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Thread: Buddhists For Racial Justice

  1. #1

    Buddhists For Racial Justice

    Hi All,

    Out of the recent U.S. Buddhist Leaders conference at the White House, has come a website about racism, with many links and resources, calls to engage, and an open letter that can be endorsed by anyone who wishes to sign.

    Racial equality and justice are very important to me, and to you too I’m sure, so I’m glad to see this effort, and hopefully some good action will come about, as well as hearts and minds expanding. The site looks great.

    One thing does make me pause, though. I kind of wish they weren’t starting off by splitting the room into “white people” and “people of color.” The Calls to Engage are split in this way. As someone who looks very white, but is of mixed race, I’m always frustrated when forced to choose one side, when filling out forms and etc. Obviously the intent of the website is good: it is to tailor these actions to the people who, presumably, will benefit the most from them. It seems to me that everyone could benefit from all of it, and would get a wider perspective in this way. The world is (stupidly) divided along racial lines... I’m not sure the cure for that should be divided along racial lines as well. I need to read more and think more about that. This is me making distinctions about them making distinctions, I guess.

    Anyway, it looks like a good thing to me overall. Here’s the link:

    http://buddhistsforracialjustice.org/

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  2. #2
    Lisa,

    I have found a similar frustration when discussing issues related to gender, where men talk among men and women talk among women. I assume this is to make people more comfortable and for most folks that is probably true. But since I tend to feel more comfortable with women, I don't usually engage in these types of interactions because I end up with men who, stereotypically, don't like to talk! So, it is very well intentioned and probably works best for most people, but as someone who is most interested in outliers, it doesn't really help.

    But thanks for the link!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Sat today

  3. #3
    Hi Lisa

    While I do see the frustration on this site being separated into race, after checking out the site it seems to have a really good message. I think the intention here is in the right area. It is a problem that faces many people. I myself am White, but on my fathers side of my family there is White, Black, Hispanic and Native American, so growing up I (luckily) never knew racism. But, I had experienced racism growing up towards my family members. So personally I gravitated more towards the side of "people of color buddhist" category because Its what I understood. So I agree, separating these into "White" buddhists and "People of color" buddhists is not a perfect strategy. But at least this sight is worth looking at.

    Thank you for sharing this link

    Gassho
    James
    SatToday

  4. #4
    Buddhism needs to cater to the culture. In order for a Sangha to function people need to feel comfortable to express themselves. The reality of America is that no matter what we feel in our hearts, race does effect our attitudes and perceptions. Since western Buddhism is so predominantly white and middle class, despite the best intentions and purest desires, many people who identify as a person of color may have difficulty being the odd one out. As Buddhists we need to acknowledge this sentiment that is prevalent in our culture. How the sentiment makes us feel personally is irrelevant and needs to be viewed in as broad a context as possible.

    I've been visiting sitting groups and zen centers around America as I travel through different places and many, especially larger ones, are actively trying to encourage non-white people to participate. Personally I think it's wonderful as given the kind of culture we are it really is an indirect path to inclusiveness. In addition to matters of race I think it is also wise for Buddhists to actively seek out people of lower economic status and political affiliations. Buddha is all or none. Or both.

    If we wish in one hand and shit in the other guess which one's going to fill up first?

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  5. #5
    The letter is already signed.

    I believe in Community and Society that is open to all, opportunity for all, free of violence.

    Our mission statement in our Treeleaf Sangha states ...

    Treeleaf Sangha is a multicultural Zen Buddhist Community in which people of all socio-economic classes, nationalities, races, ages, creeds, genders, sexual orientation and identification, and physical abilities discover shared humanity by direct experience of one anothers’ lives. We are open to all. We commit ourselves to cultivating a practice in diversity and multiculturalism by incorporating into our practice the dissolving of all barriers that perpetuate the suffering of separation, prejudice, and discrimination. We intend to expand and develop our awareness of the ways we are conditioned to separate ourselves by socioeconomic class, nationality, race, age, creed, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability and other forms of identity.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/
    In the future, I would like very much to see communities within communities develop under the welcoming umbrella of Treeleaf, catering to the special needs and voices of members who (and -if-) they feel the need to commune and share with people of like background ... sitting and discussion groups for members of the lgbt(qia) community, for the physically challenged, for war veterans, for people of color, for people of various language groups ... you name it. There are time for all to come together beyond differences, times to commune with those who understand our story. As is our way around here, these groups and relationships should happen both in the flesh and through online groups, meetings and sittings. Each should be facilitated by experienced members or priests who come from such backgrounds themselves ... something I hope to nurture around here, even if it takes some time.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hello !

    I have a question about this. Does buddhism have anything to do with justice ?

    I heard the debate go both ways and i'm curious to read about this !

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Hello !

    I have a question about this. Does buddhism have anything to do with justice ?

    I heard the debate go both ways and i'm curious to read about this !

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today
    Hi Ugrok,

    I am not sure of your question.

