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Lions Roar : May 2019
The Invisible Majority The vast majority of American Buddhists are of Asian heritage, yet they are too often ignored, mispresented, and even looked down upon. CHENXING HAN offers four ways we can start to heal the great divide in American Buddhism. THIS PAST JANUARY, I read Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race, a yellow “NEW” sticker gracing the spine of my library copy of the book. Of course, race is nothing new in the U.S., though there are many who’d rather not talk about it. For Oluo, being black is a source of strength, beauty, and creativity. Her black- ness also makes her a target of racism. Oluo likens the experience of being a person of color to walking down a street and being punched in the arm every few minutes, without knowing who will be punching you or why, without ever being able to escape the street. Maybe a well-meaning individual, gesticulat- ing during an animated conversation, lands an unintentional punch. Oluo writes, “The real tragedy is that you get punched in the arm constantly, not that one or two people who accidentally punched you in the arm might be accused of doing it on purpose.” In the book, Oluo confesses that “even today, after having spent years of my life focused on racial justice, Asian Americans are at times an afterthought in my work.” I appreciate her candor—it’s hard enough to identify our blind spots, much less admit them publicly. How does it feel to be an afterthought? All too familiar. Though I don’t like to admit it, I’ve become inured to being dismissed in discussions about race in America. I’d become CELEBRATING YEARS Lion’s Roar LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 67