How to Demean an Angry Asian Buddhist

All the way back to the first Angry Asian Buddhist post, I’ve repeatedly noticed certain types of comments meant to stymie discussions of racial marginalization. Fortunately, these people noticed too.

  • Derailing for Dummies “A simple step-by-step guide to derailing awkward conversations by dismissing and trivializing your opposition’s perspective and experience.”
  • Wite-Magik Attax “A predictable series of non-arguments that attempt to denigrate, negate, or invalidate ideas, feelings, or experience as related by a brown person. These attacks take many forms, and while each person making the attack thinks their (dys)logic to be unerring, they echo timeless and faulty cognitive patterns. These Wite-Magik Attax invariably escalate in intensity, however, the longer the brown person attempts to assert their reality.”
  • We heard it before (from Resist racism) “Commonly expressed but boring responses to various posts.”

Not that I haven’t had my share of unjust silencers. (Sorry!) My favorite Buddhist dismissal is, “In the Enlightened mind, there is no race, no Asian, no Black, no White.” Right. Just don’t swim in our pool.

Race as Karma

Over on Drums of Dharma, GK Sandoval discusses topical issues from the perspective of karma.

From a Dharma perspective, it has nothing to do with race or anything else. It all has to do with seeds of karma ripening in this lifetime.

Reading these words, I remember a certain article by David Loy

The other problem is that karma has long been used to rationalize racism, caste, economic oppression, birth handicaps, and so forth. Taken literally, karma justifies both the authority of political elites, who therefore must deserve their wealth and power, and the subordination of those who have neither. It provides the perfect theodicy: if there is an infallible cause-and-effect relationship between one’s actions and one’s fate, there is no need to work toward social justice, because it’s already built into the moral fabric of the universe. In fact, if there is no undeserved suffering, there is really no evil that we need to struggle against. You were born crippled, or to a poor family? Well, who but you is responsible for that?

But I doubt that Loy’s rhetoric conveys the precise sentiments that GK is trying to promote. A topic worth more discussion, but I’m trying to keep these posts short.

More on Race, Privilege and Prejudice

I really wanted to wait till the end of the week to post a new timeline, but the bloggers are on a roll!

You can check out the previous two timelines here and here.

Our Continuing Racial Cut and Thrust

I previously posted a timeline of blog posts on C.N. Le’s controversial Asian Nation post, Reflections on a Multiracial Buddhist Retreat. The list goes on. As before, I’ve included the last sentence of each piece.

Let me know if you’ve read other posts on this topic.

What Do You Really Think of Asian Americans?

I just took the Asian Implicit Association Test. It turns out that a whopping 60 percent of the test takers associate European American with “American” and Asian American with “Foreigner.” And you might wonder where Asian American resentment comes from. This test is relevant because many of the bloggers in the recent back-and-forth on race seem to have very solid notions of their egalitarian attitudes. I highly doubt it. If the cultural hegemons want to have an honest dialogue on race in American Buddhism, they will have to acknowledge the possibility that they hold distasteful implicit biases. I would strongly suggest visiting Harvard’s Project Implicitand taking the Asian IAT. First write down what you think your biases are, take the test and then see how they match up. Find out what you really think of Asian Americans. I can tell you that I was surprised.

The Neutral Man’s Burden

I couldn’t help myself. Somewhat related to the post on Dharma Folk.

[Archivist’s Note: the original post contained an embedded video of a “The Word” segment from The Colbert Report. The video was embedded via Flash which is no longer supported by the Internet.]

My favorite lines:

In America, white is neutral.

Now for years, band-aids only came in only one color…white person. It’s standard “person” color. In fact it is so standard, that when I was a kid, in crayola boxes, it was the color called “flesh.” Now most Americans accept this [points at his own hand] as “neutral” without thinking about it.

And that is why the decisions made by all those white justices were not affected by their experiences; because their life experiences were “neutral.” That led to “neutral” decisions.

For instance, take the Dredd Scott Case. Those justice’s life experience, being white men in pre-Civil War America, some of whom owned slaves, in no way influenced their decision that black people were property. And the personal backgrounds had nothing to do with the all neutral court’s decision that it was legal to send Japanese-Americans to internment camps in 1942. Imagine how the life experience of an Asian judge would have sullied that neutrality!

Not to mention, in our “post-racial” society, a Harvard professor can be arrested for getting upset when police ask him to prove that he entered his own house. What a day.

Reflections on Racially Excited Buddhists

Plenty of excitement in the Buddhist blogosphere touching on our racialized society and discussions of white privilege. Here’s a timeline with the last sentence of each post provided.

If you know of other posts on this thread, please feel free to drop a comment below.

Annoying Asians and White Privilege

Barbara’s Buddhism blog pointed me to an Asian Nation blog post by C. N. Le on a retreat at Deer Park Monastery, incorporating disruptive Asian foreigners, ambivalent Asian Americans and privileged white Buddhists who didn’t want to take out the trash.

As it turned out, of the 15 or so people who stayed to help clean up, all but one was a person of color — there was just one White person who helped in the cleanup … In particular, I took notice of one young White couple who came to the morning activities (apparently on the last day of the retreat, the monastery invites those from the surrounding community to come in and participate in a group walk and lunch). During lunch, this couple actually raised their hands when the monks asked for volunteers to stay and clean up, but for whatever reasons, just walked away and left once they finished their lunch.

But that quote’s just the part on white privilege. It’s worth reading the whole piece and Barbara O’Brien’s post too.