The violence and xenophobic rhetoric against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders didn’t start with COVID-19

From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to recent incidents of hate-fueled vandalism at Asian American Buddhist temples across North America, Asian American Buddhists have weathered many storms.

As a Buddhist organization, we strive to engage with the legacies of Asian and Asian American stewards of the dharma. Asian American Buddhists have made invaluable contributions to the development of American Buddhism. We should all recognize that and be grateful for it.

We send our condolences to the families and friends of the people who were murdered in Atlanta on March 16, and anyone who has suffered from the effects of the hate crimes of the past year.

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Tricycle has had the honor of serving as a platform for teachings, writings, and artwork by Asian American Buddhists throughout the years. We have selected articles and contributions by some of those voices that are particularly relevant today:

  • From “Just Culture” to a Just Culture by Cristina Moon
    Zen priest Cristina Moon addresses the erasure of Asian cultures, and of Asian and Asian American people, in mainstream Western Buddhist publications and communities—and offers tips for building competency in the cultures that gave birth to the dharma.
  • The Karma of Becoming American by Duncan Ryuken Williams
    COVID-19 has radically changed what becoming a citizen looks like. Still, these divergent paths to becoming “American” reflect our fundamental interconnectedness, Zen priest Duncan Ryuken Williams writes. Williams is professor and researcher of Japanese American history.
  • Who Is the Angry Asian Buddhist? Interview with Aaron Lee (arunlikhati) by Emma Varvaloucas
    The late writer behind the “Angry Asian Buddhist” blog explains his frustration over the “two Buddhisms” framework, and argues that the tapestry of practitioners in the US is far more complex. 
  • Yellow Insomnia by Monica Ong with Randall Horton
    Monica Ong, who practices in the Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhist tradition, shares a poem meditating on Asian and Black solidarity. 
  • Brown Body, White Sangha by Atia Sattar
    “In my dealings with American Buddhist centers, unfortunately I have yet to feel interrelationship in a mixed-race group of fellow practitioners,” Atia Sattar writes. “Instead, I’ve continued to encounter people’s preference for ‘race blindness.’ And nowhere does it feel more hurtful than in well-intentioned white sanghas presently striving for diversity and inclusion.” 
  • Beyond Shangri-la Interview with Clare Harris by Ann Tashi Slater
    Young Tibetan photographers are shaking up Western perceptions of Tibet and complicating ideas of a mystical “Shangri-la.”
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