    Perhaps early Buddhism was more concerned with getting out of the wheel of Samsara, escaping this world as hopeless. In traditional societies in Asia, not much could be done to reform the authoritarian, impoverished, class based societies of old India, China and Japan. Concern with "social justice" and "engaged" activity out in the world is rather a late 19th and 20th Century invention, mostly aimed at modern societies and economies.

    However, now, yes, many Buddhists are more concerned with justice. We have adapted many Buddhist doctrines to emphasize the same, perhaps in ways that they were not traditionally. An example is the "interconnection" of all phenomena, as discussed here in the wonderful history book, "The Making of Buddhist Modernism" [my emphasis] ...

    Contemporary descriptions of interdependence, though, do not stop at
    the celebration of its wonder. They also emphasize the fragility of the interconnected
    network of beings: because everything depends on everything else,
    altering the balance of the web of life can be—and has been—catastrophic.
    Thus the concept entails strong ecological imperatives. The many Buddhist
    and Buddhist-inspired groups engaged in environmental activism routinely
    cite interdependence or interconnectedness as the conceptual rationale for the
    link between the dharma and environmentalism. Contemporary discourse on
    interdependence also carries ethical and political imperatives regarding social
    and economic justice. It recognizes that the interdependencies of the modern
    world are often sources of suffering. Perceiving interconnectedness may
    involve tracing a running shoe for sale at the local mall to global warming
    because of the fuel it took to ship it from China, where it in turn connects to
    economic injustice, since it is made by women in a sweatshop making barely
    enough to survive, while a huge percentage of the profit from the shoe goes
    to corporate executives. It stresses finding root causes and seeking out hidden
    sources of social problems. The idea of interdependence, therefore, is an essential
    part of the conceptual arsenal of engaged Buddhism, the contemporary
    activist movement that strives to relieve suffering by addressing human rights,
    war, poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation. It is not then just a matter
    of “experiencing” the world as a part of the self but also a matter of ethical
    and political commitment.

    ...

    While modern articulations of interdependence are rooted in the traditional
    Buddhist concept of pratı¯tya-samutpa¯da, in the last few decades they have
    taken on meanings, implications, and associations unique to the current era.
    For the historian of religion, therefore, the contemporary Buddhist concept of
    interdependence is a fruitful arena for analyzing the processes of conceptual
    and praxiological change and adaptation to shifting global circumstances. In
    this chapter I want to show how this concept has developed from both Buddhist
    and non-Buddhist lineages, including the discourses of Romanticism
    and scientifi c thought. It could serve as a paradigm of a hybrid concept. In brief,
    in some of its current forms, it is a hybrid of indigenous Buddhist concepts—
    dependent arising, the interpenetration of phenomena in the Huayan school,
    and various attitudes toward the natural world in East Asian Buddhism—
    commingled with conceptions of nature deriving from German Romanticism
    and American Transcendentalism, popular accounts of modern scientifi c
    thought, systems theory, and recent ecological thought.

    ...

    Especially complicating
    is the fact that early classical formulations took a view of the signifi -
    cance of interdependence that was nearly opposite to that of their contemporary
    successors. The monks and ascetics who developed the concept of dependent
    origination and its implications saw the phenomenal world as a binding chain,
    a web of entanglement, not a web of wonderment. How did this position that
    took a rather dim view of worldly life develop into the one today that celebrates
    this-worldly life and promotes activist engagement?


    (p152-153)
    http://sociology.sunimc.net/htmledit...1035621193.pdf
    In any case, our vow is to "rescue all sentient beings". Part of that is to teach about liberation from the small self by showing how to transcend the small self ... but part may also be to provide housing, medicine and food to that cold and hungry small self in need.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-08-2015 at 10:27 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Mp
    Guest
    Thank you Lisa,

    I agree that it looks very promising. Why they broke into these groups of ethnicity I am not sure ... but I do feel that their focus/direction is trying to find/create a community of equality. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  9. #9
    Thank you Jundo !

    I'm always suspicious when "justice" is mixed with spiritual practices/views. Who says what is fair and what is not ? On what basis ? It seems to me that "justice" is something that has to do with our judeo christians society. I sometimes wonder if buddhism is compatible with this.

    We have a good example of this with the project shown in this thread : those guys are certainly full of good wiil, but the very way they talk about their project is divisive and based on racial differences, in the name of "justice", which is unescapable since when you talk about justice you assume that there is one guy over here, and another one over there, and that one is abusing the other.

    I wonder if buddhist practice should not be beyond those kind of concepts.

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post

    I wonder if buddhist practice should not be beyond those kind of concepts.

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today
    Hmmmm. Well, in an absolute sense, there is no male and female, straight or gay, black and white, rich or poor, etc. etc.

