Black Lives Matter

These last weeks and months have witnessed an unveiling of the impact of racism and systematic disadvantage on the lives and health of communities of color in this country. We were just becoming aware of the disparate rates of death from COVID19 among people of color, when instances of police brutality against unarmed Black Americans took center stage, and it became necessary to express our horror and rage with protests and memorials to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.

To recognize, grieve, and express our support and wishes for a new era in which we will overcome the racist and materialistic culture of our society, we held Sukhavati, Maitri Bhavana, and Shambhala Sadhana practices the weekend of June 13–14. Shambhala Chicago supports the protests against systemic racism taking place in our city and country, and we are committed to examining own internal workings in the effort toward making the Center and its programming more inclusive.



Dear Community —

As we witness yet another instance of violence against Black Americans—a moment which stems from hundreds of years of systemic oppression—we Shambhala leaders wish to speak out not only to express our sorrow, outrage and emotion over this moment in time but to demonstrate a tangible commitment to action.

Doing so without acknowledging our own failings as a community would be insincere and hypocritical. For years, our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) teachers, leaders and members have been asking for change, and directly expressing what they need. There have been many well intentioned efforts to both educate our white sangha and to listen to and support our BIPOC members, and yet white fragility and racism are still as prevalent as ever.  This acknowledgement is not intended to discredit those who have tried to enact meaningful change in our community, particularly the ongoing work in many of our local centers. Many initiatives have started, but often did not receive the support and resources needed. Shambhala has lost some of its most dedicated members and teachers of color due to these failings. This must be acknowledged. We must do better.

As many of you may already be doing, those of us on the Shambhala Board are making personal donations to organizations that support the protestors, fight for social justice and do political advocacy work. These include:

These donations are only a start and cannot be the whole of our action.

We would like to invite individuals and groups within Shambhala to apply for a second round of Community Grants that will focus on initiatives of diversity and inclusion.  We would also welcome proposals that collaborate with groups or individuals outside of Shambhala who bring knowledge and experience on these topics.  If you have an idea for such a grant, please contact the Board at [email protected].

Internally, in the near future, the Office of Community Care and Conduct will be releasing a policy on Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination, along with the new Code of Conduct policies, and a training on Right Use of Power. We hope this policy and training will serve as a catalyst for dialogue on how each one of us and our community can address systemic discrimination and support diversity and inclusion.

Those of us who identify as white must take action to understand whiteness. The Board is committed to listening to BIPOC voices, educating ourselves, and further developing an ongoing course of action. We urge you to join us in this work.

Black Lives Matter.

The Shambhala Board

Veronika Bauer

Mark Blumenfeld

Phil Cass

John Cobb

Susan Engel

Lilly Gleich

Peter Nowak

Tai Pimputkar

Susan Ryan

Paulina Varas