Ruth King’s Mindful of Race
The Seeing Through Racism group is organizing a series of Zoom discussions around Ruth King’s Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism From the Inside Out (Sounds True, 2018). We’ve chosen this book because it’s a rare combination of a Black Buddhist teacher writing about both meditation and anti-racist activism with expertise, compassion, and practicality.
To quote Amala Sensei:
The subtitle … “Transforming racism from the inside out,” sums it up. King, who is both an insight meditation teacher and a diversity trainer, skillfully leads us in an exploration of our racial distress, both personal and collective, both as black bodies and as white bodies, and offers useful practices to help alleviate our racial suffering at its roots. She says, “Racism is a heart disease, and it’s curable.”
~ Sensei Amala Wrightson
In addition to being a Buddhist teacher and diversity trainer, King is a Black lesbian who is professionally trained in clinical psychology. To learn more about her work, see her website.
As a Sangha activity, our purpose is to share personal experiences and to develop a common vocabulary for taking individual and collective action that’s integrated into Zen practice.
Zoom discussions scheduled as follows:
- Saturday, August 8, 3:30 – 4:30 PM (Eastern). The first meeting focused on the book’s introduction: “Racism Is a Heart Disease, and It’s Curable” (p. 1-10).
- Saturday, August 22, 3:30-4:30 PM (Eastern). Our next meeting will focus on Part 1, “Understanding Habits of Harm — Diagnosis” (p. 15-70).
- Saturday, September 5, 3:30-4:30 PM (Eastern)
- Saturday, September 19, 3:30-4:30 PM (Eastern)
It’s not too late to join the discussions. Just be sure to have read through Part 1 and please email Donna Kowal at email@example.com.
If you prefer to read a print copy of King’s book, we recommend that you purchase it as soon as possible. You might consider purchasing it directly from a Black-owned independent bookstore. If you prefer PDF or audio see kobo.com.
We recognize that some people may not be able to afford the book or have other difficulty accessing it. If that applies to you, please email Donna to let her know, as there may be a few copies available for loan.
Break-out room discussion questions for Saturday, August 8:
Begin with some brief self-introductions, and then use the following questions as a guide. Of course, it’s okay if you don’t get to discuss all of them:
- What brought you to this book discussion group, and how are you feeling about it now?
- What in the book’s Introduction hit home with you?
- King asks that each of us “bring an ancestor” along in our process of racial healing (p. 13). What ancestor are you going to work with? Do you see how you are carrying forward their beliefs? Do you see a connection to attitudes you have but are uncomfortable with? Does working with an ancestor help you to see your own implicit bias?
- On p.1 King describes how hearing the word “racism” can be an emotional trigger and how we tend to go to our “weapons of choice”—that is, “aggression, distraction, denial, doubt, worry, depression, or indifference.” What’s your “weapon” and would you be willing to share it with the group?
- On page 9, there’s a list of four questions we can ask ourselves:
“How do I work with my thoughts, fears, and beliefs in ways that nurture the dignity of all races?
How do I comfort my own raging heart in a sea of racial ignorance and violence?
How can my actions reflect the world I want to live in and leave to future generations?
How do I advocate for racial justice without causing harm and hate, internally and externally?”
Which of these questions resonates with you the most and why?