Racial & Social Justice Initiative

Join us in action!
 

We commit ourselves to actively engaging and fully actualizing our bodhisattva vows in the relative world. ♦ We commit ourselves to doing this fearlessly—by opening our hearts to suffering and our eyes to oppression, marginalization, and injustice. ♦ We commit ourselves to doing this inclusively— by embodying the ideals of mutuality, interdependence, and democratic process. ♦ And we commit ourselves to doing this humbly—by acknowledging the reality of not-knowing, even as we act in urgent service to all beings.

Why are we doing this? The goals of the RSJ Action Campaign are to:
engage, excite, and connect the sangha
deepen our understanding of important topics
contribute to the common good at this time of urgent need
support each other in our aspirations for justice
foster new relationships and expand existing ones
spark conversations around issues of justice
 
Join the RSJ closed Facebook page to keep updated on the continually evolving list of opportunities. 
 

INITIATE AN EVENT

We want to support what you're doing! Fill out the RSJ Event & Activity Form to invite the sangha to join you. We ask that 1) the event be related to social justice; 2) you are attending the event; & 3) you are inviting others to join you (i.e. "let's meet and walk over together" vs. "hey, maybe see you there.") This resource is for those who self-identify as members of the GBZC community. Please give us at least a week to get our act together & post your stuff! we'll post on the FB page, the website (here!), the GBZC calendar, and in the weekly newsletter.

CURRENT & UPCOMING EVENTS

♦ Racial Privilege Awareness and Responsibility (RPAR - pronounced "repair")
Practice Leader: Josh Bartok & Rebecca Behizadeh
Dates: Sunday, Nov 18 from 6:45 - 8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: This evolving group was initially formed by several white members who wanted to create a space to focus specifically on understanding our racial privilege and how to take actions that dismantle that privilege, using zen practice. At the same time, we are all affected by our colonial legacy, and racial hierarchies are complex. We recognize that people of color may also have complex experiences of relative racial privilege in addition to oppression and/or some may find that working with white people who are trying to do anti-racist work is something they would like to do. We welcome anyone who wants to engage in this particular work from any positionality. We also want to be explicit that we do not think that people who have been hurt by racial inequity should bear the burden of responding or need to bear witness to white people or other people with relative racial privilege working through these issues and so we recognize that this particular group may not meet many people’s needs. This is only one form in which we are taking up racial and social justice work as a sangha and we hope that other forms will meet the diverse needs and wants of the sangha. We also welcome any other suggestions and initiatives.
Who: Anyone who attended either session of our book discussion last spring OR who has read at least the first three chapters of Oluo’s book.
Questions? Contact [email protected]
 
 
♦ The RSJ (Racial & Social Justice) working group
Dates: Sunday, Dec 2nd 7-8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center
Description: This is the umbrella groups that supports GBZC's diverse array of racial & social justice initiatives. We incubate new ideas, develop infrastructure, and troubleshoot impediments to further the implementation of our bodhisattva vow to save all beings. 
 
♦ Childcare for Found in Translation
Co-Sponsors: Jason Pavel 
Location: Somerville Hospital
Description: Help break the cycle of poverty and racism by providing childcare to women involved in Found in Translation's training programs. Found in Translation's mission is to help homeless and low-income multilingual women to achieve economic security through the use of their language skills; and to reduce ethnic, racial, and linguistic disparities in health care by unleashing bilingual talent into the workforce. 
RSVP directly to Jason Pavel
 
♦ Racial & Social Justice shared resources googledoc - crowd-sourced, check it out!

