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.