Racial and Social Justice

Racial and Social Justice

Clouds draws from Zen Buddhist teachings to nourish the many dimensions of injustice in the Twin Cities. Over the last few years, Clouds has developed a robust racial and social justice program focusing on discussion groups, listening sessions, and meditation practice via four main initiatives:                

  • The Race, Love and Liberation Laboratory (for growing spiritual things) (aka “The LAB”)
  • The People of Color & Indigenous Group (POCI
  • The Dismantling Whiteness group
  • The Engaged Buddhism ryo

Here is more about each:

“The Lab” refers to a group of practitioners of color operating out of Clouds in Water Zen Center. Building on years of work around racial awareness at Clouds, our first initiative in October 2017 brought Rev. angel Kyodo williams to Clouds for four days of discussion, reflection, and meditation on the theme of “Race, Love, and Liberation.” Inspired by Rev. angel’s powerful presence and the dynamic multicultural/multifaith/multiracial energy of that event, we realized that we were in the position to “grow more spiritual things” led by and for people of color including twice-per-month sitting meditation sessions for people of color only; a collaborative two-day workshop and retreat with the Million Artist Movement and Don’t You Feel it Too?; a five-week class focused on Rev. angel’s book, Radical Dharma; and a dismantling whiteness discussion group for white people.

The LAB supports conversation and reflection to examine and appreciate how Buddhism has been stewarded by white people and white culture, and to find out what we can to do re-imagine and re-interpret Buddhist practices for the liberation of all beings. We have observed that by bringing zazen together with an explicit concern for racial justice, people of color can turn the Dharma Wheel.

POCI/BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

2nd & 4th Sundays: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 pm
Every Wednesday 7:00 -8:30 pm

Many people long to be in a space where they can be themselves without the judgment or curiosity of white people. Gatherings start with lightly guided Zazen for 30 minutes and then participants converse for about 60 minutes about whatever is arising for the group or on a topic that the facilitator might propose. Please direct questions to Carol Iwata.

Dismantling Whiteness group

4th Sunday of the month, 11:30 am – 1 pm (Note: in August we will meet on the 5th Sunday, Aug 30)

White people are encouraged to attend this council practice about awakening to racism as a white problem and finding ways to dismantle it. With the stewardship of Clouds’ leaders, the group focuses on the deep inner work that is necessary to see through our individual and collective delusions and begin personal and social transformation. We ask participants to make a commitment to attend every month, as life circumstances allow. Contact Sosan@cloudsinwater.org for more information.

The Engaged Buddhism ryo

Led by Onryu (Gentle Dragon) Kennedy and meets monthly, as arranged
Vision statement of the Engaged Buddhism ryo:

“We are Buddhist practitioners, who are actively engaging the vow to do no harm. We are under the umbrella of Clouds in Water Zen Center, but invite members of other centers to join. We are aware of the dehumanization and fear inherent to white supremacy. We intentionally place ourselves in alignment with Indigenous Nations and People of Color. We actively practice with our fear and enter into places of suffering.

By entering into places of suffering, we step into accountability for white supremacy. We step towards the liberation from white supremacy. With compassion and wisdom, we vow to continue bearing witness to the innumerable places of suffering of Indigenous nations, people of color and all beings. Knowing we are stronger together, we work in partnership with interfaith organizations and other buddhists communities to build solidarity and dismantle white supremacy. Deepening our connection across faith traditions is a vital part of collective liberation and loving action.” Please direct questions to Onryu (Gentle Dragon).