    And yet, there are. There are people who are disadvantaged in society, people with their own histories who seek support and communion with other people who share that history. So, I think it a little simplistic to say that we should just be "color blind" to differences. For example, war veterans may feel some benefit in sometimes communing and attending retreats with fellow war veterans who might share some sense of what they have experienced. Women practitioners might wonder why all the "teachers" are men, and would benefit from having access to women teachers and other women ... and likewise for members of racial and sexual preference minorities. (I have been working for years to develop some priests in all those categories around here, and have had only very limited success ... a subject for another time).

    It is also silly to pretend that there are not people in society who are not disadvantaged in many ways, including economically, in access to decent educational opportunities and much more. The weak in society are getting abused in many ways by the powerful.

    There is a time when we all sit and commune together, beyond differences. There is a time to sit and be with people who share our histories. I believe a Sangha like ours has to be committed to both bridging differences and reaching out to make folks welcome. We also need to be committed to social justice as part of our Bodhisattva Vows. I do not think we can ignore social justice, including access for all to basic shelter, nutrition, education, medical care and opportunity.

    ... Now, all that being said, I just heard a long interview with two folks who are part of a Sangha in California that goes so far to welcome various subgroups that, well, I started to wonder if they were actually creating differences in the process. Some wonderful ideas, but also a bit extreme perhaps. I invite anyone with a deep interest in these issues to listen to some or all of the following ...

    SECULAR BUDDHIST: Episode 222 :: Mushim Ikeda and Brenda Salgado :: Creating Diverse Sanghas

    http://secularbuddhism.org/2015/04/2...verse-sanghas/

    Founded to provide a welcoming environment for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented communities, the East Bay Meditation Center welcomes everyone seeking to end suffering and cultivate happiness. Our mission is to foster liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building. We offer mindfulness practices and teachings on wisdom and compassion from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions. Rooted in our commitment to diversity, we operate with transparent democratic governance, generosity-based economics, and environmental sustainability.
    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-08-2015 at 03:47 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    (I have been working for years to develop some priests in all those categories around here, and have had only very limited success ... a subject for another time).


    Gassho, Jundo

    I'd be interested in hearing about that. I think Treeleaf could definitely benefit from female novices, at the least.

    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  12. #12
    While I am no expert, and have only been exposed to social justice for a relatively short amount of time, I would like to attempt to explain why most social justice work is divided into White and POC.

    There is a lot of work that White people need to do around privilege and recognizing the racism which exists and they have benefited from even if they have not actively taken part in racist acts. The first section of the “Call to White Buddhists” addresses issue. This type of self-education is a critical first step for most white people, so that we are more prepared in everyday life to address racism as it exists.

    One of the resources linked on the site is: http://imcw.org/Resources/Article-De...e-About-Racism
    This article is a wonderful description of the problems that face talking to white people about race.

    Dr. Robin DiAngelo states:
    This concept came out of my on-going experience leading discussions on race, racism, white privilege and white supremacy with primarily white audiences. It became clear over time that white people have extremely low thresholds for enduring any discomfort associated with challenges to our racial worldviews. We can manage the first round of challenge by ending the discussion through platitudes -- usually something that starts with "People just need to," or "Race doesn't really have any meaning to me," or "Everybody's racist." Scratch any further on that surface, however, and we fall apart.

    Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we are either not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We experience a challenge to our racial worldview as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges our sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense.
    Another resource listed on the site is: The UNtraining; I think their explanation is very valuable (and probably better than I could word it.)

    Why Only White People?
    We believe that white people have the responsibility to educate ourselves about racism, rather than expecting people of color to be our teachers. In white caucus work, people are more free to express difficult feelings and to examine complex situations around race. This honesty, often held back in mixed groups to avoid embarrassment or for fear of causing harm, is crucial for learning and healing. Sharing common experiences breaks down two other aspects of white conditioning: isolation and the taboo of talking about personal issues around race.


    White Privilege and the Cost of Whiteness
    The premise of the UNtraining is that we are all affected by racism. No matter how aware our parents may have been, how liberal, loving or spiritual we may be, as white people we have been trained to be "white" by media, educational systems and continual subtle feedback from those around us.

    Although it may not be obvious at first, we benefit from racism in our daily lives through the privileges associated with light-colored skin. Even less apparent, however, is the cost to us as white people living within this hierarchical system. Many of us live with guilt, fear, and defensiveness. Our curiosity is stifled and our passions blunted. This keeps us from speaking out and taking action against racism. Or if we do, we may come across as righteous and judgmental, which is rarely helpful or effective.
    I will personally say that the first time I was in a room and had a deep conversation about racism beyond the normal superficial topic; the room was a mixed room, so as the white people worked through our issues there was real harm done to the POC in the room. It took a long time after that conversation for me to feel that I could engage in a conversation with a POC without doing harm.

    For me there is a lot of work that white people need to do before they are ready for the same resources that POC will need. Once this work has been started then white people will be able to engage with resources that talk about topics which contradict the systemic and institutional controls that we have lived inside of, without “falling apart” as DiAngelo says. Taking the time to learn about white privilege and to actively engage the topic will make you a stronger advocate for social justice. And it will also help you understand what is happening when you start to engage other white people in the conversation.

