Anti-racist resources for secular Buddhists

The brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and so many other people of color by police officers in recent years are part of a long history of state-sponsored abuse and violence directed against people of color in the U.S. George Floyd’s death led to massive protests in the U.S. and throughout the world against systemic racism in the criminal justice system and society more broadly. The most recent incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a police officer shot James Blake, an unarmed man, seven times in the back while his children watched, has led to further outrage and protests.

The scale and level of support for the protests have been breathtaking. Public opinion, at least for now, has moved strongly in support of the protest movement, despite the efforts of President Trump and his supporters to demonize and marginalize the protesters as radical, violent Leftists. Reflecting the potency of the protests, many social institutions and organizations have responded by attempting to come to terms with the ways in which systemic racism and individual bigotry continue to harm people of color.

In this context, Buddhists of all lineages, including secular Buddhists, increasingly understand the need to confront racism and other forms of oppression.  While some Buddhists have become active in social justice and racial justice movements, there is also a growing recognition of the ways in which Buddhist meditation centers and sanghas in the West which were founded and led by ‘convert’ Buddhists’ perpetuate and reinforce racism. This has led to a serious examination of how we, as Buddhists, need to transform our own behavior and the functioning of our centers and sanghas.

Below is a compilation of useful resources selected from Buddhist meditation centers and other sources to aid us in the process of confronting racism in the Buddhist community in the West and in society. Several centers and groups in the United States have been particularly active in this regard, including the East Bay Meditation Center, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Common Ground Meditation, the Insight Meditation Society, Spirit Rock, and the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.


Books by Buddhist Teachers of Color

In the last several years Buddhist teachers of color have insightfully explored key issues related to racism, as well as anti-racist struggles in Buddhist communities and sanghas in the West. In addition to discussing their personal experiences as teachers of color, they have provided us with new perspectives on the relationship between core Buddhist insights and the need to challenge all forms of racism within Buddhist communities.

Articles by Buddhist Teachers on racism and the anti-racist struggle

These articles offer us an analysis of how racism affects the Buddhist community and society as a whole. In addition, the authors discuss the ways in which white people can challenge ‘white privilege’ and become allies of people of color in the effort to transform our sanghas.

Websites with resources on anti-racist struggles

The BIPOC Project aims to build authentic and lasting solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice.

White Awake: Waking ourselves for the benefit of all, White Awake combats white supremacy by focusing on educational resources and spiritual practices designed to engage people who’ve been socially categorized as “white” in the creation of a just and sustainable society.

Showing Up for Racial Justice, SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.

Education For Racial Equity is a cross-racial and inter-generational non-profit organization committed to illuminating and dismantling the system of white supremacy, globally. Guided by the principles of both Anti-Racism and Anti-Racist activism, we take a multi-faceted approach to systemic change. ERE creates opportunities to develop awareness of the nature and function of whiteness/white supremacy, its impact on all peoples, and how it intersects with other systems of oppression. Our intention is to support integrated and embodied change within ourselves and those who work with us.

Ruth King    website of an insight meditation teacher, emotional wisdom author and life coach – helps thought leaders become more mindful of racism, its impact, and our potential.

Milagros Phillips speaker, author, coach, creator of Race Demystified; Ongoing Workshop: Healing from Racial Trauma

Books and resources on racism and anti-racist struggles

These books are must reading for those who want to understand the history and continuing impact of racism in our society.

Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, Between the World and Me

DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Howard, Gary R., We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools (Multicultural Education Series)

Irving, Debby, Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

Kaur, Valerie, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

Kendi, Ibram X., How to Be an Antiracist

Kendi, Ibram X., Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Menakem, Resmaa, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

Powell, John a, Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

Stevenson, Bryan, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Trepagnier, Barbara, Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide


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2 Replies to “Anti-racist resources for secular Buddhists”

Tracy Stewart

Gathering Roots Wellness is a Black and Indigenous-led, BIPOC-centered holistic wellness organization. Our mission is to galvanize healing in BIPOC communities by providing space to heal intergenerational trauma and build wellness through culturally relevant restorative processes. All year round, we serve BIPOC communities by providing wellness programming, events, and direct mutual aid.

tom davidson-marx

Extremely useful resources here. The book list is quite helpful–I just ordered a few of these titles based on your recommendation. I am including a link to these outstanding resources in the next newsletter to our Buddhist community– Aloha Sangha

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