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Buddhism in the News


Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Extra Special This Year.

I'm sure Dr. King would be very proud to see the first viable African American candidate for president in Senator Barack Obama. Who also became the first African American candidate to win the Iowa caucus.

It is a huge achievement for a country that has been so bitterly divided by race and we should not fail to note how important this is regardless of who wins the nomination for the Democratic Party.

We know, however, that there is still much to do when an entire city of mostly African American citizens is flooded and left helpless by an out of touch government. We know that there is still much to do when we see a noose hanging from a tree in a school yard in that same state. We know that there is still work to be done in knowing that our prison system is disproportionately filled with young African-American men. We know that we still have mountains to climb when the confederate flag still flies in South Carolina and Mississippi.

Dr. King was a humble man who was friends with the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh and would nominate the meek Buddhist for the Nobel Peace Prize. Which showed how selfless King was as he was already a great man of peace himself at that time. But like Nhat Hanh King was bigger than his ego and that is what made his efforts into a movement that literally changed a country.

It is a wonderful reminder of oneness, that we can not accomplish great things in this world without joining together and living the reality of inter-being. It was no wonder that King and Nhat Hanh bonded in friendship as Buddhism fits beautifully into the civil rights leaders vision of a united community of brother and sisters.

May we keep Dr. King's dream alive and keep striving forward for greater equality amongst all people.

Let us not become complaisant and lull ourselves into sleep thinking that racism and segregation do not exist in 2008. Let us join hands and unite to continue to bring this country and world together as one and never cease to break down walls of injustice and discrimination.

I will close this post with the words of the great man of peace himself, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior:

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Gregor said...

Wonderful tribute.

Thanks for making this MLK day special for me.

Daldianus said...

I'm not from the US but I appreciate your article as well :) It's beautifully phrased.

Marie Roshi said...


I hate to break it to you man, but desegregation has come to a stand-still in many parts of the nation. Young black boys want to grow to be thugs and gangsters and so many of them have no respect for the things MLK did. In my town we longer observe MLK Day down at the capitol like we used to because every year the Bloodz and the Crypts end up shooting at each other.

If black people really want racism elimated, FIRST they must continue to fight for it and SECOND, they must stop being racist themselves.

But please, don't think I'm racist. My husband is black. My son is half-black. My best friend is black. It's so hard to teach the young one that you can be proud of your color without using slang terms and resorting to fistfights. Black people need to continue to unite and stop shooting each other up. Maybe then things will improve.

I'm glad Obama is in the running. He might not be my #1 choice, but I hold nothing against a black president, as long as he does the job well (or better than W, at least).

They call him James Ure said...


Thank-you. I'm glad that I could make it special. MLK is one of my heroes and definitely a peaceful icon for all of us to look up to and emulate.

He certainly had a great respect for Buddhism and it's message of peace.


Thank-you very much. I wish I could do more to honor this great man.


I agree that racism is not only a white problem.

Original Black Buddha said...

Buddhist Perspective on Black America

As African American Buddhists gear up for what promises to be another pounding of "Black America as Christian Nation," I again ponder a historical issue I raised my book Black Buddha.

Both slaveholders and abolitionists argued their positions based on the bible. Whether a slave remained in bondage or was "freed" their only faith choice was Christianity. The dominant religion in the black community has no origin other than this.

From then until today a black person who choses any faith practice or lifestyle not sanctioned by the black Church is considered to have "strayed" not only from the church but the interests and survivability of the black community itself.

To be black and Buddhist is to be seen by some as one who shows contempt for the African American covenant with Christianity, the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. In black America every Sunday from 10am to 2pm being Buddhist and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or polyamorous is to be considered misguided at the very least and in extreme cases a navel-watching race traitor.

There are some exceptions such as when spending money in black businesses or being courted for the vote. But where does the child of a black Buddhist family fit into the Christian solution for Black America? How does the Buddhist parent explain the chant, "One nation under God," to their child in a so called secular non-denominational school?

How can the potential of a black Christian president provide so much hope for America yet a duly elected black Buddhist Congressman remain relatively unnoticed?

Can CNN handle the responsibility of inclusion and objectivity around issues important to the black Buddhist community?

I'll be blogging daily on each installment of this series (July 23 & 24):

They call him James Ure said...


You bring up some interesting points and I look forward to reading more. You have a unique perspective and I welcome your voice.

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