‘Our inability as a nation to honor the theft of these lands and the building of wealth, power, and privilege on the countless backs and graves of Black people is our most significant obstacle to being at peace with ourselves, thus with the world. The Buddhist community is a mirror image of this deep internal conflict that arises out of a persistent resistance to playing its appropriate social role even as we have available to us rigorous teachings to the contrary. This is a clarifying moment about who we are as individuals but also who we have been thus far as a collective of people laying claim to the teachings of the Buddha, waving the flag of wisdom and compassion all the while.
As demographics shift, ushering in increasingly racially diverse pools of seekers, this reluctance promises to be our undoing. We simply cannot engage with either the ills or promises of society if we continue to turn a blind eye to the egregious and willful ignorance that enables us to still not “get it” in so many ways. It is by no means of our making, but given the culture we are emerging from and immersed in, we are responsible.
White folks’ particular reluctance to acknowledge impact as a collective while continuing to benefit from the constructs of the collective leaves a wound intact without a dressing. The air needed to breathe through forgiveness is smothered. Healing is suspended for all. Truth is necessary for reconciliation’ – Rev angel Kyodo williams
It is hard to pull short sections from this book, as so much of it flows as a corruscating but loving narrative. If the words seem a little challenging, then allow yourself to be challenged and see how it feels.
It was interesting to read these sections from the beginning of the book at the same time as I read this deceptively folksy essay in the New Yorker, which sheds light – much of it unknown to me – on what that history of impact has looked like. You might also try this wonderful reflection on how these issues have played out over the past few decades.