Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

I agree. Such generalizations are not accurate to begin with. The person might very well be an immigrant from eastern europe, from a country who got out of slavery in the same year as US black people, and on top of that born in 1.500$ GDP per capita compared to US black people born in 60.000$ GDP per capita who never endured famine, freezing in school and in their homes, brutal opression, etc. It also could be a white person born in the countryside instead of a city, through rural population is small in USA.

Generalizations based on skin color are never truly accurate, though, as I said, I find them perfectly normal and they do have some value of truth, due to global statistics about a specific group.


Soka Gakkai even got Rosa Parks… :smile: Seriously, that’s kind of amazing.


sorry can you explain what you mean by ‘got Rosa Parks’? Thanks :pray:

SGI attracted a prominent civil rights figure.

Yes thanks to Sensei’s formidable mind and heart, SGI has indeed attracted a wide range of prominent figures, including Nobel Prize winners such as Linus Pauling or renowned historians such as Toynbee. I think other religious groups also try to do that; I won’t make examples as I want to be charitable but I have noticed this with some monks, even though they have not been very successful in comparison; I think that Sensei Daisaku Ikeda has just been smarter than most other leaders in attracting prominent people to become part of his mission.

I am a long time practicing Buddhist and white American. When I lived in Kenya for two years, some decades ago, I was happy to find a Buddhist group that met weekly for meditation and dhamma talks. It was a group of about a dozen people, made up of people of (white) European decent and Asians. The Asians were from Indian Hindu families who have lived in East Africa for some generations. Many of these people were attracted to Buddhism, and joined our group. There were no black Africans. They would have been most welcome, but there seemed to be a lack of interest and perhaps of understanding of Buddhism (most black Kenyans in Nairobi, where I lived, were Christian). However, when in Sri Lanka I met a Buddhist monk, Ven. Buddharakkhita from Uganda, who has started a sangha in Uganda which now has a few ordained monks and nuns as well as supporting lay community. You can find this on their website. Bhante invited me to come to his place in Uganda and teach Buddhism there (I have a PhD in Buddhist Studies), and if circumstances allow, I hope to do so. I am so happy to see this growth of Buddhism among the indigenous people of Africa, as I feel Buddhism can greatly contribute to the happiness and well-being of the African people. The teachings of the Buddha are not only for elites, but are also suitable for common people such as farmers or shopkeepers. While in Sri Lanka, I also met a black African student at my university from Uganda who has become quite active in spreading vipassana meditation in the Goenka style in various African countries. This is very wonderful. It is strange to me to talk so much about race, as I have spent large portions of my life surrounded by Asian or African people, in places where a white face could only be seen in the mirror. But I understand that race still dominates much of what goes on in the world, and that growing up black in the USA brings difficulties and dangers to people that we who are not black cannot fully comprehend. It is a sad state of affairs. Perhaps when we can reach the level of practice where we understand that our identity as a person of a particular race or ethnic group is an illusion, then maybe we can move on to a higher level of peace, love, and harmony among the diverse peoples of planet earth.



Yes. And those statistics especially aren’t helpful when they’re used to fuel negative stereotypes about entire groups of people, which, whether it’s intended or not, is what it does.

People should be judged individually by their actions.

A relevant verse from Snp 1.7:

Not by birth is one an outcaste,
not by birth a brahman.
By action one is an outcaste.
By action is one a brahman.

Tony thanks a lot for bringing up this topic and also for sharing that Rosa Parks was a Buddhist!! That’s really inspiring… Also for mentioning the Gil Fronsdal talk. I’m going to download it from Audio dharma right now… :pray:

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Depends, I guess, on perspective and locale. Notably, SRMC (Spirit Rock Meditation Center) in California has a retreat for “people of color” once a year – one of 50 or so retreats.