ZCLA Statement in Solidarity and Support of Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities and Individuals

The Teachers and Board of Directors of Zen Center of Los Angeles, acknowledge and bear witness to the hate crimes and injustices being perpetrated against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and individuals. We denounce these actions and renew our commitment to uproot and dismantle systemic and individual racism and work for the liberation of all people.

Our Founder, the Venerable Taizan Maezumi Roshi immigrated from Japan to plant the seeds of dharma wisdom on American soil. We owe boundless gratitude to Maezumi Roshi and the extensive support system of Japanese-Americans who made his work possible to establish ZCLA and the White Plum lineage. We also owe boundless gratitude to the Zen pioneer Nyogen Senzaki Sensei, and to the many Buddhist teachers who have immigrated to the United States from across Asia to plant Buddhism in the West. Our respect runs deep and we bow to them as we practice the Way. We also hold dear the Asian-Americans in our Sangha as we acknowledge the precariousness of these times.

While hate crimes against Asian Americans have significantly increased over the course of the pandemic, racism against AAPI communities is not new in our country, indeed it is quite old. The political climate of the pandemic has unleashed and made visible what has long been present. The pandemic has brought increased vulnerability and violence as political leaders invoke xenophobic, stigmatizing rhetoric targeting China. This is happening at the same time that AAPI people, who are disproportionately represented in low-income service jobs, have suffered economic deprivation. These conditions contribute to what is certainly a significant under-reporting of such attacks, compounding the trauma and isolation too often experienced in AAPI communities. Anti-Asian sentiments and policies must move all of us to a greater commitment to educate ourselves and to take action to build and nurture the beloved community.

We commit to supporting the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and promoting through our practice of the Buddha Way through participation in solidarity events and other actions, trainings such as Hollaback!, and our Many Hands and Eyes – Race process.

We reaffirm that we will do the tireless work that is required to uproot any and all forms of racism that exist in our Sangha and the larger community of public institutions and government whenever and wherever we encounter it.