“...illustrate exactly why people of colour need safe spaces,”
October 19, 2015 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Closure of POC Yoga due to hate, death threats a tragedy for all people of color.
For the past 5 years Teresa has been involved in a beloved community collective called POC Yoga. The collective offered monthly to weekly yoga classes for people of color. It was also a safe space for lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, and trans friendly, and open to people of all ages, body sizes, abilities, genders, and experience. But not anymore. Due to an unauthorized September post advertising their class on the online social network Nextdoor that was then critiqued by conservative talk show host Dori Monson, POC Yoga and Teresa were suddenly met with angry white protest that escalated into national ire and multiple death threats.

Related:

- Dori has a problem with 'yoga for people of color' class. [My Northwest]
Dori said he has no problem with the exclusionary practice of the class. His beef is with the presumed reaction that people will applaud this class for being progressive, while the opposite — a group of white people saying they didn't want people of color in their class — would be "vilified." "It would be a lead story on national news," he said. "It would be blared across all the websites about the racist yoga class in Seattle. And the fact is, this yoga class is every bit as racist as a bunch of white people who say they don't want to be around somebody of color. That's why I wouldn't want to attend either one of those classes ... The fact is, they are both racist."
- Vitriol against People of Color Yoga shows exactly why it’s necessary. [Seattle Globalist]
“It is truly heartbreaking that POC yoga is in the limelight under these circumstances,” Teresa Wang, the co-founder of the class, said in an email responding to my questions. “We have [been] meeting for nearly five years without any incidents of participants feeling discriminated against or excluded. We have never advertised our classes. Any outreach has been limited to other private groups that have members who identify as people of color.”
posted by Fizz (172 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lots to say about this I'm sure, but my first (albeit not that important) question is: How did it get publicly posted on Nextdoor accidentally? IE was it a mistake or someone posting it there for malicious reasons? Followed by: People use Nextdoor?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:59 AM on October 19, 2015


Nextdoor is known to be racist.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:04 AM on October 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


What kind of sick fucks (pardon my language) do this kind of thing?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:06 AM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Seattle. Seattle. Knock this off. It's bad luck. Like breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder. If you don't stop this immediately, the whole city will end up getting cursed with seven more years of Tim Eyman.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


What I had to say about this when I first heard the story: You want to know what appropriation looks like? Appropriation is taking a spiritual practice with deep roots in a corresponding religious practice, divorcing it of all meaning and heritage, contorting it into the latest fad for rich white women with designer apparel and conforming body image, and then threatening people of color with death when they attempt to engage in the practice that belongs to them in the first place without any of that shit.
posted by Errant at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [100 favorites]


I think all hyperlocal social networking pretty much eventually just becomes a way to identify how racist all your neighbors are.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [57 favorites]


They certainly wouldn't get this soundbite: you are acting like classic abusers. You have the power to do this on your own but you're stomping on us making a fuss and telling us we deserve it. Go do your shit and see if we show up. We will be hiding from your abusive rage because we're not shit head bullies.
posted by aydeejones at 10:10 AM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


In fact anti SJW types uses this argument: if they feel "witch hunted" then they are innocent. Witches are hunters and never the hunted you see, because Witches are a real thing and not a metaphor for the collective absurd fears of a majority.
posted by aydeejones at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now someone please write up a simply repudiation of this idiotic reverse racism bullshit that they can comprehend.

a) You can't simply repudiate it because it requires a notion of nuance. Safe spaces for people who aren't straight, white and/or male are about the power mismatch in society and the intimidation people who aren't straight, white and/or male feel when they're around people like that because of that power differential.

b) Even if you did find a simple repudiation it would be dismissed as "hippie liberal bullshit".

Nevertheless the closest I can find for you is this graphic.
posted by Talez at 10:12 AM on October 19, 2015 [51 favorites]


I would've thought that the XOJane piece written by that white lady who had a tiny racialicious freak-out about a black lady in her yoga class is all the justification that one should need for the existence of a POC yoga group.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:14 AM on October 19, 2015 [37 favorites]


I have no take on what did or did not happen, but the reporting on the incident is sketchy. The yoga studio, per the screenshot in the article, apologized for the "discriminatory language in the advertisement." All the statements that the studio received death threats came from third party sources.

I'd like to see some better reporting on this. There's just a few too many open questions for me to get upset.
posted by kanewai at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't think the issue revolves around the existence of a POC Yoga class, but that white people were specifically asked not to attend.

The media narrative is completely polarized, so it's kind of hard to figure out what exactly happened, and how the organizers tried to limit the audience of the event.

FWIW, I think this kind of thing should be allowed to exist, but enforcing such a policy would create a really terrible precedent. A message to the effect of "When deciding to attend, please be mindful that this event exists to create a safe space for ____" seems like it would have been adequate.

I've been involved in a few organizations that exist to create safe spaces, and we've never found it to be necessary or helpful to categorically exclude our allies.

Also, +1 to kanewai's comment above. I'm having a tough time piecing together a coherent narrative about what happened. The reporting on this is a mess on all sides.

posted by schmod at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]




I don't think the issue revolves around the existence of a POC Yoga class, but that white people were specifically asked not to attend.
Well, yeah, that's kind of what makes it a POC yoga class. My hunch is that they have to be reasonably explicit because a lot of white people-who-practice-yoga would not be sensitive to "please be mindful" type indirect requests.

I don't know. I don't always understand why there is a need for safe spaces, but I'm willing to take people of colors' word for it when they say they need them. There are tons of yoga classes that are open to and dominated by white people. White people are not going to be denied their safe, welcoming yoga experience if they don't go to this one.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2015 [66 favorites]


That something like this can happen - this level of vitriol and abuse directed at something so completely innocent, so inoffensive - completely boggles my mind.

Talez: Nevertheless the closest I can find for you is this graphic.

That's a pretty simplistic take - that views 'equality' as an equality of inputs. I would argue that what the graphic labels 'justice' is indeed also equality - equality of outcomes. I think it cedes too much ground to the right in general to accept that equality stands for some equality of opportunity nonsense rather than people actually having equally good outcomes (with the attendant unequal help or involvement that that entails).

schmod: I've been involved in a few organizations that exist to create safe spaces, and we've never found it to be necessary or helpful to categorically exclude our allies.

As a trans person, let me assure you that I am about 9567312953672334% more likely to attend a trans group that is specifically only for trans people. No offense, but I get to interact with enough cis people in my life already, thanks.
posted by Dysk at 10:25 AM on October 19, 2015 [57 favorites]


Seriously. There is no reason for a white person to go to a POC yoga class.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [26 favorites]


I'd recommend re-reading the article seeing if you can find out exactly who made the threats. While the article certainly leads into the notion that it was "rich white women in designer apparel," and people are certainly jumping on that direction, this is never actually stated.

An equally plausible interpretation is that it was your standard issue internet trolls, and they could have come from anywhere. There's no way to tell from the writing.
posted by kanewai at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


That's a pretty simplistic take - that views 'equality' as an equality of inputs. I would argue that what the graphic labels 'justice' is indeed also equality - equality of outcomes. I think it cedes too much ground to the right in general to accept that equality stands for some equality of opportunity nonsense rather than people actually having equally good outcomes (with the attendant unequal help or involvement that that entails).

To be fair I did say that it requires a notion of nuance. The OP (who was sadly deleted) was asking for something that doesn't really exist. You just can't, in any seriousness, debate or present deep and involved subjects like the centuries of racial inequality in America giving whites an invisible backpack of privilege in 5 second soundbites and 500x2000 infographics.
posted by Talez at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


The first step to getting liberals and right-wingers to understand is getting them to admit that the United States is a white supremacist country, with de facto white supremacist laws, institutions, and cultural practices. A POC yoga class is a somewhat safe space somewhat out of the direct view and control of white supremacy. An exclusively white yoga class is, on the other hand, an expression of white supremacy.

However, getting liberals and right-wingers to admit that our white supremacist society is white supremacist is damned hard. Unless white supremacy impacts you personally, It's much easier and more comfortable to stay in the drowsy warm embrace of white supremacist thinking than it is to wake up to reality.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:31 AM on October 19, 2015 [58 favorites]


Seattle is one if the most passive-aggressively (if not just aggressively) racist places I've ever lived, and that includes Texas, Los Angeles and Arizona.

And they fucking hate hearing it or talking about it at all, because Seattle can't possibly be racist because it's obviously too progressive, evolved and PC for that, right?

Wrong. You're hella racist, Seattle. There's a reason why BLM grabbed the mic at the Sanders rally, because you're not even attempting to listen when you go into defensive tizzies like this.
posted by loquacious at 10:33 AM on October 19, 2015 [33 favorites]


(the first step in getting socialists to understand is getting them to admit that oppression exists along racial axes rather than just along class-based lines, but white socialists are frequently even more pigheaded and obnoxious about race than white liberals are.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


As a person of color in his 40s, it feels to me like despite the hippie upbringing I got growing up in the late 60s, early 70s, and my hope as a kid thinking we'd be able to talk about race and racism and white supremacy in public is that it's only just started happening, as diverse populations are getting traction for being present on all of our technology-based social media.

I'm not sure if this represents a global experience, or if it's just my smaller, tighter, circle of friends.

But whether not whites actually engage in good conscience with this subject matter, I know that more writers of color are getting wider publication and we are beginning, finally, I hope, to be heard. Perhaps this next generation of louder, more heard people of color can hope that their children will break through the barriers of stubborn pigheadedness and maybe reach some form of understanding.
posted by kalessin at 10:35 AM on October 19, 2015 [26 favorites]


While the article certainly leads into the notion that it was "rich white women in designer apparel," and people are certainly jumping on that direction, this is never actually stated.

None of the articles even so much as hint at this.

An equally plausible interpretation is that it was your standard issue internet trolls, and they could have come from anywhere. There's no way to tell from the writing.

Why would it matter? Death threats leave the realm of "ironic" -isms and enter into straight-up bigotry no matter who issues them.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


And they fucking hate hearing it or talking about it at all, because Seattle can't possibly be racist because it's obviously too progressive, evolved and PC for that, right?

I'm flashing back to a conversation I had at a wedding on Bainbridge Island back when the light rail line was under construction. My interlocutors simultaneously held that:
  • Those horrible republicans were horrible for trying to stop rail mass transit for so long, don't they know how important transit is to reducing the environmental impact of commuting?
  • They themselves would never ever take the light rail, though, because it was routed through Rainier Valley and didn't have, quote, bulletproof shutters over the windows, end quote.
Seattle. Wonderful, beautiful, stupid Seattle.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:38 AM on October 19, 2015 [34 favorites]


the read with kid fury and crissle recently posted their live show from seattle and the number of people during the q&a section who were amazed to be in a room with so many other black people is very illuminating, i think.
posted by nadawi at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


because it was routed through Rainier Valley and didn't have, quote, bulletproof shutters over the windows, end quote.

