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Ww cries b/c Bw takes Yoga Class (XOjane)

 
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    Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:00am
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Black Person in Yoga Class Causes Profound Moral Crisis


Black Person in Yoga Class Causes Profound Moral Crisis

Jen Caron, a self-described "skinny white girl," enjoys yoga. Or she did, at least—until a harrowing experience which can be accurately described as, "There was a new person at yoga, and that person was black."

Now, don't go getting the wrong idea here. Jen Caron is not some crude racist. Quite the opposite! You might say that she is almost, ah... too empathetic. The experience of merely being in the same room with a single black person caused her to experience such an intense bout of pained soul-searching that she was moved to write a lengthy essay about it on XO Jane. Here, the incident that wrenched her very soul:

A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.

Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I've seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it's a sad thing, but as a student there's nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn't positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.

Imagine: there you are, in yoga class, when all of a sudden, directly behind you, you sense a fairly heavy black woman who you can feel directing resentment directly at your body. Reality—or nightmare?

I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my high-waisted bike shorts, my tastefully tacky sports bra, my well-versedness in these poses that I have been in hundreds of times. My skinny white girl body. Surely this woman was noticing all of these things and judging me for them, stereotyping me, resenting me—or so I imagined...

I realized with horror that despite the all-inclusivity preached by the studio, despite the purported blindness to socioeconomic status, despite the sizeable population of regular Asian students, black students were few and far between.

To bring you up to speed, if you're just joining us: Jen Caron went to yoga class. Behind her in yoga class was someone new to yoga. That person, who was black and female, was not skilled at yoga. Their presence made Jen Caron painfully self-aware. And then came the true enlightenment...

I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her?

Oh no.

If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same.... If I asked her to articulate her experience to me so I could just listen, would she be at all interested in telling me about it?

A DRAMATIZATION OF THIS MOMENT BROUGHT TO LIFE

JEN CARON: Hey there. Can you articulate your experience to me?

NEW YOGA STUDENT: Who are you?

I got home from that class and promptly broke down crying. Yoga, a beloved safe space that has helped me through many dark moments in over six years of practice, suddenly felt deeply suspect. Knowing fully well that one hour of perhaps self-importantly believing myself to be the deserving target of a racially charged anger is nothing, is largely my own psychological projection, is a drop in the bucket, is the tip of the iceberg in American race relations, I was shaken by it all the same.

To recap: there was a black person in Jen Caron's yoga class one time.

I'm sure her, ah, heart is in the right place.



Edited by Alias_Avi - Jan 29 2014 at 12:34pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:01am
Original post...

Originally posted by <a href=http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/it-happened-to-me-there-are-no-black-people-in-my-yoga-classes-and-im-uncomfortable-with-it target=_blank rel=nofollow>xojane</a> xojane wrote:


It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes And I'm Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It

I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my skinny white girl body.
Jen Caron

11 Hours Ago | 1503 comments

 
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Photo by Elvert Barnes

January is always a funny month in yoga studios: they are inevitably flooded with last year’s repentant exercise sinners who have sworn to turn over a new leaf, a new year, and a new workout regime. A lot of January patrons are atypical to the studio’s regular crowd and, for the most part, stop attending classes before February rolls around.
 
A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.
 
Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I’ve seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it’s a sad thing, but as a student there’s nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.
 
I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my high-waisted bike shorts, my tastefully tacky sports bra, my well-versedness in these poses that I have been in hundreds of times. My skinny white girl body. Surely this woman was noticing all of these things and judging me for them, stereotyping me, resenting me—or so I imagined.
 
I thought about how even though yoga comes from thousands of years of south Asian tradition, it’s been shamelessly co-opted by Western culture as a sport for skinny, rich white women. I thought about my beloved donation-based studio that I’ve visited for years, in which classes are very big and often very crowded and no one will try to put a scented eye pillow on your face during savasana. They preach the gospel of yogic egalitarianism, that their style of vinyasa is approachable for people of all ages, experience levels, socioeconomic statuses, genders, and races; that it is non-judgmental and receptive. As such, the studio is populated largely by students, artists, and broke hipsters; there is a much higher ratio of men to women than at many other studios, and you never see the freshly-highlighted, Evian-toting, Upper-West-Side yoga stereotype.
 
I realized with horror that despite the all-inclusivity preached by the studio, despite the purported blindness to socioeconomic status, despite the sizeable population of regular Asian students, black students were few and far between. And in the large and constantly rotating roster of instructors, I could only ever remember two being black.
 
I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her? If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same. Trying to ignore it only made it worse. I thought about what the instructor could or should have done to help her. Would a simple “Are you okay?” whisper have helped, or would it embarrass her? Should I tell her after class how awful I was at yoga for the first few months of my practicing and encourage her to stick with it, or would that come off as massively condescending? If I asked her to articulate her experience to me so I could just listen, would she be at all interested in telling me about it? Perhaps more importantly, what could the system do to make itself more accessible to a broader range of bodies? Is having more racially diverse instructors enough, or would it require a serious restructuring of studio’s ethos?
 
