In celebration of Black History Month, we find inspiration in the lives and practice of six remarkable Black Buddhists.
Lion's Roar presents We Remember: Six Remarkable Black Buddhists BY KAMILAH MAJIED, RUTH KING, PAMELA AYO YETUNDE, MUSHIM PATRICIA IKEDA, ROSHI WENDY EGYOKU NAKAO AND SISTER PEACE|
The sankofa is a mythical bird of the Akan people in Ghana. It’s depicted with its head turned backward, pointing to the past, while the feet are turned forward, pointing to the future, and its body is centered in the now. This symbolism echoes Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching that in the present moment we touch the past and the future.
The sankofa can be viewed as a symbol of resistance to the censoring of Black history in public education. The current attempts to whitewash curricula is anti-truth and therefore pro-ignorance. Why are some parents screaming at school board members, hounding educators from state to state, threatening librarians, and protesting the very existence of libraries under the anti-critical race theory rally cry? Why don’t they want students to know that Black people were enslaved and subjected to countless forms of cruelty between 1619 and 1865 in the U.S.? Why don’t they want students to know that Black people were relegated by law between 1877 and 1964 to live separately and unequally from white people? Why shouldn’t our future adults know the many ways apartheid, resistance to apartheid, and racist backlash to progress have been expressed in America?
Maybe this Black History Month we can ask ourselves, with our eyes looking back, feet facing forward, and body in the present moment, “Why are we so attached to a sanitized past?” and let the answers flow without judgment. This is a way we can embody the sankofa spirit...
Illustration by Edson Ikê