PAST EVENTS

♦ Weekly Call to Action
Co-Sponsors: Leilani Diaz & Nick Patterson
Date: Weekly throughout the RSJ Action Campaign
Description: Nick Patterson and Leilani Diaz are taking turns sending out the Weekly Call to Action email ONCE a week. In each email, Nick or Leilani will include: links to sources that have info about who to contact about different issues; encouragement to call legislators about an issue important to you; a brief blurb about what Nick or Leilani will be calling about; how your action relates to one of the Buddhist precepts.
RSVP directly to Leilani or Nick 
 
♦ Rally for Transgender Rights
Date: Sunday, October 28th 
Location: Meet at Greater Boston Zen Center at 12:30pm, event starts at 1pm
Co-Sponsors: Josh Bartok & Liz Roemer
Description: Rally to support transgender rights.
RSVP not required, contact Josh or Liz with questions
 
♦ The RSJ working group
Dates: Sunday, October 28th 7-8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center
Description: This is the umbrella groups that supports GBZC's diverse array of racial & social justice initiatives. We incubate new ideas, develop infrastructure, and troubleshoot impediments to further the implementation of our bodhisattva vow to save all beings. 
 
♦ Racial Privilege Awareness and Responsibility (RPAR - pronounced "repair")
Practice Leader: Liz Roemer & Mike Cerone
Dates: Sunday, Oct 21 from 6:45 - 8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: This evolving group was initially formed by several white members who wanted to create a space to focus specifically on understanding our racial privilege and how to take actions that dismantle that privilege, using zen practice. At the same time, we are all affected by our colonial legacy, and racial hierarchies are complex. We recognize that people of color may also have complex experiences of relative racial privilege in addition to oppression and/or some may find that working with white people who are trying to do anti-racist work is something they would like to do. We welcome anyone who wants to engage in this particular work from any positionality. We also want to be explicit that we do not think that people who have been hurt by racial inequity should bear the burden of responding or need to bear witness to white people or other people with relative racial privilege working through these issues and so we recognize that this particular group may not meet many people’s needs. This is only one form in which we are taking up racial and social justice work as a sangha and we hope that other forms will meet the diverse needs and wants of the sangha. We also welcome any other suggestions and initiatives.
Who: Anyone who attended either session of our book discussion last spring OR who has read at least the first three chapters of Oluo’s book.
Questions? Contact [email protected]
 
♦ Talk by Sara McBride, author of "Tomorrow will be Different, Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equity"
Dates: Oct 20, 7-9pm
LocationNeedham Congregational Church 1154 Great Plain Ave. Needham MA.
Sangha sponsor: Rick Hardy
Description: Sangha member Rick Hardy invites you to join him in attending a discussion of the book "Tomorrow will be Different, Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equity" by Sara McBride. This event is sponsored by the Needham Free Public Library Diversity Book Club and the Needham Coalition for Transgender Rights. 
RSVP to Rick Hardy at this form
 
♦ Book discussion of Sara McBride's "Tomorrow will be Different, Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equity"
Dates: Oct 11, 7-9pm
Location: Needham Free Public Library 1139 Highland Ave Needham, MA.
Sangha Sponsor: Rick Hardy
Description: Sangha member Rick Hardy invites you to join him in attending the following event. Sara McBride, Author of "Tomorrow will be Different, Love, Loss and the Fight for Transgender Equity" will be leading a discussion: "Why yes on 3." Sponsored by the Needham Coalition for Trans Gender Equity and Freedom for All Massachusetts.
RSVP to Rick Hardy at this form
 
♦ "More Ocean, Less Plastic"
Dates: Sunday, Sept 30, 7-9pm
Location: Newton (email Mike or Bob, info below)
Co-Sponsors: Mike Fieleke & Bob Waldinger, Morning Star Sangha & Henry David Thoreau Sangha
Description: This will be an evening film and discussion on the subject, "More Ocean, Less Plastic." The important central message of the event is to learn about the ecological crisis we face in our use of plastics, and how we can reduce our use of plastic shopping bags, water bottles, straws (except for people with disabilities) and styrofoam cups. Eliminating these four single use plastics will make a tremendous difference in the amount of plastic ocean pollution and it is something very doable by all of us, unlike many environmental problems which seem dauntingly difficult to solve. Link to information about this topic. Most of the evening will be a discussion of how we can make a difference in saving the planet, and we hope this will be a step in our efforts to enact our bodhisattva vows.
RSVP to Mike Fieleke and Bob Waldinger at [email protected]
 
