October 23, 2009

Chinaman’s Chance

In a nation where we barely make up five percent of the population, it’s easy for Asian Americans to be marginalized and also be expected to accept it. The history of violent oppression, humiliation and marginalization have deep roots in American culture. In the American Buddhist community, however, we constitute the outright majority. Still, America’s institutional racism is so strong that Asian Americans are marginalized in this very community we planted on American soil, in a community where white Buddhists comprise a largely neophytic minority cohort. Just take a look at the staff of America’s favorite Buddhist magazines—Shambhala Sun, Tricycle and Buddhadharma—and it’s not hard to see the irony that an Asian American’s got a better chance of getting a seat on the White House Cabinet.

4 comments:

  1. People talk about Western culture, but I think American culture is a distinct entity unto itself. And what American culture does best is consume, and I don't mean consumers like people who buy things. Rather, it smothers indigenous culture and erases it through absorption. America is like the Borg, which is why I think people in other nations have a love/hate relationship with American. America's source of strength in the individual is admired, but its megalomaniac mentality is feared.

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  2. Also note the OneCity blog on Beliefnet "A Buddhist Blog for Everyone" NYC is a pretty diverse place and Ethan's teacher is Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche yet the blog is pretty well upper class and mighty white. Though they do have the "disclaimer" of "(but don't want to pretend you live in ancient Asia)" . Apparently that is what the rest of us do! I live in modern Asia at present. And everyone else lives in modern times too. We are not putting on some kind of re-inactment pageant with our beliefs. It's kind of insulting to a whole lot of people.

    I used to comment there occasionally but the circle the wagons mentality really got to me. Any vague criticism of any of the bloggers brings Ethan out swinging.

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  3. Richard's comment really resonates with me and, as an Australian, I think you summed it up rather well as to how a lot of non-Americans view America.

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  4. @dhammachick

    I believe America's cultural attitude has its roots with Britain. When the British imperialists first arrived in Asia and had an audience with the then emperor of China, the military officials refused to follow the local custom of removing their shoes before entering the palace, viewing it as demeaning to them as British subjects.

    BTW, I visited your blog and wanted to leave a comment encouraging you, but because I'm not a live journal user, it won't let me unless I sign up. Anyway, I look forward to reading more.

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