“WHITE LADIES FINDING THEMSELVES SISTERHOODS”

white women
original upload by White Ibiza — irony, much?

“I would like to imagine other options, other ways of being, other ways of understanding identities, other ways of being together, even as we come apart.

Especially, in my world, where women gather.

In sisterhoods — to explore spirituality, creativity, personal development.

Our sisterhoods need to evolve.

They’re so often a slurry of cultural appropriation, spiritual bypassing, neoliberalism, multilevel marketing, and random woo punctuated by various signals of authority, virtue and performative vulnerability from their leaders.

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.

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(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.)

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The inherent racism, classism + other -isms of LOA and The Secret, and other “mindset” and “manifesting abundance” programs are rarely thoroughly confronted.

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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?”

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WOW.

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 Native American and 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.  Finding out I was Native explained it.  “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.

Rice also writes about giving up her making of dreamcatchers:

“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 THANG 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.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

enough’s enough

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.