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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
THANISSARA 45 Lorde’s statement “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” can be our koan. How do we deconstruct our racially conditioned self when we only see through its limited prism? Perhaps we begin with “I don’t know.” Not “I don’t know” as an excuse but rather as the willingness to unlearn racialized condition ing in order to hear something else. Sometimes when we leap to be white allies, we do so from con fused motives. We want to feel better about ourselves. We count on our Buddhist niceness, our intellectual understanding, political correctness, and willingness to challenge authority to alleviate an uncomfortable strain. But when we shift quickly from insecurity to expedient solutions, strategies, and quick fixes, we end up perpetuat ing the root problem. We want the “other” to feel comfortable so we can be comfortable. Often we do this by asking people of color to settle for compromise rather than the radical realignment we know needs to happen. We want a diversity that populates our white world, our Buddhist institutions, and our hallowed practice paths— but without too much impact. Don’t get me wrong. The focus on diversity, the trainings, dia logue, and inquiry, and the cultivation of white allies—these are all vital. But they point to a greater potential: a paradigm shift that would decentralize power, dismantle patriarchal hierarchy, and decolonize the mind, heart, and body of sangha. Such a process would transform the styles of practice that white Buddhists have dei fied and are comfortable with. White sanghas tend to promote a rational Eurocentric view as superior. This keeps white Buddhists comfortable in the “master’s house,” where we assume a norm that becomes standardized in the forms, views, and practices we feel represent a truer Buddhism.