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January 23 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm PST

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:30pm on Tuesday, repeating until February 13, 2018

A Five Week Class Series with Arden Pennell and Amanda Ream

White Awake: Personal Transformation for the Liberation of All

How can Buddhist teachings help us understand and respond to the systemic and immense suffering of racism? This course will explore that question. Through gathering to study, reflect, and dialog within community, we will gain insight about how systems of racism and privilege operate, and learn ways we can support skillful change. This is a course for white practitioners, specifically, to build awareness and knowledge.


Why White Awake Training?

Conversations on racial injustice can bring healing, understanding and change. This course on white awareness hopes to contribute to a wider societal movement by serving the need for conversation among white people, with the larger goal of supporting practitioners in understanding power, privilege and oppression as a form of suffering that can be met with our Buddhist practice. This can prepare the ground for effective inter-racial dialogues.

Why White Awareness?

For discussions of race and injustice to promote understanding and change, we need conversations with different groups: dialog between those privileged and those not privileged by the American racial hierarchy, that is, between white people and people of color; dialog among people of color; and dialog among white people. This group serves the need for conversation among white people, with the larger goal of supporting Buddhist practitioners in understanding power, privilege and oppression as a form of suffering that can be met with our Buddhist practice.

Why is a dialog about race among white people helpful?

White people tend to have less awareness than people of color regarding racial issues, partly because racial privilege can be invisible to those who benefit from it. Also, conversations on race can be uncomfortable, and discomfort can lead to avoidance and denial regarding race, and possibly harm to people of color. This has led anti-racism educators to recommend white racial awareness affinity groups as an important starting point for white people.  Such groups provide a space where white people can explore unconscious bias about race, face their own difficulties regarding the racial messages they have been taught, and learn from one another about anti-racist thinking and behavior.

Additionally, an interracial conversation can unfairly become a space where people of color feel they must educate white folks about the realities of racism, especially when racial awareness between people is unequal. This can be tiresome and even re-traumatizing for people of color. Gaining some level of awareness through a white affinity group can be a helpful starting place for white folks prior to engaging in interracial dialog specifically about racism.

QUESTIONS?  Please email organizers Amanda Ream ( amandaream2009 at gmail dot com) or Arden Pennell (ardenpennell at gmail dot com).


Note from facilitators: Our intention is to foster a learning community infused with safety and emotional honesty. Please review the below requests we are making of participants to determine whether this course is right for you:

  • Attend and participate in all meetings (at least 5/6)
  • Be willing to explore your personal experience
  • Maintain / renew your personal Dharma practice as a frame for supporting this inquiry
  • Be willing to grapple with difficult issues, and to stay engaged
  • Seek support of the program facilitators if needed
  • Join this community with the intention to support yourself and other group members in this work.



The cost for the 5 week series is 90 dollars. 


*This course is influenced by the White Awake curriculum developed by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. The name “White Awake” is used courtesy WA Director Eleanor Hancock.  Please see the White Awake website for more information.


ARDEN PENNELL  has been practicing and studying the dharma since 2005, primarily in the Insight tradition. Her current focus is the question: “What does it mean for every moment to be practice?” In addition to meditation, how can all of life foster awakened compassion? She has facilitated racial awareness work at New York Insight and Insight Meditation Center. Professionally, she facilitates courses on awareness and self-care in high-performing business environments.


AMANDA REAM has a decade of study and practice experience in the Insight tradition.  She is a graduate of the Dedicated Practicioners’ Program at Spirit Rock and facilitates the QSangha for the LGBTQI community at SF ATS.  She’s a union organizer and a member of the Leadership Sangha at the East Bay Meditation Center.


January 23
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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San Francisco Center
2701 Folsom St.
San Francisco,CA94110United States
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