I was young when I first realized that my biracial existence inhabits liminal space.
We piled into the sticky church van, and left the Californian mountains where I’d spent a week at an Asian American Christian summer camp. It was my first experience at a summer camp, my first experience with a large group of Christians, and my first time exclusively surrounded by other Asian Americans. As we drove down the mountain, away from late night campfire worship songs and Bible stories I’d heard for the first time in my life, a friend in the van turned towards me and announced, “You should’ve heard how some of the boys talked about you in our cabin last night. They are obsessed with mixed girls like you.” I could tell he thought the comment was something I should be happy about, but all I felt was the heat rising between my skin and cheekbones.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I learned to resist my Koreanness like I was on a strict diet.[/perfectpullquote]
Years later, thinking about that comment would make me feel small and shriveled up inside. It weaved itself into everything. It was clear that being obsessed with “mixed girls like me” meant being obsessed with the power of whiteness more than anything. I tell a friend about it, but she asks why I’m upset and making things about race, and claims she would be happy to have the attention—however it comes.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I tried to starve the Imago Dei in me. [/perfectpullquote]
Even before I knew his name, white supremacy was waging a war around me and within me.
Without any formal training, I learned to resist my Koreanness like I was on a strict diet. I cut things out, hid what felt most like home, brushed and beat the wild out of my mixed hair, and said no to things I’d always loved. I tried to starve the Imago Dei in me.
It took many long years before I began to realize that my biracial body was a beautiful bridge of existence.
These days, I keep the rice cooker puffing. I put cold cucumber half-moons under my eyes. I have rice and kimchi for breakfast some mornings, just like my mom always did, and eggs over easy on others, just like my Dad. I live and move in both worlds, just like me. I reach for the comforts of womb and beginnings, while leaning into the future with my own mothering hope. I paddle the rice and keep watch on the kind of steam that rises from the mixing.
These days, I look in the mirror and let myself enjoy the way my hair reminds me of the kind of the stories I come from on every side: powerful, tender, spicy, sad, wild, miraculous, and resilient. I stand in the middle of these stories and say yes to them. These are healing acts, and they lead me and others around me towards wholeness.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I stand in the middle of these stories and say yes to them. [/perfectpullquote]
Women of color: Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian American sisters, say yes to your divine making. Go back to the places that told you to cut back and keep quiet, and tell them no. Revisit the times you believed it would make you better to hide, and grieve them. Then take the time needed to taste and see that God is good in every part of your culture and identity. Cease shedding the calories of your color. Let them heat up the holy waters of resistance and redemption.
Biracial and multiracial sisters, mixed warriors of dual worlds pressed together: fully inhabit the liminal space you live in. Believe you are fully both, not less than. Let what feels like a messy mix of opposition, become hope for healing and revision.
The Kingdom of God stands at the threshold of what’s here and what’s to come: a time when every nation and tribe will worship God together, our distinct differences seen, celebrated, and needed. We will worship the holiest liminality: a mixed Savior, a multilingual Holy Spirit, and a God of Color.
The girl in the church van revisits me often. I see her in my memory and I see her in women all around me. I tell her: You are not a pinch of color with a saving dose of white. You are a threshold of flesh and blood, breathing evidence of coexistence.
Image Credit: Foundry Co from Pixabay
- I am a Threshold of Flesh and Blood - July 7, 2020