See also: The way Americans feel about buses.
posted by schmod at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


But but... All Yogists Matter!

:(
posted by symbioid at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nextdoor is known to be racist.

It would be more accurate to say that some (many?) of the local communities that exist on Nextdoor are racist, and that to this point the way Nextdoor operates as a platform has enabled them or at least not dissuaded them from being so. The Nextdoor thread contains a fair number of horror stories about racist communities, and also some groups which don't seem to have the same problem.

This might seem like a pedantic distinction, and it is pretty irrelevant to the folks currently getting attacked by some right wing mob, but I think it's an important one. When we decide that online communities are irredeemably racist (or dysfunctional in some other way), we stop expending the effort to change them, and racist communities become something like a natural disaster, to be avoided or regretted but not challenged.
posted by feckless at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Wow, apparently the need to create safe spaces for minority and marginalized groups, as well as people of different body types is an ongoing issue in the Yoga community. There's an article on how tough it is to find a Yoga class that isn't filled with the white, the rich, and the fit/thin that came up when I googled "POC Yoga". That article is connected to some kind of web advocacy page called "Decolonizing Yoga", but it looks like they haven't been active in the last few months.
posted by FJT at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh lord, as soon as I saw the name Dori I knew what was up. That fuckin' guy.
posted by palomar at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Odd, since Yoga didn't start out white. But now it's basically all white.
posted by kalessin at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


When we decide that online communities are irredeemably racist (or dysfunctional in some other way), we stop expending the effort to change them, and racist communities become something like a natural disaster, to be avoided or regretted but not challenged.

I dunno, I think it's more complicated than that. When an online platform is poisoned, one valid option is to simply launch another one that isn't poisoned and try to build it to be better with active moderation, etc. The whole reason safe spaces developed online was because peoples' needs weren't being met by existing platforms, so they went out and either built their own or promoted the use of existing platforms that hadn't become cesspools yet.

There is definitely a time to stand and fight against jerkwads on existing platforms, but I don't know that NextDoor itself is so indispensable that we ought to invest much in saving it. It's a big Internet.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:53 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am crying while reading this news, because I was just contemplating posting on AskMeFi a question on how to navigate white yoga class spaces as a queer genderfluid/woman of color. I also just read an AskMeFi question by a cis man who asked if he wanted to practice yoga, if he had to do any of the "woo" stuff, and there are 30 comments that back him up enthusiastically saying, "I'm an atheist, and you can totally practice yoga without having to do with any of the spiritual roots!"

I feel so sick of how acceptable this violence against POC and LGBTQ-only spaces are. White, cis people, straight people, already get so many access to spaces and don't feel the threat of violence, of death, of policing, of being taunted or harassed for wanting a space of their own. Why can't they just fucking allow people who want a space of their own for historical, spiritual, and cultural reasons to have it for their own? Why do they want everything, even spaces and practices that they already colonized??? Isn't it enough? Now I have to learn how to practice yoga from the privacy of my own home, from a white Youtube guru, because I am having so much trouble finding people of color yoga practitioners that even look like me. This Youtube guru doesn't even talk about the spiritual practices, so I'm considering stopping following her and finding someone else, because I don't want to contribute to cultural appropration anymore, which is so hard to find because you can barely find role models because of shutting down spaces like POC yoga!

I hate white supremacy. I'm so sad and done with seeing my friends and communities being slaughtered and shut down like this, but it keeps happening, and we keep having to rebuild.
posted by yueliang at 10:55 AM on October 19, 2015 [88 favorites]


But now it's basically all white.

Yoga
posted by infini at 10:56 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


As I think about this, I am thinking about how it's not just how white people generally feel that we should be allowed in all spaces whenever we want, it's that we often feel that our anger is appropriate in all spaces whenever we want. It's not just that we feel like we should be allowed to go to POC yoga/say the n-word/dress up as other races/whatever....we don't just gripe quietly amongst ourselves. We feel like we are entitled to be aggressively and publicly angry about it and like people of color - wherever they are, from down the street to across the country - are individually accountable to us for their actions.

This whole thing is really gross, and I'm so sorry that the people who worked so hard to keep it going are being shut down.
posted by Frowner at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [63 favorites]


Seattle is one if the most passive-aggressively (if not just aggressively) racist places I've ever lived, and that includes Texas, Los Angeles and Arizona.

Ask me how I know you've never lived in Portland.

oh god I'm still deep down a Seattleite, aren't I? I'll probably never manage to get rid of that "pfft well at least it's not Portland oh god that place amirite?" kneejerk response...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


Clarification: Now in the U.S., especially in public classes practiced in well-to-do urban areas, Yoga is basically all white. I feel like I shouldn't have had to make this clarification, but I guess that's where we're at today.
posted by kalessin at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


If POC Yoga plans on rebuilding, I want to ask every single white ally in this thread to donate to it, other than spreading their comments. We in the POC and LGBTQ community keep having to use our incomes and our donations to help rebuild institutions like this in our community, when it is directly a result of white supremacy. Sympathies do not help rebuild unless there is physical contributions to helping create that space as a viable place again.
posted by yueliang at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [38 favorites]


Based on this and yesterday's story about Quora, I am now envisioning a future in which white Americans complain that yoga is starting to be ruined for them because it is too popular among Indians.
posted by maxsparber at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2015 [84 favorites]


Odd, since Yoga didn't start out white. But now it's basically all white.

Yoga in the west started out largely white, and has remained so. There are still many, many, many Indians practicing yoga, however.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:01 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


kalessin, if it helps to know, yoga is becoming extremely popular among the emerging affluent and upwardly mobile middle classes in many African countries.
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


If POC Yoga plans on rebuilding, I want to ask every single white ally in this thread to donate to it, other than spreading their comments. We in the POC and LGBTQ community keep having to use our incomes and our donations to help rebuild institutions like this in our community, when it is directly a result of white supremacy.

That's a good idea. Money does actually solve at least some of this kind of problem because you can structure things to make attendees less vulnerable.
posted by Frowner at 11:01 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


*big smacking kisses on both of maxsparber's cheeks*
posted by infini at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


schmod: I've been involved in a few organizations that exist to create safe spaces, and we've never found it to be necessary or helpful to categorically exclude our allies.

Allies isn't in the list because of straight people. It's there so that closeted people can feel at ease attending the event under cover.

It's never been about straight people. But yeah, that's certainly become what it means, as if every other space weren't already for straight, cis, hetero, white people.
posted by odinsdream at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


If POC Yoga plans on rebuilding, I want to ask every single white ally in this thread to donate to it, other than spreading their comments. We in the POC and LGBTQ community keep having to use our incomes and our donations to help rebuild institutions like this in our community, when it is directly a result of white supremacy.

yesssss this. memo to self: less metafilter theorycrafting, more meatspace moneygiving.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:03 AM on October 19, 2015 [23 favorites]




Yes, I would love to donate to any rebuilding effort for POC Yoga. I hope they do plan to eventually rebuild. Safe spaces are so important.
posted by angeline at 11:07 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, I feel astonished that I should even have to state that as a request. White supremacist actions is of a result of the privileges that one experiences as white and with access to violence with very little consequences, as a result of structural oppression and inequity. Saying sorry and feeling bad about it doesn't do shit for people who have been dealing with generations of racism.

If anything, that needs to be the FIRST mode of action, that we all participate in communities that have a true vested interest in keeping people alive. If people keep talking about how much they "love our cities, love the color and culture they bring," well, keep those damn spaces alive even if you weren't directly involved in them!

Considering that many so called "progressive spaces" on the West Coast are doing a lot of shitty lipservice to diversity when they put out freaking billboards about it to clap themselves on the back. I think that should be one of the first rules, , especially in this capitalistic society that deeply exploits and profits off people's dehumanizing. Put your money where you think you can do the most good.
posted by yueliang at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


the read with kid fury and crissle recently posted their live show from seattle and the number of people during the q&a section who were amazed to be in a room with so many other black people is very illuminating, i think.

I was at that show, and yeah, it was intense. I was telling my friend that I've only had that experience one other time in 12 years here, when Aamer Rahman performed a few months ago. There was a real sense of palpable relief, like, you're safe now, you can talk about it, and also a sense of, better talk about it now, because this isn't going to happen again any time soon.
posted by Errant at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Frowner: it's that we often feel that our anger is appropriate in all spaces whenever we want

Yes. I've recently decided to start using the phrase "White aggressive ignorance" (hat tip to Rebecca Solnit's essay "Men Explain Things To Me") because, in many cases, it's more accurate than "White privilege." it nails that combination of aggrieved huffiness, and those simultaneously baseless yet unquestioned assumptions of authority to judge what correctly qualifies as "offensive" or who's being "too sensitive" or whatever.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:17 AM on October 19, 2015 [27 favorites]


I get that the world is practicing Yoga, but we are talking about Seattle, which is in the U.S., which is why I clarified and reduced the scope of my comment to the U.S., infini. Can we move on?
posted by kalessin at 11:18 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yet again, Seattle-the-city gets painted with a sad, shitty brush because some rich, white suburbanite (Monson lives in a leafy, wealthy suburb just north of the Seattle city limits) decides to be a loud asshole and stick his nose where it doesn't belong. None of the racist calls were identified as being from Seattle residents and the yoga studio operated for years in two of Seattle's most diverse areas. Never mind that Monson has been the "oh God THOSE PEOPLE" voice for that crowd for about as long as I've been around.

But that doesn't matter, does it? All Seattleites are racist twits who can't see past our own noses, aren't we?
posted by fireoyster at 11:20 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Allies isn't in the list because of straight people. It's there so that closeted people can feel at ease attending the event under cover.

It's never been about straight people. But yeah, that's certainly become what it means, as if every other space weren't already for straight, cis, hetero, white people.


Riffing off this excellent comment--I think this speaks to one of those cases where there isn't a good parallel between lgbtq/queer issues and race issues, because there isn't a good analogue in racial issues to the closet. There's a place for allies in [some] queer spaces (especially those for young people), yeah, so that questioning or closeted people who are figuring themselves out have a safe place to do that. But race doesn't generally involve that aspect of self-questioning or self-discovery, so the calculus of needs with respect to safe or in-group spaces is very different. It's important not to assume that the experience of one axis can perfectly analogize to the experiences of different axes.

