June 2, 2021
Solidarity and Allyship with Black Sangha Members as We Work Towards National Healing and Recovery

Statement from San Francisco Zen Center Leadership, in collaboration with the Central DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) Committee and CAIC (Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee)

Since early last year, this country has been battered by a series of ongoing crises and events. We have experienced heartache after heartache from a global pandemic to instances of brutal racial violence to increasing numbers of mass shootings. It has been one year since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was murdered while in police custody.

At this time, we want to acknowledge that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the hardships of the last year and to offer our support.

The economic impact of the pandemic has meant that households of color, already over-represented in low-wage “essential” jobs, have often been first to lose incomes and the last to regain employment. While this has been the case in every economic downturn, the inequality is especially glaring this time since the economic pain of Covid-19 has cut so deep. Today, Black households struggle with the highest rate of unemployment in the US today while being twice as likely to die from Covid-19.

Income inequality has also been coupled with violent policing and an assault on voting rights for the poor and communities of color. Black Americans have also suffered from adverse mental health due to generations of collective trauma. In some areas of the country, suicide mortality among African Americans nearly doubled in the past year while decreasing substantially among white Americans.

These are symptoms of the systemic racism that has been designed into the institutions and culture of our country. While a small measure of justice was served to the family of George Floyd for his murder, his life remains lost, to them and to us.

No one should feel afraid for simply existing. For far too long, economic, physical, and emotional abuses directed toward our Black brothers and sisters have gone ignored. We want to say that we see you, we care about you, and we are committed to cultivating the conditions in which you can feel safe, respected, and at ease anywhere you may wish to be.

We resonate deeply with the words of Lilla Watson, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” However, the real power of encouraging words is not in the feelings they evoke, but in the positive actions they inspire, the commitments we make and uphold, and the work we do together.

Hate is a cycle, but so is peace. Thus we vow to interrupt hate, intolerance, and division wherever we encounter them and instead plant seeds of loving-kindness, inclusion, and unity. Using our voices to speak out, we will bear witness to the suffering caused by systemic racism and to act as allies. May we continuously manifest the truth of our profound interdependency as we work together for the liberation of all beings.

With bows,
San Francisco Zen Center Leadership in collaboration with Central DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) Committee and CAIC (Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee)

Resources and references…

RESOURCES ON HOW TO BE AN ALLY
The Guide to Allyship by Amélie Lamont
“9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive” by Sam Dylan Finch in Everyday Feminism
“What if I say the wrong thing?” Perfectionism and Antiracist Work
3 Liberatory Principles for Emerging Freedom Fighters
1619 (NYT podcast) and Project 1619
Codeswitch by NPR (podcast)
TED Talk: The Urgency of Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw
Intersectionality Matters by Kimberlé Crenshaw (podcast)
Why systemic racism is not just an American problem

TAKE ACTION
Free Training from Hollaback! on how to safely intervene in the face of police violence
5Ds of Bystander Intervention
Shop using WeBuyBlack or Black Wallet, which list and allow you to buy from black-owned businesses 
Get involved with Black-led racial justice campaigning organization Color of Change

INFORMATION ON POLICING
Police Unions
: One of the biggest obstacles to police accountability and reform
Stop focusing on looting
 and start focusing on police accountability
Black People More Than Three Times as Likely as White People to Be Killed During a Police Encounter
How Police Unions Enable and Conceal Abuses of Power
Police Unions Have Enormous War Chests to Defend Officers Like Derek Chauvin
Why It’s Time to Stop Funding the Police
What It Means to Defund the Police

RESOURCES FOR TRAUMA AND HEALING
Buddhist Justice Reporter: The George Floyd Trials. The BJR blog offers guidance from BIPOC Dharma teachers during the trials, through supportive mindfulness practices and reflections in the Buddhist tradition.
Self-Care, Soul Care, and Healing Racial Trauma by Dr. Candice Hargons (video)
Healing Trauma: Meditation for Racial Trauma (video)
7 Tools for Managing Traumatic Stress
7 Ways Survivors Can Grow After Trauma
Alliance for Safety and Justice
Equal Justice Initiative
Black Women Need to Unlearn the Pattern of Martyrdom

Joshua Sandeman
Arts & Culture, Features, Zen Practice

Medicine and the Dharma

Joshua Sandeman, a former SFZC resident, is a Nurse Practitioner based in Salem, Oregon. “Medicine puts me face-to-face with all manner of human suffering and it can be a challenge to take care of feelings of burnout, detachment, and despair."