#7 - John Freese: The Dependent Origination of Whiteness
John Freese is a co-host of the Down With the Dharma podcast, and recently published an academic article titled, The Dependent Origination of Whiteness. In this episode, we take the serious topics of social justice, race relations, Buddhist philosophy, and mental health, and deliver them in a fun, upbeat, and enjoyably informative conversation that’s easy to follow along. The article itself "argues that whiteness is a deeply rooted existential experience in the bodies and minds of European Americans that serves as a firewall against perpetrator guilt and trauma; it also explains why the threat white people perceive in demographic shifts triggers an existential fear of annihilation." In the paper, connections to clinical trauma therapy are included to ground the discussion in a secular, empirical, and trauma-informed context.
At University of the West in Rosemead, CA, John teaches courses on contemplative practice, Buddhist social ethics, service learning, and religion. John draws on many years of practice, travel, and study, including practicing in South India with a Hindu teacher and also training as a Buddhist monk for 12 years, including 6 with Thich Nhat Hanh. He is also currently a lay member of Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing. John holds a Master's of Divinity and is currently working on his Ph.D. at Claremont School of Theology, where his research and clinical training are focused on developing a Buddhist model of pastoral care and counseling. John has taught Buddhism and meditation in prisons in the past, is a co-founder of the Engaged Buddhist alliance that continues those efforts today, and he currently works with formerly incarcerated and other practitioners.
This conversation was originally recorded on Saturday, September 21st, 2019 in the great outdoors of Claremont, California.
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