♦ Racial Privilege Awareness and Responsibility (RPAR - pronounced "repair")
Practice Leader: Liz Roemer & Rebecca Behizadeh
Dates: Sunday, Sept 16 from 6:45 - 8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: This evolving group was initially formed by several white members who wanted to create a space to focus specifically on understanding our racial privilege and how to take actions that dismantle that privilege, using zen practice. At the same time, we are all affected by our colonial legacy, and racial hierarchies are complex. We recognize that people of color may also have complex experiences of relative racial privilege in addition to oppression and/or some may find that working with white people who are trying to do anti-racist work is something they would like to do. We welcome anyone who wants to engage in this particular work from any positionality. We also want to be explicit that we do not think that people who have been hurt by racial inequity should bear the burden of responding or need to bear witness to white people or other people with relative racial privilege working through these issues and so we recognize that this particular group may not meet many people’s needs. This is only one form in which we are taking up racial and social justice work as a sangha and we hope that other forms will meet the diverse needs and wants of the sangha. We also welcome any other suggestions and initiatives.
Who: Anyone who attended either session of our book discussion last spring OR who has read at least the first three chapters of Oluo’s book.
Questions? Contact [email protected]
 
♦ Racial Privilege Awareness and Responsibility (RPAR - pronounced "repair")
Practice Leader: Donna M. White
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2018 from 6:45 - 8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: This evolving group was initially formed by several white members who wanted to create a space to focus specifically on understanding our racial privilege and how to take actions that dismantle that privilege, using zen practice. At the same time, we are all affected by our colonial legacy, and racial hierarchies are complex. We recognize that people of color may also have complex experiences of relative racial privilege in addition to oppression and/or some may find that working with white people who are trying to do anti-racist work is something they would like to do. We welcome anyone who wants to engage in this particular work from any positionality. We also want to be explicit that we do not think that people who have been hurt by racial inequity should bear the burden of responding or need to bear witness to white people or other people with relative racial privilege working through these issues and so we recognize that this particular group may not meet many people’s needs. This is only one form in which we are taking up racial and social justice work as a sangha and we hope that other forms will meet the diverse needs and wants of the sangha. We also welcome any other suggestions and initiatives.
Who: Anyone who attended either session of our book discussion last spring OR who has read at least the first three chapters of Oluo’s book.
Questions? Contact Rebecca Behizadeh, [email protected]
 
♦ The RSJ working group
Dates: Sunday, August 26th 7-8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center
Description: This is the umbrella groups that supports GBZC's diverse array of racial & social justice initiatives. We incubate new ideas, develop infrastructure, and troubleshoot impediments to further the implementation of our bodhisattva vow to save all beings. We will be joined this weekend by veteran organizer Abel Cano to guide us in possible next steps for our work.
 
♦ Film Viewing & Discussion: "Sorry to Bother You"
Sponsored by: Racial Privilege Awareness and Responsibility (RPAR - pronounced "repair")
Date: Sunday, July 29, 2018, meet at 7:10pm in the theater
Location: Somerville Theater, Davis Square
Description: Join us to watch this important movie! We will discuss afterwards over dessert/drinks. 
Tickets available on the Somerville Theater website
Questions? Contact Rebecca Behizadeh, [email protected]
 
