Black August: Sister Sharifa Vernice Meytung

Black August Series

August 24, 2021, 7:30pm Eastern Time

In this session, Sister Sharifa Vernice Meytung will explore parallels between the continental and diasporan African tales, the Jataka tales of early Buddhism, and the parables of the Judeo-Christian traditions. Sister Sharifa is an artist, haijin (a writer of haiku poetry), teacher and lay religious practitioner in the Catholic and Buddhist traditions.

Sister Sharifa writes:

Forces of popular education, industrial and urban growth, and mass communications have changed the way in which many communities record, remember and pass along their stories. To experience the oral narratives of a community, within their cultural and spiritual context, is to benefit from the movement of the Spirit as She guides and shapes and teaches.

Tales expand the horizons of our minds, all the while challenging us to remain firmly rooted like the baobab tree…or the olive tree…or the bodhi tree. Rooted in a noble, shared truth. Namely, that all our stories matter and are worth remembering and retelling. To remember our roots in this way, is to remember why all creatures (even Br’er Rabbit) cherish freedom.

African cosmogonies, Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism all have stories to tell. These stories creatively teach and challenge practitioners in both the coarse and subtle aspects of their faiths and traditions. To experience parallel examples of the continental and diasporan African tales; alongside the Jataka tales of early Buddhism; in step with Christian and Jewish parables, is to throw open the window and breathe in The Word… All the words. Ultimately, one hopes to be moved to record and retell a few words of liberation, of one’s own.

Sister Sharifa Vernice Meytung, OLC (Our Lady of Czestochowa) is an African-American artist, haijin (a writer of haiku poetry), teacher and lay religious practitioner in the Catholic and Buddhist traditions. Her practice is also steeped in and informed by West African, Native and HipHop traditions. She has studied in many community and academic settings, including the University of Erfurt, Germany. Her media books and CDs include Oil For The Lamp: 7 Virtues of Human Character Development, Hiphop H.A.I.K.U. Vol 1 and 2, Rough Ground, and other multimedia projects. She is currently producing an online video series focused on the study of the Jataka Tales, a set of sacred texts in the Buddhist tradition. Sister Sharifa serves on the Board of the Philadelphia Buddhist Association and she is constantly creating collectively with other artists, activists, and everyday people in order to transform our singular truths into a shared human experience. Read her full bio at