Going to go back to shutting up and listening now. I hope that POC Yoga feels it can rebuild, and if it does I hope there's a place to kick in a few dollars to give it a leg up. I hope their community gets the support it should have had all along soon, and I hope the organizers have a good support network.
posted by sciatrix at 11:21 AM on October 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


Yet again, Seattle-the-city gets painted with a sad, shitty brush because some rich, white suburbanite (Monson lives in a leafy, wealthy suburb just north of the Seattle city limits) decides to be a loud asshole and stick his nose where it doesn't belong.

It's not like the Seattle city limits generate some sort of magic field that keeps racism from crossing into the city. I've heard a lot of reprehensible white supremacist shit from inside-the-city-limits Seattleites in my life. Most of those inside-the-city-limits white supremacists consider themselves antiracist and way morally superior to those nasties out in the suburbs.

Moreover, thanks to the rent increases produced by gentrification/aristocratization in the Seattle area, most working-class people can't afford to live in the city anymore. Defining "Seattle" as "inside the city limits of Seattle" gets more and more untenable over time, because of how it over time becomes more and more of a classist (and even white supremacist) frame.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:26 AM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


But that doesn't matter, does it? All Seattleites are racist twits who can't see past our own noses, aren't we?

You can either believe your fellow Seattleites or not, but to all appearances this is an example of what people living in Seattle have to deal with when they have to deal with white people, not some unusual even.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [33 favorites]


White people won't let people of color have anything all to themselves, not even the experience of being black (Dolezal was not the first) or of suffering from racism (white supremacists love to claim racism oppresses them). White people want to own everything about black people, their hopes, dreams, bodies, wealth, art, humor, their history; everything. It's so sick and it's so invisible till something like this happens.

It's a classic abuser relationship. Whites police people of color because we want to control everything they do or can think of doing. When they escape us or defy us, we explode in rage.

I'm including myself, because I contribute to racism even when I don't want to. But sometimes I can see just how big it is, and it sickens me. I just want us to stop acting this way.
posted by emjaybee at 11:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [59 favorites]


But that doesn't matter, does it? All Seattleites are racist twits who can't see past our own noses, aren't we?

I don't know, dude, but I'm a white Seattleite who is tired as fuck of conversations about our racial climate being derailed by whiny-ass white people whining about how THEY'RE not racist so how dare anyone imply that Seattle might have some race problems.
posted by palomar at 11:33 AM on October 19, 2015 [69 favorites]


Ugh, this is sickening. And yet another example of how the dominant demographic feels they must be in charge of/have access to literally every square inch of space, lest they cry about "reverse racism" and "persecution". You see the same dynamic in political and religious circles, too.

I'm reminded of this one scene in Dear White People, where some white guy calls in and asks, "How would you feel about a radio show called Dear BLACK People?" and the response was: "No need. Mass media from Fox News to reality TV on VH1 makes it clear what white people think of us." And that movie also centered around the issue of spaces for PoC.

This whole dynamic is white people tacitly, and not-so-tacitly, admitting that they feel entitled to all spaces everywhere at all times. The reactionaries aren't even pretending to have "concerns about equality" anymore. It's all about control and always has been.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:37 AM on October 19, 2015 [29 favorites]


I'm not sure why this is any different from a closed AA meeting.
posted by localhuman at 11:41 AM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


None of the articles even so much as hint at this.

Judging from the direction the conversation is going, I would argue that the article very much leads us to the conclusion that the attacks came from inside the Seattle yoga community.

Why would it matter? Death threats leave the realm of "ironic" -isms and enter into straight-up bigotry no matter who issues them.

I'm not discounting the threats, or even hinting that they were "ironic" - but I do think knowing the source is important.

As much as I do enjoy Seattle's version of a Mexican standoff (white Seattle residents pointing out racism in other white Seattle residents who are pointing at other white Seattle residents until it all comes full circle), I'm not sure it's very helpful.
posted by kanewai at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2015


Dori Monson was a classic Flaming Liberal on the Radio until that fateful lost weekend at the talk radio convention in Las Vegas, from which he returned as one of our most ardent how-low-can-you-go? Limbaugh Dancers.
posted by jamjam at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure how this is different from women-only workout areas in gyms that cater to both sexes. The community center at Rainier Beach offers women-only swimming hours, but no one's losing their shit over that, are they?
posted by palomar at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


This event would not have happened without a virtual world component - the social network that triggered this. Increasingly, this blending of the real and the online will create fuzzier edges around the boundary of "local" and "social", both geographically as well as culturally. We may have to redefine what safe spaces mean, as well as all the other factors being discussed here. I know of one members only platform that is specifically designed to be a safe space for the young African diaspora to find community. They're moving away from FB and tumblr et al. This "tension" will be increasingly visible both online and off as the nature of communications, connectivity and community evolve.
posted by infini at 11:46 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


The community center at Rainier Beach offers women-only swimming hours, but no one's losing their shit over that, are they?

Just wait until someone gets in their head that Muslim women requested the restrictions.
posted by Etrigan at 11:47 AM on October 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


My glitchy computer nuked my post on preview, but...

Can we give it a rest with the whole "Seattlites are SOO smug and think they're so much better than they really are" thing? Why is that always singled out, and why is it generally assumed to be the source and problem of anything bad that happens here as opposed to stuff that happens elsewhere just being you know, shitty people rather than that added layer of "it happens because they won't acknowledge it can happen" or whatever?

This one extra rubs me the wrong way because this was started and perpetuated by people outside of the city. And yes, to head on address what was said above about people being pushed out of city limits, there is a BIG difference between say, bainbridge... and like, renton. There's suburbs/surrounding cities people move to because they can afford the rent, and there's suburbs like medina and mercer island where rich white people move to avoid any "low class" or brown people.

My mom grew up as one of the only brown people on bainbridge, and still gets racist shit from people when she visits. It's basically an enclave of weird regressive racist assholes who never left high school.

Judging from the direction the conversation is going, I would argue that the article very much leads us to the conclusion that the attacks came from inside the Seattle yoga community.

And judging from everything i've seen locally, the community seems to be extremely sad/disappointed and supportive, and the attacks seem to have mostly come from the internet and people outside the city(or even the surrounding area). The initial post might have been made by someone local and disgruntled, but this wasn't invisible online. And there's also been quite a bit of backstabbing and shitty behavior in those "private groups" mentioned in the original post as to where this kind of thing would have initially been discussed and promoted, lately.

I'm 100% with infini that this wouldn't have happened without the internet. And i think it's really unfair and a lazy potshot to blame "fake progressive seattlites" or whatever on this one. Why is everyone so invested in that concept? It's tired.
posted by emptythought at 11:47 AM on October 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


At this point I've typed several paragraphs and then deleted them.

This sucks, and the people responsible should be ashamed.
posted by Mooski at 11:49 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think the issue revolves around the existence of a POC Yoga class, but that white people were specifically asked not to attend.

Yes and no, I would say.

Yes, that is obviously the part that White people felt unaccountably aggrieved about.

No, that's a false dilemma: the objection is to the idea that there should be any space which is off-limits to White people in America, even when that's enforced by polite requests and expectations of courtesy rather than force, the power of the state, interpersonal violence, etc.

There are many White Americans who object strenuously to the idea that historically-subjugated ethnic groups should have the right to create their own social boundaries, I think (not coincidentally, many issues of social justice boil down to the question of who gets to determine boundaries for a given group). POC being able to say that a space is for us, not for anyone else is a prerogative of power, and it's power that POC were taking for themselves here. White liberals are pretty comfortable with generously giving certain privileges to POC, but they freak out when POC grab their own dignity and boundaries with both hands and say "these belong to us, and nobody else."
posted by clockzero at 11:49 AM on October 19, 2015 [46 favorites]


It's important not to assume that the experience of one axis can perfectly analogize to the experiences of different axes.

I agree completely with this. However, I do stand by my comment that the term "allies" as applied to the "A" in LGBTQA has been misunderstood, and straight people have actually started to think it's talking about them. They apply this to any closed space, including those for POC, under the bullshit excuse that "I'm not racist, why are you excluding me?"
posted by odinsdream at 11:50 AM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


#NotAllSeattleites
posted by nadawi at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


This is like how Olympia - home of Riot Grrl, a huge trans community, and phenomenal progressivism - regularly has actual fucking nazi rallies. Washington (and Oregon) have huge supremacist problems. Way bigger than most whites like to acknowledge.

But it's cool guys cause we like Neil Young and everyone knows it's them Southerners that are the real racists.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


(i thought the A was for asexual)
posted by nadawi at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


I do stand by my comment that the term "allies" as applied to the "A" in LGBTQA has been misunderstood

okay, no. The A is not for allies. It is for asexuals.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:52 AM on October 19, 2015 [31 favorites]


I'm not sure how this is different from women-only workout areas in gyms that cater to both sexes. The community center at Rainier Beach offers women-only swimming hours, but no one's losing their shit over that, are they?

You must have missed this shit losing.
“It is hard to stomach to fact that our community would choose to re-instate gender segregation,” said Carroll, who noted that supporters of the program were mostly Muslim and many were not residents of Tukwila. “Just because this young woman does not like the tenet of her religion that requires her to don specific garb at a mixed gender swim, it is not a reason for my tax dollars be used to meet her religious beliefs.”
On November 7th those sentiments were taken further when Tukwila couple Robert and Christine Neuffer filed a formal complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission citing gender-based discrimination, based on Robert being denied entry into the pool during the women-only swim hours.
posted by Talez at 11:52 AM on October 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Talez beat me to it.
posted by Fizz at 11:53 AM on October 19, 2015


OK, look, I'm talking about the concept of allies. In general.
posted by odinsdream at 11:54 AM on October 19, 2015


[Couple comments removed. enamon, the whole "but what is whiteness/ethnicity" thing is turning into a recurring thing at this point and you need to stop jumping into threads with that.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Can we not derail this thread about race into something about the lgbtqa community and the mess of acronyms it uses? Please and thanks, guys.
posted by sciatrix at 11:57 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


[And—ooh, double mod comment—let's skip a super generic "but what about civil rights law" thing. If you've got a concrete idea with specifics rather than just a hazy concern, start there instead of kicking off a huge fight from scratch based an a vague what-if.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can we give it a rest with the whole "Seattlites are SOO smug and think they're so much better than they really are" thing? Why is that always singled out, and why is it generally assumed to be the source and problem of anything bad that happens here as opposed to stuff that happens elsewhere just being you know, shitty people rather than that added layer of "it happens because they won't acknowledge it can happen" or whatever?