    I think this is a great starting point for a long conversation about social justice, and applaud the effort even if it might have stumbled a bit at first. It looks like they have already amended the Open Letter to include not choosing a race, or selecting other.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    I'd be interested in hearing about that. I think Treeleaf could definitely benefit from female novices, at the least.

    -satToday
    Well, in a nutshell ... I have asked many times (almost to the point of being a pest) a few special folks if they are interested. I did not ask "because they are women" or any other special category, but simply because I thought they would be excellent priests. So far, personal life circumstances and own preferences have prevented any female folks from accepting the invitation.

    I'm sorry about that. But I really believe that some of it is just luck of the draw. Sometimes the penny flips "heads" 10 times in a row!

    That being said, if anyone (I especially mean folks who have been part of this community for a few years, because there should be some mutual familiarity which takes some time) ... if anyone like that is interested in Ordination whether male or female, gay or straight, blue or green or anything in between ... let me know. So long as I feel you will truly make a dedicated, sincere, committed for the long haul, ethical priest ... we can talk seriously.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-08-2015 at 04:38 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thanks, Jundo.
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  15. #15
    Hello,

    "The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." - Albert Schweitzer

    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid and
    May those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power and
    May people think of befriending one another.


    Seeing that
    there’s nothing to do
    rolling up our sleeves and
    going to work.

    Gary Snyder


    Gassho
    silly Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post
    There is a lot of work that White people need to do around privilege and recognizing the racism which exists and they have benefited from even if they have not actively taken part in racist acts. The first section of the “Call to White Buddhists” addresses issue. This type of self-education is a critical first step for most white people, so that we are more prepared in everyday life to address racism as it exists.
    I am with Shoka on this.

  17. #17
    Hi guys.

    It's funny but I have been thinking a lot about justice lately because I have heard and read a lot of people claiming for it all over the planet. But my question is, why is it that justices is always claimed when someone wants it to work for him?

    Most of us would ask for a life with justice, but only up to the point where it's a service for us. It's pretty hard to find someone who actually lives and practices justice for herself and for others. At the end of the day I think that's the point of justice, isn't it? It should work all ways, for all sentient beings with no difference what so ever.

    But like Jundo says, we have to live with the fact that there are differences but at the same time, we should work together to end all differences. It's kind of a endless road because as long as there are personal interests involved, justice may never come.

    One can dream and work a day at a time.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  18. #18
    Hi All,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, comments and questions, it’s a great discussion. Shoka is right, white folks (or any powerful, oppressive group in any given situation) need to learn first about the privilege they benefit from, and the costs of that privilege.

    I took a few courses in college on these subjects, and well do I remember how my young mind, which I thought was so open and inclusive, was blown as I learned how deeply ingrained prejudice is. Even someone with the most loving heart and best intentions can hold so many assumptions and prejudices. I remember on the first day, the teacher talking to us about “flesh-colored” band-aids and crayons. Little things, that I had never given a thought to, suddenly carried a lot more meaning. I remember once starting to say something in class about how all people want the same things: to take care of their loved-ones, have their basic needs met, live without fear, etc. A girl stood up and pointed at me and said, “You’re just one of those white people that wants black people to like you!”. And -- crack! -- instantly the room split into factions, and erupted into shouting and name-calling and accusations. There was anger, pain and suffering all around.

    I think the subject of race and oppression is tender and painful for all who look deeply, whichever “side” they are on. We’re all more comfortable with those who we perceive to be similar to ourselves on some level. So breaking into groups with similar people for discussion can make it feel safer to speak freely. Bringing these issues out into the light of day is essential.

    It’s not just evil people or ignorant people who have prejudices and oppress others. I think we all do to some extent. Just like in our Precept study, where we talk about how impossible it is to live without killing, it also seems impossible to live now without somehow taking part in, or benefitting from, or being a victim of, oppression in some way. Or all three at once. It’s not always overt and obvious.

    Does Buddhism have anything to do with social justice? I think it does, in the context of the Bodhisattva vow. Looking within to gain understanding, and then reaching out to help others do the same and heal the divisions as we can.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

    p.s. The EBMC is interesting. They actively recruit people for diversity. They do not focus on a specific tradition, but practice a general Mindfulness meditation. Here’s a video of Sangha members talking about it. (There is a bit of fundraising at the end.) What Jundo says about the possibility of creating differences is something I’ve wondered about before, when we talk about making more subgroups on Treeleaf. I don’t know what the answer is. I love it that we’re all in one big room here, and I think it’s good practice, but some might feel more comfortable and free in smaller groups with similarities or shared interests.

    Last edited by Byokan; 07-08-2015 at 10:49 PM.

  19. #19
    Hello,

    Dogen zenji says,

    Understanding the value of the Way is not “one” or “two”. There is no “self” that can receive something from some “other”, but for the moment let us talk in terms of “one” or “two”. If we value the Teachings we can learn from a post, a lantern, all Buddhas, a fox, a demon, a man or a woman.

