About Rima

I am a scholar of social theory and social ethics, with a focus on Critical Race Theory, Buddhism, Christianity, and Social Justice. I have practiced vipassana in the Insight tradition since 2006, after spending a year in an American Zen lineage. I have been deeply inspired by Black dharma teachers, and as a result, my most recent project has been to make visible profound dharma teachings through the lens of Black voices (contemporary dharma teachers as well as Black writers).

This is a labor of love, and also rests upon two decades of working as an organizer, legislative advocate, and direct service provider in the movement to dismantle the system of mass incarceration in the U.S. My first book, Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice (Fortress Press, 2017) arose from grassroots activism in New York State.

My new manuscript, Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation (New York University Press, April 2022), brings the voices of more than 70 Black dharma teachers and practitioners to the center of American Buddhism.

It investigates:

  • healing intergenerational trauma through Buddhist practice;
  • honoring ancestors and the land;
  • dharma teachings such as the Four Noble Truths, the Five Aggregates, and relative and ultimate reality;
  • the body—particularly gender and sexuality—in the path of liberation; and
  • the importance of community and love in dharma practice.

I am teaching a class on “The Dharma of James Baldwin and Audre Lorde” in this Fall 2022 semester and will teach a class on “Buddhism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality” in the spring 2023 semester as the Visiting Professor of Buddhism and Black Studies at Union Theological Seminary.

I am also at work on a new book, The Fire Within: James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and the Dharma (Harper Wave, forthcoming 2024)

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