Call for Papers

Blackness/Afrikanness & Meditation, Dharma, Buddhism

Guest Editor: Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls, St. John’s University


Submission Deadline: April 30, 2021

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 curren tdynamic 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 writingthat 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 awell-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 HERE