...because that's what people (like you, in that very comment) are enacting and saying?
posted by Dysk at 11:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


But it's cool guys cause we like Neil Young and everyone knows it's them Southerners that are the real racists.

God i give up, everyone is way too invested in this one.

All the local conversations i've seen about this have been productive, and there's been plenty of action against the nazis.

Almost all of what i've seen lately has been productive conversations about this kind of stuff, not denials. And yet there is a non stop murmor of how there's soooo many people in denial. Never anyone specific(and yea, i realize that doesn't apply so much here, but it's much more annoying when it comes up in person) just you know, "those shitty people".

I think the fact that there's a major positive local force against this kind of stuff, protests, etc often goes unnoticed. It gets as far as "this stuff is bad and everyone is smug and in denial about it" because thats easier to feel superior about.

But yea, #notallseattlites or whatever i guess.
posted by emptythought at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm not discounting the threats, or even hinting that they were "ironic" - but I do think knowing the source is important.

If the end result is the closure of POC Yoga, why is it important to know the source of the threats?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:01 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


God, I give up, you're totally right, it's the people who are pointing out the bullshit who are the real problem here
posted by palomar at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think I'm gonna use Mr. Robot-style mind reprogramming tricks to convince myself that this thread ended with this comment from yueliang, because it seems to be the most useful thing that anyone's said.

apologies for the role I've played in making this thread fighty.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just a note, because it's not at all clear in folks' usage of the #notall... term, but generally liberals, progressives and social justice types (like me) tend to think of #notall... as an objection purveyed by, in general, the majority, the privileged, the entitled, to defray and deflect criticism of their privilege without actually engaging with it.

So what I mean is that among progressives, deploying #notall... is generally seen as a bad thing, showing a lack of depth or strength of principles and foreshadowing an inability or unwillingness to engage in good faith with the subject matter.
posted by kalessin at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Except that it isn't about pointing out the bullshit. It makes the conversation not about the bullshit, but about how seattlites are smug or whatever. And it gets really tiresome to sit through a million times instead of talking about the problem(s), who caused them, and who is working to fix them.

I guess it comes down to whether you think "smug white people who think they're above the problem" is a primary problem here, and as of late i've started to feel that's a relatively small minority and that the people who bring that up every single time are shitting up the conversation more than those people.

They do exist, and there did used to be a lot of them... But they aren't shitting up the conversation in spaces i or friends frequent the way they were even 5 years ago. I definitely think there's been a noticeable change in Olympia, as well.

And it especially cheese me off when i see people on here snarking about it who don't even live anywhere near here.
posted by emptythought at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


(and kalessin, i'm perfectly aware of that)
posted by emptythought at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


>I would've thought that the XOJane piece written by that white lady who had a tiny racialicious freak-out about a black lady in her yoga class is all the justification that one should need for the existence of a POC yoga group.

Pia Glenn, another writer for xoJane and a POC, wrote a great rebuttal to that original article.

Usually the articles on xoJane are just hate read material for me, but Pia has published a lot of really great pieces not just on race, but also mental illness, among other things. In particular, this piece she wrote, I Intervened On Behalf Of A Young Man Who Was In Danger Of Being Unfairly Arrested, really stuck with me, especially since it happened to be published a few days before the shooting of Michael Brown.

If POC Yoga plans on rebuilding, I want to ask every single white ally in this thread to donate to it, other than spreading their comments.

I think this is a great idea.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:09 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


And it especially cheese me off when i see people on here snarking about it who don't even live anywhere near here.

I feel the same when it's HURR DURR ALL SOUTHERNERS ARE RACIST type convos happen, too.
posted by Kitteh at 12:09 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


And it especially cheese me off when i see people on here snarking about it who don't even live anywhere near here.

Kinda like the shitty way everyone talks about Southerners, or Texas? Actual LOL from me on that one. Seattle has significant race problems. Yes, smug white people are part of the problem... as a white person with a lot of white friends who ignore issues like this but scream their fucking heads off about the evils of Amazon, yeah, I feel comfortable saying that the smugness around Seattle is part of the problem. Sorry you don't agree, please feel free to grouse some more about how I'm shitting up the conversation that you don't even want to have to have.
posted by palomar at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


I guess it comes down to whether you think "smug white people who think they're above the problem" is a primary problem here, and as of late i've started to feel that's a relatively small minority and that the people who bring that up every single time are shitting up the conversation more than those people.

How much does it matter? Like, if nobody steps up to argue it, there's still plenty of scope to talk about the actual problem, isn't there? Why is it such a problem to let people vent a little?
posted by Dysk at 12:11 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


in gender/sexual-minority-oriented groups I've been in over the years, sometimes the 'A' has stood for allied, sometimes it has been 'A' for asexual, and sometimes there's one 'A' for each as in LGBTQQIAA -- but I definitely agree that GSM groups have historically had a much more pressing reason to allow (and even encourage) people who at that moment identified as cis/straight to attend, and that this doesn't seem to map onto racial oppression
posted by en forme de poire at 12:13 PM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Because it's just another layer of the smug shitting-on-person-you-see-as-below you thing that they're crapping on the hypothetical person for doing? The "lol shitty southerners" thing can be bad too, this isn't some kind of exclusive thing and i never implied that? I dunno, i'll hang up on the phone on this one. It's not what the conversation should be about anyways, and obviously i'm just plowing in a circle.
posted by emptythought at 12:13 PM on October 19, 2015


Hi can we all refocus on the habitual destruction of POC spaces please
posted by Ashen at 12:15 PM on October 19, 2015 [63 favorites]


Every place in the USA has a problem with racism. Not all Seattleites are racist, but I'm willing to bet Seattle is not exempt from that, and I suspect also that those of us who live in, say, the South are delighted to see Northerners openly grappling with a race problem--since there's certainly a tendency in the North to write racism off as a Southern problem, or a red-state problem. Which is, I'm pretty sure, contributing to a lot of the reaction that people in other parts of the country are having to this incident.

Can we get back to this specific incident now?
posted by sciatrix at 12:16 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


Required Reading:

Huffington Post: 4 'Reverse Racism' Myths That Need To Stop

Tim Wise: A Look at the Myth of Reverse Racism

Daily Kos: A Reminder: Reverse Racism is a Myth

Medium: The Myth of Reverse Racism. Exploring the falsity of an inverted system.

Feminspire: Why Reverse Racism Isn’t Real
"When somebody is talking about racism they have experienced, that conversation is not all about you, nor should you expect it to be, so stop with the derailing and just listen and learn.

When white people complain about experiencing reverse racism, what they’re really complaining about is losing out on or being denied their already existing privileges. And while it may feel bad to realize your privilege is crumbling and the things you’ve taken for granted can be taken away from you, it is unfair, untrue, and disingenuous to call that experience reverse racism."

posted by zarq at 12:20 PM on October 19, 2015 [34 favorites]


So I have a question, now that I think of it. Is there anything I can do as a white person to foster non-white safe spaces? Aside from snapping at any other white people who whine that not all spaces are welcome to them or their feelings to take it elsewhere, I mean. And donating money to help those spaces grow. What kinds of conditions make it easiest for safe spaces to form, and are there better vs. worse way to foster those kinds of conditions?

feel free to ignore this entirely if it is too centered on white folk I am just trying to encourage this discussion to quit derailing
posted by sciatrix at 12:21 PM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Ideas: Write letters to one's congresscritters, newspapers, and other ways to get the word out that minority-safe spaces are still a thing and a good thing and why. Keep having the conversations within your communities. Keep having the conversations in the public sphere. Keep writing and fighting the good fight. Keep publicly criticizing the haters. Keep the momentum and the sentiment going.

Enculturate the idea in your place of business, volunteer/donate space from your business to help cultivate these safe spaces. Work as an individual and also work with your company to work with non-profits that help run these spaces or cultivate these spaces. Volunteer. Donate. Ask other people and companies to donate or volunteer.

Act like minority-safe spaces are normal. Act like the haters are abnormal. Set expectations. Patrol and defend boundaries. Treat the right way of doing things as right, to help normalize the ideas and concepts.
posted by kalessin at 12:26 PM on October 19, 2015 [40 favorites]


I mean I also just want to add that if you happen to become aware of a POC-only space, talk to the organizers first about how best to help them out. They may be trying to fly under white people's radar on purpose. Every space is different.
posted by Ashen at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


(Just wanted to add to kalessin's frankly fantastic list: if and when you're asked to butt out or step back, do so.)
posted by Dysk at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


(Just wanted to add to kalessin's frankly fantastic list: if and when you're asked to butt out or step back, do so.)

Also, (this is obviously not directed at you specifically sciatrix -- it's my own pet peeve,) those who work to support POC shouldn't do a victory lap afterwards to brag about what good allies they are.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


I found a more comprehensive article here: International Examiner.

Directly following Dori’s heated criticism, Teresa said hate calls and death threats started pouring in every five minutes. There were all together over 200 phone calls, and hundreds and hundreds of emails filled with hostility and hate. What had just been anger generated out of a Nextdoor post spiraled into a violent, racist fervor that swept the country and made its way onto inflammatory websites like Infowars and Drudge Report. She rushed out that day to get a security system for her home though she stayed with a friend that night for safety. From that point through the weekend POC Yoga and Rainier Beach Yoga (the studio where class was held) filed several police reports. On Monday they filed an FBI report.

This very much sounds like a Gamergate-style attack.
posted by kanewai at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


Racialicious' recent take on reverse racism.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2015


So again, Gamergate-style or no, it was allowed to happen. So despite the fact that it may not have been the collective action of 200 people who live in Seattle, the POC-only space was allowed to be attacked and allowed to shut down out of fear.

How Seattle did/does respond and whether the space is rekindled/recultivated does/will speak a lot about Seattle and about us.
posted by kalessin at 12:47 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


Which also goes back to this: when you become aware of a POC-only space and you also become aware of white people trying their hardest to shut them down, ask the organizers how they'd like you to help counter that. Make it clear that you understand the need for their space and want to help them protect it.
posted by Ashen at 12:56 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


Feels like Diet Racism a lot.
posted by Talez at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reagan Jackson - Vitriol against People of Color Yoga shows exactly why it’s necessary

Jackson in conversation with KIRO Radio's Dori Monson, who did a segment:

"It's not so much that I think you can control everyone and their reaction, I think you can control and have a more nuanced discussion," Jackson said. "You were putting your opinion out there, which is a valid opinion, and that was it. There was no real discussion on why there was a need for a people of color class."

