Anger is not a Buddhist virtue. More often that not, you’ll hear Buddhists describe it as a mental defilement—and much worse. No surprise, then, that many visitors to this blog find themselves scratching their heads, “Why do you call yourself the Angry Asian Buddhist?”
The title of this blog is a homage to a larger field of other “Angry Asian” Americans. Most notably the Angry Little Asian Girls and Angry Asian Man. These authors and artists address issues of race, culture and privilege in American media and society. Likewise, I explore these issues in the American Buddhist community.
For example, it’s common parlance among English speaking American Buddhists to use the term American Buddhist or Western Buddhist to refer to White people—or at the very least at the exclusion of American Buddhists of Asian heritage. I can certainly concede that the prototypical “American” in the media is a White American—but I hold the American Buddhist community to a higher standard. Especially since most American Buddhists are not White.
Furthermore, for all their self-proclaimed open-mindedness, the high profile American Buddhist publications generally don’t let in that many Asian American authors. Tricycle is the worst culprit. It’s not as though we don’t exist—it’s just they don’t care enough. I make it my job to point this out because, maybe, someday, it might lead to actual change rather than a privileged complacency.
There are plenty of other reasons that I blog here, but the main reason I maintain this site is because I’m encouraged by my readers. You may not see them leave comments, but I run into them all the time in the community. And, yes, they are angry—not writhing in conniptions, but seriously indignant. They are upset at a perceived injustice by predominantly White Buddhists of ignoring Asian Americans, who are the biggest part of Buddhist America.
They are angry when they hear people write about the history of Buddhism in America without reference to the hundreds of thousands of Buddhist Asian Americans who have been and who continue to be the greatest part of American Buddhism. Who will speak out for them when they’re ignored? Who will stand up to let them know they’re not alone?
That’s why I’m the Angry Asian Buddhist.