White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

A place to bring a contemplative / Dharmic perspective and opinions to current events and politics.
User avatar
dhammafriend
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:19 am

White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:40 am

I thought I'd share two incredible articles, because they articulate so perfectly what many Buddhists of colour(I'm black but not American), have encountered at some point, engaging with 'white' Buddhists and different forms if 'secular' Buddhism. Are there any Asian American, Asian Buddhists or Buddhists of colour who would like to share any similar experiences or insights?

http://www.lionsroar.com/were-not-who-you-think-we-are/

http://www.lionsroar.com/weve-been-here-all-along/

(Note: lets please keep the thread that may develop in good faith. No intellectual handwaving and derailing.)

See below some quote from the articles:

We’re Not Who You Think We Are
...white Buddhists who, as she puts it, “are so attached to the image of themselves as nonracists that they refuse to see their own racism or the ways in which Buddhist communities may reflect racial hierarchies.”...
...This was hardly the first time white Americans expected me to be a recent immigrant from Asia who spoke “accented” English, though another expectation was new to me: “Your parents must be Buddhist.” To the contrary: raised by atheist parents who lived through the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, I grew up associating religion with brainwashing cults...
We’ve Been Here All Along
Indeed, Asian and Asian-American Buddhist practices have often been dismissed as superstitious, inauthentic (yet authentically exotic!) forms of Buddhism. In mainstream white American Buddhist conversations, white Buddhists are often heralded as the erudite saviors and purifiers of Buddhism. This perspective exemplifies the subtle enactments and overwhelming hubris of white supremacy. In positioning a certain type of Buddhism (white) as better than other kinds of Buddhism (Asian, “folk,” “baggage Buddhism”), the white ownership of Buddhism is claimed through delegitimizing the validity and long history of our traditions, then appropriating the practices on the pretext of performing them more correctly.
For white practitioners in particular, you can also mindfully investigate the emotions that arise when issues of cultural appropriation are brought to your attention. Robin DiAngelo writes about the concept of “white fragility,” a set of emotions—including anger, defensiveness, guilt, and more—that often accompany the thoughts of white people when they are forced to confront the reality of white supremacy. This concept can be helpful for white Buddhists in thinking about the false self and possible attachments to protecting the ego. Deep contemplation on this can help shatter the fragility of the false self and the delusion of racial colorblindness.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

Alexander____
Posts: 92
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:21 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Alexander____ » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:30 am

You can see eight pages on the topic over here...

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28348

User avatar
srivijaya
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:31 pm
Location: UK

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by srivijaya » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:45 am

I think if people of different backgrounds hung out together there would be less misunderstanding and tedious stereotypes. It's a mystery to me why being in an increasingly diverse and joined up world, doesn't really dent this isolation.

Buddha Vacana
Posts: 607
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:16 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Buddha Vacana » Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:37 am

Just as everyone else, Buddhists have preconceptions and misconceptions. Not all of the facts reported amount to racism, some seem to amount to simple misunderstandings. When we put color on misunderstandings, they tend to be painted as racism, not always accurately nor in a helpful manner.

It seems to me that the important foundations in discussing any matter are values and ideas based on morality, truth, reality, honesty, not the interests of particular people or groups of people.

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6461
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Mkoll » Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:15 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Are there any Asian American, Asian Buddhists or Buddhists of colour who would like to share any similar experiences or insights?
I'm Asian-American and Buddhist and I will share that I've never had similar experiences or ideas.
Buddha Vacana wrote:It seems to me that the important foundations in discussing any matter are values and ideas based on morality, truth, reality, honesty, not the interests of particular people or groups of people.
:goodpost:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
dhammafriend
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:19 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:44 pm

Just as everyone else, Buddhists have preconceptions and misconceptions. Not all of the facts reported amount to racism, some seem to amount to simple misunderstandings. When we put color on misunderstandings, they tend to be painted as racism, not always accurately nor in a helpful manner.
Just a thought, I think we should leave it to people of colour to determine what constitutes racism? That may make white people uncomfortable, but we can't leave it up to white people, or the Oxford dictionary to describe, define or validate our experiences. If we did that, then racism would be all in our heads.
It seems to me that the important foundations in discussing any matter are values and ideas based on morality, truth, reality, honesty, not the interests of particular people or groups of people.
I don't understand, so Asian Americans can't advocate (on any issue) as a group? Why not? Should African Americans kill racists with kindness? Like Care Bares?

