African Americans Convert to Buddhism in Growing Numbers

April 19, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe

On April 19, 2006 The Boston Globe reported, "Roslyn Springer first heard about Buddhism 18 years ago. A friend she practiced yoga with had told her about an upcoming retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, where people could meditate in silence. A 'woman on fire' at the time, she says, she jumped at the opportunity for some self-reflection. Springer, a 57-year-old African-American from Cambridge, had struggled with depression. As a teenager, she says, she was suicidal. 'Three-quarters of my adult life [were spent] just suffering, wanting to get out of here,' Springer says. 'I knew death wasn't the way. I had to get out some other way.' For Springer, Buddhism provided the alternative. Since that first nine-day retreat, Springer has spent stretches ranging from seven to 21 days at the Barre center... When she wasn't in Barre, Springer schooled herself in Buddhism, focusing on 'metta,' the practice of kindness. She chose to stay away from the local Buddhist centers, though; she felt uncomfortable in those communities, which she found were often 'not only Eurocentric but geared to those who were highly educated, highly intellectual, highly academic...' It's a journey occurring more frequently among African-Americans as some Buddhist communities nationally begin working on diversifying their membership."