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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
consciousness. Without training, there’s a lack of awareness about unconscious biases and systemic structures that have become the dominant lens through which we view the world. TENKu RuFF: I hear a lot of older teachers ask how can we make our sanghas more welcoming and cre- ate more diversity. The common story I’ve heard is “Well, we went into such-and-such community and we put up signs” or “We invited a speaker.” That doesn’t get us very far. It’s crucial to look within ourselves and see where our own unconscious biases are and start to work with those on a core level, deep within. I remember reading the book Blindspot by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald some years ago, which offered an online test to see if you have unconscious bias. I grew up in the South. I know I have unconscious bias. But I don’t like that about myself, so I had to get up my nerve to even take the test, and when I finally did take it, I cheated a bit by using equanimity practices. But once we acknowledge that our biases exist in the first place, as Buddhists we have the tools to work with them. BuDDHADHARMA: In that teacher role, in dealing with racism, there can be an instinct to want to assert, “I’m not racist.” But we’re also beginning to see teachers with the courage to say, “Well, if I’m hon- est, maybe I am.” ROD OWENS: There is a lot of unwillingness to talk about difference, to authentically engage it. Instead, most people say, “Oh, we’re all the same.” There’s a conversation in our country right now around whiteness and how it’s a tool that’s been used to devalue other identities. This is happening in our sanghas, and it will continue to happen in our sang- has until we integrate the dharma with these painful issues. This will be one of the next great challenges for our generation. DAVE SMITH: No matter how you slice it, the con- versation around race is a messy topic, and we There’s a conversation right now around whiteness and how it’s a tool that’s been used to devalue other identities. This is happening in our sanghas, and it will be one of the next great challenges for our generation. —Rod Owens photos | (ToP) koshin paley ellison, (BoTToM) shundo david haye (Above) Anushka Fernandopulle and Martin Aylward (Below) Josh Bartok participates in a smallgroup dialogue