    Dharma (Truth) is what it is. It has no agenda. People either accept it, or will prefer to listen mindlessly to lies.


    Gassho
    silly Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 07-09-2015 at 11:43 AM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  20. #20
    Thanks a lot for the discussion !

    The problem i see as well in those discussions is that what is assumed is a racial vision of the world. Here in France (i mention it because i'm conscious it's a specific cultural background), it is my impression that someone who talks about "POC" or "persons of colours" would instantly be considered racist. Heck, in France, nobody would even think about talking about "races" to talk about human beings in the first place - the word "race" was maybe used until the 19th century but is never used to talk about people. Someone who happens to use this kind of vocbulary on the radio or on tv would instantly be judged as profoundly racist. It's very interesting to see that our cultural answers to such things are completely conditioned, i guess. Which is specifically why i wonder how buddhism can have to do anything with "justice". "Justice" is completely conditioned, where buddhism is something completely universal.

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Our Sangha will continue to strive to attract and make welcome people of all backgrounds and groups. It is important not to exclude anyone, or make them feel unwelcome.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    PS - A slightly less important question ...

    Why doesn't our Sangha have videos of this quality? Along with attracting various underrepresented social groups to this Community, we have to pull in more film-makers!
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-09-2015 at 11:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Thanks a lot for the discussion !

    The problem i see as well in those discussions is that what is assumed is a racial vision of the world. Here in France (i mention it because i'm conscious it's a specific cultural background), it is my impression that someone who talks about "POC" or "persons of colours" would instantly be considered racist. Heck, in France, nobody would even think about talking about "races" to talk about human beings in the first place - the word "race" was maybe used until the 19th century but is never used to talk about people. Someone who happens to use this kind of vocbulary on the radio or on tv would instantly be judged as profoundly racist. It's very interesting to see that our cultural answers to such things are completely conditioned, i guess. Which is specifically why i wonder how buddhism can have to do anything with "justice". "Justice" is completely conditioned, where buddhism is something completely universal.

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today
    That's interesting Ugrok. I was talking to an old friend of mine who lives in Lyon and is married to a French woman. They have two children together and he is Korean. From his perspective his mixed children are not accepted by the culture where he is and prefer to keep race "pure". That's his perspective at least. But on the other hand it is well known that many many many great black jazz musicians gravitates heavily to France because they did not experience the racism they faced in the U.S.

    Identity politics is a big thing in the U.S. On one hand it can help bring awareness and acceptance towards under represented groups and offer perspective that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. On the other, it can go too far and people can be unfairly boiled down to just their physical bodies or sexual orientations without all the other more important things that make one a complete person.

    Perspectives vary widely and we all have to address our perspectives because our perspectives are also our illusions to be dropped. But we can't suppress them or deny the perspectives of others if we are to really be a supportive world sangha, Buddhist or not.

    I live in South Carolina and it was announced today that the Confederate Flag is coming down from the statehouse in the Capitol. I was over there last Saturday to celebrate America's birthday and to rally to get it down. Al Jazeera covered it and has my wife singing the national anthem with a large crowd of folks turning their backs to the stars and bars. The KKK actually has a rally to keep it up scheduled for the 18th, but I guess they may have to cancel. Good thing. South Carolina is so much better than that, no matter what bullshit you may have heard. (Which is probably accurate bullshit, but still not the whole picture)

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  23. #23
    Just wanted to acknowledge and give thanks for this conversation.
    sunbeams,
    Karen, sat today

  24. #24
    Ahaha, i just read that discussion again, opened the book Jundo recommended about Sawaki's teachings, and here's what i found :

    "If we don't understand differences, we're foolish ; if we're caught up in differences, we're mediocre human beings trapped by our wordly judgements". (Kodo Sawaki)

    Gassho,

    Ugrok

    Sat Today

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post


    "If we don't understand differences, we're foolish ; if we're caught up in differences, we're mediocre human beings trapped by our wordly judgements". (Kodo Sawaki)
    Amen


    Gassho
    foolish Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 07-10-2015 at 12:32 PM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  26. #26

    Buddhists For Racial Justice

    Ben Ferguson seems like a decent guy but in my opinion, he does not understand the differences. The difference between individual bigotry and systemic racism. Understanding comes before the healing. This video is specific to racism in American culture. I really do not know what it is like in other countries.

    http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/seg...8c2a28d2000143






    ..sat2day•合掌
    Last edited by Troy; 07-10-2015 at 03:31 AM.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    ...he does not understand the differences. The difference between individual bigotry and systemic racism. Understanding comes before the healing.

    Agreed. I think a failure to understand that racism and other prejudice is a systemic problem is very common...


    Painting with a very broad brush, the way I see it is that the Buddha's message is about suffering, but it's more about personal suffering than social suffering. It locates the problem, the causes and the cure for suffering in the individual rather than in society.