"One of the things that really bothered me about the way you chose to engage this is that I felt like you completely invalidated that this class would be useful to somebody," she said. "Because it's not useful to you, or it's something that you don't want to attend, you completely dismissed it and didn't go into why someone might actually want a safe space to practice yoga."

-
As a note, relating back to my comment about donating to POC Yoga, it is inspired by the work of this Asian American activist, who asks her white ally friends to pay for her therapy treatment instead of just saying "sorry." I want to give credit to that empowering work, and also use this to highlight how crucial it is that we support spaces like POC Yoga, because it is directly tied to the wellbeing and livelihoods of those who ran, went to, and supported POC Yoga. The wellbeing of those people is directly tied to how much strength they have in caring for their friends, families, and community around them. Taking away POC Yoga is directly harmful to the notions of maintaining the health of a community.

And...I just left for an hour and came back, and was really shocked by what I am reading. The content of some of this discussion is confusing and derailing to me. Why are we not talking about who ran POC Yoga, who went to POC yoga, and why this was shut down? Why is this entire discussion centered on how "Seattle is white" and "Seattle is not that white" and "Allies!!!!" Why are we having so much difficulty talking about who is directly affected, and what that means for our overall society that we can't even allow people to have their own spaces? Much thanks and credit to the efforts of everyone above trying to keep this focused on how to support spaces like POC Yoga.
posted by yueliang at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2015 [43 favorites]


The first step to getting liberals and right-wingers to understand is getting them to admit that the United States is a white supremacist country, with de facto white supremacist laws, institutions, and cultural practices. A POC yoga class is a somewhat safe space somewhat out of the direct view and control of white supremacy. An exclusively white yoga class is, on the other hand, an expression of white supremacy.

However, getting liberals and right-wingers to admit that our white supremacist society is white supremacist is damned hard. Unless white supremacy impacts you personally, It's much easier and more comfortable to stay in the drowsy warm embrace of white supremacist thinking than it is to wake up to reality.


Well I think you need to find another term than "white supremacy" to describe the white-biased value system in the US. To regular people "white supremacy" conjures up visions of the KKK lynching blacks and neo-nazis, which makes it easy for people to dismiss.
posted by gyc at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


We use "white supremacy" intentionally because it means specific things and it is what we mean to speak of.
posted by kalessin at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2015 [27 favorites]


To regular people "white supremacy" conjures up visions of the KKK lynching blacks and neo-nazis, which makes it easy for people to dismiss.

Ignorance is not a good excuse to dismiss something.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


To help us back on topic; white resentment of Indians on reservations. Mostly, as Indians will tell you themselves, reservations tend to be not-great places to live, and a shitty substitute for what was stolen from the people who live there!

But if you go to Oklahoma and New Mexico and other places that include them, you will not have to wait long before an aggrieved white person will want to tell you about Indians getting "unfair" privileges and public services, taking up land that "other people could develop" (white people presumably) which would be preferable because Indians are so lazy and obviously can't do anything but drink and commit crimes, and they will go on and on and on about it, even if you originally just asked them to recommend a nice restaurant.

It doesn't matter that this particular white person already has a job, and a place to live, and access to services that greatly exceeds what a Native American on a reservation has, and all the perks that come with being white. The idea, the very idea, that those people get something, no matter how small, that we (white people) can't have, just eats at them.
posted by emjaybee at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2015 [43 favorites]


The thing that always astounds me about people is that they think happiness (or privilege, or ease of life) is always a zero sum game. Like if someone else gets X, it's obvious you are being deprived of X. What the fuck people- isn't there enough to go around in the richest (or at least most resource hungry) place in the world?
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 1:24 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


odinsdream: "schmod: I've been involved in a few organizations that exist to create safe spaces, and we've never found it to be necessary or helpful to categorically exclude our allies.

Allies isn't in the list because of straight people. It's there so that closeted people can feel at ease attending the event under cover.
"

I was thinking specifically of PFLAG when I said that, so no -- that's not what I meant at all.

I'd consider "allies" to be a fairly strong term. I'm not referring people who want to participate in POC Yoga because they're "not racist", nor am I convinced that this strawman actually exists. However, I could see why a parent of an adopted POC child might want to participate in this sort of group.

For that matter, could people here please stop trying to read between the lines of each other's comments looking for malice that isn't necessarily there? I get that this is a delicate issue, but it feels really shitty to participate in these discussions when words get twisted, and everything turns into a pile-on.
posted by schmod at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


To regular people "white supremacy" conjures up visions of the KKK lynching blacks and neo-nazis, which makes it easy for people to dismiss.

Well, they already dismiss "racism" - it's not like all white people are like "wow, you're saying that's racist, I guess that means it's something we should stop, huh."

....I mean, I think that people of good faith who are confused about the term "white supremacy" usually work it out. I think it's true that people do get confused sometimes, but I don't think it's enough of an issue to interfere with the use of the term.

Also, I think the idea is to specifically highlight that things which are ordinarily dismissed as sort of "just racist", like they're just random assortments of prejudices, are actually part of a systematic set of beliefs that seeks to establish white people as the top of a hierarchy of power and rights.
posted by Frowner at 1:30 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


Oh white people. Could we please just not? I'm really embarrassed and horrified and ashamed to be a white lady sometimes. We can be so shitty.
posted by chatongriffes at 1:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


For five years this was a thing that people didn't know about and some how white people were still able to attend yoga. But as soon as its reported that this small thing which hasn't hurt anyone for the last five years is a thing, death threats and closure.

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 1:42 PM on October 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think it's true that people do get confused sometimes, but I don't think it's enough of an issue to interfere with the use of the term.

Especially when the point of the euphemism game is to stop anyone from ever talking about (in this case) racism at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


if white parents of (adopted or not) poc want a yoga class for them they should organize one, not take up space that queer poc organized for their own reasons.
posted by nadawi at 1:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


However, I could see why a parent of an adopted POC child might want to participate in this sort of group.

Even in this hypothetical situation, it is paramount that the wishes of the POC organizers are honored.

Furthermore, such a parent would actually need to understand - in excruciating detail - why such a space is necessary, if they're to substantially arm their POC child with the social knowledge to survive.
posted by Ashen at 1:47 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think part of the issue with white 'discrimination' complaints comes from a belief that 'the game is fair because everyone is subject to the same rules. There was discrimination before against LGBT/PoC because the rules said they couldn't play, but we fixed that!'

But to carry the analogy, it's not fair because inequality still occurs outside the game - if you can't practice with regulation equipment, if you don't have the field to practice on or time in the day to work on your performance with the other people on your team... you don't have the advantages that another team might have, even if the playing field is totally level.

And this means the other team can say they're better, because they won a fair game. They can say it's your fault for being lazy and not working harder to win.

It means they can complain about their tax dollars going to get you cleats and uniforms and balls, about money going to development so 'that team' can have a field to practice on, to subsidize coaches to improve your game.

If you're going to explain discrimination and intersectionality to default white cismale vertebrate, you have to say 'it's not discrimination. It's sportsmanship.' You have to explain that fairness has to happen on and off the field, because that's what it takes to play the game right.
posted by mikurski at 1:48 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


To regular people "white supremacy" conjures up visions of the KKK lynching blacks and neo-nazis, which makes it easy for people to dismiss.

It's not at all coincidental, though, that the common conception of what constitutes White supremacy makes it easy to dismiss it as a radical fringe of mainstream culture. That's exactly why people refuse to see it in every situation, context, and event where White people's needs, fears, and desires categorically eclipse those of POC.
posted by clockzero at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


To regular people "white supremacy" conjures up visions of the KKK lynching blacks and neo-nazis, which makes it easy for people to dismiss.

To regular white people, maybe.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2015 [28 favorites]


Honestly, to regular white people "white supremacy" may conjure up visions of neo-nazis and lynchings - and amazingly enough, we actually have neo-nazis and lynchings - or at least racist shootings that are widely approved.

I mean, I get that there's language slippage, and I get that there's this sort of language arms-race in activist circles. Those are real things, and they do create some issues.

But we also live in a society where you can be shot down like a dog in the street if you're Black and everyone will collaborate to assure each other that you must have done something to deserve it. I just...I mean, we live in a white supremacist society with lynch law. Under Jim Crow, it's not like everyone was getting lynched every day; the point of lynchings was to consolidate white hate and keep people of color in line.

Maybe people should start saying "but white supremacy means neo-nazis and the KKK" and then thinking about it a bit.
posted by Frowner at 2:37 PM on October 19, 2015 [28 favorites]


Also, really, what is "death threats because you run a yoga class that you respectfully ask white people to skip" except white supremacy at the level of neo-nazis and the KKK? People want someone to go in fear of her life because she offers a yoga class that is off limits for white people. She's supposed to be so afraid that she'll be murdered over a yoga class that she'll stop doing it. What is that, if it's not the same kind of threats and intimidation used to run people of color out of neighborhoods and businesses the KKK way?

Actually, for a long time I was on the fence about this "white supremacy being the new term of art for racism" for precisely the reasons described above, but in the past few years I'm really feeling like we have not moved on much from the KKK, except that apparently you can now go on the internet to fund-raise and make lots of money based on your membership in the KKK violence committed against people of color.
posted by Frowner at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [47 favorites]


But if you go to Oklahoma and New Mexico and other places that include them, you will not have to wait long before an aggrieved white person will want to tell you about Indians getting "unfair" privileges and public services, taking up land that "other people could develop" (white people presumably)....

You forgot profiting from tribal-owned casinos on tribal land, therefore moving them in to white people's tax brackets without them ever really having to "work" for it!

Thing is, in America, the rights and privileges of white people are understood to be god-given and inalienable. I mean, it's right there in the country's founding documents! But, the rights and privileges of everyone else -- they're what we deign to give them. They're rights and privileges that we let them have. Being white people's to give also means that they're white people's to regulate and mitigate and, if they don't behave, limit or rescind.

It's like saying to the dog as you let it outside, "Go and be free, dog, because I am a caring and benevolent master!" (As you shorten its leash so that it can't even reach the edge of the yard.)
posted by mudpuppie at 2:48 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


Being white people's to give also means that they're white people's to regulate and mitigate and, if they don't behave, limit or rescind.

