Blackness/Afrikanness & Meditation, Dharma, Buddhism
Guest Editor: Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls, St. John’s University
Submission Deadline: May 31, 2021 (now extended!)
In the last three decades, Black voices from across the African diaspora have begun to take up prominent space in both Western and Eastern Buddhist, Dharma, and Meditation spaces and communities. Though Black/Afrikan practitioners, teachers, and scholars are a small percentage of the global Buddhist populations, their influence and integration of mindfulness and meditation has invigorated many communities and peoples who have felt left out of or turned off from mainstream meditation communities and teachers.
From early Black Buddhist pioneers like Dr. Jan Willis, Dr. Larry Ward, Ralph Steele, Gina Sharp, Dr. Gaylon Ferguson, Dr. Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, and many others to current dynamic Black Buddhist and meditation teachers like Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, Bhante Buddharakkhita, Sebene Selassie, Dr. Vimalasara Mason-John, and many others, Black Buddhists and meditation teachers are infusing dharma with cutting-edge scholarship, while addressing social movements, decolonization, anti-Black racism, community healing, sustainability, harmful hierarchies, and infusing Buddhist practice with traditional Black Indigenous cultural truthways.
This special issue of The Arrow Journal turns its attention to thinking critically, creatively, historically, and speculatively about the relation between Blackness, Afrikanness, and Meditation, Dharma, and Buddhism. In part inspired by the 2018 panel “Radical Black Dharma Strategies: Black Femmes and Black Queers on Living in the Dark Age,” featuring Black Buddhist practitioners across traditions and lineages, this peer-reviewed special issue of The Arrow seeks scholarly articles, long-form essays, interviews, book reviews, and other writing that foregrounds blackness, Afrikanness, and Black indigeneity in contemplative practice and contemplative communities.
Additionally, Black people’s stories, wisdom, experiences, and critical inquiry related to Buddhism, Dharma, meditation, mindfulness, and contemplative practices need to be spoken, read, heard, and archived. This special issue is part of a growing body of Black intellectual, spiritual, and communal work inside of Buddhist meditation practices and communities. The Special Issue Editor especially invites Black, Afrikan, Afrikan-descended, and other Black diasporic people to take up space in this issue. This invite is also doubly welcoming of Black voices from African countries, Caribbean nations, Asian/Pacific countries, and indigenous lands.
The following topics, themes, and prompts are exemplary, though not exhaustive, of potential essay topics:
- Black Buddhist/Dharma/meditation spaces
- Decolonizing practices
- Practicing in white-dominated spaces
- Black-Asian relations in dharma/meditation spaces
- Dharma and carcerality (prisons, jails, probation, other forms of State surveillance)
- Book reviews (new or old works)
- Personal critical essays
- Leaving dharma communities
- Remixing practices, liturgies, and lineages
- Black ancestors
- Ordination and training
- Blackness, Buddhism, and chattel slavery
- Blackness, Buddhism, and colonialism
- Blackness and Karma
- Patriarchy and misogyny
- Black Feminism and Womanism
- Racial justice
- Black queer, trans, and non-binary practices
- Black embodiment
- Forming communities
- Black traditional religions and Buddhism/meditation
- Anti-blackness and Dharma
- Western Buddhism and Blackness
- The Black Radical Tradition
- Black men and masculinities
- Black women and femininities
- Black rage
- Black economies
- Africa and dharma
- Lineages, traditions, and communities
Types of Submissions
- Articles: Manuscripts submitted as articles should be 5000 – 8000 words (excluding footnotes). Submissions should follow standards for rigorous scholarly work, including a well-researched argument, engagement with relevant literature, and thorough citations.
- Essays: At 2000 – 5000 words, essays provide a substantial discussion or argument on a single topic or a few closely related topics. Essays may include more personal narrative, engage in more reflective or speculative inquiry, rely less on specific bodies of literature, or offer more opinion-oriented arguments than article submissions (see above).
- Short Essays and Book Reviews: Under 2000 words, short essays offer a concise argument or brief comment on a single topic, and book reviews examine a single book.
- Interviews or other formats: Contact the Guest Editor.
General Submission Guidelines
All submissions receive double anonymous peer review, and we ask authors to submit two versions of their manuscript—a copy with full identifying information and an anonymized copy with all identifying information removed.
