IMCC's Big Read: Be the Refuge by Chenxing Han
Hosted by Liz Reynolds
April 12 & 26, 7-8:15pm
Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
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From: Liz Reynolds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Apr 26, 2021 at 8:13 AM
Subject: Zoom link reminder for tonight
To: Liz Reynolds <email@example.com>
I'm looking forward to seeing many of you this evening from 7-8:15pm! Below you will find our Zoom link and the inquiry suggestions for our time together.
Have a good Monday!
Topic: All Sangha Big Read
Time: Apr 26, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 869 2779 6260
Below you will find selected quotes and inquiries that may prove helpful in preparing for our meeting:
-"....About the unfortunate tendency to equate "American" and "Western" with "white" in Buddhist spheres and elsewhere. About how frustrating it is when "Asians" are conflated with "Asian Americans." About the double standard the groups fifth-generation Japanese Americans among "ethnic" "immigrants" while exempting first-generation Norwegian Americans or fourth-generation Jewish Americans from those foreignizing labels." (p. 168)
In reflecting on the above quote, how does my word choice around racial categories point to deeper patterns of thinking that may be unconscious? How can my word choice help to bridge separation, understanding and empathy?
-How does the following quote impact you, physically and emotionally, especially if you are a white-bodied American? Can you imagine some creative and respectful ways to keep the debt owed to the Asian roots of the Buddhist tradition more at the forefront of white-convert American Buddhist lineages?
"By keeping sanghas and retreat centers most comfortable for and accessible to only or mostly European Americans or those who have best assimilated those values, "American Buddhism" remains, in my eyes, yet another act of appropriation, taken from Asian cultures and used to exclude Asian-Pacific Islander people." (p. 189)
-"The biggest challenges that young Asian American Buddhists face are the same as those that all American Buddhists face - which is that American Buddhism is mostly conceptual, colonized and white, and lacks places to effectively go deep... Asian Americans and others in Hawai'i have an advantage over folks on the continent in that they know what it's like to be connected to their cultural heritage and ancestry." (p. 223)
Reflecting on the above quote and my own spiritual journey, how has familial lineage/ancestral religious beliefs played a role in my interaction with Buddhism?
About the author:
Chenxing Han is a Bay Area–based writer whose publications have appeared in Buddhadharma, Journal of Global Buddhism, Lion’s Roar, Pacific World, Tricycle, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Buddhist studies from the Graduate Theological Union. After studying chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California she worked in spiritual care at a nearby community hospital in Oakland. Her first book, Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists, was published by North Atlantic Books in January 2021.
About the book:
A must-read for modern sanghas—Asian American Buddhists in their own words, on their own terms.
More than two thirds of U.S. Buddhists are Asian American. But you’d never guess this from mainstream representations, which all too often whitewash the racial and cultural diversity of American Buddhist communities.
Be the Refuge is both critique and celebration, countering the erasure of Asian American Buddhists while uplifting their stories and experiences. The Oriental monk, the superstitious immigrant, the banana Buddhist: dissatisfied with these tired tropes, Han asks, Will the real Asian American Buddhists please stand up? Her journey to answer this question led to in-depth interviews with a pan-ethnic, pan-Buddhist group of eighty-nine young adults.
Weaving together the voices of these interviewees with scholarship and spiritual inquiry, this book reenvisions Buddhist Asian America as a community of trailblazers, bridge-builders, integrators, and refuge-makers. Encouraging frank conversations about race, representation, and inclusivity among Buddhists of all backgrounds, Be the Refuge embodies the spirit of interconnection that glows at the heart of American Buddhism.
PBS Newshour, The Long History of Racism against Asian-Americans in the US
In Lion’s Roar, “Erased No More” by Yenkuei Chuang:
In Tricycle, a 1992 Letter to the Editor by Ryo Imamura:
Five-part PBS documentary on the history of Asian-Americans