♦ "Awakening Together" with Larry Yang
Sponsored by: Boundless Way Zen
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center & Worcester Zen Center
Description: Larry Yang, dharma teacher and author of "Awakening Together," will give the following talks. Copies of "Awakening Together" are available at Greater Boston Zen Center on a sliding scale, and all are strongly encouraged to read it in advance.
-----At Greater Boston Zen Center, 288 Norfolk St, Cambridge, MA:
      *Friday, August 3rd, 7-9 pm, Talk: "Awakening Together"
      *Saturday, August 4th, 9 am-12 pm, guest Dharma talk & Interviews during regular program
-----At Boundless Way Temple, 1030 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA:
      *Sunday, August 5th, 9am-12pm, "Lessons in Diversity and Dharma from the Insight Community"
      *Sunday, August 5th, 7pm-8:30 pm, guest Dharma talk during evening program
RSVP: Fill out this form to indicate your interest by July 21st; a follow-up email will be sent to let you know if your space is confirmed 
 
♦ Canvassing for Yes on 3 (campaign to preserve MA nondiscrimination protections for transgender people)
Sponsored by: Josh Levin
Date: Sunday, July 15, 2018 10am - 3pm
Location: Boston (the specific location is not usually announced until a day or two before hand, but it always is close to a T stop. If I know folks are coming I can let them know the location as soon as I know!)
Description: Canvassing door-to-door to preserve MA nondiscrimination protects for transgender people. This event is just for one specific date that I'm committing to being at, but there are all types of canvasses and other volunteer opportunities all throughout every week if people are interested! https://www.freedommassachusetts.org/events/
RSVP to Josh Levin
 
♦ Diversity & Discussion Book Club
Sponsor: Rick Hardy 
Date: 6/21/2018 @ 7:30-9pm
Location: Community Room Needham Free Public Library Address: 1139 Highland Avenue Needham, MA 02494 Contact: (781) 455-7559 ADA: Yes
Description: The Diversity and Discussion Book Club is cosponsored by the Trustees of the Needham Free Public Library and the Needham Human Rights Committee. http://www.needhamma.gov/humanrights and the Needham Diversity Initiative http://www.needhamdiversity.org/ Diversity and Discussion Book Club - The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
RSVP directly to Rick
 
National Day of Action Rally: Against Family Separation
Sponsored by: Josh Bartok & Liz Roemer
Date: Saturday, June 30 @ 11am
Location: Meet at Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St) at 10:30 to head over together
DescriptionOur "Fourfold Commitment to Racial and Social Justice" calls us to act in urgent service to all beings. And the time for action is now. In the world of the relative, there is harm and non-harm. The Dharma firmly aligns with taking a side, and standing on the side of non-harm, non-abuse, non-cruelty, and the non-theft of children from their mothers and fathers. In response to our nation's fascistic and cruel actions at the border and elsewhere, MoveOn.org and numerous others have organized a national rally for action, to pressure the government to speedily reunite children and families. 
Join us at the Zen Center before the rally or watch the Facebook page for our location update
 
♦ The Art of Public Narrative with Abel Cano
Sponsored by: The Racial & Social Justice Working Group
Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018 from 7-9pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: Ever want to invite people to join you in something - an event, an initiative, concern about an urgent issue - but not know how? Please join the Racial & Social Justice Working group as we welcome Abel Cano, founder and Executive Director of Arc of Change, to lead us in an introduction to "public narrative." Abel will show us how storytelling can build community and motivate us to action. Come to meet Abel, learn a little bit about this skill, and spend some quality time with the sangha.
RSVP at this link
Questions: Rebecca Behizadeh, [email protected]
 
Follow up to the book club on"So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo
Co-Sponsors: Josh Bartok, Rebecca Behizadeh
Date: Sunday, May 20, 2018 from 6:45 - 8:45pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: Those who attended the "So You Want to Talk About Race" book club by Ijeoma Oluo expressed a desire to keep meeting.  At this event, we will work out together how to move forward in this urgent and important work.
RSVP to Rebecca Behizadeh, [email protected]
 
♦ Earth Day State House Sit 
Co-Sponsors: Leilani Diaz and Mike Cerone
Date: Saturday, Apr 22, 2018 @ 2-4pm
Location: Boston state house
Description: Please join us on Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2-4pm for seated/walking meditation at the State House! We are meeting in the brick area in front of the steps of the State House (Park Street and Beacon Street). 
Schedule:
10-15minutes to settle in/greet attendees, and Michael/Leilani (cosponsors of the sit) will speak about what we are doing and how it relates to practice
25 minute seated meditation
5 min kinhin (walking meditation)
25 minute seated meditation
10 min transition to discussion spot (TBD)
30 minute ending group discussion/reflection 
RSVP directly to Leilani Diaz or Mike Cerone, or by joining their FB invite (which has a lot more info). 
 
