Undoing Whiteness as the Path of Liberation: 2023 Program

October 13, 2023 – June 30, 2024


Our Approach

What is “Undoing Whiteness” from a Buddhist Perspective?

This program begins from the assumption that there is no such thing as a person who has not been deeply conditioned by the culture, beliefs, and values of the society in which they live. This social conditioning, or collective karma, includes complex formations such as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and religion, which provide societal scripts about what it means to inhabit a certain social designation. These inherited social frameworks often shape our deepest views about how we understand ourselves, how we relate to others, and what kinds of actions or ways of being are possible to imagine. When these views are rooted in historical delusions of innate difference, superiority, or domination, as race and racism are, the result is social and structural violence at every level of society. The Buddha taught that until this conditioning is transformed at its base into an embodied understanding that the lives and deaths of all beings are bound up together, then we will continue to enact ancient cycles that perpetuate racial suffering.

Our work is founded on the belief that spiritual communities have a primary responsibility to hold and guide the collective heart-work of witnessing, repairing, and transforming the myriad forms of ancestral pain and resulting violence that rend us from each other and from Mother Earth.

We understand whiteness as a constellation of beliefs and behaviors inherited by many European-descended people, fundamentally rooted in historical severance from land, from body, and from ancestors, and constituted as a social identity of separation. In particular, we see whiteness as ancestral trauma that lives in and is passed down through bodies, both individual and collective.

Thus, undoing whiteness begins by examining the messaging, views, fears, desires, shame, and other formations that we have received around race, including what it means to be “white.” This conditioning may be privately experienced, but it is not personal. By bringing these karmic seeds into the light of loving awareness, it is possible to understand and consciously transform (or “undo”) patterns of action, speech, and thoughts that may be causing racial, social, or ecological harm, whether knowingly or not. Because the suffering of racial conditioning is a collective phenomenon, it must be held and worked through in community, with others.

If whiteness is defined by separation, then a path of healing and repair must be about returning to upright relationship and reciprocity. By following the historical and ancestral roots of these embodied patterns and beliefs to their source, it is possible to reconnect to the mother wisdom of belonging to the Earth, to Buddha nature, and to each other. One who vows to cultivate this wholeness, connection, and love by waking up together from collective greed, hate, and confusion is called a bodhisattva, an awakening being.

Zen Training for Engaged Bodhisattvas

The program is structured to support an individual and collective process of illuminating and transforming the painful racial conditioning of whiteness and white supremacy within the framework of Mahayana Buddhism, as the bodhisattva path of liberation. As Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is a Soto Zen lineage, we are also rooted in the styles of training, practice, cultural heritage, and earth wisdom transmitted within this tradition, particularly through generations of our Buddhist ancestors in East Asia and the Asian-American diaspora in North America.

The ten-month course will begin with an immersive in-person weekend retreat in October, and continue with monthly Zoom meetings through the end of June (see calendar and details in the sections below).

Participants will be assigned at the beginning of the program to a small group of six to seven other participants, who will meet together at every monthly meeting to support each other in exploring their racial conditioning. Each small group will be supported in their collective journey by an experienced practitioner in the role of a Process Guide, whose function is to hold the small group container so that participants can focus on their work together.

One of the most universal teachings of the Mahayana tradition is the six paramitas, or six “freedoms,” which are traditionally understood as the course of training that bodhisattvas undertake in order to clarify their conditioning so they can help relieve the suffering of others. These six freedoms—generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom—are as applicable to cultivating kindness and skill with racial suffering as with any other kind. The sequence of the paramitas provides our basic scaffolding for deepening intimacy and practice with racial conditioning over the course of ten months together.

While this program is intended to provide support in focusing on the uniquely racial aspects of social conditioning in order to respond to harm caused by whiteness and white supremacy, we recognize that racial experience cannot be understood apart from gender, class, and other entangled social structures. Racial and ethnic categories themselves, including whiteness, are complex, often incoherent, and have changed over time. Our intention is to cultivate a space where all participants are held to explore the fullness of their particular experience with nuance, compassionate understanding, and shared ethical commitment to healing racial suffering.


Taking Ethical Responsibility for a Self Beyond Oneself

We welcome all practitioners of European descent who are interested in exploring, healing, and integrating the pain and violence of whiteness and white supremacy as they are lived and reenacted within one’s particular embodiment.

This program is primarily intended for participants who:

  • Are conditioned or socially identified as white, and/or
  • Have ethnic backgrounds with complicated, confusing, or contradictory relationships to whiteness, but who may “pass” as white or receive benefits of whiteness in some contexts (i.e. Jewish, from the Caucasus, etc.)

Mixed race or multiracial practitioners with European ancestry who wish to explore their own relationship to whiteness and white supremacy are also invited to participate, with the understanding that this program will be a predominately white space. Pending interest, one small group will be reserved for mixed-race/mulitracial participants to explore the particularities of this experience with others of mixed-race/multiracial background. We also encourage you to reach out to discuss your interest in this program so that we can better support you, particularly if you are new to BZC.

For everyone—if you are unsure whether this is the right space for you, please get in touch to talk more.

All participants are expected to maintain a regular meditation or Dharma practice.

Opening Retreat

October 13-15, 2023

This program will begin with an in-person residential retreat at the Watershed Center in Millerton, New York. The Watershed Center is also just down the road from Ancestral Heart Zen Temple, BZC’s upstate residential training temple.

