Woke up this morning to a provocative article in The New York Times: "Black With (Some) White Privilege." I'm especially interested these days because I'm offering a new course at Stanford, When Half is Whole, which is also same title as a book I published in 2012. Having researched this area for years I wonder what remains unexplored. This article by Anna Holmes shows one promising direction of study by asking the tough question: How much of the notable achievements as African-Americans with a white parent, especially in fields to which they historically had little access, were more about how they benefited from having one white parent in a racist society than their hard work?
I believe that Barack Obama was able to imagine himself as president not just because he saw himself reflected in the white people around him, but because they saw themselves reflected in him. I see this as my own personal challenge as an Asian American with a white parent--empowering myself by connecting to this part of myself, the whiteness I have long rejected and denied. This is the process of healing described so eloquently and powerfully by different leaders in When Half is Whole. We find healing and empowerment by embracing our parts hidden in the darkness--this is the process of becoming whole.
Through the process of writing and sharing the book I am finding what Obama discovered--non mixed race people, including whites, see themselves reflected in the stories. This understanding goes together with a growing awareness of myself reflected in the white people around me. Even at this stage of my life I am crossing borders within myself that limit me from being more fully human and connected to others. This new feeling of connectedness is reflected in my new book, From Mindfulness to Heartfulness, which expands my compassion beyond the limiting sense of "my people" to all those who will listen.