♦ Discussion Group: "So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo
Co-Sponsors: Josh Bartok, Rebecca Behizadeh, Mike Fieleke, Sandra Raponi
Dates: March 25th & April 1, 2018 @ 6:45 - 8:45
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center (288 Nortfolk St)
Description: Ijeoma Oluo's timely book provides guidelines for discussing race across identities. Engaging in frank discussions of race is often a difficult task, but avoidance leads to the perpetuation of injustice. Join us for an exploration of white privilege, systemic discrimination, micro-aggressions, and the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America. This will be an opportunity to connect with sangha members who want to confront racism in a Buddhist practice context.
RSVP here
 
♦ Weekly Call to Action
Co-Sponsors: James Peregrino & Leilani Diaz
Date: Weekly throughout the RSJ Action Campaign
Description: James Peregrino and Leilani Diaz are taking turns sending out the Weekly Call to Action email ONCE a week - Mondays - for the duration of the Action Campaign (August 1-October 31). In each email, James and Leilani will include: links to sources that have info about who to contact about different issues; encouragement to call legislators about an issue important to you;a brief blurb about what James or Leilani will be calling about.
RSVP directly to Leilani Diaz or James Peregrino
 
♦ Dinner (potluck) and Discussion: "Buddhist Responses to Sexism" 
Co-Sponsors: Cheryl M. and Pam H.
Dates: February 3, 2018 @ @4-6pm
Who: All self-identified women
Location: Boundless Way Temple (1030 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602)
Description: Dinner and conversation about Buddhist responses to the dynamics of being gendered female. Please be prepared to share ingredients in your potluck offering for those who have sensitivities.
RSVP directly to Pam [email protected] or on the FB invite here
 
♦ Dinner (potluck) and Discussion: "Buddhist Responses to Sexism" 
Co-Sponsors: Cheryl Morrow & Melissa Myozen Blacker
Dates: Sunday, December 16, 2017 @ 4pm
Location: Boundless Way Temple (1030 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602)
Description: Does it feel like things are starting to change for women? Does the response to the recent misconduct of political figures signal a shift in attitudes? Are you surprised by any of it? How are things changing in the workplace and the world for you and other women? Will this be a turning point in history or just a blip on the radar screen? How do we, as Zen Buddhists, respond to sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault to women throughout the world? And most of all, can we welcome all of the feelings and reactions we have as we wake up to gender discrimination in our lives? Bring your experiences, observations, and insight to our next potluck dinner and discussion led by our cherished teacher Melissa Blacker, Roshi. Please be prepared to share ingredients in your potluck offering for those who have sensitivities.
RSVP directly to Cheryl Morrow or on the FB invite here
 
♦ Book Club: "Awakening Together" by Larry Yang
Co-Sponsors: Josh Bartok & Rebecca Behizadeh
Dates: Sundays October 29 & Nov 5, 2017 from 7-9pm
Location: Greater Boston Zen Center
Description: Book discussion! We will be reading "Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity in Community" by Larry Yang in 2 installments. For the first meeting, we will use Appendix 2 to launch our conversation. It's a great book, so pre-reading is encouraged, but the conversation will be accessible to those who haven't been able to read beforehand.
HOW TO OBTAIN THE BOOK:
Ebook available now from Wisdompubs.org
Print book available at Zen Center starting Tues 9/19
Print book available from Amazon on 10/24
RSVP directly to Josh or Rebecca or on the FB invite here
 
