Mindfulness and Institutional Barriers to Full Participation (Entry III)

Welcome! You have found your way into the middle of a discussion of the experiences of people of color in primarily white meditation communities. To access the beginning of this thread, click here. Otherwise, please read on. I'll be publishing a theme a week from my dissertation research until all the themes are covered.

Institutional Barriers to Full Participation

The East Coast Meditation Community (a pseudonym) is relatively large. They host about a dozen satellite groups around their bustling metropolis. Some of the groups meet in urban areas, some in suburbia. But the flagship location – the spot where the founder and head teacher, Jayla Braun (a pseudonym) most often leads – is located in a primarily white, wealthy suburb with no real public transportation.

Nearly every person of color I interviewed saw this as a problem. They called the place "Whitesville;" they called it "the Woods;" they called it "Upper Caucasia." Most of them saw the location as a symbol of the community's commitment to a narrow bandwidth of the metropolitan population.

In addition, most folks I interviewed saw ECMC as a community built by and for the affluent. They named overt and implicit dynamics in this assessment. On the surface level, retreats are expensive. Locations often assume access to a personal vehicle. More subtly, the ECMC culture assumes access to resources. Group members go out for lunch or dinner at expensive restaurants after meetings. It's assumed anyone can take a cab. These unconscious assumptions make it difficult for people with less access to financial resources to deepen bonds in the community. Because people of color are disproportionately impacted by financial exclusion in the broader culture, this dynamic was perceived as racialized by many of the participants. 

For other themes, click on the links below.

  1. Interpersonal Barriers to Full Participation
  2. Institutional Barriers to Full Participation 
  3. Strategies for Coping with Racialized Exclusion
  4. Range of POC Experiences
  5. Failures of Leadership Support for People of Color
  6. Promoting Equity and Inclusion

For the intro (Mindfulness and the Problem of Whiteness) click here. Click here for some closing thoughts.

For information about upcoming mindfulness workshops with Craig & Devon, please click here.

Craig Hase