There’s a single, and simple red flag I look at when it comes to Western Buddhism (or really, Western versions of any other cultural religion…):
Is your community integrated with the people where the lineage/branch comes from?
If it’s mostly white people, then the interesting question comes up about what it says when people can take the “truths” of a religion or practice but refuses to interact with the actual people who have been practicing it for generations.
If it’s mostly NOT white people, and you’re the only person not of the home ethnicities, do you act and dress like the other people in your practice, or do you wear “cultural costume”? (Did everyone else show up in jeans and sweaters, but you’re showing up in religious garb or clothing befitting those folks in the 1800s?)
The former is straight up appropriation, the latter is fetishization. In one they couldn’t swallow the “truths” of the practice without a good coating of white supremacy, and the latter they’re so narcissistic they want to make themselves the “chosen” white person…
It’s really interesting to me how many white folks will take up a religion or cultural practice, then turn around and act like they’ve been persecuted their whole lives. It’s a form of white narcissism in which the fact that a narrative exists in which people are valued, who are not them, bothers them so MUCH, they co-opt the narrative in order to make it about themselves. “How DARE you spend any time, empathy, or compassion towards OTHER people?!?”
They like to tell their “story”, dress up in costumes, and make sure everyone hears about it, because it’s an attention seeking device. (and this is true for a lot more than Buddhism – just look at Ifa/Santeria/Lukumi white folks for some examples, too…)
All I know is that in any path where you’re supposed to learn something, if your primary motivation is being the center of attention, you’re not going to be able to see/listen/hear/absorb what is actually being taught.
But then again, as I pointed out above, these people are never really trying to learn anything at all.