The Tallahassee Chan Center is committed to uprooting the three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance (unawareness of true reality) that manifest as racism toward black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The recent racial killings have captured our attention and focus. Through our center’s activities and dharma practice, we aim to ground our endeavor squarely in Buddhadharma and provide a space of safety, respect, and acceptance for everyone.
The three poisons are manifesting everywhere in every aspect of our individual lives, in the way we relate to people in our small circles of friends and family, in how we separate those different from us, and through institutional policies that continue the pattern of control, oppression, and violence on BIPOC communities. We need to recognize and work through these patterns with our practice of Buddhadharma: expose, educate, change, and liberate. How can we dismantle racism, as part of our practice to uproot the three poisons?
First, we begin with our dharma practice to expose the workings of discrimination, the social construct of whiteness that is intricately weaved in all of us (not just in white people) that manifest as subtle forms of racial discrimination.
Second, we educate ourselves by listening deeply, without judgement, to those who experience and are traumatized by racism. We open our hearts and let their stories in—their words and language embody the pain that runs through generations. We also proactively learn how racial discrimination operates through governmental systems.
Third, we must actively change our own racial biases and those in the broader world by creating a truly inclusive space (individuals, communities, nations and world-wide) in which everyone is treated equally. We begin in our own lives and then in our sangha. This is a slow process. Individuals and communities must first do their own necessary work, so they do not perpetuate vexations on others. With a strong basis in our Buddhist practice, we can reach out and work toward a more just society where people are not afraid of and subjected to oppression from law enforcement or being disenfranchised from society’s political and economic opportunities.
Lastly, we recognize that discrimination, racism specifically, can only be eradicated by going to the root of the problem: self-referential attachment, greed for power and domination, and by extension its impact on a societal level. Without uprooting the three poisons, the expressions of self-referentiality, discriminations of all kinds will continue to manifest. This does not mean we withdraw into ourselves, but it means if the world is going to change, we must liberate ourselves from the shackles of delusion collectively.
The Tallahassee Chan Center has taken several steps in support of ending racism, in addition to our regular morning and evening meditation sessions and instructions. First, we have invited guest speakers for a series of conversations on racism from the perspective of intersectionality: US history, structural and institutional racism, class struggles, gender identities, economic and educational disparities, and literature/arts. Second, we created a list below of educational resources, both literature and videos, to begin understanding and dismantling racism. And third, we have an online listening circle centering on racism where practitioners come together to support one another.
Change is possible because all things change. Racism is a human construct, so it can be changed through human effort. The causes and conditions are now ripe to begin this process. Together, we can make a difference. We invite you to join our efforts to create a fair and just society.
Starting on September 15, the Tallahassee Chan Center will inaugurate a series of educational programs, focusing on racism from multiple perspectives: racial trauma, history of slavery, criminal justice discrimination, gender inequalities, health and education systems, and also amplifying the agency of black literature, arts, healing, and transformation. These lectures are followed by an online discussion groups to help process, absorb, and ask questions about the lecture. More topics and dates will become available as more speakers are invited. Please visit this site often for updates.
The following resources are designed to foster a more equal society, encourage commitment to unbiased choices, and promote antiracism in all aspects of life. While the resources below are not exhaustive and not without shortcomings, they are practical but nuanced to begin the work of racial equity. We encourage you to take the time to read the articles and watch them. Resources will be updated periodically.
History: History of Slavery in America
- The 1619 Project of the NY Times; an alternative history
- Black History Milestones: Timeline
- American Slavery and ‘the Relentless Unforeseen’
- Inequality and African-American Health: How Racial Disparities Create Sickness. By Shirley A. Hill., 2016
- “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”
Day-to-day white experience:
- “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (this list includes problematic items but does heighten day-to-day awareness of privilege and discrimination)
Day-to-day experience of POC:
An important reading list:
Racism and Buddhism:
- Making the Invisible, Visible: a Discussion on Ignorance, Race, and Bias
- How Mindfulness Can Defeat Racial Bias
- A Call to Awareness for White Buddhists
Racism and the Law:
Black history since MLK:
Cultural analysis of whiteness:
Lived experience of racism from POC:
Simple example of racism explained:
Critique of racism in America:
Buddhism and racism:
The Listening Circle provides Chan practitioners a forum in which we explore together
the various conditions, both individual and societal, that affect our practice. By
recognizing, accepting, and being present to each other’s sharing, we bring practice into
the collective sphere, whose power of transformation is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Circle allows us to open up a space for each other in which we can examine our
different perspectives openly and honestly without seeking consensus or problem-
solution. With this support, we are able to move towards greater freedom and clarity and
allow these qualities to guide our actions.
Please email the Tallahassee.Chan@gmail.com to be invited for our next Listening Circle.
The Tallahassee Chan Center sangha has read and curated a list of popular books written on racism. Our reviews focus on the main claims or thesis; how the author is supporting this claim/thesis; the concrete methods of transformation that are taught; the strengths and weaknesses of the book; the questions and topics left unanswered. It’s not quantity of books we read that matters: it is how we read them, how we transform them into methods of practice, how we gain insight into the strength and limitations of the contents of the book, and how we can go beyond.
- Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisis Coates
- Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom. Ayo Yetunde, Cheryl Giles
- Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist. One Woman’s Spiritual Journey. Dr. Jan Willis
- How to be an Antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi
- My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem
- My Vanishing Country: A Memoir. Bakari Sellers.
- Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court, Dr. Matthew Clair
- Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation. Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Syedullah, PhD (Review 1; Review 2)
- Tending the Fire: Through War and the Path of Mediation, Ralph Steele
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. Wes Moore. Spiegel & Grau Trade
- White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo