I’m sure by now many have read about the latest incident at elephant journal: the posting of a video entitled “Yoga for Black People” and what occurred when a black woman spoke her truth about it. I won’t rehash the incident but you can read about what happened and the aftermath here and here.
Chelsea has written an eloquent open letter to Waylon Lewis.
While I don’t want to send more traffic to a site that I consider toxic, I feel I have to put in my two rupees because the way Chelsea was treated was certainly not the first incident of that kind for EJ. I also had an incident with EJ and its yoga editor last year over the Tara Stiles controversy. I also experienced a Waylon “apology.” You can briefly read about it here. I wrote:
“I felt blindsided and betrayed. He did not feel it necessary to ask my permission or even to ask my opinion before he wrote about me. While he apologized to me months later for writing the story, it did not matter at that point. Intention is everything and you can’t unring a bell. To me his story brought to light what this modern yoga scene has become: us v. them. The rightous v. the unrightous. The purists v. the modernists. Old v. young. Thick v. skinny. The Lulus v. The WalMarts.”
Once again, the issue is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Just like Judith Lasater’s letter to Yoga Journal was not about the Toesox ads with Kathryn Budig, and just like the whole Tara Stiles thing raised deeper issues to be questioned, the issues that Chelsea raised were not just about the posting of a one stupid video.
Once again, as with the Toesox and Tara Stiles’ incidents, someone who speaks out against the status quo is chastised, told to get over it, to lighten up, and OH MY GOD, the worst insult of all, “you don’t have a sense of humor.”
That’s what every guilty party yells when someone calls them out on their nonsense — “What? Who me? What did I do?”
Calling something a joke as Waylon did doesn’t make it any less important. EJ is truly a dysfunctional household when an attempt is made to shame and embarrass the ones who are calling out the perpetrator.
What irked me more than that video was that Chelsea was told to shut up — by Waylon and EJ’s readers — after standing up for what she believed in. She was told, basically, to get to the back of the bus. This reaction from so-called hip readers of a supposedly cutting edge online “yoga and spirituality” site? Please. You can read in this post the typical responses when someone questions EJ’s status quo.
There must be something “wrong” with our outlook, there is something “wrong” with us. We are patted on the head with the comment “lighten up, honey, it’s no big deal.” Yes, it IS a big deal in the larger context. I was labeled a “radical feminist” by the yoga editor of EJ during the Tara Stiles thing — AS IF that’s the worst thing you can call an outspoken woman (besides calling her a bitch, that is.)
Dare I ask, what ever happened to just saying “I’m sorry” and leaving it at that instead of trying to justify bad behavior, instead of making excuses? It’s called empathy. Waylon — having been raised Buddhist as he loves to tell everyone — should know that empathy is one of the things that is cultivated in a Buddhist practice. It’s the basis of compassion. With all the posts about mindfulness on EJ, one would think that Waylon would have read a few and would spend a few mindful moments contemplating the repercussions of his actions before clicking “publish.” Karma, Waylon. Don’t blame people for “kicking the shit” out of you (in comments) when your own actions brought it on.
Waylon’s response to Chelsea was that it was “just a comedy video.” Using that logic, one might justify the use of the N word by saying “it’s just a word.” Yeah, it IS just a word but a loaded one that offends people. Does that mean because one doesn’t find the N word offensive they can use it? And then tell others who are offended by it to lighten up? That really helped Michael Richards’ comedy career.
How about posting a video of “Yoga for Muslims” or “Yoga for Mexicans” or any other “Yoga for [fill in the blank]”? Racial and ethnic humor is a sensitive subject and it takes finesse. Some can pull it off and it’s funny, others can’t and it’s seen as racist. Don’t shout down the ones who find some “jokes” offensive.
The “Yoga for Black People” incident is just the latest in a long line of incidents that show how Waylon needs to clean up EJ’s act.
Take your own advice, Waylon: walk your talk.
15 thoughts on “enough’s enough”
Right on, sister. I was labelled a “radical feminist” right alongside you, simply for having the balls to speak out on what was going on and having an opinion that other people disagreed with.
