“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin
“When whites are ignorant of white supremacy, they’re still able to function comfortably and thrive happily. When Black folks are ignorant of white supremacy, it can prove fatal.” —Inigo Laguda, blackyouthproject.com
“May all beings be from suffering and know the cause of suffering; May all beings know happiness and the cause of happiness.” —Four Immeasurables
Depending on how you identify racially, your ango work might need to be some mixture of education and reparation, or healing and safety. Understanding your “position” within our deeply racialized society, and coming to terms with the forces and choices that placed you there, could be a good place to begin. If you have further questions about this aspect of ango training, Shugen Roshi will be holding a meeting to address these on September 15 at 7 pm, and you can access the zoom link here.
For sangha members who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color:
BIPOC is a large category that encompasses a range of experiences with regards to light skin privilege, colorism, internalized racism, and anti-blackness. To accommodate all of us within this ango study, we are suggesting taking up one of the following two books: Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad, or My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.
In Me and White Supremacy, Layla Saad says, “This workbook is for any person who holds white privilege….Meaning persons who are visually identifiable as white, white-passing, or holding white privilege. This includes persons who may be biracial, mixed race, or white-passing people of colour who benefit under systems of white supremacy from having lighter skin colour than visibly Brown, Black or Indigenous people.”
In My Grandmother’s Hands, Menakem’s intention is to inspire his African-American community and humanity in general to acknowledge “white-body supremacy trauma” and find pathways to heal and create fuel for freedom. Menakem says that the book can help different groups of people, including those “who have a Black or other dark body.”
We ask that BIPOC sangha work with one of these, based on where each of us lands on the race/skin/privilege spectrum. To support our study, we are offering study groups on each of these books. Danise Eiko Malqui will be facilitating a group working with My Grandmother’s Hands. Click here for details and signup. Meanwhile, the monthly BIPOC Sangha Practice Group will be looking at Me and White Supremacy. Click here for dates and signup.
For sangha members who identify as white or hold white privilege:
In addition to any self-guided study you may do, ango participants who identify as white will work with Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor. In the book’s preface, Saad emphasizes that the work of dismantling white supremacy needs to begin within, and for white people, this involves a deep, step-by-step reflection process to see into and understand their participation in the systems and beliefs that uphold white supremacy. Her book guides the reader through that process with a mix of informative chapters on different aspects of white supremacy followed by a series of journaling prompts.
To support each other in this work, we’ll be meeting once or twice a month in small groups, using the Circle Way process Saad outlines in the book. Four of these monthly meetings will happen on a Sunday afternoon and begin as a large group meeting going into break-out groups. We strongly encourage all groups to plan a second monthly meeting, which will be up to members of each breakout group to schedule. Our work with this text will extend beyond fall ango and into the winter training period. Participation is open to the entire sangha and is not limited to ango participants. Details can be found here.
Sundays: 9/20; 10/4, 11/1; 11/29
Some of you may already be familiar with this book, or have even worked through it before. If so, we hope you will return to it as part of our ango study—it is the kind of book that can be returned to again and again.