Mission

Our mission is to gain personal insight into racism in order to abandon it on an individual level, dismantle it on an institutional level, and uproot it in our Sangha. As we become more aware of the realities of living in a racialized society, we strive to provide opportunities for the Sangha to increase our capacity to dissolve our own racist thoughts, assumptions, speech, actions, biases, and prejudices, and to become actively involved in anti-racist work. For more information about Uprooting Racism, contact Dr. Sonia James-Wilson at soniajameswilson@catalystrd.com.

Uprooting Racism Objectives

  1. To acknowledge racism as one of the most insidious sources of dukkha (suffering) in our culture.
  2. To acknowledge our racial identity as Sangha members, and recognize the barriers and limitations caused by our overwhelmingly white history.
  3. To become aware of, and responsive to, systemic racism in our own Sangha.
  4. To become a resource to the RZC leadership in situations that require the Center to respond publicly to acts of racism, and to offer advice and resources when needed.
  5. To support the RZC leadership by recognizing, bringing to attention, and challenging biases and attitudes potentially grounded in racist norms and assumptions when they appear within the context of the RZC community.
  6. To provide opportunities for the Sangha to increase our capacity to dissolve our own racist thoughts and assumptions, speech, actions, biases, and prejudices.
  7. To deepen our practice through the realization of our interconnection to people of all racial groups and ethnic backgrounds.
  8. To cultivate a community of active meditators culturally representative of our local community.
  9. To maintain a focus on, and have ongoing conversations about, whiteness, white supremacy, race, and racism.

Uprooting Racism Community Events

We provide monthly opportunities for consciousness raising, skill building, and personal reflection. Book circles, film discussions, and the insights of guest speakers are a few of the ways in which racism and its intersection with other forms of oppression is explored in a supportive group setting. There are also occasional opportunities to engage with others in social activism and interactive workshops within the local community.

Anti-Racism Resources

We encourage the Sangha to learn more about the history and broader social context of race in the United States through articles, videos, podcasts, and other anti-racism resources.

Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter

Uprooting Racism supports the Black Lives Matter movement and countless others who protest against injustice and raise awareness of structural racism. At the Rochester Zen Center, we recognize racism as one of the most insidious sources of dukkha (suffering) and join other centers across the United States in bearing witness to social injustice. Here in Rochester, our local community has experienced multiple instances of egregious police brutality against Black adults and children. During police responses to mental health crises, violence has eclipsed compassionate intervention, as for example in the cases of Daniel Prude and Tyshon Jones, who both lost their lives when officers were called upon for help. As practitioners of the Dharma, we grieve the loss that has resulted from these and other acts of violence committed against “others,” and by extension against ourselves. We recognize that the members and leadership of the Rochester Zen Center have been predominantly white over our 50+ year history, and that we need to grow in our awareness of the insidious effects of racism and the culture of whiteness. Having recognized the barriers and limitations caused by our overwhelmingly white history, we devote ourselves to becoming a Sangha awake to the realities of racism, and equipped to end the suffering inflicted because of it.

More Information

Please contact Dr. Sonia James-Wilson, Uprooting Racism Group Facilitator (soniajameswilson@catalystrd.com) or Donna Kowal, Manager of the Sangha Programs Office (donna@rzc.org).