The other night I watched comedian George Lopez’s latest special The Wall. I’ve always thought him hilarious. And yeah, he picks on white people. Sorry, this is a #whitetears free zone.
A thought to add to the discussion about cultural appropriation in Yoga:
Lopez raised the question that Mexican food culture has been “bastardized” by white people. For example, all the restaurants named “border” something or the invention of hard shell tacos or the way McDonald’s bastardized burritos (they should be called “McCaca” he said.)
So maybe the word “appropriation” should be replaced by “bastardization.” Western yoga hasn’t been appropriated, its been bastardized.
And to quote Queen Latifah, they’re whiter than a Wilco concert.
I know; I’ve been in them, and have profited off of them. In lots of ways, I still do.
We can do better.
(Pretty done seeing us white women using the word “tribe” for a lot of reasons. Like, people who buy our shit are not a “tribe.” A NEWSLETTER LIST IS NOT A TRIBE. See also: NamaSLAY, Spiritual Gangster, Unicorn Thug, Gypset and other terms that are co-opted by white people from POC to sell lifestyle products.)
The inherent racism, classism + other -isms of LOA and The Secret, and other “mindset” and “manifesting abundance” programs are rarely thoroughly confronted.
Can we give things up so that we begin to enter into a better relationship with each other? What might that look like? Our dreamcatchers, our dreadlocks, our trappings of the new age flattened without dimension or context by Whiteness and by capitalism, which really can’t be separated from each other? Can we wonder why we love to put on face paint and feathers to show our affinity for Standing Rock but don’t say shit about Black Lives Matter?”
A friend had posted this piece by Rachael Rice on her Facebook page and I was blown away. You can read the entire piece here. I immediately sent Rice a friend request because damn, I had to know this woman who wrote what I’ve been thinking for a very long time. I wrote about the lack of diversity in the New Age Yoga World long before it was on the radar screen of some popular yoga bloggers. Ahem.
This is sure to piss off a kombucha drinking white New Age yoga woman somewhere. Holding up a mirror to white privilege usually does that (“I’m not racist, I have a black friend!”)
I invite you to read Rice’s entire piece and her links and video before you get your Lulus in a bunch and get all offended and ranty.
I’m not going to unload a shit pile of judgment on outdoor yoga fests where many who attend are dreadlocked white people. You know which fests those are. As an introvert and loner, those mega fests ain’t my thang. I’m a lone wolf. If you feel the need to bond for three days with like-minded people, go for it. Just don’t call it a fucking TRIBE.
Before learning definitively I am Indigenous Mexican (I was lied to about my ethnicity but that’s another story), seeing white people wear headdresses as a fashion statement or burning sage (“spiritual Lysol for white women” as a Native friend calls it), made me very itchy. I couldn’t tell you why but it pissed me off. I just knew it was wrong. “Blood memory” a Native friend told me.
Don’t get me started about white people calling themselves “shamans.” Absolutely a white person can study with an indigenous person and learn the ancient ways. But not everything belongs to you – some things have to be earned the hard way, through sweat and blood and tears. And you don’t become a shaman in a weekend workshop at a yoga studio or New Age store.
“This is my announcement that I will no longer be making dreamcatchers. It is no longer congruent with my ethics as an artist to profit from this type of work. Really, it never has been. I’ve never felt 100% comfortable appropriating and selling a white girl version of the indigenous craft even though I took measures to give back, to educate, to honor the people I learned from.”
I also invite you to read that entire piece because dreamcatchers are a BIG THING in the New Age World.
As I said, this post is sure to piss off someone. But these are things that need to be said and explored. If this post makes you angry or defensive maybe that tells you something. Learn from it.
As Pema Chodron said, we need our buttons pushed if we want to get woke and stay woke (paraphrased.) That’s what a good teacher does.
But it’s easier to sleep walk. I love being the troublemaker. 😉