In case it wasn't clear, I'm not arguing that this is the way it should be.

posted by mudpuppie at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


On the point of white supremacy being far from a fringe extremist thing, in case anybody was unaware, the Democratic Party of Alabama, a.k.a. the one which judge-turned-governor George C. "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!" Wallace was a member of, only removed the phrase "white supremacy" from its party emblem in 1966. This is the emblem that had appeared on all Democratic election ballots in the effectively one-party state. So for most of the 20th century, that's what any black person who got past the poll taxes and literacy tests got to put their X next to when they finally exercised their right to vote.
posted by XMLicious at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


people of color with death when they attempt to engage in the practice that belongs to them in the first place

I feel sorry for the victims here too.
Can we not conflate all people of color together and essentialize about them? I'm a "person of color"; I've practiced yoga. It does not belong to me - at all. And I don't see any cultural appropriation automatically going on when non-people of color practice yoga either.
posted by Bwithh at 3:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


I feel like sorting out all the source countries, cultures, ethnicities is a distraction and derail. We can stand together or not, we can self-identify via the honor code as to whether our use of yoga was respectful, appropriative, native, or any mix of any other character. But do we stand together? I think that many of us do, whether or not we were invited to participate in yoga.
posted by kalessin at 3:23 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can we not conflate all people of color together and essentialize about them? I'm a "person of color"; I've practiced yoga. It does not belong to me - at all.

I'm going to say the same thing I'd say to a white person who complains about being grouped with the white people pulling this bullshit: if it's not about you, it's not about you.

And I don't see any cultural appropriation automatically going on when non-people of color practice yoga either.

The appropriation isn't in white people practicing yoga. The appropriation is in white people asserting that it is so wrong for people of color to practice the South Asian art of yoga without white presence or permission, those people of color should be killed.
posted by Errant at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


White supremacy has changed its shape, but not its nature. Like when sorcerers duel in folklore, and one becomes a sparrow, the other an eagle, the first shifts to a rabbit, the second to a wolf, the first to fire, the second to water. But they are still themselves, and they are still locked in battle. By and large, white supremacy no longer looks like men in white hoods burning crosses. And the subjugation of black people in America, by and large, no longer looks like plantations and whipping posts. But both are still present, still essentially unchanged, and still locked in battle.
posted by prefpara at 3:47 PM on October 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


This article really hit me hard.

I have often been the only black person in so very many venues over the course of my life. The only black person in (yes) yoga classes, alternative medicine classes, meditation classes, computer science, math, and science classes. The only black person at the campsite, on the hiking or cross country trail, at the rink or on the ice. The list goes on.

I’ve been asked to show my id, my receipt, my registration card, to exhaustively list my bonafides, justify why I should be allowed to take up space in some venue regardless of whether I aced the placement test, paid full price for my ticket, or met the qualifying time.

And thinking back on the years that I’ve endured the side-eyes and stares, the snide remarks and whispered comments, and put up with passive-aggressive shit ("Are you sure you have the right room?") and blatantly hostile shit ("Go back to where you came from, we don't want you here"). Remembering all the times I've had to take a deep breath and "suit up" before I walked in to a new place...

(because of those platitudes, right? "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." "You can’t win if you don’t play." "You’ll never know if you don’t try." "Opportunity favors the bold." "You make your own luck." "What’s the worse that can happen?" and "No pain no gain.")

...just knowing that somebody like me got to walk in to that POC Yoga class and for a little while not feel how I felt all those times. That they got to feel free explore, to learn, to fail or succeed as an individual, as a person not as a people...

It makes me smile and feel like shouting.

Knowing that the opportunity is gone because of the same kinds of racist douchebags that tainted my enjoyment of so many otherwise fun things?

Well. It makes me want to burn the world down.
posted by skye.dancer at 3:48 PM on October 19, 2015 [97 favorites]


I'm a fat POC who practises yoga, and have often felt like an unwelcome unicorn in my classes, surrounded by lots of people who look nothing like me. I've sometimes worried that I cross the line into creepy with how big I smile at other large/POC people who come to class, but damn, I'm just gonna keep beaming away and hope they feel welcome or at least like we're in this together.
posted by TwoStride at 3:54 PM on October 19, 2015 [34 favorites]


skye.dancer, I'm sorry that still happens to you. I know a lot of people in the running community experienced that sort of crap, even though the founder of New York Road Runners was a Black man. There's a huge organization now called Black Girls Run that, while not exclusively for POC women, aims at creating a safe space for Black lady runners, while trying to educate the rest of the world that Black women do belong on the race course.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:56 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Can we not conflate all people of color together and essentialize about them? I'm a "person of color"; I've practiced yoga. It does not belong to me - at all. And I don't see any cultural appropriation automatically going on when non-people of color practice yoga either.

I feel you on the "yoga doesn't belong to me" bit. It's true. It doesn't belong to large numbers of the POC who practice it here in the US. In fact, hell, I'd be quick to call out other POC who don't understand or respect yoga's many cultural and religious contexts in India.

But looking through the thread again, no one said that white people + yoga = unilateral appropriation. I do agree that POC shouldn't be conflated as a single group with all the same oppressions, experiences, etc. But I'm not really seeing that in the thread here either. When did this happen? I probably missed it, although it'd be super unfortunate if it did.
posted by Ashen at 4:37 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


This particular yoga studio (Rainier Beach Yoga) is the one my brother goes to. He and I have been talking about this situation since it developed. The death threats are real, and have been delivered to the owners privately as well as on social media. The amount of unmitigated filth that showed up on their Facebook page and in their Yelp reviews was beyond appalling. They were literally targeted and terrorized.
posted by KathrynT at 4:40 PM on October 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


How is the owner? Does she have somewhere physically safer? Is there somewhere to give donations for support for her and her family? This has got to be awful and expensive due to all the police reports/equipment losses/loss of income/placement, and even if she does reopen I imagine it'll take monies to construct a space she might feel safe enough in to practice with her community. This is terrible.

How is the community? I can't imagine this has anything but a chilling/wearying effect. Do we know how seriously the FBI is taking the report given there's so much physical and recorded evidence of the harassment and threats? Is there a way to apply pressure locally for police and agents to take it seriously?
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Classes are resuming at the studio tomorrow, with police presence onsite.
posted by KathrynT at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


Personally, because I like it when not of my group who stick up for people like me in these threads, I want to say as a white person, if you ever need a white person to help speak up about something in a thread here or elsewhere on the internet, let me know. And feel free to give me feedback in these discussions if you are a POC and have preferences around things I've said or types of support or advocacy you prefer. But as I dig the dudes talk to your dudes stuff I will try to do the white people talk to your white people thing.

This is horrible and it needs to stop. People of color deserve sanctuary. I would argue that anyone in a position of privilege in a group that is actively profiting from the oppression of other groups should actively open their groups up. Otherwise if everyone involved has equal systemic justice and opportunity I am actually totally fine with all women, all men, all Hispanic, all black, even all irish or Viking or whatever. I would argue that people can be adopted into tribes outside of genetics but in adulthood that usually requires the group agreeing you share cultural values and ability to respect that meets the groups needs. Meaning sure, maybe at the POC yoga the group as a whole vote in someone's adopted white child to be welcome to the family yoga. That would be the GROUPS business, not something to be pushed on a group designed to be a sanctuary space. Not to mention the racial inequality inherent to wealthy whites adopting babies of color, (at cheaper prices!) from families who want their children and are being denied trauma healing, addiction care, disability for injuries directly as a result of multigenerational trauma, poverty and adversity that causes higher rates of physical disability, mental illness and other difficulties all CAUSED by slavery, racism, and hate crimes!!!---- who are being denied or subjecting to humiliating hoops to receive very temporary or inadequate housing, living wages, food and financial resources. The problem is right now it's NOT all equal and if your race is currently part of systemic injustice then proudly having a group for only that has a very different problem because first on your agenda as proud member of this group should be to address relations and harms with the groups you are hurting or have hurt historically and not addressed with both acknowledgment and reparations to address remaining damage.

And I want to add, if white people really truly became an oppressed and harmed minority group and lost structural privileges I would be arguing whites could do this too, sure! But we are so far from that as to be beyond ridiculous. Tell me the majority of high earners and people in power are all POC, tell me when white people are getting killed at these rates by the police or afraid to walk into a business or class because they hear comments all the time about being a piece of shit white person. And I HAVE actually known two people who were actually beat up unprovoked as white kids growing up as a minority race (white being the minority in their neighborhoods) and told it was because they were white. So I do know it happens and when that's really the issue, then yeah I would say those individuals actually experienced a racial hate crime. However how many times had the kids who did that to them faced ongoing racism by whites and the effects of systemic injustice and violence done to them by white society around them?

The problem is that ongoing racism is happening to POC of color ALL THE TIME and the idea of reverse racism, like I said it's not that a few incidences haven't happened, it's that they are an invalid distraction point when discussing the level and depth of racially based harms happening to POC ingrained in cultural behavior, in disenfranchisement and disconnection from needed resources and positions of influence and power, and in systemically ingrained ongoing racism built into the system itself.
posted by xarnop at 6:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dori Monson used 9/11 as a vehicle to take his pleasant if innocuous daytime talk show and turn it into wing nut welfare, far as I can tell.
posted by maxwelton at 6:16 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a straight white guy, so safe spaces are usually not meant for me, and I think they are great. What harm could it possibly do me if some people want to get together and talk or do yoga? More power to them. I remember incredibly heated conflict in college over safe spaces and it boggles my mind that not only are people still upset about this, but they have escalated to death threats.

If half of the outrage directed at this kind of tiny activity were instead aimed at the multitude of country clubs that limit their membership, they might start making the world a slightly better place rather than more awful.

I hope the FBI starts taking these kinds of terrorist threats seriously rather than shrugging. They have the incredible post-9/11 security state infrastructure, and if it is going to exist they may as well get some use out of it by tracking down and arresting the people doing this.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Asmer Rahman is my go-to comedian about reverse racism.
posted by kalessin at 6:43 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


One of the thoughts I've had about this is how often religious communities and places of worship are used as de facto safe spaces for POC. That's never discussed - especially by many atheists who fail to value or understand the community aspect of religious life, particularly for immigrant populations and people of color. I'm spiritual but not particularly religious (in the organized religion sense), but I can say for certain that the yoga sessions at my parents' Hindu temple are a safe space for Indians (and respectful, non-Indian Hindus) to feel at home in a practice that honors the ancient spiritual aspects of yoga, with leaders who are well-versed in the Vedic and pre-Vedic roots and philosophy and can guide the attendees accordingly. There is zero judgment, all body types, all ages from kids to the elderly, all levels of expertise, and the only requirement is to be respectful and receptive. I can certainly say I'd feel comfortable in such an environment, despite not being particularly gung-ho about the Hinduism I was raised on. I'd feel more comfortable there than I would at a modern yoga studio where there would be a good chance that I would be the only POC, and only person with a larger body, in a somewhat intimidating environment where I would feel inferior and lacking compared to the affluent, genetically blessed, and those with enough free time to make fitness and health a serious daily priority (all of these things have subtle or not-so-subtle racial components to them)

Black churches have always been de facto safe spaces for POC too. They are cultural centers for black people who often don't have any other space free from the constant low level radiation and microagressions of existing in a country that doesn't value you. Safe spaces which are still under attack - five black churches have been set on fire near Ferguson - not last year. This week.

