August 1, 2009
Power of Education
In response to certain comments, I twittered a quote from Resist Racism: People of color are not responsible for the education of white people. This quote resonates with me because it conveys the point that if people of privilege want to be educated about racial issues, then there are other (and better) ways to do so without finding a person of color and asking her to set aside a chunk of her life to write up a 30-min summary. One spectacular alternative is self-education. After all, we have ethnic studies for a reason. For Asian American studies, you can check out or order books like the classic Strangers from a Different Shore or the more recently published Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. For discussion of race issues in the Buddhist community, you might want to flip through the Angry Asian Buddhist Reader (because I must admit my ramblings are neither representative nor coherent). If we are committed to diversity, then we should be committed to educating ourselves and noting the inequities that may very well exist beneath our noses. These disparities aren’t exclusive to Asians or people of color. Gender, class and sexuality are also polarized on scales of privilege—these issues need to be addressed too. I’m not trying to say that I have no responsibility in this discussion; we all must play a part. But shoving the responsibility of one’s education (or ignorance) onto the less privileged is itself a manifestation of this privilege. We can all be better than that.