Sometimes it is Not “All Good”: How Yoga Teaches Me to Speak My Truth

As much as I want to assume this identity of the “peaceful yogi” who sees the good in all, it doesn’t mean that I remain silent when my voice needs to be used. Honestly, I could care less if anyone hears me or not; however, when we exercise our voice with integrity we awaken our Truth.

Stay balanced and grounded in your Truth.

For centuries people have been marginalized, attacked, harassed, bullied, and sometimes murdered for speaking their Truth. As a woman of African descent I have experienced both racism and sexism in many different settings that have at times left me paralyzed with fear….until now.

Over the past three days I have experienced direct and repetitive cyber harassment from the editor/moderator of an online “yoga” publication with over 48,000 subscribers. This particular publication proclaims to support freedom of speech for readers; however, when I challenged a particular video entitled “Yoga for Black People”, which in my opinion was a tasteless attempt at “humor” by way of perpetuating negative stereotypes, I was the target for endless comments and posts that not only used my name, but my photo from my website as well. Within the one out of two comments I shared, I told a story about how my grandmother’s experiences with racism in the deep South frequently manifested in the form of “jokes”. I went on to comment that this particular video reminded me of that same energy. Never once did I point fingers, call names, or accuse anyone of being a racist. Quite frankly I did not even know the editor’s (my harasser’s) first name until he began signing his comments toward me “W”. I chose to not stand by idle, silently “lol-ing”, “lmao”, or “rotfl-ing”, instead I shared a very real story that many people who have been marginalized have experienced. I shared another perspective that made an individual feel uncomfortable, angry, and combative.

Since Tuesday this man has made numerous aggressive comments toward me on the aforementioned video in addition to three isolated articles which label me “Chelsea the yoga loving racist accuser who makes him embarrassed to teach yoga” (really dude?). Honestly, my issue is not with him disagreeing with my initial comment (everyone is entitled to their opinion), it rests in the bizarre harassment I have received following my observation. Although I refuse to comment on this particular individual’s ignorant effort for attention (at least on his site), I see this as a moment in which I want to express my gratitude for his ignorance.

Contrary to what some may think I am not assuming the role of victim, instead I choose to reclaim my position and my voice in this world. Yoga teaches me about balance, consciousness, and Truth. Through this experience I am learning how to align with a Source that is so much greater than me and this minor irritation. I am learning that there are no coincidences in life, and that everything is in Divine order.

Liberation cannot exist in the presence of fear

I never imagined that I would be harassed and bullied on a site about yoga by the moderator himself; however, yoga teaches me how to stay grounded and when appropriate to stand my ground in the face of challenge. In this situation, I stand my ground and stand in my truth by refusing to be apologetic about the comment regarding my grandmother’s experience. Moreover, I refuse to be bullied by a reactionary individual who is speaking from a place of fear and ignorance.

This is yoga folks! Yoga is not always about the pretty postures and the amazing glow you receive after a class. Yoga is life. During yoga classes I often hear my teachers remind me to resist the urge to move into the periphery when attempting difficult postures. In other words, find your center. We cannot grant external distractions the privilege of coaxing us out of the moment. My moment is grounded in liberation. Liberation does not exist in a state of fear.

*PS- W, if you are reading this, thank you for this teaching. You are an amazing teacher!  (and yes, that was the “passive-aggressive cherry on my racist accusing sundae”) smiley face :) .

123 Comments

  1. by Karen on August 18, 2011  7:43 pm Reply

    <3 this, Chelsea. Thank you for speaking your truth and sharing it with us.

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  7:45 pm Reply

      Thank you for your support Karen. I miss and love you dearly.

    • by Chandika Kim on August 20, 2011  9:01 am Reply

      You continually amaze and inspire me. Thank you for standing up and speaking your Truth and your heart because it it is a shining example for others who may need to do the same!! I'm sorry for the ignorant response you received and the pain that may have come from it. And as you said all moments good and bad can be rich with teachings, you handled this one beautifully. I'm boycotting Elephant Journal, which is a joke of a yogic online magazine, lacks tremendous integrity and I'll be telling anyone who might be a reader. Love you dearly!

      • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:28 am Reply

        Love you Chandika!

  2. by stahhr on August 18, 2011  7:56 pm Reply

    thank you for exemplifying yogic principles masterfully. love you!

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  7:57 pm Reply

      Stahhr, you my friend have inspired in ways you may never ever know. Love you!

  3. by Tiffany Pogue on August 18, 2011  8:07 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for living and sharing your Truth. May your light continue to shine.

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:33 pm Reply

      Thank you Tiffany :)

  4. by Mrs. Underwood on August 18, 2011  8:17 pm Reply

    Proud of you and the "high road" that you have elected to take.

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:34 pm Reply

      Thank you for teaching me at an early age Mrs. Underwood!

  5. by Sherri on August 18, 2011  8:32 pm Reply

    Chelsea this post is wonderful and it just shows how much your light draws people to you. Even if "W"'s energy is negative it is STILL energy which you have turned into something positive.

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:35 pm Reply

      You're so gnarley LS! Love you.

