April 1, 2010

No More Race Talk

I’ve lost sleep recently, overwhelmed with doubt and confusion. When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I had an unshakeable sense of mission. Someone needed to speak up for Asian Americans in the Buddhist community. Since those heady early days, my conviction has faded, although my blogging has continued. Then my attitudes slowly began changing. Today I read similar sentiments on another blog, which helped me realize that there’s a deeper truth out there.

We really are just one race. I mean the human race. I know I’ve been blathering on about racial diversity for months now—but it’s all pointless. Because we can’t build a modern and supportive community if we continue to recognize and reinstantiate antiquated and socially constructed divisions like race. Every word I’ve typed on so-called “race issues” has ended up dividing our communities and vilifying innocent organizations who aren’t doing anything other than creating open spaces for true enlightenment. Only when we can let go of racial distinctions will we finally be able to let go of racism.

We need to stop talking about “white privilege” and making white people feel guilty for so-called “racial inequity.” Being white comes with absolutely no privilege at all—there are tens of millions of poor white people in America, and I’m sure they don’t feel privileged. Historical issues of slavery, Chinese exclusion acts, Japanese internment are the fault of no one alive today. No one benefits from these long-ago injustices other than dead people! And it’s not the responsibility of white people to know about what they didn’t do. All this race talk amounts to nothing more than a thinly veiled perpetuation of racism towards white people.

More than anything, I must apologize to all Buddhists of Color who’ve been reading this blog. We need to accept that enlightenment knows no color. We need to stop perpetuating a mentality of victimhood. So what if our ancestors were oppressed? So what if there aren’t many “Asian Americans” in Buddhist magazines? Let me share a Buddhist secret with you: the First Noble Truth is, “Life sucks!” We were born where we were by virtue of our karma from a past life, and it’s our job to not cling to that and focus on the real goal of enlightenment. Just shut up and deal with it. If it means you have to try harder than someone else, then try harder. Your enlightenment is your own responsibility.

So from now on, no more talk about race. If you feel people in the magazines don’t look like you—well, that’s your ego talking. If you get upset when someone calls you Chinese when you’re really Japanese—well, that’s your ego talking again. Talking about race will only create more suffering, divide the community and ultimately hasten the downfall of Buddhism. We live in an age where a black man can become president of the United States of America, I think it’s high time that we can finally stop talking about race in American Buddhism, and move onto important things.

Many thanks to Mixed Race America for these incredible insights.

12 comments :

  1. Ha! I honestly made it all the way through the first paragraph, and even a few sentences into the second, thinking you were serious. I started planning a response in my head, like "Talking about race isn't pointless at all, because ..."

    I'll blame my credulousness on the fact that today is April 2, so my guard had gone back down. This is really a good one, mainly because your language perfectly echoes the many people who actually believe those things.

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  2. It's about bloody time Arun!! Why have you not come around sooner? Can't you just see the truth for once??? I too have given up all that activist nonsense. What was it getting me??? Absolutely nothing!

    People 'like us' (you know-people who make 'distinctions') need to get a life and a 52" flat screen TV right away so we know how to think properly dammit!

    And Richard that goes for you too! Just because you comment like you don't believe what's happening here doesn't allow you to escape.

    Sheesh this is no joke people. It's our whole futures, our fates hang in the balance. If a woman can be president of a country (like Indira, Golda etal) or even a secretary (of state) and a black man can be president of a country that isn't in Africa then our work is finished. We are post-racial, post-feminist, post-equality everything.

    Now I desperately need another Texas gallon of Rum. Who's with me?

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  3. Arun,
    I LOVE your piece! Thanks for linking to me--I think your work is great and have been lurking ever since I followed a track back link to you a few weeks ago.

    One race indeed!

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  4. I don't know which I loved more: "And it’s not the responsibility of white people to know about what they didn’t do."

    Or: "Just shut up and deal with it."

    Bravo!

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  5. @NellaLou - I love that you just called Africa a country.

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  6. @jmcleod76 I thought I called Indira (Gandhi) and Golda (Meir) countries. But ya know now that I think of it Africa is one of the biggest countries. My Texas school book says they don't let white people live there any more since Mandala. You know that Buddhist guy who's always trying to pick a fight with China over that Big Walmart on top of the hill in Lassa. It's his fault. Maybe it was his vacation time share. Who knows? Golly Gee Willikers!

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  7. i'm a long time lurker--and boy, i was all set to delurk here by letting you know how terribly wrong you were! lol. then i read comments, then i remembered the date--then i laughed. i'd much rather delurk this way!

    thanks for the laugh--and thanks for the blog, i've loved reading for a long time!

    ~bfp

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  8. Christ...sometimes...I just hate you so much. THIS?! WAAAY worse than your phone thing. Do you realize that I nearly had a panic attack just right now in a public library? I was all set to leave you an angry comment about how I cannot believe you're even the same person, how you just hit every square of Racism Bingo, and that I now have no desire to see you on Friday or talk to you ever again you lying piece of scum...

    <_<
    >_>

    ...

    You're still a lying liar who lies...

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  9. People forget all the time that the Buddha was an Indian. Chinese and Taiwanese folks all too often look at my skin and decide I am foreign to Buddhism but forget that I come from the same part of the world as the Buddha himself, the same part of the world that China took half their philosophy from; the idea of Buddhism is not "foreign" to me. The Buddha did not care about race.

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  10. Buddhism came from India, and did not care about race as it spread across Asia to as far as Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Tibetan Plateau, Thailand, Vietnam, and elsewhere. It will not care about race as it spreads to the western world.

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  11. Ha Ha! Arun... next time make it more clear that you are quoting someone else.

    I just spent the last 20 minutes telling you off on a different blog. Joking.
    I should have directed my comments to the original writer and not you, though.

    Love.

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