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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
44 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 2 0 1 6 Facing My White Privilege U ntil eight or nine years ago, I would have said that I was pretty conscious about race; I also would have assumed that Buddhist sanghas were welcoming to everyone. My father was an attorney who practiced a lot of civil rights law, and he had a very racially mixed group of friends, which was quite unusual at the time. In grammar school, I was one of five white kids in an otherwise African American school. I’ve also lived for extended periods of time as an outsider, includ- ing wearing religious garb—all-white clothing and a turban—for ten years. So I assumed that I was somewhat awake to these issues, but I got the rug pulled out from under me thanks to some friends of mine in the D.C. area who started letting me know what life was really like for people of color, beyond my bubble of experience. One of them is a friend in a diversity-focused sangha who described driving around with her father when she was growing up. Periodically, he’d be pulled over by the police for nothing, just because he was a Black man. She described how painful it was to see the humiliation he felt every time she witnessed that happen, to know that he felt his dignity was taken away in her eyes. If that had happened to my father, if I had watched him be humiliated like that, it would have shaken my world as a young person. Another friend came to a dharma class where I was talking about raising our children, mirroring when tara brach came to recognize her own white privilege, it changed her as a dharma teacher and leader. PAINTINgS By hildy maZe hildymaZe.com