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Reflections on “What’s Up with Engaged Buddhism? Who gets to speak?” – a Buddhist Peace Fellowship evening at the Oakland Peace Center with panelists Alka Arora, Katie Loncke, Donald Rothberg, and David Loy, moderated by Jen-Mei Wu and featuring visual artist Kenji Liu, May 20, 2012

Right at the get-go, the Baby Boomer generation socially engaged Buddhist expert white guys on the panel were intolerable. All four Buddhist Peace Fellowship event panelists, the two men plus two younger women of color, were seated on chairs on a stage, along with the facilitator, who was a person of color. There were maybe 35 – 40 people in the audience, looking up at the panelists, who had just been given the first question by the facilitator. The white men spoke assertively and with authority, cutting off the women and even interrupting one another. One even noted smugly, when another panelist tried to speak up, that he had the microphone. Since the people on the stage were lined up like ducks in a row, they couldn’t make eye contact with one another. The facilitator was oddly passive and did nothing to intervene.