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Lions Roar : July 2018
properly participate in issues of racial jus- tice as a cisgender, heteronormative white woman outweighed any reservations she had about signing up for WAS. THE WORKSHOP explores racism in the context of the dharma, utilizing Buddhist teachings on suffering, liberation, and oppression to encourage participants to observe the suffering of their own racial conditioning. Sessions in WAS are made up of formal teachings, personal check- ins, experiential exercises, and reflective discussion. As Garbus told NPR, partici- pants “were asked to look at videotapes of police killings”—an experience she references on “Honesty.” Confronting her own participation in institutions of racism in meditation brought up a lot of personal discomfort and defensiveness, said Garbus. “It’s awkward to talk to white friends or white people who feel very defended around this. It’s really uncool from an indie-rock point of view to use music in this way.” This defensive reaction is all part of white fragility, said Garbus. White fragil- ity describes the moment white people become angry, defensive, and guilt- ridden when the topic of race is brought up. Meditation and mindfulness, said Garbus, can be helpful for white people to stay present and avoid defensiveness when discussing race. As Pitchfork’s review of Private Life puts it, Garbus’ lyrics on the album are “mercifully aimed more at destroying her ego than buoying it.” In many cases, as someone who has long been influ- enced by Black music and questioned the line between inspiration and appro- priation, her confrontational words are my own experience and not feeling like I had to have the answer, and not feeling like I had to speak for all white people. All I need to have is my experience in order to share with others,” said Garbus. In no way does Garbus see Private Life as an example of how white people should be reckoning with racial injustice. She sees the album as a confessional, a conversation piece, and as art, and she feels she still has plenty of learning ahead of her. “Part of this job is learning out loud. I’m growing as a human being in public, in front of people, and that’s inherently going to be pretty humbling.” ♦ –LILLY GREENBLATT PHOTOBYELIOTLEEHAZEL Merrill Garbus (front) and Nate Brenner are Tune- Yards, whose indie rock album I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life contains tracks on Buddhism and racism. pointed directly at herself. In “Colonizer,” a track on the album that explicitly speaks to white supremacy, Garbus sings: I use my white woman’s voice to tell stories of travels with African men I comb my white woman’s hair with a comb made especially, generally for me I smell the blood in my voice Garbus cites Radical Dharma, the book by African American, queer Buddhist teachers Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens, with Professor Jasmine Syedullah, as a source of encouragement to share the truths she learned in EBMC’s WAS. “This book allowed me and challenged me to have courage in simply expressing