What Does Buddhism have to do with Black People?
Reverend Zenju Earthlyn Manuel in conversation with Professor Faith Adiele
What is it like to be an African American who has moved from a Christian practice to a Buddhist one? Why does American Buddhism attract so few people of color and is there something to be done about it? When some Americans are in the presence of a person who is black and Buddhist, you can see the cognitive dissonance---the confusion--right there in their eyes as they struggle to process this information that so rudely unsettles their cultural and racial presuppositions.
Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is an author and ordained Zen Buddhist priest. She combines Zen meditation, intuitive knowing, and indigenous ritual in a path of liberation. She is the guiding teacher of Still Breathing Meditation Community in East Oakland.
She is the author of Tell Me Something about Buddhism with a foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh. Her most recent book is The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender with a foreword by Charles Johnson, author Middle Passages, a novel and Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture and Spiritual Practice. (zenju.org)
Prof. Faith Adiele, author, speaker & teacher, was the first black Buddhist nun of Thailand. Her memoir about the experience, Meeting Faith (W.W. Norton), won the PEN Award for Best Memoir. She teaches at California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and VONA: Voices of Our Nations Arts.
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