introduction to this week’s topic

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be posting a long, three-part piece on white privilege, the homogenization of Buddhism, why you might care about these issues, and what we can do about it.

Obviously, as many of my readers are probably aware, this has been something of a hot topic of late across many Buddhist blogs and websites, in part due to the reactions to a rather benign piece written by sociologist C.N. Le over on Asian Nation. (Arunlikhati over at Angry Asian Buddhist has been diligently keeping track of this conversation.) While the following touches on a lot of the issues Prof. Le raises as well as issues covered in subsequent conversations and too-often reactionary blog pieces, I did not write this as a response to any one particular part of that conversation. It should not be seen as a “so-and-so got it wrong, here’s my take” kind of piece.

Rather, a lot of what follows comes from other places in my professional life. As part of our series on the history of diversity in American culture, I teach my students about white privilege, about discrimination, about racism. Some of the stuff in the second installment seemingly has nothing to do with Buddhism or race, and is influenced by some comments I made in a paper for the IASBS earlier this summer.

So, what follows comes out of my attempt to clear out some ideas in my head, to clarify my own position on a decidedly difficult, ire-raising, and all at once very important issue for the larger North American Buddhist community. I welcome whatever constructive comments or feedback you may have.

And speaking of comments and feedback, I have made a slight change to my comment moderation policy. I have been more than fortunate, over the six-plus years that I’ve been blogging under the moniker of “djbuddha,” that the aggressive trolls have not taken notice of this pretty shabby-looking blog. And Akismet does a damn fine job keeping the spambots at bay. But over the last couple of months, I have noticed a slight up-tick in traffic. Coupled with a few comments that were, shall we say, on the fence, and a few that confused both Akismet and me, I’ve decided to clarify my position vis-à-vis comments.

The bottom line here is that I want this blog to be an open space, a space where people feel comfortable and able to express themselves. A cornerstone of such openness requires keeping hostile, dismissive, or otherwise pointless “look-at-me” types of comments to a minimum. In sum, play nice.