♦ Dinner (potluck) and Discussion: "Buddhist Women & Sexism" 
Co-Sponsors: Cheryl Morrow & Melissa Myozen Blacker
Dates: Sunday, October 21 @ 4pm
Location: Boundless Way Temple (1030 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602)
Description: Do sexist and misogynistic attitudes show up more often now? How do you feel about the way our female senators are treated during public proceedings?  How would you feel if you had to work alongside the engineer at Google who posted a manifesto declaring that women are unfit to be engineers? ♦ What does it feel like to be the only woman in the room?  Have there been times when you did not feel validated as a contributing member of a group?  Have you ever felt that others were "putting you into a box" to fit their preconceived notion of your abilities and talents? ♦ How can women support each other in these type of situations?  How can women shift the culture within organizations toward greater fairness without causing others to feel threatened? ♦ How can we use this unique insight and this special opportunity to awaken to a greater potential for the benefit of all beings?
Please be prepared to share ingredients in your potluck offering for those who have sensitivities.
RSVP directly to Cheryl Morrow or on the FB invite here
 
♦ The State House Sit - second opportunity to participate!!
Co-Sponsors: Leilani Diaz and Mike Cerone
Date: Saturday, Nov. 4, 2-4pm
Location: Boston state house
Description: Join us for seated/walking meditation across the State House (corner of the Common). The idea of a State House Sit came as a result of several sangha members expressing a sense of helplessness and frustration with the current political, social, and racial climate - and feeling unsure about what to do about it. The State House Sit is a way to channel the uncertainty, helplessness, and frustration into a very simple, but powerful action -  or "just sitting."
RSVP directly to Leilani Diaz or Mike Cerone, or by joining their FB invite (which has a lot more info). 
 
♦ RSJ Moving Night: "13th"
Co-Sponsors: Josh Bartok & Liz Roemer
Date: Sunday, September 24th @ 7pm
Location: Josh & Liz's house (email them for address)
Description: Join us to watch "13th," a documentary directed by Ava DuVernay: "An in-depth look at the prison system in the US and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality." Conversation to follow. SEATING IS LIMITED TO 16 PEOPLE! This is only advertised on the private RSJ FB page. Check out the trailer here.
RSVP to Josh or on the FB event; there's also a sign-up sheet on the GBZC coffee table.
 
♦ The State House Sit
Co-Sponsors: Leilani Diaz and Mike Cerone
Date: Saturday, Sept. 9, 2-4pm
Location: Boston state house
Description: Join us for seated/walking meditation across the State House (corner of the Common). The idea of a State House Sit came as a result of several sangha members expressing a sense of helplessness and frustration with the current political, social, and racial climate - and feeling unsure about what to do about it. The State House Sit is a way to channel the uncertainty, helplessness, and frustration into a very simple, but powerful action -  , or "just sitting."
RSVP directly to Leilani Diaz or Mike Cerone, or by joining their FB invite (which has a lot more info). 
 
♦ Labor Day March
Co-Sponsors: Mike Cerone and Rebecca Behizadeh
Date: Monday, Sept 4, 11am
Location: The Bandstand, Boston Common
Description: Join us in this rally and march! From their page: "In order to bring back good paying jobs with benefits including paid family leave, healthcare and fair scheduling, we must win a union. Most workers are being left behind as the gap between the wealthy continues to grow. It’s time to turn up the heat in the demand not just for a $15 an hour minimum wage, but for union rights. That’s why on Labor Day, workers in the Fight for $15 will join community leaders and allies in a nationwide uprising to confront politicians and corporations who have rigged the system against workers and put the demand for unions at the center of the national conversation."
RSVP directly to Rebecca or Mike
 
♦ Fight Supremacy! Boston Counter-Protest
Co-Sponsors: Julie Nelson and Josh Bartok
Date: August 21
Location: Boston Common
Description: Counter-protest to "free speech" rally planned in Boston in week after the Charlottesville rally. 
RSVP directly to Julie or Josh