Racism is much more than a moral issue, it's much more than a moral failing. Racism is based on notions of white supremacy. Notions that certain groups of white people are deeply invested in. It's the unarticulated assumption that 'whiteness' is the standard by which all other peoples are measured. As an outsider, is seems like the States is seeing a huge surge in white supremacist rhetoric.

Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

User avatar
dhammafriend
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:19 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:49 pm

I'm Asian-American and Buddhist and I will share that I've never had similar experiences or ideas.
Then you're off topic? :shrug:
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

Buddha Vacana
Posts: 607
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:16 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Buddha Vacana » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:53 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Just a thought, I think we should leave it to people of colour to determine what constitutes racism?
I suppose you mean "leave it to people who are victims of racism to determine what constitutes racism". Everyone has their own experience that they can label as they see fit. But *some* of the things quoted, like the "expectation": “Your parents must be Buddhist.” have nothing to do with racism. The problem here is that people want to make excessive extrapolation from the information they really have and they take their guesses for a reality. My point is that it would be best not to make the same mistake and say for example ""White American Buddhists" are like this, and in this other group they are like that etc." Everyone is different and stands for himself. Racism is made up of abusive generalizations from negative particular cases, and making more generalizations is not going to solve the problem in my opinion. So, yeah, some people behave in a way that can be seen as racist, even without noticing it, and it hurts the ones who are constantly confronted to this kind of behavior. But that's not the case of everyone, and I don't believe it's a problem that belongs particularly to Buddhists.

To tell you the truth, I think racism, or at least communitarian thinking, is hard-wired in the human mind and we all have to rein it in every now and then. I mean, I truly try to the maximum extent of my ability to never engage in racism, but sometimes I have to crush strange, irrational ideas about people of different skin color, even though I have quite a lot of friends with different skin color who would certainly confirm that I don't display any racist behavior. But that's because I keep myself in check all the time. I can imagine that those who take for granted that they are not racists will certainly display "racist" behavior without even noticing it. There is this interesting article written by a white guy who married a black girl in Africa, and he says:
You are a racist: face it
You can marry six black babes in a row and you’ll still be a racist. We all are. ... Every now and then you’ll wade into a political debate with an unthought-through clanger of such ignorant racism you’ll shock yourself. Don’t stress about it. You can still marry her.
And actually, he nails it pretty well by the end:
Let’s stop pretending these things are universal – these are just some examples of what I’ve experienced in my relationship. And to generalize is to engage in racist stereotyping, and we agreed we’re trying to cut down on racism. As if that’s possible.
It seems to me that the important foundations in discussing any matter are values and ideas based on morality, truth, reality, honesty, not the interests of particular people or groups of people.
I don't understand, so Asian Americans can't advocate (on any issue) as a group? Why not? Should African Americans kill racists with kindness? Like Care Bares?
I mean you can discuss behaviors, not groups of people. Because all the people in a certain group do not have the same behavior. But you can nail the behaviors of those who are not kind or who hurt others' feelings, knowingly or not, whether they care or not.

Racism is much more than a moral issue, it's much more than a moral failing. Racism is based on notions of white supremacy. Notions that certain groups of white people are deeply invested in. It's the unarticulated assumption that 'whiteness' is the standard by which all other peoples are measured.
I have to disagree here. You can't reduce the issue of racism to Whites over others. Racism is everywhere in every country and between all groups of people. It's hard wired in the human mind. Weak-minded people indulge in it.
Last edited by Buddha Vacana on Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2985
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:53 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Just a thought, I think we should leave it to people of colour to determine what constitutes racism? That may make white people uncomfortable, but we can't leave it up to white people, or the Oxford dictionary to describe, define or validate our experiences. If we did that, then racism would be all in our heads.
White is a colour, well actually it's a tone just like black is but that's an aside.

