Afrikan Wisdom: New Voices Talk Black Liberation, Buddhism, and Beyond.
Edited by Valerie Mason-John. North Atlantic, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62317-562-7
This stimulating anthology brings together 34 essays exploring the intersection of Black experience with Buddhist practice. It opens with pieces highlighting the need to find space for Black people in Buddhist practice and a particularly smart unpacking of different Buddhist traditions by Marisela Gomez. The second section, “Black Liberation,” considers a range of liberation-focused religions and practices and includes helpful primers on Rastafari and Kwanzaa by Elisha Precilla and Afua Cooper, respectively. A section focused on social justice features a provocative essay on the impact of Malcolm X in Canada and an unusual reframing of Martin Luther King Jr. as a bodhisattva; another on decolonizing mindfulness features Rima Vesely-Flad’s insightful message of turning the feeling of “being silenced” on its head by focusing on how silence brings “regeneration” and “a heightened capacity to be at ease with difference.” The final section, “The Personal is Political,” is full of moving personal essays, among them Kabir Hypolite’s unearthing of his family’s intentionally hidden Native American and African ancestry. Detailed liturgies for Buddhists of color appear amid the rich theorizing and individual reflections. These bite-size and profound essays are a powerful introduction to the overlooked possibilities of Black Buddhism. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2021