Why is American Buddhism so White?

Shambhala Sun Foundation Staff

The provocative title of this post comes not from one of my sleep deprivation induced paroxysms of self-righteous indignation, but rather from a beautifully selected forum discussion in the current issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.

You can read the forward by Charles Johnson online, but you’ll have to buy a copy of Buddhadharma to read the entire discussion with Larry Yang, Amanda Rivera, angel Kyodo Williams and Bob Agoglia. You’ll also find a great piece by Jan Willis, “Yes, We’re Buddhists Too!” I couldn’t recommend this issue enough.

The forum discussion is one that readers of this blog really shouldn’t ingore. Read it and let me know: what did you think?

One thought on “Why is American Buddhism so White?

  1. Archivist’s Note: Comments have been preserved from the original website for archival purposes; however, comments are now closed.

    AnonymousDecember 20, 2011 at 4:33 PM
    one of my sleep deprivation induced paroxysms of self-righteous indignation

    Glad I am not the only one. 🙂

    Eisel MazardOctober 6, 2012 at 11:37 PM
    Note: Shambolic Sun headquarters = Eastern Canada.

    We’re talking about Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: a place that is not only white, but built on a history of British Empire genocide.


    Buddhism is an extremely marginal religion in Canada (see chart, below), but even more marginalized (and close to extinction) are the religions (and languages) indigenous to Canada:

    Race and racism in Canada are a big deal, but the “Asian-White dichotomy” is not the only source of tension here.

    The fact that people have forgotten that Shambolic Sun is Canadian (and Halifaxian at that) is a reflection of their commercial success –but in the photograph you’ve selected, their roots are certainly showing.

    They aren’t reflective of a spectrum of American Buddhism generally –nor American Buddhism in Chicago specifically. This is Halifax we’re talking about.

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