The statement above is plainly racist, the implication is that white is somehow the default colour and other races should be considered and relative to whiteness and they are the only ones capable of experiencing racism.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

User avatar
dhammafriend
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:19 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:45 pm

White is a colour, well actually it's a tone just like black is but that's an aside
Totally irrelevant to this thread, perhaps even an attempt to derail.
The statement above is plainly racist, the implication is that white is somehow the default colour and other races should be considered and relative to whiteness and they are the only ones capable of experiencing racism.
Congratulations, you just defined white supremacy.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

User avatar
dhammafriend
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:19 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:05 pm

So, yeah, some people behave in a way that can be seen as racist, even without noticing it, and it hurts the ones who are constantly confronted to this kind of behavior.
I would clarify and not say 'seen as'. Just call it what it is.
To tell you the truth, I think racism, or at least communitarian thinking, is hard-wired in the human mind and we all have to rein it in every now and then. I mean, I truly try to the maximum extent of my ability to never engage in racism, but sometimes I have to crush strange, irrational ideas about people of different skin color, even though I have quite a lot of friends with different skin color who would certainly confirm that I don't display any racist behavior. But that's because I keep myself in check all the time.
Thank you for sharing that. I agree it does take vigilance and a willingness to unpack assumptions we have about other when we encounter it.
I mean you can discuss attitudes, not groups of people. Because all the people in a certain group do not have the same attitude.
And that's precisely why it's so dangerous to let white people define what racism is. For many people of colour, racism is structural and systemic. Not just individual acts of meanness.
I have to disagree here. You can't reduce the issue of racism to Whites over others. Racism is everywhere in every country and between all groups of people. It's hard wired in the human mind. Weak-minded people indulge in it.
People of colour can be prejudiced towards white people, but they have no mechanisms to exclude white people from institutions, to enslave them, to lynch them, to rape them and proclaim them to be sub human. Those systems and institutions were created by white people though. Wherever they conquered.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2985
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:52 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Congratulations, you just defined white supremacy.
That's what I thought but couldn't believe that I was reading what appeared to be white supremacy being promoted here.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

Buddha Vacana
Posts: 607
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:16 am

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Buddha Vacana » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:14 pm

dhammafriend wrote:For many people of colour, racism is structural and systemic. Not just individual acts of meanness.
So is it your point that this is the case with Buddhism?
I have to disagree here. You can't reduce the issue of racism to Whites over others. Racism is everywhere in every country and between all groups of people. It's hard wired in the human mind. Weak-minded people indulge in it.
People of colour can be prejudiced towards white people, but they have no mechanisms to exclude white people from institutions, to enslave them, to lynch them, to rape them and proclaim them to be sub human. Those systems and institutions were created by white people though. Wherever they conquered.
I don't think any of this is happening in Buddhism. Or is it?

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20160
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:24 pm

Greetings Dhammafriend,

Just as I will not advocate for racism or supremacy in any direction, similarly, the Terms of Service do not permit discrimination on those grounds either. Accordingly, they prohibit "ad-hominem attacks, including the vilification of individuals based on any attributes ... related to their personal attributes (e.g. gender, nationality, sexuality, race, age)" [2e]

You are welcome to speak of your experiences if that is beneficial to you, but in doing so please be mindful not to inadvertently vilify anyone based on their nationality or race, nor make "unsubstantiated allegations against individuals" [2d] based upon such criteria either. As a couple of people have alluded to in their responses to some of your more generalised statements, you're skating a fine line here, and you risk simply mirroring the racism you purport to have been subjected to previously.

If you experience discrimination at Dhamma Wheel which is against the Terms of Service, please report any such posts. Similarly, if others feel they are being subjected to discrimination which is against the Terms of Service, I encourage them to report any such posts too. I give you all my assurance that I will be doing whatever I can to ensure the ToS are executed fairly, consistently, and without bias in any direction by the moderation team.

:rules:

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Lucem
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:19 pm

Re: White American fragility, Asian American Invisibility

Post by Lucem » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:32 pm

dhammafriend wrote:People of colour can be prejudiced towards white people, but they have no mechanisms to exclude white people from institutions, to enslave them, to lynch them, to rape them and proclaim them to be sub human.
I agree there is work to be done regarding racism, but I don't think the west is doing too bad compared to the rest of the world.
Those systems and institutions were created by white people though. Wherever they conquered.
Black people or arabs did the same wherever they conquered too. Even today, 10-20% of the population is still enslaved in Mauritania for example, the last country to abolish slavery. The Otoman empire treated europeans the same when they conquered them. White people enslaved one another after conquer. Before WW1, the majority of people in europe were enslaved under the multinational empires. The more powerful country enslaved the weaker one. This shows racism is a universal problem and it is more based on greed than on supremacy sentiments, otherwise white people would not have enslaved one another ever since ancient times and up until WW1.

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 25 guests