Video excerpts on the American Buddhists for racial justice webinar series.

Edwin Ng and Zack Walsh on amplifying the voices and visibility of diasporic Asian heritage Buddhists.

Inheritance, Obligation, and Promises:

#makingrefuge with intergenerational heritage Buddhists and friends

The colonial legacy of contemporary Buddhism is entangled with a history of white supremacy in the United States. Heritage Buddhists are Buddhists whose Asian ancestries have historically preserved Buddhism. They must honor the ancestral obligations and cultural identity of their diasporic heritage, while negotiating tension or distrust towards oppressive habits that can sometimes entangle Buddhist teachings with nationalist or hetero-patriarchal agendas. At the same time, heritage Buddhists in white supremacist societies face the harms of racism, erasure, and cultural appropriation. They share intersectionalities with other marginalized or minoritized people as well as white allies, who must likewise negotiate the harms of white supremacy entangled with the
colonial legacy of contemporary Buddhism.

This webinar will explain the rationale and objectives for a gathering we are planning in November 2018 to address these issues. The gathering will build on the processes and findings of a workshop that was convened in July 2017 in Berkeley for the Mind & Life Institute’s Think Tank Program. The guiding framework is the idea of #makingrefuge, understood as the ongoing task of building conditions of trust and safety necessary for living and dying well together as co-inhabitants of diverse communities and habitats. The gathering in November 2018 will explore ways that heritage Buddhists might perform #makingrefuge by cultivating intergenerational healing and intersectional justice with others, and by (re)connecting with the customary understandings and practices of their ancestral lineages.

The gathering will also invite a smaller cohort of non-heritage Buddhists friends to be sympathetic listeners and witnesses to their heritage Buddhists counterparts.

Edwin Ng, Ph.D.

Edwin Ng, Ph.D.

Edwin Ng, Ph.D. is a cultural theorist and public intellectual. He straddles multiple cultural and intellectual traditions and describes himself as a postcolonial “Western Buddhist” convert. His scholarly and media writings address the colonial legacy of contemporary Buddhism and the ethics and politics of mindfulness. His work explores the intersections of critical inquiry, radical self-care, and social justice within an academic context and with activist communities.

Zack Walsh Ph.D.

Zack Walsh Ph.D.

Zack Walsh is a Ph.D. student of Religion at Claremont School of Theology. He is also a steering committee member and research specialist at Toward Ecological Civilization, a scientific committee member of Wise and Smart Cities, and a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China. Currently, his work

focuses on engaged Buddhism, contemplative studies, process philosophy, cultural studies, sustainability,
political economy, and China. In addition to his scholarly work, Zack has received lay precepts from Fo Guang Shan, an engaged Buddhist organization based in Taiwan.