November 12, 2020
Photo of Ann Gleig laughing

With a research specialization in Asian Religions in America, Associate Professor Ann Gleig’s research has seen the interplay of religion and racial justice in the changing Buddhist communities in the U.S. Her recent book, American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity, explored the contributions of a small network of people of color and their white allies in addressing white privilege and racism in American Buddhist “convert sanghas” (or communities) towards creating “inclusive sanghas.” With this unique perspective, Gleig has written a few articles regarding religion and Black Lives Matter for various publications and websites:

In an article for Lion’s Roar, Gleig proposes that practicing Buddhists should consider a new “cause of suffering” to add to the traditional three: “the suffering caused by racism, sexism, poverty, and all other forms of human injustice.” Buddhists need to really see the injustices around them to move them beyond their bubble of privilege and comfort, and towards action and compassion.

For Tricycle, Gleig has written on Buddhists and racial justice. In the Buddhist community, there is an outpour of support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) by practicing Buddhists. Some have offered healings and teachings to local BLM chapters, and others have committed to addressing “the poison of white supremacy and ending the intense suffering caused by anti-blackness.” Not all white Buddhists see racism as an issue related to Buddhist teachings, while others see it as a dukkha (suffering) that Buddhists need to address.

Among the many dissenting labels placed on BLM, one of them is that the movement is irreligious or doing religion wrong. In an article for The Conversation Gleig counters that there is a rich spiritual and religious pluralism of BLM: it is not simply a “movement seeking radical political reform, but a spiritual movement seeking to heal and empower while inspiring other religious allies seeking inclusivity.”

In an article written for UCF, Gleig notes that people must challenge rather than comply with white supremacy and work toward creating a country that is more livable for everyone. To do this we must explore the historical and contemporary forms of white supremacy that exist in our institutions. For white people, this means recognizing and taking responsibility for white supremacy through actions for equity.