Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

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via wikimedia

The scab is off, and the wound of America’s history is bleeding. Again. Perhaps because a black man is president…? It’s a savage old wound, never really healed, and apt to erupt into pestilence at any moment. Medical terminology comes to mind: suppurating, necrotic, septic. In other words — it eats away at the flesh of the American covenant that this is a country with justice for all.

Our politicians today are open in their racism, advocating the deportation of Muslims merely because of their religion. Advocating a wall against Mexico so that no [insert any of a number of racial slurs here] can come ‘take our jobs.’ Every time I hear some  demagogue talk about ‘taking our jobs,’ I wonder: does s/he not realise that it’s AMERICANS who employ undocumented immigrants? And that Arizona — which tried successfully to profile brown residents — ended up losing million$$ in business because they had no workers? Americans don’t seem to WANT the jobs that hard-working undocumented immigrants are happy to have.

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At a recent gathering of colleagues & friends, to share African American literature in honour of African American History month (the GREAT African American Read-In!), a dear friend shared that he is sorry for racists. They are filled with fear, he said, and that poisons their lives, surely.

I confessed then, and will repeat: I am NOT sorry for racists. I’m not that big a person. This is, I might add, a dear man who deals daily with the disrespect & fear his physical presence (big…black…male…) generates. I have seen this myself, when he & I lunch together to discuss work. Restaurants that are welcoming of my (white) husband & me are measurably different in their response when my friend & I enter. Not my imagination, I assure you.

So for him to be this generous of heart & spirit is a far bigger gift than I can offer. As a Buddhist, I know I shouldn’t hate. But racism? And racists? Not an ounce of tolerance in my life for that crap. It’s poison — hence the medical terms of dying body parts.

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When it is common for police to shoot unarmed brown children (multiple cases, from Tamir Rice to Laquan McDonald), when a police officer in my state can rape 36 black women before coming to trial, we need to confront the infection that eats away at our (white) assertion that this is a post-racial country. No one I know who is not white will agree with such a disingenuous statement.

Today, in the wake of a Super Tuesday that saw the joyful victories of demagogues arguing for WWII tactics to ‘make America great again,’ and ‘reignite the promise of America,’ I grieve. I grieve for an America that is happy to  make others the victims of our own fear & hatred. I grieve for my beloved cousin’s black grandsons & granddaughter, and my beloved daughter-in-law’s brown brother. Each is at risk every time s/he’s pulled over by police, as Sandra Bland found out.

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I’m an engaged Buddhist — filled, these days, w/what Buddhists call wrathful compassion. Although I’m afraid the wrath (far too often!) outweighs the compassion…sigh. Still, while I do NOT pity racists (or other haters of the ‘other’), I do feel sorrow for how awful it must be to fear so many of my dearest friends. What do you miss when you cut yourself off from other religions, for instance? The humility of Ramadan, the joy of Diwali, the exuberance of Loi Krathong. And when so many of the world’s artists, musicians, just ‘plain people’ are off limits to you because you fear their colour and/or culture?

So, I’m still lobbying for engagement. I’m not going to turn my other cheek while racism is still rampant. To bow quietly is — in my engaged opinion — to offer tacit acceptance of this hateful, hurtful belief system. Don’t expect me to approve of candidates who base their entire platform on hate, pretty much. And don’t expect me to keep quiet about it, either.

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