Yoga and Racism.

I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try to speak up about a recent article I read in The Texas Observer titled The Trouble with Yoga by Rumya S. Putcha, Ph.D. 

With my first novel nearly finished, I’ve been on the fence about telling the truth as I see it about topics like this because the publishing industry, to a large degree, seems to be infected by Political Correctness. Questioning the religion of identity politics is considered blasphemy and has a good chance of getting me blacklisted. And on top of that, as a new,  not so young and budding writer, my publishing odds are slim to begin with. 

But I had to ask myself, “what kind of writer are you going to be if you don’t tell the truth?”

I’ve heard the “free speech is hate speech,” mantra from the PC types. How that idea could in anyway be related to liberating the oppressed seems like an oxymoron to me. I’d say that “immature and deliberately irresponsible speech is hate speech.”  And that’s exactly what this the article in question exemplifies, in my opinion.  

I’ve pasted the whole of the article into this post, but if you want to read it on its own here’s the link:  The Trouble with Yoga  

So. Shall we begin:

It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon in south college Station when I arrived for yoga class like I had on any other Wednesday for the past three years. After battling the rush-hour drive-thru Starbucks line to squeeze into a parking spot, I hurried past a new boutique next door. The display window featured a Buddha statue next to a Native American headdress, yoga mat, a dream catcher and a hammock. Mentally bookmarking that bizarre collection of Orientalist-leisure artifacts as something to investigate later, I walked into the studio.

She’s obviously looking to problematize these mental bookmarks. Once the religious fervor of identity politics grabs you, it’s hard not to see racism everywhere.  

As I made my way down the cheerful teal hallway I knew and loved, the owner of the studio stepped in front of me, blocking my path. He said he’d received a complaint about me from Ashley, a fellow member I knew well. I had “attacked Ashley,” he said, when I spoke with her after class one day about the meaning of the word “namaste.” Stunned, I explained that it was only a casual chat. It ended with us hugging, after all. Ashley and I saw each other almost every day, and so I’d thought it was safe to share with her how I knew the word. She had used namaste in a pun on social media —“Namastay Together” — and so I opened up to her about how it felt to see and hear a word from India turned into a commercialized pun in the United States.

So, she’d been going to the yoga class for three years and now she starts opening up about the word “namaste?” What has changed? And why is it all of a sudden a “commercialized pun?” “Dumbledore” was an old English word that had several meanings: it was what they called bumblebees in old England, and it also referred to something like a drunkard. Maybe we should shame people for reading the Harry Potter books like a lot of fundamentalists already have, and Twitter Mob J.K. Rowling for stealing a word from another culture. There were, after all, a lot of oppressed surfs in England back then, before the Enlightenment and Liberalism brought opportunity to a lot more people. And, the English language is a hodgepodge mix of at least ten different languages. So there are certainly a lot of other English words we might need to start shaming people into not using.   

Ashley was hardly the first white “yogi” to use the word in a way I found off-putting. In the past, I might have simply rolled my eyes at yet another gratuitous faux-spiritual namaste pun, but this time something felt different. She had posted a Facebook photo of herself and her blonde-haired, blue-eyed child with this pun as a caption in early 2017, as the Muslim travel ban went into effect. While my brown friends were posting about how they were being detained and harassed in airports, or asking for help finding their families who were missing, here was this white woman co-opting a language — one I no longer feel safe speaking in public — to perform self-congratulatory and deeply ignorant multiculturalism.

Rumya S. Putcha, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Performance Studies and affiliated faculty in the Women and Gender Studies Program and in the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute at Texas A&M University.  I’m not a psychic, but I knew she had to be some sort of adherent to “Grievance Studies,” which pretends to tout scholarly ideas that have no empirical basis whatsoever (watch the video at the end).

I tried to explain to the owner, a middle-aged white man, why I had spoken with Ashley. Looking back, I don’t know why I bothered. This man had never even tried to learn how to pronounce my name. ButI’m an educator, and I believed it was my civic duty to try to help him see the world from a different point of view. I attempted to use my research and my expertise to describe how racism affects people of color in the United States, and how yoga studios, which operate as what sociologists have described as white public spaces, are a prime example of this problem.

So, it’s her “duty to try to help him see the world from a different point of view.” That sounds a lot like the guys who come to my door dressed in suits to try to get me to convert to the Mormon way of life. Though I have to say that the Mormons don’t display their intellectual arrogance by categorizing people as “a middle-aged white man,” or complaining: “I don’t know why I bothered,” and then playing the victim card: “This man had never even tried to learn how to pronounce my name.” My last name used to be Leveille and there were at least six ways to pronounce it. But damn, I forgot to complain about it.

