How “the Mindfulness Movement Uses Buddhism to Prop Up the White-Supremacist-Capitalist-Cishet Patriarchy”

Graphic assembled by Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Yesterday, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review posted on their Facebook page these two TIME Magazine covers (one from this week, one from more than a decade ago) side-by-side with this caption:

Ah, to be white, blonde, mindful, and frozen in TIME.

Meditation and mindful TIME covers from 2003 & 2014.

Looking at the two covers, and considering the more-than-ten-year-span between them, I don’t think I can put it better than my friend Joshua Eaton:

When I say the mindfulness movement uses Buddhism to prop up the white supremacist capitalist cishet patriarchy, this is what I’m talking about! So many props to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review [who posted the above], Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and Mushim Patricia Ikeda [who both spread it on Facebook] for putting this foolishness on blast.

And lest you think that TIME using only skinny/white/blond/cis representatives is limited to just their coverage of the mindfulness movement, shall I remind you who graced their cover when their main feature was Buddhism?…

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  • Thomas Armstrong

    Actors sell magazines. The “when their main feature was Buddhism” article was about those two new movies in 1997, “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Kundun.” People went to see the movies, got interested in Buddhism, turned their attention to books about Buddhism even you would have approved of and it was good.

    I don’t understand what the complaint is. Two magazine covers with two blonde women does not a conspiracy make. Time magazine, circa 2014, is not an important publication. There is no treacherous story of dissing Buddhism here.

  • Erik W Davis

    Kudos to you, Danny Fisher, for writing this up. You’re going to get a lot of pushback from White people who don’t feel racist, and resent that something as powerful as mindfulness could be implicated in White Supremacy. Stand strong. It’s not an aspersion on mindfulness, which pre-exists race theories and white supremacy, but an aspersion and necessary critique of the ‘mindfulness movement’ and its promotion, which cannot be anything other than implicated in the various oppressions of our world, including White Supremacy. Well done. Thank you.

  • Justin Farquhar

    This is ridiculous, sorry. It has nothing to do with mindfulness and everything to do with magazine editorial decisions. TIME magazine (and almost any Western magazine cover) puts young, white beautiful models on their cover because these are more often seen as desirable/beautiful. It would be the same whether they were talking about Yoga, anti-depressants, dieting, beauty products or sanitary towels. The advertising industry is the same. And I agree that this is regrettable and almost certainly damaging. But the choice of cover would not have had anything to do with any leaders / representatives of the mindfulness movement. It might even have been stock imagery representing meditation/yoga.

  • Justin Farquhar

    Also, even in the case of the obvious ‘pro-white’/’pro-beautiful’/’pro-young’ (etc) imbalance in advertising and magazine art direction, this (with the exception perhaps of ‘White Supremacy Monthly’) has little to do with ideological conspiracy and everything to do with making money for the magazine/advertising agency/client, ie. the individuals involved doing the job they were employed to do.

    • hogy

      OK–how about informing us as to the ways such moves create more sales and make more money?

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    I am shocked, shocked to see pictures of young white blonde people on the cover of Time. And not just once, but THREE TIMES!! Clearly this is some kind of crypto-nazi plot to lay the groundwork for the Fourth Reich. Many thanks to the geniuses at Tricycle for spotting this. Good work. Keep it up (as I know they will).

  • Jayarava

    Just goes to show how threatened Buddhists feel by the success of the so-called “mindfulness movement”.

  • Jayarava

    Here’s an interesting experiment. Two Google searches.
    For both choose results = images. Select search tools: type = face.

    Search “mindfulness” and then “Buddhism”.

    Apart from a lot of statues under “Buddhism” I’m seeing largely the same make up – very few non-white people in either which is probably representative. Mostly young and good looking which is not representative. Under Buddhism most of the non-white people seem to be monastics.

    Results will vary by country and whether you’re logged into Google.

  • UWIR

    “When I say the mindfulness movement uses Buddhism to prop up the white supremacist capitalist cishet patriarchy, this is what I’m talking about!”

    First of all, this is TIME’s decision, not the mindfulness movement. Second, this is quite a leap to “white supremacist”. Third, where the hell did this “capitalist cishet patriarchy” come from? Do we know that this woman is cishet? That she’s a capitalist? If TIME did happen to choose a cishet woman, is that somehow a sign of prejudice? And it’s a bit odd that not putting a minority on the cover is anti-minority, and putting a woman on the cover is somehow supporting the partriarchy. I suppose if they had put an Asian person on the cover, there would people screaming about them promoting a stereotype.

    “shall I remind you who graced their cover when their main feature was Buddhism?”

    Can you not read? The cover clearly does not say “Buddhism”, it says “America’s Fascination With Buddhism”. “Seven Years in Tibet” was a major focus of the article.

    • Andrew Miller

      I love it when I don’t have to read far down the comments to find exactly what I was thinking of posting. Thanks!

  • Y. A. Warren

    There is an adage in public relations that there is no bad publicity. This Time article probably brought attention to Buddhism that it would not have otherwise enjoyed. It is up to Buddhists to clear up the misconceptions with the same caliber of journalism.

  • hogy

    What the heck does ‘cis’ and ‘cishet’ mean? Can’t we use a better vocabulary than terms coined by industry?

  • Thomas Armstrong

    I think the “two” women are the same person. I think, too, the two pictures were taken at about the same time. Danny, please investigate! There’s a further conspiracy here; I can just smell it!