Interested in checking out different spiritual “communities” around, I attended a meditation sit today where the person leading the group was a woman of color. At the end of the sit and a short dhamma talk, she asked if anyone had questions.
In response to a statement she had made about Buddhism not being about belief, a white man in the room said, “Well, and a lot of people have misconceptions about that and think you’re worshipping some fat guy.” To which the teacher responded, “And of course that’s not even the Buddha, that’s a Chinese sage from the fifth century [Ch: Budai / Jp: Hotei].” The original questioner then said the strangest thing: “Well I’d rather have the white skinny guy anyway.” At which point the teacher said, “Um, no, it’s pretty clear that he was brown.”
I wonder if that guy’s unconscious bias (skinny over fat) and worldview assumptions (the norm is white, not brown) being made conscious in public like that had any kind of effect on him.
If you’re interested in everyday anecdotes like this, check out power, privilege and everyday life.