Buddhadharma on the Asian Meter

This is a boring post, beware. It took a while for the local Borders to stock the most recent issue of Buddhadharma, but they finally did. I am going to just bite the bullet and subscribe to these magazines online. Somewhere, a tree spirit is heaving a spontaneous sigh of relief and doesn’t know why.

Anyway, I now have the third piece to plop into my Asian Meter. I also moved things around a little and added some detail to the graphic. Voilà!

Asian Meter

Buddhadharma sits on top at a whopping 17 percent in its most recent issue. (I explain that light orange shading below.) The Asian contributors in this issue were Dzigar Kongtrul, Dzogchen Ponlop, Eido Shimano Roshi, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal, Mahasi Sayadaw and Francisca Cho.

Okay, now to the even more boring stuff…

Here’s what goes into the meter. Each dark orange bar represents the proportion of Asians in the most recent issue. The light orange bar is the average of the previous two issues. You can see I’m missing this past data for Shambhala Sun. Also note that Tricycle is less Asian than they’ve been in the recent past, while Buddhadharma is more so. Once I start getting more data points, I’ll probably turn this into a line chart.

The dark lines indicate the estimate proportion of Asian Americans in the United States. The lower line (.32) is the estimate according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, while the higher one (.80) is an estimate according to Charles Prebish (via David N. Snyder). I think the Pew Forum’s number is probably too low (djbuddha explains this better) and I think Charles Prebish’s number is too high. Both estimates are provided to show the range of this estimate and to give an idea of how under-representative these magazines are when it comes to Asian writers.

The count of Asians comes from bylines. This means that if an Asian writes about a non-Asian, then I count one Asian; if a non-Asian writes about an Asian, I count a non-Asian. For discussions and interviews, I count all the participants, including the interviewer. I also counted the bylines from letters to the editor. I admit, some of the byline classification is guesswork. It’s entirely possible that Eileen Weintraub may actually be Asian from Seattle and that Kelvin Chen is actually a white guy from Hacienda Heights.

As a last note, while I may flatter myself with the notion that these posts might actually make a difference, they are mostly a simple form of expression and exploration. I didn’t want to complain about the marginalization of Asian Americans without seeing what the numbers looked like. Who would have guessed Tricycle would sit so low?

I’m curious to see where these numbers go in the future.

3 comments

  1. FrankT says:

    go arunlikhati go!!!

    you are pushing boundaries.

    people may be uncomfortable with what they see in the mirror you are holding up to their faces.

    but stay strong!

  2. arunlikhati says:

    @FrankT: Thanks for the support!

    @Al: I’m so glad you asked, Al! According to the Pew Study, only 9 percent of Asian Americans are Buddhist. As for Koreans, from the statistics I dug up, about 20 percent of Korean Americans are Buddhist.

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