It is pretty much a “shut up, woman, we’ll say whatever we like!” kind of attitude and it sucks. Especially on topics of race. Waylon keeps saying Chelsea accused him of being a racist, but she didn’t say anything of the sort.
Waylon just assumed that’s what she was saying and based his attack of Chelsea on that. Pretty sad for someone who was meant to have been a born and bred Buddhist, don’t you think?
Walk the talk, indeed. Both Waylon and EJ.
Between what you’ve written, Nathan and Chelsea, I think that’s a lot of really valid points. None of which Wailin’ Waylon has addressed. He’s too busy telling us how hurt he is by getting the “shit kicked out of him” and how he hates being called a racist.
Diversions all, and not dealing with his own shit…
I will say that when people start calling me a radical this or that, a communist (heard that one plenty of times), and any other supposed insult, I know I’m striking the right nerves.
To me, this is just another example of the unmasking of the smiley, happy bliss veneer that covers so many modern spiritual communities. It isn’t pretty, but I’m glad so many folks are stepping up and speaking out.
Yes, it is true … it’s almost like yoga is being sold to the highest bidder … and the bidder has built-in/at-the-ready biases.
I had thought EJ could help me with supporting my primarily home practice and simple quest for knowledge …
But it seems it’s all young people competing against each other, trying to connect to each other, Asian-against-black, trendy-against-trend challenged …
I learn nothing from EJ except how to waste my time …
“I learn nothing from EJ except how to waste my time”
and I thought that’s what Facebook was all about! :D:D:D
EJ is retarded. I used to find a good article from time to time, but now it’s mostly self-congratulatory stuff.
i got my badge. thanks for sharing it svasti. lets join in solidarity.
linda-this is an excellent post. thanks 🙂
Well, I hadn’t gotten the message when some young blogger on EJ kept deleting my comments to her blog. That EJ was changing rapidly … Paid $12 for a yoga-&-meditation-specialized version of Facebook with all its petty and catty bull$h!t … Well, I consider the rest of my subscription is a sunk cost … what I can do with the extra time this frees up spans multitudes … I blog at a commercial site on nutrition these days; otherwise a badge would have come in handy ..
Sorry to say that I don’t find this new low from Waylon the least bit surprising. We lived in Boulder during EJ’s early years as a print-only publication and from day one I couldn’t understand any reason other than Waylon’s huge ego for the thing to be published.
Tellingly the weakest part of the whole rag has always been what you might have thought would be its strong suit: coverage of Buddhist teachings and practices. For Waylon Buddhism begins and ends with Trungpa’s Shambhala scence ’cause that’s what he grew up with. The idea that it might be a good idea to feature people with other training or that a scene founded by a guy who drank himself to death at 47, slept with dozens of his students and appointed a successor who gifted HIS students with AIDS might be a bit of an outlier in the broader Dharma universe never occurred to him. Yoga coverage was similarly myopic – as though a slice of the Boulder scene was the whole universe. It’s called narcissism, and that’s what EJ is really all about. This latest debacle is beyond the pale.
Linda, you always express things so eloquently! Whenever something happens in the blogosphere that is upsetting or controversial, you always say exactly what I wish someone would say. I am glad there are bloggers like you, Svasti, Chelsea, and Nathan to refer people to, especially when they, too, find that EJ is not the positive force it claims to be.
thank you SO MUCH, Gemma….and just when I thought I should not have written the post, that I should have kept quiet, let it go. thanks so much for reading…..
Oh, the you-don’t-have-a-sense-of-humor card, it drives me nuts. Reminds me of the joke “How many feminists does it take to screw in a lighbulb?” A: Tha’ts not funny. (I actually do find that joke funny even though I consider myself a feminist).
Great post Linda and stay radical for us.
Someone please explain to me why anyone gives EJ the time of day. I hadn’t visited that site in months and I don’t have the patience to wade through the bad design to figure out the controversy. I also don’t have the desire to give the owner the traffic.
How many times does EJ have to scream “fire” to get attention before we get hip to the game?
And another thing: Instead of focusing on this Waylon dude, focus on *the businesses that are advertising on his site*! Draw up a list and hit ’em all where it hurts…in the pocketbook.