A Dharma Glimpse by Frankie
Who are our Dharma teachers? Where do Dharma Glimpses happen? In this series of glimpses that I’m writing, my teachers are Netflix, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, online art courses and groups, my local supermarket, my husband, and more. None of these rich sources have anything to do with Buddhism per se, but they are the koans, the zazen, the Buddhas robes, and Indra’s net; the Dharma of Everyday.
I was in a Netflix dilemma. Nothing on ‘my list’ was calling to me and I had spent most of the evening scrolling through, well everything. I was in the mood for something from the UK; but I had already seen most of what was available. One series on offer was called ‘Top Boy’ – as I read the synopsis and looked at the cast I dismissed it as not for me. Because it was for ….black people….
As the thought arose, so did the heat suffusing my face and body.
It happened that this was at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests and could it only have been that morning I had been reading an article in which it was stated that the most insidiously damaging perceptions were from liberal and left wing white people who considered themselves to not have a racist bone in their bodies? Oh hello Me.
I was shocked. I allowed myself to think it and then say it. I’m racist and I was one hundred percent unaware of it. How many films and TV series had I rejected for the same reason? I could think of three without even thinking. How many books, fiction and or non fiction? It was extraordinarily horrible and made even more so by the fact that I am insatiably curious about the lives of others. I will set reading themes based on authors from countries I know nothing about. I’m fascinated by immersing myself in cultures, societies and histories not my own.
And yet…..this country of colour was a place I had never been.
Top Boy is a brilliant series and I’m eagerly awaiting the final season. I bow deeply to the series and to Netflix for nudging me into an awareness of my own ignorance, bias, privilege and unconscious sense of superiority. I’m not sure that as a white person born into a rich, colonial and racist country whose wealth was made largely through the oppression and exploitation of other nations, let alone its own poor, that I can ever be free of my own racism. And knowing that, I’m grateful, because it serves as a constant reminder that I can never sit back and assume that I understand the issues of others, and how I might, consciously or not, be contributing to them. I am reminded that I need to keep trying to re-educate myself. I need not to ignore issues as not relevant to me. That I’m not necessarily using compassionate action in the most helpful way. That I need to listen to other voices beyond the valley of echoes.
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