Next, she attempts to use her narrow and unsubstantiated “expertise” to explain how “racism affects people of color in the United States,” implying that there’s a one-size-fits-all understanding and that all “people of color” see it that way. Here we go with the “oppressed and oppressor” Marxist narrative again. It feels like a trope to mention it, but the truth about the ideology behind this new religion, which has taken over the humanities in too many public universities, needs to be exposed.  Jonathan Haidt, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein, StevenPinker, and Jordan Peterson, to name a few, are doing great good work to counter these so-called experts in the“grievance studies” field. 

His response: “There’s no such thing as racism in your case. You’re not black.”

I’d have to agree that the studio owners remark was shallow. Muhammad Ali once said that “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”  But he didn’t say “except for all the fragile white people,” which Patchua will now demonstrate.

In the year since that episode, I’ve explored the gaslighting of racial discrimination that leads to claims like “That’s not racism.” Sociologists refer to the defensive emotions that deny racism as“white fragility.” Both the studio owner and Ashley exhibited symptoms of while fragility in the way they reacted to me, and it is important to remember that while fragility is white supremacy. Like a pyramid, the pinnacle of white supremacy includes explicit hate crimes and the alt-right, but the base, the largest, most foundational and often the most normalized components, rely on veiled racism, minimization and indifference. As sociologist Robin DiAngelo points out in her new book, White Fragility, it’s shocking for most people to realize that contrary to popular belief, it’snot the alt-right but rather the core of the yoga demographic, white progressives, who “cause the most daily damage to people of color.”

To point a finger at any ethnic group and accuse them of a collective crime is racist. Period. This kind of intellectual arrogance can only exist in a cult-like atmosphere where “common enemy identity politics, as Jonathan Haidt calls it, can create a narrative out of thin air based on ideologically poisoned hearsay posing as sociology. Notice that she doesn’t mention any of the other fields of study that might have a thing or two to say about cultural evolution: evolutionary biology, genetics, neuroscience, linguistics, depth psychology, social psychology,  and science in general. The reason there is no cooperation with these fields is that they are ipso facto all unnecessary and thus can be erased from human history because they are all part of the “common enemy:” The Patriarchy. Meanwhile, the ungrateful, vitriolic, white-shaming ideologues go to expensive yoga classes (for three years in Putcha’s case), type on their home computers, drive in their new cars on paved roads, text on their cell phones, work in their cushy offices or attend luxurious academies, fly across the country for around $400, buy organic food, search the internet at the tips of their fingers while howling  about the patriarchy.  

Nearly 37 million U.S. adults practice yoga. More than 70 percent are women and 85 percent identify as white. But it’s not just that yoga is an incredibly homogenous white female culture; it’s also an astoundingly upper-class culture. As of 2017, more than 40 percent of yoga practitioners earned over $75,000 a year, and 25percent over $100,000 annually. In other words, yoga studios are the new country clubs. As the 21st-century version of exclusive and elitist recreational spaces, these studios are often located next to a coffee shop, health food store, juice bar or a lifestyle boutique that sells Orientalist curios.

So what? That’s the way this country has evolved. For better or for worse, it’s still going strong.  I don’t like the wealth gap, but I’ve read deeply into history, and Marxism, a failed economic philosophy that doesn’t take into account the complicated aspects of human nature. This paragraph panders to a typical Marxist bourgeois critique. It’s a scientific fact that humans have evolved to live within hierarchical structures. But, if you believe in the postmodern/neo-Marxist doctrine, then you get to push the delete button on “science” and believe whatever you want. 

Beyond their visibility as conspicuous and racialized wellness/leisure consumption, yoga studios have emerged in the United States as homogenous white spaces, which are in turn positioned as “safe spaces” for white women. Such ideas of safety, built around patriarchal notions of white women’s vulnerability and purity, rely on entrenched racialized ideas of what separates the public from the private, and often further marginalize women of color since we are rarely seen as worthy of safety or saving.

Again, the racism against white people. Her “patriarchial notions” seem to stem for a shallow and cherry-picked understanding of history. For instance, I don’t’ think we can say that it was “white people” who learned how to harness fire, tell the first stories around the fires, invent the wheel, bring on the bronze age, gunpowder, silk, the iron age, written languages, early agriculture, the printing press, and build the first firearms. It’s like the evolution of technology had nothing to do with the advantages that some cultures had over others. Or that tribalism didn’t play a role in our evolution. Neither did the enlightenment, or liberalism – which brought more opportunity to millions of people around the world and is still doing so. World poverty has gone down from 37% in 1987 to just 10% in 2017. But all that is discounted because of “white people” who did nothing but create racism, classism, sexism, and every other ism.  