And don't forget - there are renewed efforts to protest outside mosques, which are also important cultural centers and safe spaces for POC. As the anonymous hate flyers distributed in Streamwood, IL say - BE REMINDED THAT YOU ARE HATED HERE. This is the overwhelming message to POC, and there are active, concerted efforts to not allow them to even have a single space for themselves.
posted by naju at 7:33 PM on October 19, 2015 [36 favorites]


I can say for certain that the yoga sessions at my parents' Hindu temple are a safe space for Indians (and respectful, non-Indian Hindus) to feel at home in a practice that honors the ancient spiritual aspects of yoga, with leaders who are well-versed in the Vedic and pre-Vedic roots and philosophy and can guide the attendees accordingly.

In a moment of odd concordance for me personally, I was looking into yoga classes last week as part of a general "let's actually care about my health" kick. I remember the last time I looked, a few years ago, there was a studio on the Hill that impressed me with its respect for and acknowledgement of yoga's Hindu roots. But I'm looking around now, and it seems to be gone with nothing to take its place, and I don't want to practice a yoga that doesn't have that awareness or emphasis.

So then, I found this article from last year, about how difficult teachers like Sweta Saraogi and Gita Mehrotra have found it to maintain yoga's Hindu context in the US and specifically in Seattle. Well, Mehrotra did something about it:

"In response to this and other examples of a yoga culture that felt unwelcoming, Mehrotra helped co-found POC Yoga, an organization in Seattle that provides weekly classes and regular teacher workshops for People Of Color while also contextualizing yoga’s Indian roots."

Fuck.
posted by Errant at 8:23 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


A lot of atheists who are also people of color used to be religious. I'm certain that they understand the community aspect. And I'm certain (because I know people for whom this is profoundly true) that these same atheists who are also people of color did not experience these religious spaces as safe, for a variety of reasons, including lack of belief and gender non-conformity.
posted by rtha at 8:25 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I never claimed they were perfect. We are thirsty for any spaces people of color can have to themselves, and even these imperfect spaces are under threat.
posted by naju at 8:33 PM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is awful, and I am 100% behind the people trying to make POC-safe yoga.

Some thought experiments ... I don't think I'd be so supportive of a POC-only soccer league since soccer is basically a fun activity, people don't ascribe any kind of deeper meaning to it, and you don't really ever come into close personal contact with the other people so there's not a huge amount of potential abuse. What about a POC only gym? I think that would be great since gyms do involve being in close face-to-face contact with the other people for a long time so there's a lot of potential for racism. POC only meditation would be totally fine -- it's a spiritual thing, totally fine want to be with your people for that. POC only swimming pool would not be OK due to the awful history of segregated swimming in this country. POC only restaurant would not be OK for pretty much the same reason. POC only scouting/camping would be great though, since again it's a sport with a lot of potential for racism and need for a feeling of safety. It's interesting to me where I personally draw the line for different activities, and I'm sure that varies a lot from person to person.
posted by miyabo at 9:04 PM on October 19, 2015


What whites did to yoga in the US is already a terrible crime, this is just another nasty expression of it.
posted by osk at 12:42 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nextdoor is known to be racist.

It would be more accurate to say that some (many?) of the local communities that exist on Nextdoor are racist, and that to this point the way Nextdoor operates as a platform has enabled them or at least not dissuaded them from being so.


With hopes of not derailing the discussion too much farther, I think this is an important point when discussing Nextdoor. My neighboorhood civic association uses Nextdoor to coordinate events and make announcements. We also used it to quickly organize a response to a nearby office building that was conducting activities that posed a hazard and, it turned out, were not compliant with applicable laws. This was very effective. Individuals use it to post for-sale and free-stuff ads. All of this falls within its intended scope and has been working pretty well.

I can see posts on Nextdoor from several of the surrounding neighborhoods, and overall the discussion has been fairly helpful and benign. This is in stark contrast to the (broader) regionally focused web forum sites I can think of. A major general-interest one I can think of is full of angry right-wing men who are wildly and blatantly anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-youth, and often anti-government, and who set the tone of the site. Another notable one targeted at parents, mostly mothers, of young and school-age children, is less overtly hateful but is an echo chamber for a very socioeconomically privileged, fearful, and again mostly white worldview. In my extremely local experience, Nextdoor in a group of (fairly culturally and economically diverse) neighborhoods actually does pretty well at being practical and somewhat useful, if often a bit banal, and in not having a culture of racism.

I am sure that if I lived in a less diverse part of the region I would have a different experience with Nextdoor. It would be easy for a neighborhood with many racist residents to use Nextdoor as a semi-private echo chamber where racist views were supported and reinforced, or as a venue to organize racist reactions to people seen as outsiders. This effect will be difficult to prevent so long as we have so many highly segregated neighborhoods and so many politicians irresponsibly stoking a culture of fear and suspicion. It is easier to organize almost anything with a tool like Nextdoor, and the fact that racism is one of those things is a legitimate and serious problem. Still, I am not sure what Nextdoor’s proper role in the solution should be. Even if it finds a way to take a more active role in moderating these discussions—and while it works well here, active moderation of lawful speech is a sword that can cut both ways—Nextdoor communities will remain exclusionary in many places because they represent the exclusionary physical communities our society creates.
posted by musicinmybrain at 4:44 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


don't think I'd be so supportive of a POC-only soccer league since soccer is basically a fun activity, people don't ascribe any kind of deeper meaning to it, and you don't really ever come into close personal contact with the other people so there's not a huge amount of potential abuse

It might just be a phrasing thing, but I find this really off-putting. Speaking for myself, as a white person, I don't think I have any right to say whether a particular space should or shouldn't be devoted to POC-only activities. I also really don't think I should have any say in whether or not that's necessary.

In my life, I have become more and more aware of the fact that so many of the spaces I have inhabited have been almost completely filled with white people. (This has mostly but not exclusively been academic settings, fwiw.) I could totally understand why a POC would be sick of being surrounded by white people all day, every day, and I don't think it makes sense to try to draw some arbitrary line, like, it's not needed because there's no "deeper meaning" or "not much personal contact."

Also, this in particular:

not a huge amount of potential abuse

Reads as rather naive to me. It seems like there's pretty much no situation where we could say there's no or limited potential that a person of color will face some sort of discrimination or abuse.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:07 AM on October 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


I don't think I'd be so supportive of a POC-only soccer league since soccer is basically a fun activity

So wait, POC (and by extension, other minorities) shouldn't be allowed to have fun? Because if anyone sets up a POC-only football league (or queer-only, or any other marginalised group only), it will be because they are getting bullied, harassed, or just plain made to feel uncomfortable in general access football tournaments, and feel a need to set up a parallel system in order to be able to participate at all.

What you're effectively saying is, if your local footie groups are racist and lock you out, explicitly and aggressively or covertly maybe even inadvertently, then you cannot play. Fuck that. Marginalised groups are allowed to have fun, too.
posted by Dysk at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


Yeah, as a white person, I have to say that I'm deeply uncomfortable running around saying that, well, this group of activities or settings is okay and there can be separate POC groups for those activities, but it's not okay to create separate POC groups or spaces for these other activities because... reasons? I mean, I'm a white person, how is it okay for me to be like "welp, it seems to me that having a POC soccer team is bad and wrong, so it shouldn't be done"? Isn't that just more of the same, more ignorant white people imposing their own views on a population that should be allowed to decide for themselves how integrated they want to have to be with people that marginalize them constantly?
posted by palomar at 8:35 AM on October 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


I played a few seasons as an adult in a "co-rec" soccer league. I desperately missed the all-women intramural soccer I had played in college. I had forgotten the sheer misery of hearing the word "girl" used as an insult by one man to another. I would imagine POC have similar experiences in rec-league soccer.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am sure that if I lived in a less diverse part of the region I would have a different experience with Nextdoor.

I could expand this to include yoga (and at times, a lot of things on metafilter). I certainly know the trope that yoga is for privileged whites / that white people have ruined yoga - it's been repeated enough in this discussion - but I've never actually been to a practice or class that was majority white & straight. The only majority white session was one aimed at gay men. And while that's a reflection of my region & not America overall, we are still most definitely in America.

Some have mentioned that Seattle is trying to address the incidents with POC Yoga; Id be interested in hearing more updates. These trolling hate attacks can now happen anywhere; we need to learn how to respond when they target our communities.
posted by kanewai at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I am missing something here but doesn't the Civil Rights Act forbid explicit racial discrimination in public accommodations? Is POC Yoga considered a private club?
posted by nolnacs at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2015


Perhaps I am missing something here ...

The actual law provides a clear answer.

42 U.S. Code § 2000a - Prohibition against discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation
posted by kanewai at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2015


Perhaps I am missing something here but doesn't the Civil Rights Act forbid explicit racial discrimination in public accommodations? and The actual law provides a clear answer.

Since apparently no one was refused entry to the class ("We asked; we did not demand it, and we never turned anyone away.”) it doesn't seem like there was any discrimination by the organizers.
posted by skye.dancer at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification. My googling proved to be insufficient as I saw a number of references to things like health clubs bring considered public accommodations. A moot point in any case.
posted by nolnacs at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2015


I'm not really sure what a minority-only yoga class offers that a racially mixed class doesn't. In my experience, in yoga, I'm typically focused on my asana and trying not to think about suffering in 95 degree heat, rather than looking around noticing the race of the people around me. It could be all people who look like me, all people of different race and the opposite sex - I'd probably notice while warming up and then forget once the 'torture' started.

But I guess there was a need and a demand for it, otherwise nobody would have set it up. And I suppose I don't see a real problem with it - maybe white people give a funny vibe to minority chakras or something? But death threats? Seriously? Seems like someone really needs more yoga.
posted by theorique at 5:27 PM on October 20, 2015


A minority-only yoga class gives said minorities a hopefully guaranteed safe space to partake in an activity they enjoy. Some folks actively feel uncomfortable around men, or white people, or straight people, and it is often because they have been given hell by people in one or more of those groups. They deserve to be able to partake in activities they enjoy without fear or anxiety.

