Background/Our Commitment to Undoing Racism
As Dhamma practitioners, we are dedicated to understanding suffering and the end of suffering. The root of suffering is the illusion of a separate, isolated sense of self. Racism is a profound manifestation of the separation between self and other. By creating a separate self, we create an other to defend against and to oppress and control. Healing racism is Dhamma work. We must seek to understand and heal the racism in our own hearts. We must act with wisdom and compassion, confronting and uprooting all aspects of racism. It requires inner transformation and outer action.
Seattle Insight Meditation Society adds our voice to the outrage and heartbreak over the continued violence, prejudice, and oppression directed at our BIPOC fellow citizens. While the outrage has a new expression, it is not a new problem. Our BIPOC brothers, sisters, and friends live with racism daily, fearing for their lives, struggling against discrimination, and being treated as second-class citizens. The barriers to success and financial stability are real and formidable.
The shock and anger at George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, have woken up a country that too easily forgets the daily oppression and violence that are facts of life for BIPOC people. Dominant white culture’s comfort and security are deeply entrenched. White supremacy and white fragility must be understood and seen through. We must not and shall not go back to sleep.
Please join us in taking specific, concrete steps.
Guiding Teachers and Board of Seattle Insight Meditation Society
Steps We Are Taking
From September 2020 through September 2021 approximately thirty sangha members participated in Ruth King’s Mindful of Race year long Racial Affinity program. In light of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the uplifting of the Black Lives Matter movement, the SIMS Board realized it was important for SIMS to offer, encourage, and facilitate anti-racism within our community. Ruth King, a Black Buddhist teacher, writer, scholar, and author had worked with other sanghas on these issues, so we reached out to her. The program she proposed to us was a new format using small racial affinity groups meeting monthly, interspersed with quarterly full cohort meetings facilitated by Ruth. After the ending of this program many of us realized it was important to continue with the work. It took a few months to figure out our next steps.
In February 2022 we began a new program we’ve named Undoing Racism. It’s an eight-session curriculum developed by Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program in 2016 and updated by the White Heron Sangha in 2020. We understand this as the next step on the path of undoing racism in our hearts, communities, sanghas, and world. We understand that racism has been present in this country for more than 400 years and that it will take considerable effort and time to undo its impacts.
We also understand that racism is not the only manifestation of oppression in our sangha, and we look forward to offering programs and affinity groups for BIPOC folks, those who identify as LGBTQ, and others who may feel marginalized. If you are interested in or have ideas for future programs, you may email our Engaged Buddhism lead.
Here are resources for both inner transformation and outer action. They offer a wide range of starting points for your own work and engagement. We intend to update this list periodically, but some information may be outdated.
Engagement and Education (compiled by Barre Center for Buddhist Studies)
Support Black owned bookstores
Consider multiplying your impact by ordering from a Black-owned bookstore. Here is a great resource with a purchase link to many of the books above directly from a Black-owned bookstore.
Seattle-Area Local Resources
Contact Public Officials
ASUW Directory of Diversity Effort
Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) provides an excellent list of eight actions you can take against injustice towards the Black community, tools specifically to educate white people, and more. They also published Ways to Help, an excellent list of current resources from protest gatherings to places to donate.
Resources from The Stranger
- An Antiracist reading list by Ibram X. Kendi
- Goodreads/Listopia #BlackLivesMatter reading list
- Letters for Black Lives is a set of crowdsourced, multilingual, and culturally-aware resources to help talk about racial injustices with your own family/community. Translated into various languages.
Why is all this happening?
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
- Embodying Race, Love & Liberation (video)
- Code Switch
- About Race with Renni Eddo-Lodge
- The Stoop
- The Chicken and Jollof Rice Show
- The Nod
- Identity Politics
- Seeing White series
- The Stacks – book discussion podcast with episodes on ‘How to be Antiracist’, ‘The Bluest Eye’, and more
- Brene Brown’s interview w/ Ibram X. Kendi
(Availability information last updated in 2020.)
- Slavery by Another Name (PBS Documentary)
- 13th Directed by Ava DuVernay (can be found on Netflix)
- When They See Us (can be found on Netflix)
- Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap (Netflix)
- Time: The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix)
- Just Mercy (YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play)
- Malcolm X (Netflix)
- Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea (Netflix)
- Teach Us All (Netflix)
- Hidden Figures
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Amazon Prime)
- I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime)
- Notes from the Field: Full Film (HBO, YouTube). In this adaptation of the Off-Broadway show, playwright Anna Deavere Smith dramatizes the accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators affected by America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes underprivileged, minority youth out of the classroom and into incarceration.