Today is Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom and liberation.
One of the primary goals of yoga is this: liberation, moksha.
We can be grateful for our freedoms, and know “the truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free” (Maya Angelou). My liberation is intertwined with yours.
We are not all equally free.
The last month has drawn me into deep study, revisiting anti-racism trainings I took nearly 20 years ago with the Climate Justice Alliance (which is accepting donations) and many hours of new material (see below).
I see more clearly than ever how wellness culture intersects in a toxic way with systemic racism and hyper-individualism*, and I see how, despite the patient anti-racist education I’ve been given, I have been caught up in maintaining the status quo. < There is so much more to unpack in this statement than I can offer in this missive.
But I am unpacking.
We cannot go on with business as usual when black and brown humans are hurting.
I am white, and I have this modest platform. I am committed to weave this unpacking work into my yoga practice more actively and inclusively than I’ve ever done before. It will take ongoing:
(please see helloseven.co/townhall for more)
There will be times when I am quiet because I am learning and listening and doing the necessary self-analysis. I will make mistakes.
But I will keep the ball rolling.
Here’s an example:
* This week I took a survey from a wellness company about to change the look of its packaging. Only one of the 6 packaging options had a human on it. And guess what that human looked like: thin, white and female. It is unacceptable and harmful that thin, white and female continues to be our singular visual narrative of who represents wellness. I explained this in the freeform area of the survey, and then I wrote directly to the CEO of the company. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing. These are the daily tasks, among others, we are called to do.
I did not get into teaching and sharing yoga to help some people.
I did not get my doctorate in physical therapy to help a select few.
And yet I live in a society where access to wellness and to healthcare is not equitably distributed.
Chances are, you do too.
In my work of offering healing modalities, I notice massive differences in who shows up to the various spaces where I teach and it needs to change.
So much is happening in the world today. My city, Washington, DC, is a hub for this revolution. This is just a start to dump some of the thoughts going through my head.
One of the quotes I came across in the last few weeks that has resonated deeply:
W. Kamau Bell: “Harriet Tubman was an enslaved African who had no resources at all, and had to imagine ‘What can I do?’. Now she’s an American hero because in that moment, she got to work…So I really put it on white people: What do you see that you want to do? A lot of times white people get caught up in being scared to do it wrong. And I’m like ‘Yes, be confident that you will do it wrong.’ That’s how the work gets done. …Get used to sitting in that space [of figuring out how to do anti-racism work right].”
“Being an anti-racist should be a selfish act, because if the world is more equitable and just for black people and people of color, it’s automatically better for white people. …A world that is more just and equitable is better for your kids. It’s a safer world, but it’s also a more fun world. The best music festivals are the ones that have ALL the music there. [Don’t] get caught up in the high-mindedness of it. Get caught up in the humanity of it. Your children will be more actualized. They’ll have more freedom of expression. They’ll take in more information.”
Pledge I’ve Taken and 2 hour course that I highly recommend everyone who is teaching yoga or running a small business:
helloseven.co/townhall (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the pledge)
Books I’ve been reading (yes, I have all of these books open right now):
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (actually a quick and engaging read)
me and white supremacy by Layla Saad
White Fragility (re-reading)
special for the yogis:
Stay Woke by Justin Michael Williams
Gather by Octavia Raheem
Books I want to read but have not yet:
especially for the yogis:
Skill in Action by Michelle Cassandra Johnson
Trevor Noah – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c
^ share this with your family or friends who don’t understand the protests, who keep using the word “riot”
especially for the yogis:
The Wellness of We – featuring among others, my good friend Reggie Hubbard
Yoga is Dead Podcast, especially “White Women Killed Yoga”
Planet Money “Patent Racism” https://www.npr.org/2020/06/12/876097416/patent-racism
Post Reports “Why Hollywood Loves Cop Stories” https://www.washingtonpost.com/podcasts/post-reports/why-hollywood-loves-cop-stories/
The Daily “The History of Juneteenth” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/podcasts/the-daily/juneteenth-emancipation-day-black-lives-matter.html
Code Switch (every episode) https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/484785516/the-code-switch-podcast
especially this: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CA1Ez5qHL6o/
For white folks especially:
Kate Schatz https://www.instagram.com/k8shots (see her IGTV)
Kimberly Johnson https://www.magamama.com/
This page will be updated periodically
Happy Juneteenth, everyone,