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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
88 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY Dharma practitioners and leaders of color hold this issue at the forefront of our minds and hearts. Having managed to survive a system that continues to favor white, heteronormative, able-bodied, upper-middle-class candidates for spiritual and dharma leadership, our diverse communities have worked collectively over the past twenty years to build a pipeline of experience, practice, and con- sciousness that promotes diverse participation in the dharma. Communities of color and our allies in leadership have created— often outside formal institutional efforts—introductory and beginner classes, daylong events, weekend retreats, and residential retreats for people of color. These efforts have also included the initiation of fundraising to support POC practice and retreats, the inclusion of more people of color in governance at mainstream dharma institu- tions, and the work of influencing, designing, and developing com- munity dharma leadership programs that open the door to more leaders of color. The need for Buddhist teachers and leaders of color is greater than ever. Prior to 1999, there were fewer than one hundred practi- tioners of color on the mailing lists of the major Insight Meditation centers. In 2015, the estimated number of unduplicated practitio- ners of color on the mailing lists of just five centers—Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, New York Insight Meditation Center, East Bay Meditation Center, and the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C.—was estimated to have grown to seven thousand. This signifies a ripening of dharma practice within diverse communities. Now leadership must—and can—emerge from those communities themselves. This work will create an accelerated path for the dharma to reach those for whom access has been difficult. It is a turning of the dharma wheel into new cultural landscapes.