    For the opposite theoretical view, it's interesting to look at e.g. Marx's view of the causes and the cure for human suffering, which is thoroughly social - oppression and class-struggle are prominent. I'm not suggesting that one is right and the other wrong, but that it's illuminating to look at suffering from a number of perspectives.

    Moving on to social inequality in general, including issues of ethnicity and 'race', sexuality and gender, etc., I'd suggest that a sociological approach is more likely to be illuminating than a dharma-based approach. Pick up an introductory textbook on sociology and be prepared to be illuminated! Seriously, if you've never done it, do it If there's a section on Poverty as well, then take a look!

    Of course, modern Buddhists can and do take what the Buddha said and mix it up with a modern world view to make something conditioned by our own times. Hence people like David Loy, and no doubt many others I haven't come across yet.

    Gassho
    Jeremy
    Will Sit Later
    Last edited by Jeremy; 07-10-2015 at 10:35 AM.

  28. #28
    Being a white male in the calmer part of North America, I have the privilege of race blindness (or a pretense of it). At 5'9" there is no reminder of tall or short, and never having to think about it. I can't pretend to know what it is like to be a "POC" and have to acknowledge that first.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today

  29. #29
    Hi, while I sat with this for several days it seems that this thread has stalled out. Not surprised since it is such an uncomfortable subject. It forces us to look carefully at ourselves, people of color or white, we are all part of this terrible web. There is nowhere to hide. We cannot say"I do not see race", "we are not racist", we do and we are if simply through non action. As Buddhist practitioners we can take action if simply through living by the precepts and recognizing and interacting with all people as individuals. Please do not let this thread die in your minds. Each of us can make a difference. Fifty years ago my new bride and I could not get service at a restaurant in Sanderson Texas; in fact our marriage was still illegal in Texas. Step by step things change but we cannot sit on our zafus and say I do not need to be involved. We do, each of us, every day.
    Peace
    SAT TODAY
    Shozan

  30. #30
    Hello,

    Betty Shabazz ( Malcolm X's widow ) lectured: "there is only one race - human. Everything else is anthropological grouping."

    Human beings recently (150,000 y.) left Africa to populate the planet. Under the skin we're all African. (Thank you Charlize Theron!)

    Wink at an ugly person.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 07-13-2015 at 11:23 AM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  31. #31
    Hi Shozan,

    It is hard to solve all the world's problems in a brief thread.

    As an observer living outside the United States (in a place where I am the minority), I have come to feel that the American situation is two-sided: Institutional discrimination must be eliminated on the one hand, and people in American must generally come to feel less that they are somehow victimized and entitled. In America, so many folks feel like a victim entitled to blame all their problems on someone else. Sometimes there is a basis in truth. and much historical and ongoing unfairness to point to, but also much exaggeration and "woe is me"ism.

    The real road to solving these problems is somewhere in between.

    People must learn to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, at the same time that we learn to do a better job of offering a helping hand to those in need. Both aspects are required.

    That, by the way, is not "Buddhist" advice, and simply the viewpoint of one US fellow observing the US from outside for many years. Don't put more value on it than that.

    Peace, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-12-2015 at 01:01 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    I almost wrote a post about 'collective karma and social justice', but as I have nothing positive whatsoever to say about the theory of 'collective karma', I'll stop right here

    Gassho
    Jeremy
    SatToday

  33. #33
    Hi all,

    Thanks to everyone for the responses and comments. After a few more days to reflect I was draw back to a chapter from "Inside the Grass Hut," there was a passage that really struck me when I first read the chapter and kept coming to mind these last few days.

    Each moment we have a choice, an opportunity. We can do something helpful, we can do something harmful, we can be completely unaware and operate out of habit. We have this chance to use each moment of choice that we are given to take care of our lives and the world around us. Let's take this chance together. It is a beautiful way to live.

    On the other hand, since we are merely an expression of the interdependence of everything, we can’t even begin to know all the things that lead us to make the choices we make. You can’t choose all the infinite things that led to you being here in this moment as you are; you can’t choose your vast array of unconscious motivations that cause your choices. If we only consider the impact of our parents’ and our grandparents’ behavior on our unconscious tendencies, even this is beyond comprehension and is still not even one trillionth of a trillionth of all the things we could list that come together to make us what we are right now. (Chapter 9, page 67)
    For me this quote really sums up the call to action in every moment, it gives that reader the sense of stirring to go out and change the world. But the really intense part of this passage is the second part. A reminder to not judge others and take for granted what you were able to achieve, because we have no idea from our limited view what conditions have caused the current state of affairs. But as I said we are also called to action, not to waste a moment because it is always an opportunity.

