|Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion, United States on 2015-05-05 18:35Z by Steven|
The Whole U
The University of Washington
Bonnie Duran, Associate Professor of Social Work
The Dharma is the most important source of insight and inspiration to me as I heal from racism and discrimination and as I work towards social justice. The Dharma has taught me important truths about being a “minority” and the powerlessness, discrimination, and prejudice that often come with that status.
Growing up, I strongly identified by and with my racial identities and unconsciously believed the negative stereotypes. As a Native American (Opelousas/Coushatta) mixed race child growing up in a culturally diverse neighborhood in San Francisco, my white friends were often discouraged from playing or spending time with me. Although I scored well on standardized tests, the nuns who were my teachers tracked me into secretarial training and out of college preparatory courses. Girls from the Catholic school I attended would go to the predominantly white Catholic boys schools for monthly dances. I was rarely asked to dance. I unconsciously internalized these messges that I was worth less than others and was fearful, shamed, and obsequious towards authority. Although hurtful and limiting, experiences like these seem minor next to those of my parents, who passed down intergenerational fear, shame, and rage from much more serious, life threatening experiences
When I entered college and began to understand that I was the victim of racism, I was at first enraged by blatant prejudice and was hopeless about my life chances. I engaged in political work, and participated in the burgeoning Native cultural revitalization movement that was sweeping urban areas all over the U.S. and in other communities of color. As an undergraduate in the 1970s, I was very involved with the American Indian student rights, people of color movement at San Francisco State University. After years of political, cultural, and social work, I came to be disenchanted, particularly with the anger, separation, and other afflictive emotions that unmindful political community work and youthful party life can cultivate. As a mixed race person, I often felt that I had no solid cultural ground anywhere…
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