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Share On Facebook: What Are Buddhists Doing To Honor Trayvon and Fight Racism?

There are times to speak.

Times to listen.

Times to act.

And times to cheer and support the actions of others.

Rather than issuing an “Official BPF Statement” on the chilling (yet horribly predictable) acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Black teenager Trayvon Martin, we want to hear from all our Buddhist and spiritual friends, as people witnessing and participating in ongoing movements against racism.

What rallies have you joined?

What petitions are you endorsing?

What good news have you celebrated?  (We are heartened by reports of the Dream Defenders staging a sit-in at government offices in Florida, shown above in a photo by Phil Sears.) 

What projects are you planning?  

What wonderful articles or interviews have you shared?

What loving, skillful means are you using to help you and loved ones mourn and cope?  (Even if it’s taking a break from all the ‘activism’ to deal with feelings of rage and powerlessness.  That counts.) 

Post your photos, links, and descriptions to our Facebook page, and we’ll add our favorites to this post on TWM over the weekend.

Time to be about it, friends.  What will Buddhists do about anti-Black racism?

 

Comments (10)

  • Jeff

    Besides “healing the hearts of all the George Zimmermans with compassion,” which is a project for generations, Buddhists can make their voices heard and metta felt tomorrow (Saturday July 20) at national day of action vigils in 100 cities called for by Trayvon’s parents and the National Action Network (details on the NAN website). There are other rallies planned this weekend as well, such as Sunday afternoon in Oakland and San Francisco.

    As so many engaged Buddhists on this site have noted, racism isn’t just a personal idiosyncrasy arising from ignorance, but a deliberate policy of oppression supported by laws and force, as exemplified by Stand Your Ground, the recent Supreme Court neutering of the Voting Rights Act, police tactics in communities of color, criminalization of immigrants, etc. To end violence based on skin color therefore requires both loving kindness AND active resistance against a System that thrives on division and discord between ethnic groups.

    Along with joining protests around the miscarriage of criminal justice in Trayvon Martin’s case, I hope we Buddhists will play an ongoing role in the varied struggles for social justice that are growing up in each of our communities. That kind of day-to-day activism on many fronts is what it will take to slowly dismantle the apparatus of exploitation that leads to so much death and degradation.

  • Bryab Wagner

    Another death.
    People being reactive due to their own agendas, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. People’s egos rushing to have their opinion recognized. People stating “facts” that have no grounding or basis. People “knowing” things that they couldn’t possible know. The “everybody knows that” like everyone knew the earth was flat.
    Detroit has over 300 murders every year, mostly inner city kids. No one seems to care.
    I wonder if people look in to their own hearts during these times. To see the racism there? Or Prejudice? Or realize that “racism” doesn’t belong to a specific culture or people. (Burma)
    Or I wonder if egos decide they have cleansed themselves of these thoughts? And now your heart is so pure you can start preaching to others?
    Seeing clearly and not through the veil of ego and self absorbing thoughts.
    So legislate some more.
    And more.
    If you think you are going to change human hearts by actions of law. Law is never going to change the nature of the heart or ego.
    In Loving Kindness.
    Bryan

    (see Burma)

  • Jeff

    Well, Bryan, I really don’t know where to start except to say that your statement certainly expresses one major trend in American Buddhist political thought, which is not to have any political thoughts, since opinions are all reactive, ego-driven, and illusory. The real work, in this model, is purifying one’s own heart of all negative attachments such as hatred and greed which are the true and only source of human suffering. Material exploitation in the form of capitalism and racism is simply the social manifestation of attachment and therefore deserves no special attention, since changing laws does not change human nature.

    Fortunately, Buddhism has room for devotees whose practice is inwardly directed as well as those who feel that political engagement can also be an expression of loving kindness. Some of us are solely focused on clearing away the debris of personal clinging and delusion, others see how the social fabric of our existence is permeated with ignorance that is imposed on us and believe that individual spiritual growth and social progress cannot be separated.

    I do think we can know that shooting an unarmed teenager is wrong and that laws that encourage vigilantism and confrontation are racist. Some Buddhists will “look in to their own hearts” and “cleanse themselves of these thoughts” in response, as you suggest. Others of us feel part of the larger social organism and wish to respond collectively to help cleanse the body politic of the dangerous disease of oppression. Kinda like a Buddhist immune system?

