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Esalen Statement on Our Present Racial Crisis

June 2020

For nearly 60 years, we at Esalen have committed ourselves to the exploration and actualization of human potential, a future humanity envisioned in ways at once deeply individual, radically interpersonal, politically active, plurally embodied and genuinely global. The recent national events and protests around the murder of George Floyd on May 25 and the still unrealized dream of a truly inclusive American society have shown us in too familiar and yet fundamentally new ways that we have not lived up to our own legacy. Since that horrible day—and all the other murderous days it has come to crystallize—we have listened and been in frank dialogue with people who have both moral authority and a position on the front lines of the fight for justice. We understand that, as a predominantly and historically white institution, we as an organization have no voice in this crucial issue, except to account for our inactions and to look inward to see the changes that we now need to make.

We have not taken systemic and systematic racism seriously enough. We have not intentionally engaged in the inquiry and practice of anti-racism. We have not sufficiently struggled with all of the explicit and implicit, loud and quiet ways that the long histories of American enslavement and racism continue to distort, suppress and weaken our spirits, bodies and minds. It is time, more than time, that we own those moral failures and work in very practical and substantive ways to address what is clearly the present edge and future of human potential. This we promise to do through these four concrete steps with the strong conviction that actions speak louder than words:

    1. The Board has resolved to change the composition of its Trustees by nominating new Black colleagues and other people of color to assist us in our journey forward until we reach a percentage of at least 20 percent in 2021.
    2. Esalen will actively recruit more Black colleagues and other people of color as staff members within the parameters of California and federal labor law.
    3. Esalen will actively recruit more Black colleagues and other people of color as teachers until we reach a percentage of at least 20 percent in 2022.
    4. The Center for Theory & Research will fund and host a multi-year series on “Race, Racism and Human Potential” designed and led by our Black colleagues.

The Board has formed a special Task Force to ensure each of these directives and continue to move Esalen forward on its commitments. We will report back quarterly on our progress. We very much appreciate your support and help.

    Jeffrey J. Kripal for the Board of Trustees and CEO Terence Gilbey, Esalen Institute

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