    I started reading “Training in Compassion” by Norman Fischer today. In the introduction he says:

    Compassion literally means embracing the suffering of others. To embrace the suffering of others is to be liberated and opened by that suffering, to the point of finding love. But compassion is impossible if we can’t learn to bear our own sufferings and difficulties, if our old habit of denying and running away continues to have its way with us. So the practice of mind training begins with the effort to turn toward difficulty rather than away from it. When we are no longer daunted by difficulties but are willing to engage and make use of them, we become truly resilient individuals.
    I know racism is a hard conversation to have, others have said that as well. But turning away only increases the suffering. So I would say kindly if this thread has made you uncomfortable use that, don’t turn away. Seek out more information and explore why it is uncomfortable.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday

  34. #34
    Thank you all for the thoughts on this subject. I think Moysha made a major point, there probably are not really different races, which brings us to the point of the word "racism". In reality it seems to be a term that defines the world wide practice of one group treating another as an inferior for political, financial, self esteem, etc. The easy markers are skin tone, language, cultural characteristics, country or region of origin, but it seems any difference can be the focal point. Guess the best path is not get sucked in to rhetoric, stereotypes, and other actions by individuals, groups or government that oppress one group or serve to benefit another at the expense of others. Shoka, thanks so much for starting the thought process on this subject.

    Peace

    SAT TODAY
    Shozan

  35. #35
    Hi all,

    Someone I know recently posted an article on FB that said there are no distinct races within humans...only social conceptions. I tend to agree, but I did add the caution that we cannot use such a rationale to claim racism does not exist! I believe Shozan is correct that racism was really one culture trying to distinguish itself as superior to another. So, we made it up and have to deal with it even if biologically we really are all the same.

    Thank you all for the discussion.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Sat today

  36. #36
    Good thread. P
    roud to be a Leafer.

    sat2day
    Last edited by Ed; 08-07-2015 at 04:17 PM.
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  37. #37

    Buddhists For Racial Justice

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation by businesses that serve the public, places of employment and government services such as schools. While I believe things are better since then, I do not think racism has ended. Racism in America has been proven over and over again in study after study.

    I think it is hard for white people to understand because we do not experience life like people of color. In fact, one study found that 75% of white Americans do not have any friends that are of another race. In most American cities, neighborhoods are divided along racial lines. For example in my city, there are predominately white, Hispanic and black neighborhoods. Which means there are predominately white, Hispanic and black schools and businesses in those neighborhoods. Segregation is not enforced by statute anymore but it is socially.

    Just the other day my brother in law who is black was moving stuff in to his garage at night from his car. A white couple in the neighborhood approached him with a video recorder and a flashlight and accused him of robbing his own house. They explained “we have it all on tape”. Evidently they had been videotaping him for a while. When my brother in law explained, no, this is my house. They asked him to prove it at which time he stuck his hand in his car, pulled out his garage door opener and closed the garage. This kind of stuff happens all the time. This is individual bigotry.

    Systemic racism also exist. Whites still have “White Privilege” because we do not have to face the hurdles of racism. Here are some examples of systemic racism I found online.

    On the New Jersey Turnpike, blacks make up 15 percent of drivers, more than 40 percent of stops and 73 percent of arrests – even though they break traffic laws at the same rate as whites

    If a black person kills a white person, they are twice as likely to receive the death sentence as a white person who kills a black person.

    Black men receive prison sentences 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who committed similar crimes, a 2013 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found.

    White Americans held more than 88 percent of the country's wealth in 2010, according to a Demos analysis of Federal Reserve data, though they made up 64 percent of the population. Black Americans held 2.7 percent of the country's wealth, though they made up 13 percent of the population.

    As a result of the recession between 2007 and 2010, Hispanic families' wealth fell by 44 percent, and black families' by 31 percent, compared to 11 percent for white families.

    Minority borrowers are still more likely to get turned down for conventional mortgage loans than white people with similar credit scores.

    Black and Latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded schools.

    A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that participants estimated black boys to be older and less innocent than white boys of the same age.

    White Americans use drugs more than black Americans, but black people are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites.

    Applicants with white-sounding names get one callback per 10 resumes sent while those with African-American-sounding names get one callback per 15 resumes, according to a 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research report. "Based on our estimates," the researchers wrote, "a White name yields as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience."


    ..sat2day•合掌
    Last edited by Troy; 07-16-2015 at 01:18 AM.

  38. #38
    Hi All,

    I really value and bow to every contribution here. Troy, thank you for pulling all those facts together. I'm so sorry about what happened to your brother-in-law. It makes me so angry and sad. I'm sorry for him, and sorry for the massive ignorance and misdirected intentions of the neighbors. Imagine how hard it is to keep an open heart when things like this happen to you, over and over again. Metta for all.

    Here is a good, short article that begins to briefly explain White Privilege in terms of economics:

    http://www.newsreel.org/guides/race/whiteadv.htm

    And here's a link to a film I haven't seen yet, but hope to make time for soon. It is highly recommended by several sources. It can be rented for 7 days for the price of a double-grande-rice-milk-caramel-latte-with-low-foam ($4.99):

    http://www.newsreel.org/video/RACE-T...OF-AN-ILLUSION


    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today
    Last edited by Byokan; 07-16-2015 at 12:00 AM.

