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Venice Hongwanji Hosts ‘Dealing with Racism and Hate’ Seminar

The Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Sangha Initiative hosted a special livestream event on April 29 entitled, "Dealing with Racism and Hate, a Jodo Shinshu Approach” that attracted a diverse group of more than 100 people from nearly 20 temples in the BCA and Canada.

This was the first topic of the initiative’s Sangha Speaker Series, featuring Rev. Matt Hamasaki of the Sacramento Betsuin, and was intended to bring attention to a serious and timely issue while showing how Jodo Shinshu teachings can help guide us in coping with emotions such as anger and revenge.

Rev. Hamasaki began his presentation with the history of discrimination and racism in the United States and how the concept of a "white race" began during colonial times. He then showed how the methods used to divide whites against Blacks were then used to divide the Japanese American community against itself during the incarceration of World War II. Attendees later commented on how this history lesson better helped them understand how racism has been "woven into the fabric of the United States."

The second part of the seminar focused on the Buddhist teachings and how discrimination and hate can be a product of how our minds are shaped by the systems in place that reinforce inequality. Rev. Hamasaki shared his opinion on how we can work to dismantle these systems.

The event was recorded and can be found on the Venice Hongwanji YouTube channel at

The Sangha Series was made possible in part by a grant from the Southern District Buddhist Womens’ Association and is being produced by the Sangha Initiative, a group of younger adults (aged 20-45) at VHBT that develops and hosts events and programs for the entire Sangha while focusing on engaging our younger adults and families.

The Sangha Series was led by the efforts of Monica Belli Haley and Michelle Orne, with the guidance of VHBT Resident Minister Rev. Kory Quon.

The next event is scheduled for June and is expected to discuss with how Jodo Shinshu teachings can help us cope with mental wellness and dealing with stress and anxiety as we return to a world out of quarantine.

The Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple is committed to helping to raise awareness of racism and hate issues through promoting a culture of diversity and inclusiveness. The temple has adopted the following hashtags that we will use as a constant reminder that everyone is welcome should be welcome at our temples and activities: #MinnaNakayoshi & #EveryoneTogether.


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