  • Bryab Wagner

    Jeff.
    Thank you.
    I don’t think it’s a one dimensional thing and that there is a “trend” to not have political thoughts or at least I haven’t seen that. In fact the concept of not having thought is new to me, ignoring reality is not new, the conjoining thought structure just is. Opinion just is. My awareness and reaction is mine to be responsible and accountable for.
    Is there “Political thought” without the fracturing and dualism of “right and wrong?”
    I wonder how Political thought without the real world experience is possible? There seems to be a tendency to intellectualize reality with as I stated before individuals “knowing” things that are really emotional driven opinion, if examined they really don’t “know” the event at all. Unless they were there in a real time sense.
    Any life taken diminishes me. Period. That is said in terms of emotional content not opinion.
    Have you had a chance to speak with the persons responsible for the laws you speak of?
    Their opinion is that they are protecting life and saving people. I am curious and feel safe freely asking, have you examined the ground of reality the produced these laws?
    I am not expressing a dichotomy or bi polar grounding that gives us all a position.
    Dialogue is crucial, understanding is crucial, using force will only result in force.
    Query: Having worked in the Mental Health systems and prison systems I have seen that there are humans who are predators. That is the reality of the situation. Not everyone is born or raised or conditioned with an emotional structure that is able to change. How do we respond to violence in persons who see it as a tool of engagement? Have you responded to a life threatening event? (General question.) And if so how did you feel?
    Compassion and empathy are not two of the components of the backlash that is currently being placed in front of us. Or perhaps those two dynamics are being used selectively by ego to enhance itself.
    History seems to suggest that when “groups” of people confront other “groups” of people we end up with more conflict and less understanding.
    So a question. People see an event or dynamic that they “disagree with” and decide that there is a group of people who are wrong and this makes them right. So being right they decide to confront the other group and demand changes. Is this not producing more conflict? Does it lead to the changes in the heart and minds of people? If the heart and mind don’t change then what does? The veneer?
    Do you have a real time model of change that leads to cohesion between these two groups without confrontation which is just a form of socially accepted violence?
    Is the concept of a Buddhist immune system new?
    See Burma and World War Two.
    I really like this forum and appreciate the open dialogue.
    In Loving Kindness.
    Bryan

  • Richard Modiano

    ” People see an event or dynamic that they “disagree with” and decide that there is a group of people who are wrong and this makes them right. So being right they decide to confront the other group and demand changes. Is this not producing more conflict? Does it lead to the changes in the heart and minds of people? If the heart and mind don’t change then what does?’

  • Richard Modiano

    “People see an event or dynamic that they ‘disagree with’ and decide that there is a group of people who are wrong and this makes them right. So being right they decide to confront the other group and demand changes. Is this not producing more conflict? Does it lead to the changes in the heart and minds of people? If the heart and mind don’t change then what does?”

    The goal of Gandhi’s theory of satyagraha is to incorporate elements of an opponent’s position into
    one’s own position. Satyagraha is possible because each side has a vision of the truth that is nonetheless an incomplete vision. The vision of truth becomes clearer once the vision of the opponent is accepted as being at least partly true. Acts of non-cooperation such as strikes,
    boycotts, and demonstrations can be employed in order to get the attention of the opponent.

    Gandhi encouraged acts of non-cooperation but he discouraged recourse to law as a way to settle disputes. Gandhi had great respect for the law but he believed that strict adherence to the law can obstruct a just peace process. Conflicts should be resolved in a way that satisfies both sides equally. Both sides of a conflict cannot be satisfied equally unless the root of the problem is addressed. Law, however, does not address the root of a conflict. It is precisely the inability of law to get at the root of a dispute that led Gandhi to argue that law “seldom allow[s] for a judgment to which both sides can agree with equal satisfaction.” Thus recourse to law tends
    to leave one side dissatisfied and that dissatisfaction will eventually breed another conflict.

    Gandhi’s method certainly worked in a conflict between Indians and the British, but is it applicable to other peoples in other cultures? In my experience, both directly and from a distance, satyagraha can be used to resolve conflicts between family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers
    within any culture. I’m not certain that Gandhi’s method could be effective against an opponent who possessed none of the truth and could care less about the truth, as in the case of the Nazis who were dedicated to the extermination of the Jews.

    For decades the conflict between Northern Ireland and Britain seemed incapable of resolution, but the tentative peace reached in Northern Ireland was, indeed, formulated only when the two sides began to admit that each had just grievances against the other and that each side had legitimate (truthful) goals that the other side unjustly denied. Also, both parties realized that strict adherence to the rule of law deterred the peace process because both sides had committed atrocities and were reluctant to face a court of law. Thus, part of the solution to the problem was to refuse to bring to justice certain criminals who had committed acts “so harsh as to be virtually unforgivable.” This was also the case in South Africa, and the solution sought there was the creation of “truth and justice commissions” where victims and perpetrators met face to face. Victims described their suffering and perpetrators admitted their crimes with requests for amnesty. It’s true that everyone was not satisfied with this but in my view it’s a step forward and away from tribunals and firing squads.

  • Jay Garces

    Signs seen in Buddhist contingent of last weekend’s Trayvon Martin demonstration:

    “Please Don’t Be A Hater”

    “No More Agitation, We Want Meditation!”

    “Try To See It From Mr. Zimmerman’s Point Of View”

    “Stop This Demonstration, Let’s Have a Conversation”

    and my personal favorite: “Give George a Box of Skittles – Set Him Loose in the Ghetto!” (just playin, that one wasn’t us)

  • Bryan Wagner

    Has anyone been to Gandhi’s India recently?
    India and Pakistan?
    The class division, abuse, and serious class warfare?
    Not the answer to any long term social problems.
    In Loving Kindness.
    Bryan

  • Jeff

    Here’s something easy you can do – sign an online petition by Trayvon’s parents calling for states to review Stand Your Ground laws: http://chn.ge/1ea43OB

    Now if that’s not peaceful and non-confrontational, I don’t know what is…

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