Racial discrimination occurs when you are excluded from social spaces or denied opportunities based on your skin color or ethnicity. This is a pervasive aspect of racism that is meant to enforce the power structure and social narrative of the dominant ethnic group. While some racial discrimination is enforced by law and easy to spot, some is much more subtle and difficult to see for those who never have to experience it, such as being excluded from participating at a sporting event or threatening to be fired unless you change your hairstyle to one that is defined as more “professional” by people whose hair behaves in a completely different way than yours. Racial discrimination often causes a lifelong struggle for physical, emotional, and mental well-being, made worse when your experiences are questioned and doubted by those from outside your ethnic group. Listening to and trusting in one another’s experiences is a crucial first step in stopping the harm of discrimination.
At the first-ever gathering of Buddhist teachers of black African descent, held at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, two panels of leading Buddhist teachers took questions about what it means to be a black Buddhist in America today.
Nelson Mandela was by nature an optimist, but he was as hard-headed as they come. He did not embrace the consoling view of history that, as Martin Luther King said (in a line often quoted by Barack Obama), “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.