  39. #39
    thanks Lisa


    ..sat2day•合掌

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Here is a good, short article that begins to briefly explain White Privilege in terms of economics:

    http://www.newsreel.org/guides/race/whiteadv.htm
    Lisa,
    This is a wonderful article. I really like this quote from it:
    Or we suggest that differential outcomes may simply result from differences in "natural" ability or motivation. However, sociologist Dalton Conley's research shows that when we compare the performance of families across racial lines who make not just the same income, but also hold similar net worth, a very interesting thing happens: many of the racial disparities in education, graduation rates, welfare usage and other outcomes disappear. The "performance gap" between whites and nonwhites is a product not of nature, but unequal circumstances..
    I will have to watch the full video.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    Sattoday

  41. #41
    Joyo
    Guest
    Troy, what happened to your brother-in-law...how terrible!!!

    In Canada, it's often Natives that people are racist against, or at least that has been my experience. When I was younger, I dated a black man and it opened my eyes to some of the narrow-minded, racist views that some people still have.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  42. #42
    Thank you Joyo


    ..sat2day•合掌

  43. #43
    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. I have signed the letter, and am exploring the resources the site offers.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    #SatToday

  44. #44
    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The photo seems simple enough. A police officer assists an older man overcome by the heat, as scalding temperatures swept through South Carolina over the weekend.

    But, a closer look at the photo reveals something more. The officer in the photo, who is black, is assisting a white supremacist at a KKK rally. The white supremacist is wearing a National Socialist Movement t-shirt with a swastika on it.

    The now viral photo was first tweeted out by Rob Godfrey the Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications and External Affairs for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley. The photo was taken during protests in South Carolina on Saturday, July 18.

    The policeman seen in the photo is Officer Leroy Smith, director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.


    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    Mp
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post


    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    This truly is an expression of service with a open heart and mind. =) Beautiful!

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  46. #46
    Compassion in action.

    Beautiful!

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  47. #47
    It is a very powerful image. Humbling.

    Gassho
    Daizan


    sat today

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post


    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Thank you for posting this


    ..sat2day•合掌

  49. #49
    The heart sees no color.

    sat2DAY
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Hi All,

    Out of the recent U.S. Buddhist Leaders conference at the White House, has come a website about racism, with many links and resources, calls to engage, and an open letter that can be endorsed by anyone who wishes to sign.

    Racial equality and justice are very important to me, and to you too I’m sure, so I’m glad to see this effort, and hopefully some good action will come about, as well as hearts and minds expanding. The site looks great.

    One thing does make me pause, though. I kind of wish they weren’t starting off by splitting the room into “white people” and “people of color.” The Calls to Engage are split in this way. As someone who looks very white, but is of mixed race, I’m always frustrated when forced to choose one side, when filling out forms and etc. Obviously the intent of the website is good: it is to tailor these actions to the people who, presumably, will benefit the most from them. It seems to me that everyone could benefit from all of it, and would get a wider perspective in this way. The world is (stupidly) divided along racial lines... I’m not sure the cure for that should be divided along racial lines as well. I need to read more and think more about that. This is me making distinctions about them making distinctions, I guess.

    Anyway, it looks like a good thing to me overall. Here’s the link:

    http://buddhistsforracialjustice.org/

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today
    raindrop,

    In a perfect world, there are no national boundaries, not only racial. I'm a individual that simply does not identify with any nationality due to the arbitrary divisiveness it causes. People will press the question after I explain this..'so are you..italian..?russian?english?? but really what are you?' I explain to them that they are asking a loaded question with the implication that I somehow identify with some place of birth or that they need to know it because they need to fit me in some kind of category to relate from so they can 'engage' me in a cultural context that I have no interest in fanning. I live in america, that's about all people will get from me and need to talk to me to get to know me.

    I even try to keep the Buddhist thing under wraps and let my practice speak for me unless someone really connects and questions my person. As flattering as it was I got tired of people crossing their imputation of hhdl onto me and getting all starry eyed. I feel a responsibility to incite critical thinking skills in people and basking in the easy glow of Buddhist teachers just by waving the dharma flag where I may or may not have the same insights is dishonest, so there is a ethical degree as to why I push others to use critical thinking skills.

    It takes a long time for a non-polarity such as black vs white to be resolved, a lot of work for society to express seamless interdependence when society has little contact with philosophies that explain why that dichotomy is a delusion. It does happen over time like how I think people gradually incubate in the Tathagata womb and realize Buddhahood one day. The dictonomy of white vs 'people of color' on that site is just a artifact that if the movement towards racial equality via seeing the lack of meaningful difference in race alone is successful, will be just a quaint note in the history books of a hopefully successful and bygone social movement.

    Sign 'people of color", sign 'white', either way I imagine this current iteration of molting on this issue will go away if successful, the glaring oddity of two separate places to sign over a issue of implied equality over skin color.

    Metta,
    Greg

    Sent from my ALCATEL ONETOUCH P310A using Tapatalk
    “A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope.” - Dean Koontz

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