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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
ann gleig 31 Work in diversity, inclusion, and racial justice is a phenomenon occurring across Buddhist lineages, but a few communities and individuals have been particularly active. The East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California, has been at the forefront of such work; founding teachers Larry Yang, Spring Washam, and Mushim Patricia Ikeda have been instrumental in Buddhist racial diversity and justice initiatives. Two other Insight communities—New York Insight, under the guidance of Gina Sharpe, and the Insight Medita- tion Community of Washington—have also prioritized diversity and inclusion work. In Zen Buddhism, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel and Rev. angel Kyodo williams have been pioneers, and the Brooklyn Zen Center has established itself as an important hub. From the Tibetan Buddhist community, Lama Rod Owens has emerged as a leader, working alongside Rev. williams and Jasmine Syedullah to promote what they call “radical dharma,” bringing together Buddhism and the Black prophetic tradition. These voices, and others, have pointed out that meditation-based convert communities have been marked by white privilege and racial discrimination; they have also offered ways to move forward, pro- moting the development of truly inclusive sanghas or the adoption of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of “beloved communities.” One such effort has been to offer spaces of support and safety for prac- titioners of color, such as exclusive meditation groups or retreats. Another has been to support practitioners of color in moving into positions of teaching and leadership. For instance, one of the main aims of the 2017 Spirit Rock Teaching Training program, which will run for four years under the leadership of Larry Yang, Gina Sharpe, and Kate Lila Wheeler, is to increase the number of teachers of color within the Insight community. Buddhist advocates for diversity and inclusion say such work should not be seen as a supplement to Buddhist practice but rather in challenging white privilege, Asian Americans and other practitioners of color have been instrumental in recovering and building the neglected third refuge—sangha —in meditation-based convert Buddhism.