The primary manuscript document should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file with the following information:
- Manuscript title
- Author name(s)
- Primary author contact information
- 100-150-word abstract (may be shorter for short essays / book reviews)
- 3-6 keywords
- Manuscript text
- Complete references in Chicago Style footnotes. (Please include references only as in-document footnotes, using the Chicago Style footnote format. The Arrow does not publish a separate alphabetized reference list. Visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab for a comprehensive reference for Chicago Style.)
Please read our full Submission Guidelines before submitting, where you will also find information about our Style Guide.
Ready to submit to the special issue? Click the link below.
Recent Calls for Submissions (closed)
Healing Social and Ecological Rifts
Guest Editor: LaDawn Haglund
Submission Deadline: September 15, 2020
The social and environmental crises we face today are unprecedented: climate change, biodiversity loss, species extinction, deforestation, and air, water, and soil contamination. These material crises threaten the very basis of life and are indicative of what many believe to be a deeper spiritual crisis, rooted in misperceptions of our fundamental interconnectedness.
At this urgent and challenging time, The Arrow is seeking contributions for a special issue that explores this disconnection between nature and humanity, and among human beings themselves. The provocation is that ecological crisis and societal polarization emerge from a shared foundation: a dualistic logic of domination and exploitation. The objective of this special issue is to penetrate obstacles to our collective self-understanding in ways that could allow us to act with greater care toward one another and the planet.
The speed, atomization, and callous materialism of the modern world are grounded in systems of thinking and acting characterized by domination of nature and other human beings. These include colonialism and imperialism, with their logic of supremacy over land and “others;” capitalism, with its logic of materialism, selfishness, class superiority, and boundless exploitation of human and natural resources; racism, with its logic of white supremacy; patriarchy, with its logic of male superiority; and speciesism, with its anthropocentric logic of human superiority.
Though these may appear to be separate forms of domination and exploitation, they share an ontological root from which emerges a multitude of social and ecological crises. Living in the shadow of these systems, we adopt a narrow world view that foregrounds a sense of entitlement to take what is not offered, take more than one’s fair share, take more than can be replenished, and take until it causes hurt. These “takings” create vast inequities and threaten our collective ability for resilience, empathy, and interdependent flourishing.
We invite contributions from practitioners, scholars, and activists that explore these dynamics, as well as potential pathways toward healing and authentic community based on shared sentience. We particularly welcome work that advances inclusive dialogue on questions such as:
- How do dualistic perceptions of self/other enable domination and exploitation in our society? How does domination manifest in our bodies, lives, and communities? What are the personal, social, and environmental consequences of rewarding callous individualism, selfishness, or narcissism? How can we honestly examine and reject abusive relations when they are entrenched in our history, culture, politics, and economic systems?
- What guidance, practices, and experiences would lead us toward more sustainable collective forms of social and economic reproduction? How can we support human autonomy while valuing difference, building community, and enabling coexistence?
- How can we develop internal capacities to work with grief, powerlessness, fear, and other emotions as they arise in our efforts to confront ecological and/or social crises? What possibilities exist for collective action and imagination to overcome isolation and individual powerlessness?
- What can we learn from communities that refrain from exploitation, or from contemplative practices that work to dispel dualistic thinking? How can we create the conditions for empathy, connection, and acting from a deep understanding of interconnectedness? How might subaltern worldviews inform potential restorative and systemic transformations?
- How can we champion scientific and socioecological priorities based on more holistic perspectives?
In all of these topics we encourage an awareness of the multilayered ways in which race, gender, class, and other dimensions of social identity and oppression intersect.
Please read our Submission Guidelines prior to submitting. We invite the work of authors from diverse traditions, and we welcome a variety of formats, including scholarly articles, essays, and poetry. When submitting, please indicate whether the submission is a scholarly article, essay, comment, poem, or other. Scholarly articles will be peer reviewed. Submissions may be emailed as Microsoft Word Documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arrow Journal explores the relationship among contemplative practice, politics, and activism. Inspired in its founding by the teaching and social vision of meditation master Chögyam Trungpa, The Arrow welcomes the insights of multiple contemplative lineages for achieving a kinder, healthier, and more compassionate world. We encourage dialogue on wisdom and knowledge arising from methods of contemplative inquiry, ways of embodied knowing, and intellectual disciplines. In doing so, The Arrow provides a critical and much needed space for investigating the meeting point of contemplative wisdom and pressing social, political, and environmental challenges.