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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
I have put him on then? How quickly the mind assumes certainty and mastery of the situation. There are profound, seemingly infinite implica- tions to this. Call it human history. Call it the endless cycle of birth and death. Call it the cease- less war of humankind, the ever-waxing-and- waning gap between those who have and those who don’t, the perennial and ever-evolving forms of boundary and division, forms that include and exclude, that become the cause and justification for how we subjugate and dominate. I read an article recently about a study on gen- der bias in hiring practices. The researchers sent a resumé to the science departments of six highly regarded research universities. Every application was exactly the same, except on some the appli- cant was named John and on others the person was named Jennifer. They found that, on average, John was much more likely to be recommended for hiring and offered a larger salary. So here we have exactly zero personal information—not even a photograph—just the abstract symbols contained in a name. And the consequences of that bias and discrimination, that sense of cer- tainty, connects directly to a human being and helps shape what his or her life will be. For John, the door may swing wide open; for Jennifer, it’s a smaller, meaner world. I remember the first time I walked into this monastery. I saw a grand hall; I saw the person who was to become my teacher; I saw practi- tioners, people who looked a lot like me; I saw a place of potential. I didn’t see anything that made me ask myself, “Is this my place? Do I belong here?” That didn’t happen, and I didn’t even notice that it didn’t happen. The fact that I didn’t experience a barrier is a kind of privilege. I didn’t have to think about it. However, because our sangha is still largely white, others who are not white-skinned may walk into this hall and have a different experience. They may be stopped by that very question, “Do I belong here?” Larry Hamzah Chamberlain Sanitation Worker Bronx, NY Marco Chiavarelli Filmmaker Flushing, NY Dylan Anderson Student Prospect Park, NJ Jonathan Chait Labor Lawyer Deerfield, MA FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 27 ➤ continued page 80 Participants in a Zen Peacemakers’ street retreat, New York, May 5, 2013