A few weeks ago, on one of the first comfortably crisp New York spring days, Lila Anton and her parents (Karen and William) ventured uptown with Coodie to the neighborhood where her mother grew up for this episode of Raizin’ in the Sun. An afternoon of cooking, chatting with friends old and new, and Jill Scott led to engaging discussions on the family’s experience living in Japan, and a retrospective look at the coalescence of race, culture, and love.
The circumstance of the move to Japan, and the nature of the journey itself give you a sense of this eclectic family. While working as a macrobiotic cook in Boston, William was invited to travel to Japan with Karen to further his study in macrobiotic cooking, martial arts and oriental medicine. The duo drove overland to Japan over the course of a year, visiting some 25 countries, including Pakistan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Nepal and India in the process.
The fact that William was White and Karen was African-American didn’t make the couple outsiders in the Japanese farming community they called home. Despite a few questions about the implications of their children being biracial, their love was strong enough to be seen for what it was. And while Lila encountered some pressing questions about her upbringing, race and appearance from her peers, they ultimately recognized their underlying similarities.
Anton’s story is one of fusing races, languages, and customs throughout the realms of work, family, and friends. The result is a sense of personal enrichment, founded on the appreciation of a host of unique backgrounds. In a nation as culturally, racially, and spiritually fragmented as ours, couldn’t we all use a little taste of these virtues?