On Monday, Zen priest angel Kyodo williams and a group of community members held a discussion about how we can mindfully respond to racism and white supremacy in the wake of the Charleston shooting. After a guided meditation and a minute of silence for each of the nine victims of the shooting, CTZNWELL founder Kerri Kelly opened the conversation with a question: “How do we find the words to speak about what happened? And how do we tell the right story?”
Much of the discussion centered around discomfort, and the importance of overcoming politeness to engage in meaningful conversations.
angel Kyodo williams, who has appeared on Lion’s Roar before, started by suggesting observers get informed about the issues and biases at play. “There’s a deep discomfort in our society about naming racism and white supremacy for what it is,” said williams. “The compulsion to make this easier for people really denies the horrible pain of the families and the community.”
“Ultimately, practice is about clear seeing and relationship with reality, recognizing that discomfort, and choosing to be in relationship with the reality that we find ourselves in. Until America does that, white supremacy will continue to reign and destroy this country.”
Overcoming racism entails self-compassion because recognizing privilege and racism can be a painful experience, said williams. “I want people to work with their own stuff and their own pain.”
williams also expressed that working with the self-deception of ingrained biases is an important step on the path of liberation — a theme explored previously on Lion’s Roar by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel and Jan Willis.
“No matter how uncomfortable it makes you, showing up is important,” said williams in a closing call-to-action. “There are no comfortable answers. But we have to get in a room together and work from a place of love.”