You may be able to concentrate on your asanas without worrying about the people around you. That's not a privilege everyone enjoys. Yoga being about spiritual centering and relaxation, it's counterproductive to be taking a class around people you don't know who look like people who don't like you and haven't been afraid of telling you as much.
posted by angeline at 5:53 PM on October 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


zombieflanders: "An equally plausible interpretation is that it was your standard issue internet trolls, and they could have come from anywhere. There's no way to tell from the writing.

Why would it matter? Death threats leave the realm of "ironic" -isms and enter into straight-up bigotry no matter who issues them.
"

I think the two of you are addressing two different questions. The severity of the events, and describing the culprits.

I can see how the use of "standard issue" might make it seem kanewai is trying to play down the severity of the events, but I had read it as saying these aren't people who were looking for a yoga class. They don't really care about the yoga.

So all the stuff about yoga being appropriated is kind of beside the point. If it was a mayonnaise-and-bad-dancing club, obviously that wouldn't make death threats any better, right?
posted by RobotHero at 6:32 PM on October 20, 2015


So all the stuff about yoga being appropriated is kind of beside the point. If it was a mayonnaise-and-bad-dancing club, obviously that wouldn't make death threats any better, right?

No, but the fact that a bunch of white people couldn't let a POC-only yoga class happen, when yoga stems from a non-white culture, that seems rather like adding insult to that rather grievous injury.
posted by Dysk at 7:00 PM on October 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


I can't help but be reminded of this article about a "skinny white girl" whose vibe was thrown off by a larger woman of color turning up in her usual yoga class. Her article, which got mocked fairly mercilessly, is a navel-gazing thought spiral where she makes a lot of assumptions about the other woman in her class.

(The article is actually not horrible, but it is kind of clumsy.)
posted by theorique at 4:34 AM on October 21, 2015


I disagree, it's pretty horrible. It was linked previously, as was this response from Pia Glenn. As an article, it provides as clear an answer as one could want to your question about the need for a POC-only yoga class, because who wants to deal with all of those assumptions and white tears when you're just trying to get your stretch on?
posted by Errant at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


> Black churches have always been de facto safe spaces for POC too. They are cultural centers for black people who often don't have any other space free from the constant low level radiation and microagressions of existing in a country that doesn't value you. Safe spaces which are still under attack - five black churches have been set on fire near Ferguson - not last year. This week.

Let's See What Conservatives Have to Say About a Real War on Christianity: The burning of black churches near Ferguson is an actual issue, unlike "Happy Holidays" signs.
posted by homunculus at 10:16 AM on October 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


From link in Errant's comment above, tentatively saved for some future use:

If we discard the green, moldy outer layers of the rotting onion of your thought,
posted by infini at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got the sense from the first xojane article that here is a woman who believed that everything at her home studio was perfectly inclusive, and then her emotional response to another yoga practitioner showed her that maybe her assumptions weren't quite accurate. It read to me like a sincere, albeit fumbling, attempt to grapple with some of her bigotry.
posted by theorique at 1:57 PM on October 21, 2015


Oh, I don't think it's disingenuous, or that the author herself is horrible. The really big knock on it is that, if we assume that the black woman in question is in fact experiencing any of the feelings that Jen Caron projects on her (which is a fairly hefty assumption in the first place), Caron's response is to focus on how that makes her, the white woman, feel. This perceived discomfort on the part of the black woman is merely a catalyst to examine the white woman's feelings and actions. It's a pretty classic case of how white people's response to racism is often to focus on themselves, rather than the problem or the other person. It objectifies the person of color as either a symbol of one's own hidden prejudices or proof of one's own enlightenment, but never gives the person of color their own agency. The white person either congratulates or flagellates themself, while the person of color is sidelined as a prop in someone else's story. As Pia Glenn says, if you really think this woman is suffering so badly, why do you not then interact with her as a human being in any way? The best response to discovering that your assumptions aren't accurate isn't to make a whole new set of assumptions and go with them instead.

It is a well-intentioned attempt to deal with her prejudices, that much is true. But she never actually deals with them, does she? She ends with "not knowing how to engage...mitigates the hope for change." But she doesn't even try to engage. She doesn't even try to learn how to engage. She just experiences despair at the difficulty of the task. Well, to be honest, white people's despair over intractable racism is even less useful than white people's indifference to racism. This entire thing takes place inside her own head, with no reverberation in the outside world, and she doesn't even arrive anywhere or resolve to do anything about this enormous problem she suddenly perceives. She just gets sad about it. Well, I for one do not give a shit how sad racism makes white people feel, sorry. How white people feel about racism is maybe the least interesting or useful topic there is, and that's all that this article is. "It seems like she must feel so inferior and unwanted here, in a room full of thin white people who can do yoga and aren't heavy, black, and unable to do yoga, so I went home and cried and didn't know what to do." Awesome, cool story. As the most upvoted commenter on the article says, "I eagerly await the follow-up piece: 'IHTM: I was Just Trying to Do My Fucking Yoga and This Weird-Ass White Girl Kept Staring at Me with Tears in Her Eyes'".
posted by Errant at 2:42 PM on October 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


So while I don't have personal experience with the racial aspect of this, I have a little relevant experience on the sexuality end, because I actually played in an LGBT-focused softball league last year. I know I don't have to explain to this crowd that team sports in the USA have tended to be extremely homophobic environments: when I was growing up, being an out athlete at the high school level, even in an individual sport, was pretty much unthinkable. Getting to be part of a big group of people reclaiming team sports for queer people felt pretty great. Anyway, this is particularly relevant because the league in which I played is part of a national organization, and there are actually bylaws that prohibit teams from having more than two straight people on any given team.

Actually, they were apparently sued over this back in 2008, and a judge affirmed their legal right to maintain these prohibitions. Guess where this judge issued his opinion? Oh look, Seattle.

Because as always life is complicated, the national org also apparently acted very badly here: at the time their bylaws also counted bisexual players as straight (that's changed, and at least in my city's league there are now a lot more people in various places on the GSM spectrum, including an all-trans team), and the way they treated the players who were suing (who were, I think, people of color) was apparently not good either. The conduct of the people running PoC Yoga, by comparison, seems to me to have been completely above reproach.

Anyway, overall, while I'm definitely not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, it's hard to believe that PoC Yoga would not have legal protection to carry out its mission. From the decision [pdf]: In order for NAGAAA [the softball league] to show that its decision to exclude someone from membership is protected by the Constitution, it must show three things: (1) NAGAAA is an expressive association, (2) forced inclusion of unwanted members would affect NAGAAA’s ability to express its viewpoints, and (3) NAGAAA’s interest in expressive association outweighs the state’s interest in eradicating discrimination. ... The Commissioner of NAGAAA submitted a declaration explaining that the desire for exclusivity was born of the fact that many members of the LGBT community come from backgrounds where team sports have been environments of ridicule and humiliation. (Dkt. No. 34. ¶ 2.) NAGAAA’s efforts to promote an athletic, competitive, sportsmanlike gay identity, with a unique set of values, in response to a particular need, are protected by the First Amendment. Forced inclusion of straight athletes would distract from and diminish those efforts.

It's very interesting to compare what the right-wing troll machine is calling some kind of shockingly novel, dangerous, fringe-y argument that would never stand up to legal scrutiny, and then compare it with the opinion rendered in this judgment, which unambiguously stands up for the right of minorities to have safe spaces to recreate.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:18 PM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Oops, on checking further the team I had in mind defines itself as trans/queer and friends, not trans-only)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2015


It is a well-intentioned attempt to deal with her prejudices, that much is true. But she never actually deals with them, does she?

I think that was what I was getting at, and more.

As an op-ed piece, it feels like clickbait that presses the race button to stir up controversy. As a private journal entry, with this woman reflecting on, and trying to understand, her own emotional response to a situation, it's not so bad. Perhaps that's the best place for it to have been published.
posted by theorique at 4:24 AM on October 23, 2015


As a private journal entry

Ideally the kind you keep on paper, for yourself. I know that it was - and sometimes still is - difficult for me as a white person (note, I am not the writer of that piece!) to remember that my feelings about race and racism should only be shared in public venues when there's a real reason, and that sharing the many ways in which I as a white person was socialized to be racist can actually cause a lot of pain and discomfort for readers, especially readers of color. It's not like it's some kind of revelation that white people are socialized to be ignorant about race and that we learn racist thoughts.

Also, there's the whole need for absolution thing - I think that's about race, but it's about more than race. I think white people push to publish this kind of thing so that we can be told that we're not racist. I also think that women (and AFAB people like me, who feel that we picked up a lot of "girl" socialization) are socialized to need to be liked, so that when we have bad (or even just "bad") thoughts, we feel pushed to "confess" them to others. In combination, that's pretty powerful.

I think that both white people and people who received this socialization about being liked need to teach ourselves to process our own feelings. Okay, so you had some kind of dodgy reflections about race in your yoga class - own those feelings, think them through, decide what to do about them. It's important as white people that we don't vomit forth every bit of ugliness we've learned; it's important as women/AFAB-women-socialized people to be able to say "so I had an ugly thought; I don't need to confess it in order to feel like I'm a good person again; I can be my own person".

Confessional writing is super interesting and the doubts about it are often gendered, but that doesn't mean that all confessional writing is a really good idea.
posted by Frowner at 6:09 AM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also, there's the whole need for absolution thing - I think that's about race, but it's about more than race. I think white people push to publish this kind of thing so that we can be told that we're not racist.

That is very true. I think a lot of white people have internalized the message that being "A RACIST" is literally the worst possible thing (I blame the movies and TV, where Klan, Nazis, bigoted Southern Sheriffs are a lazy way to signal THESE ARE THE BAD GUYS! SEE? RACIST! BAD!). Because of this, some whites feel the need a little affirmation every so often they they are not "A RACIST". It wouldn't surprise me too much if the writer of the original xojane article had been seeking (consciously or unconsciously) to accumulate "good white girl points" and to be affirmed by others that she was indeed not "A RACIST".

Confessional writing is super interesting and the doubts about it are often gendered, but that doesn't mean that all confessional writing is a really good idea.

In a private journal, writing more explicitly and being more raw and honest is almost always a beneficial thing, even if it leads to short-term discomfort. Such discomfort can be the source of useful insight. (At least, in my personal experience.) On the other hand, such unfiltered confession is likely to make the content of such a journal both less useful and less palatable and less palatable for public sharing. Certainly, we should question whether such writing is good for publication.
posted by theorique at 9:57 AM on October 23, 2015


« Older Shuttered: The End of Abortion Access in Red...   |   Archive.org, WHOIS Lookups, & Facebook >> WaPo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments