The new project will provide financial stipends for Black and Brown Buddhist leaders, as well as resources and support for Buddhist groups in North America interested in healing the trauma of racism in their dharma communities.
Dharma Relief, an organization founded by Buddhist teacher and founder of the Tallahassee Chan Center, Guo Gu, is launching a new project titled “Healing Race Relations” in response to continued acts of racial violence and discrimination against Black people in the U.S.
“Healing Race Relations,” or “Dharma Relief 2” (DR2) will provide financial stipends to Black and Brown Buddhist leaders to support their dharma activities, as well as resources and support for over 100 Buddhist groups in North America interested in healing the trauma of racism in their dharma communities.
“Black and Brown dharma teachers are powerfully capable of addressing racial trauma through a Buddhist lens, but they are disproportionately under-represented and financially under-supported compared to other racial groups in securing funding for their dharma activities,” Dharma Relief told Lion’s Roar. This new project aims to bridge these gaps through its fundraising activities, with a goal of $11 million.
“Healing Race Relations” follows the success of Dharma Relief’s first initiative in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which fundraised $650,000 to purchase and distribute over 1.2 million masks to hospitals. This second initiative consists of a multiracial advisory of 15 Buddhist teachers representing a wide range of Buddhist schools in the U.S., composed of Anouk Shambrook, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, DaRa Williams, Marisela Gomez, Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, Ralph Steele, Sara Khan, Stacy McClendon, Guo Gu, Lorne Ladner, Martin Applebaum, Matt Zepelin, Meido Moore Roshi, and Narayan Liebenson.
Through “Healing Race Relations,” Dharma Relief will also offer a variety of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) workshops and trainings for dharma centers in North America, with the goal of providing a safe space for practitioners of all races to practice the dharma. These trainings will be presented through three different pathways: “Racial Healing for Black and Brown Teachers,” “Racial Healing for non-Black/Brown Teachers,” and “Internal Work for the Core Members of Dharma Relief 2.” Each pathway will include appropriate workshop trainings in social resilience, diversity counseling, somatic experiencing for healing trauma, alongside individual classes on racism from multiple perspectives of history, class distinctions, gender imbalances, economic disparities, generational changes, and educational backgrounds.
As research for this initiative, Dharma Relief is conducting a survey seeking information on how issues surrounding race affect the Buddhist community, its development, and the best methods to assist each community in addressing these issues. The 15-minute survey was sent out to over 300 dharma centers and Buddhist communities in North America with the option to answer anonymously. After the survey concludes on September 5, the results will be distributed and posted on Dharma Relief’s social media so each participating Buddhist group can see where it stands in relation to others.
Dharma Relief encourages dharma teachers, leaders, and centers to apply for the Dharma Relief stipends and anti-racism trainings. The organization is currently fundraising for “Healing Race Relations,” and options to donate and more information can be found on the Dharma Relief website.