Attendance at the opening retreat is required for all participants. Our intention for beginning the program in person is to create a strong foundation of shared understanding. Experiencing each other as physical bodies in shared space is essential for supporting our somatic work together, and will help sustain the group relationships over distance for the rest of the program.

The opening retreat will include:

  • Dharma and trauma-informed offerings from the facilitators
  • Small group meetings
  • Zazen (sitting meditation)
  • Opening ceremony and daily service
  • Rest and walking in the autumnal Taconic Mountains
  • Silence except for designated group meetings

Vegetarian meals (with option for vegan) will be provided. Rooms will be shared accommodations.

Yurt and Main House at Watershed Center

Getting There

Plan to arrive at the Watershed Center between 1:30 and 2:30 pm on Friday afternoon (October 13), and depart around 1:30 pm on Sunday (October 15). Transportation options include personal car (2.5 hours north of New York City), or public transit via Metro-North (Wassaic station). We will help coordinate carpools from New York City and pick-ups from the train station.

Covid Policy

All participants are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as we will be practicing together indoors in close physical proximity. Everyone must test negative for Covid on the morning before arrival. Masks will be optional. These precautions may be updated if the public health situation changes.

Schedule of Meetings

As the heart of this program is our practice and transformation together through the small group process, a shared commitment to attendance and participation is essential. Your presence and sincerity matters more than anything else. Participants must commit to attending all ten meetings (listed below). With the understanding that life is unpredictable, participants may miss one meeting over the course of the program if necessary.

With the exception of the opening retreat, all meetings will be held online via Zoom on Sunday mornings from 9:45 am to 1:00 pm Eastern Time.

  • October 13-15, 2023 — Opening Retreat at Watershed Center
  • November 12, 2023 — Karma
  • December 3, 2023 — Ancestors
  • January 7, 2024 — Dana Paramita, Freedom of Generosity
  • February 4, 2024 — Sila Paramita, Freedom of Ethics
  • March 3, 2024 — Ksanti Paramita, Freedom of Patience
  • April 7, 2024 — Virya Paramita, Freedom of Effort
  • May 5, 2024 — Dhyana Paramita, Freedom of Concentration
  • June 2, 2024 — Prajna Paramita, Freedom of Wisdom
  • June 30, 2024 — Closing Circle

Program Fees

The cost of this program reflects an understanding that tending to racism and racial suffering is a profound form of investment in the freedom and well-being of our communities for generations to come. This act of investing our sincerity, our efforts, and our resources in each other’s liberation is the path of repair and transformation. Stewarding the financial health of our community in this way ensures that BZC can continue to offer a socially-engaged refuge of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for everyone who walks through our doors. BZC operates on an equitable pricing model of price tiers based on differential access to resources (read more and find your tier here).

  • Program Fee (Flourishing Rate) – $2,000
  • Program Fee (Sustaining Rate) – $1,750
  • Program Fee (Base Rate) – $1,500
  • Program Fee (Supported Rate*) – $1,250


  • Opening Retreat Fee (Flourishing Rate) – $550
  • Opening Retreat Fee (Sustaining Rate) – $450
  • Opening Retreat Fee (Base Rate) – $350
  • Opening Retreat Fee (Supported Rate*) – $250
  • Opening Retreat Fee (Local Commuter Rate) – $250

*Supported rate is only available to BZC members of three months or more.

Both the program and opening retreat fees are required. Retreat package includes meals and shared accommodations. Fees do not include transportation or dana.

If you feel unable to meet this pricing request by yourself, consider asking for financial support or sponsorship from friends, family, co-workers, and community. You might share why this program is important to you, or how you hope to transform racial suffering in ways that will touch others. Admitting interdependence and vulnerability in this way can itself be a deep practice of undoing.

We are able to offer the option of an installment-based payment plan for the Program Fee portion of the cost; please contact us for details.


Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions to

Apply to Participate

We are requesting applications in order to better support and facilitate the group experience. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, usually within a week or two, and you will be sent a link to register and pay once we have approved your request to participate. There are limited seats available, so please apply as early as you can.

Apply to participate here!

The application deadline is September 15, 2023.


Kristin Miscall (she/her) was born in New York City but raised in the expanse of the southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is of Irish, English, and Scottish heritage. Kristin is a psychotherapist in private practice in New Jersey and New York who specializes in the treatment of trauma, blending current evidence-based practices with the wisdom of the ancient Soto Zen tradition. She previously held the beloved role of Tenzo (head of kitchen practice) and currently serves on the board as the co-chair of BZC’s Ethics Committee. She received the precepts from Kosen Greg Snyder in 2017 and feels a deep-welled calling to turn her Bodhisattva activity toward working with and transforming the harm of racial conditioning under the banner of fierce and loving community engagement found at BZC.

Wesley Simmons Antell was born and raised in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, and is of Pennsylvania Dutch, Swedish, English, and Jewish heritage. He holds a PhD in United States History from Harvard University, with a focus on racial capitalism and the carceral state. Wesley received the precepts from Kosen Greg Snyder, and lives at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple, where he has served as Enju, the Head of the Garden, since 2020. As a transqueer practitioner, he is deeply devoted to supporting earth-based community processes of repairing and healing complex historical violence. Wesley also serves as the Undoing Whiteness Program Coordinator.

$1,250–2,000, Plus Opening Retreat $250–$550
Undoing Whiteness as the Path of Liberation: 2023 Program