I got home from that class and promptly broke down crying. Yoga, a beloved safe space that has helped me through many dark moments in over six years of practice, suddenly felt deeply suspect. Knowing fully well that one hour of perhaps self-importantly believing myself to be the deserving target of a racially charged anger is nothing, is largely my own psychological projection, is a drop in the bucket, is the tip of the iceberg in American race relations, I was shaken by it all the same.
 
The question is, of course, so much bigger than yoga—it’s a question of enormous systemic failure. But just the same, I want to know—how can we practice yoga in good conscience, when mere mindfulness is not enough? How do we create a space that is accessible not just to everybody, but to every body? And while I recognize that there is an element of spectatorship to my experience in this instance, it is precisely this feeling of not being able to engage, not knowing how to engage, that mitigates the hope for change.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (35) Thanks(35)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:05am
She steeeeeeeeeel managed to make herself a victim of imaginary bullying by a 'jealous resentful Black woman'. Even in fantasy!DeadLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (12) Thanks(12)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:06am
One of the most bizarre postings I've ever read on the internet, for sure

I'm thinking she has an undiagnosed mental illness and I so seriously don't mean that as an insult
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:07am
So much for xojane being an empowering site for women...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:10am
Like jezebel, XOJane is more than likely not for womanists. It's for yt feminists.

She reminds me of the yt girl in Meridian for some reason.LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (35) Thanks(35)   Quote bindy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:17am
That black lady probably didn't even notice her.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (8) Thanks(8)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:23am
This bitch has got some nerves...

Really, "Imagine: there you are, in yoga class, when all of a sudden, directly behind you, you sense a fairly heavy black woman who you can feel directing resentment directly at your body. Reality—or nightmare?"

The fact that she felt that BLACK woman had resentment of her body for being skinny white vs and OBESE woman having resentment of her body. Why was race even an issue?    

Did Ms. Carson every think that maybe this woman was trying to catch onto the positions or having difficulty because she just started exercising. She was fairly heavy set as Ms. Carson described. So the entire time she's thinking this woman is judging her who could in actually not given a rat's azz about ms. carson being skinny, white or otherwise. Matter of fact, I like my instructors to look like they work out (white or black). We both can't be obese and you telling me to get my hear rate up.



Edited by QueenBee - Jan 29 2014 at 1:24am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (14) Thanks(14)   Quote sexyandfamous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:24am
Funny how she claims to be uncomfortable about having no blacks in her yoga class... as if yoga studios are the only place in the world to find cool black females.

Perhaps not only it was the first time the black lady was doing yoga but she also felt the moronic author of the article was judging her for her weight and skin color. Just like she felt a wave of hatred from the black lady, the black lady probably felt a wave of hatred from her.

I cannot believe nowadays anyone with internet access can post their thoughts in articles for others to read. The internet is the fool's paradise.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 29 2014 at 1:27am
Some of the comments are tearing her a new azzhole...



og_cheeky
• 11 hours ago


⚑ Everything about this article is offensive. Somehow, the author's attempt to show self-awareness makes it worse.

eta: I eagerly await the follow-up piece: "IHTM: I was Just Trying to Do My Yoga and This Weird-Ass White Girl Kept Staring at Me with Tears in Her Eyes"

eta, again: Damn, y'all, I have never said anything this popular in my life.



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NightOwl > og_cheeky
• 11 hours ago
1/3 of the way in I sighed to myself and said "I bet the author is really young and well intentioned and unaware of how this comes off." yep, pretty much.



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og_cheeky > NightOwl
• 11 hours ago
Let's just start with the "thin white woman vs the 'heavyset' black woman" thing.



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Amber > og_cheeky
• 11 hours ago
Not even "heavyset" but "fairly heavy" which is where my teeth became gritted in rage.



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og_cheeky > Amber
• 11 hours ago
Yeah, I couldn't even bring myself to go back and read that sentence to fact check.



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Elizabeth Koliada > og_cheeky
• 11 hours ago
Oh January! all kinds of riff raff showing up in her sparkly yoga studio. The fact that she needed to preface the !almost incomprehensible! reason for a black woman to be there in the first place... ugh this is the worst.



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nicthommi > Amber
• 8 hours ago
Let's not forget, apparently so large that she can't fit on a yoga mat. I didn't know they only fit skinny people.



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NightOwl > og_cheeky
• 11 hours ago
It was important that she clarify that her sports bra was "tastefully tacky" and her shorts high waisted just to emphasize the contrast between her and the Other.



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Kore > baileybell
• 7 hours ago


⚑ Sounds like the author is the one failing at yoga. I mean for all we know the woman she refers to might have been aghast at this randomer's sheer inability to concentrate in class. Also, assuming people are jealous of you because of your weight is one screwed up thing, but adding race to it? Bloody hell who does she think she is?

ETA: I feel like the author was herself so thrown off by having a *clutch pearls* heavyset WOC in her class that it has affected her ability to do yoga to such a woeful degree she wrote a miserable excuse for an article on it. This is projection galore.




Edited by QueenBee - Jan 29 2014 at 1:49am
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