Nearly 37 million U.S. adults practice yoga. More than 70 percent are women and 85 percent identify as white. Indeed, the discourse around white women involvement in activities like yoga, activities that are positioned as spiritual or empowering, exists within a long and ugly history of how white women carved out a space for themselves in public during the Jim Crow era. This history is inextricably tied to white women’s involvement in the KKK, the feminist-suffragette movement and the profoundly racist and Orientalist roots ofU.S. forms of modern dance and now yoga. In 2018, yoga is simply the newest tool for white women to find and express their own social and political power in public at the cost of women of color.

Note: the author states at the beginning of this diatribe that she was going to this yoga studio for three years. 

So it looks now like all white women were part of the KKK, the suffragette movement was somehow bad, the patriarchy assimilated dances and yoga from the pure and pristine cultures they overthrew, and all white women use yoga only to gain political power over women of color. Am I getting this right? And what about men of color? And do the different shades of color matter? Their heritage? Their genes? Oh wait, I keep forgetting to turn off my memories about science and history and all that.

In my work on yoga and racial justice, I’m often asked to comment on what commercial yoga studios can do better, or if there is a way for Americans to continue to do yoga without upholding white supremacy. Some studios now refrain from using namaste, om, or any other Sanskrit words in their practice — a tactic I support. And there are a small but growing number of voices, such as the group South Asian American perspectives on Yoga, the Praxis Center at Kalamazoo College and former teacher and MacDonald, who are working to raise awareness on how to practice anti-racism in yoga spaces.

How about we get Rumya S. Putcha, Ph.D. to practice anti-racism against white people at her cozy elitist college? How about we get her to go have a conversation with Jorden Peterson or Bret Weinstein. No? why not? Because they are racist, bigoted, misogynist, alt-right white men who love only the power they bleed out of the oppressed people from their high status in the phantom of the Patriarchy? Or is it because they would make her look like the ideological hatemonger that she is. I haven’t found a single shred of evidence (oops, another pain-in-the-ass-patriarchal thing) that shows that she actually cares about oppressed people, only that she has resentment and spews vitriol against white people, just like how the early communists hated the rich.   

Still, the question should not be “How can I do what I want?” but “Why do I think I have a right to what I want?” Ultimately, until more whites, especially white women whose complicity in white supremacy remains the crucial lynchpin for its survival, can ask themselves with humility “What does it mean to be white?” there are no solutions. Like a virus, until we prevent white supremacy’s ability to reinvent itself, we will simply be left to confront the newest version at a later date.

Why do I think I have a right to what I want? Because I live in the freest, most diverse country in the world (something Grievance Studies adherents can’t fathom); because I am “endowed by [my] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because liberalism allows me the opportunity to pursue my own happiness. And as a mature and responsible member of this still evolving, both great and flawed society, I know the “pursuit” requires a lot of individual effort on my part, and a mature respect for the “unalienable Rights” of others.      

But according to the Putcha, “there are no solutions” to the “virus” that is somehow deemed to be innate in “especially white women” (and that means all white woman because one of the tenants of Grievance Studies is that there are no individuals). And unless all white woman ask themselves “with humility” (because this article certainly exemplifies how to do such a thing), “what does it mean to be white?” the world is doomed. 

Like the early Christians, Putcha wishes to punish the evildoers by coercing “especially white women” to confess their original sin. Which means they all must be humbled and publically shamed (as in the main focus of this article) in order to be redeemed, saved, and baptized into the religion of  “Social justice.”

“And so the […] adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening.” ~ Andrew Sullivan. 

According to Rumya S. Putcha, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Performance Studies and affiliated faculty in the Women and Gender Studies Program and in the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute at Texas A&M University, we’re supposed to believe that Yoga studios are nothing more than a breeding ground for “white supremacy” – one of the many phantoms of the Patriarchy.  Never mind that the term white supremacy is historically associated with lynching & cross burning by the KKK. Now it’s attending yoga classes. And never mind the proven make-believe research of “Grievance studies” citing other make-believe research as a means to establish ideas as scholarly that have no empirical basis whatsoever.

So, “like a virus, until we prevent” Foucaultian-postmodern-neo-Marxist ideologies “from reinventing themselves, we will simply be left to confront the newest version at a later date.”

The new Grievance Studies religion in a nutshell:

Political Correctness = blaspheme

White Privilege = original sin

Woke = born again

Non-believers = infidels to be burned at the stake (or publicly shamed and stripped of their careers).

Post-Foulcartian-neo-Marxist-Modernism= holy secret doctrine

Oppressed people = The meek shall inherit the earth

The Patriarchy (oppressors) = Satan

Safe spaces = Churches

Intersectionality = The anointed ones

Punch a Nazi = The holy crusade

Unfalsifiable, circular reasoning =fundamentalism

Epistemological island = the holy land 

For more information on Grievance Studies, check out the video below.

A warm Namaste to you all!

And remember, free expression and the free exchange of ideas can change the world for the better. More will always be revealed!

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