This week I read an article about a recent Level One Shambhala Training for People of Color in the Shambhala Times, an online community news magazine of the Shambhala global community.
In response to the question Why Separate? the article begins:
The reality for people of color is that they do not always feel welcome. This perception comes in ways that may be subtle and unseen by others. Our intention was to create an environment in which diversity as well as difference could be appreciated and encouraged, in which it would feel safe to explore goodness in our experience, and in which we could uncover who we are genuinely, undiluted, unconfused, and, in particular, uncluttered by our habitual patterns of relating to the majority culture.
Even today as barriers continue to shatter that many never expected to witness (specifically the election of President Obama), the levels of comfort and acceptance (both perceived and experienced) by Blacks seeking Buddhism continue to be varied yet tend towards the same theme. Many simply don't know what to expect but believe they will be entering a community where they are an obvious and felt minority.
The Shambhala community gets it and is making conscious strides towards diversity. While I long for a day when these programs aren't necessary, I applaud Shambhala for the steps they are taking to acknowledge and meet the need.