to see interracial families as a child. It can't have been entirely easy for them. Now, I realize why my dad asked me how I felt so often. Luckily, these days, especially in California, it's not uncommon to see mixed families, of all varieties, and it is wonderful.
But, no doubt it is still difficult for families in some parts of our country. It's vital to learn from history, to empathize with the struggles of people who are persecuted, and to actively help make the world safe and just for all. Here are resources about the Loving case, for both adults and children.
The Loving Story (Streaming Video)
Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers (Book)