  6. by Xpj7 on August 18, 2011  8:39 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing Chelsea, you have my support!!

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:35 pm Reply

      Thank you!

  7. by Clarence Taylor on August 18, 2011  8:41 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing your truth Chelsea, you have my support!!

  8. by india a. on August 18, 2011  9:04 pm Reply

    i am so proud of you chelsea!!! inspiring us all not to be afraid to speak and reinforcing the principles of "your silence will not protect you." congrats! salute sister!

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:35 pm Reply

      Thank you India! Love you sis!

  9. by frances hunt on August 18, 2011  10:29 pm Reply

    Thank you for another amazing lesson on living Yoga on and OFF the mat. The high road is certainly an amazing one. I actually read the posts by "W" in addition to the subsequent comments. Funny how the divine works. I actually found you online yesterday while searching for yoga instructors of color. Shortly after I read the posts/comments re Yoga for Black People. I SUPPORT YOU. With love AND admiration.....Namaste!

    • by Chelsea on August 18, 2011  10:40 pm Reply

      Wow! Thank you for this comment Frances and it is nice to meet you! One of the good things that came out of W's comments is the amount of traffic I have accumulated from his abusive banter which consequently allows me to meet amazing & courageous yogis! Let's keep in contact!

  10. by Judi on August 18, 2011  11:27 pm Reply

    Chelsea, wow! I really admire you for taking a stand for yourself and anyone who has been attacked in the ignorance of calling it humor. It is really hard to believe that happened in the first place but even more so that W did not just let you make your point and move on. Good for you. I know how hard it is to put yourself out there and you have stepped up!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:30 am Reply

      Thank you Judi! Thank you for being a fabulous web designer and designing this platform for so many to engage in community dialogue.

  11. by linda on August 19, 2011  12:58 am Reply

    Stand in your own truth, Chelsea. Your experience does not surprise me one iota.

    • by linda on August 19, 2011  1:37 am Reply

      p.s. what I find even more offensive than that video -- and that video is just plain stupid -- are the people who are upset because a black woman stands up and has a voice about something that she deems racist! what's wrong with that picture?!?

      it's the typical reaction of EJ readers for someone to be called a hater or told to lighten up or that you don't have a sense of humor any time their status quo is questioned.

  12. by Svasti on August 19, 2011  1:24 am Reply

    Hi Chelsea, this is my first ever visit to your blog. Just so you know, you're far from the first person that's found "W", Elephant Journal and those associated with that publication, to be somewhat off.

    "W" and his associates have shown many times over that they are more interested in generating controversy (and therefore, traffic and comments) than they are in being real, honest and genuine. Both in public, and private, "W" has sledged lots of people.

    Anyone who dares to criticise Elephant Journal or anything that's said by its Editors are given short shrift, are insulted and told to bugger off.

    It's lovely, isn't it? I am one of many that don't think there's a lot of integrity going on at that website, and consequently don't read it or want anything to do with those who run it.

    Good for you, for standing up for yourself and taking the stand that you have. I think you're awesome. :)

  13. by Martin on August 19, 2011  6:56 am Reply

    I'm sorry you had to put up with the junk from that site. It's just a cesspool of self-righteous hypocrites. Keep the peace.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:32 am Reply

      Thanks Martin, peace is within us all; however, it doesn't mean we should fall for anything...I appreciate you. Peace to you!

  14. by Juneous on August 19, 2011  8:21 am Reply

    Excellent Post Chelsea!

    That is terrible that you had to go through all of this madness. I am glad that you decided to speak up and take a stand.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:32 am Reply

      Thanks Juneous. I look forward to posting your story. I will be in touch soon!

  15. by Devyn on August 19, 2011  8:57 am Reply

    Wow!! Very powerful... thanks for sharing. And thanks for reminding us about the power and purpose of Yoga. As well, as reminding us what Truth is about.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:33 am Reply

      Thank you Devyn :)

  16. by Callahan McDonough, LCSW on August 19, 2011  9:12 am Reply

    Hi Chelesea, thank you for the reminder that the Ego is always tempting me to get in the position of being 'right' and take me away from my center. It is tricky, because even Gandhi spoke up and took a stand, was active not passive nor agressive, he took "a stand for Peace". He did what you did, in my view, he simply named the wrong action. So thank you for being in community and speaking your truth.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:34 am Reply

      Those are very helpful and wise words Callahan. Thank you for your encouragement and support!

  17. by Grace on August 19, 2011  9:18 am Reply

    Hi Chelsea, just finding your blog. Funny how one can be accused of victim mentality when she are simply standing up for herself. Don't be afraid to use your voice.

    Jokes can be dangerous territory. Every joke has a small element of truth in them (in terms of what the teller really thinks) so people should be more careful about what they're really saying.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:41 am Reply

      I totally agree with you Grace. Jokes can be dangerous territory, especially when targeted at a specific group. My opinion is my opinion (an opinion that never called ANY individual racist). I was adding to the conversation; however, that comment was then taken out of context, used on other posts, and labeled me as an accuser (which in my opinion was a perfect strategy to take the attention away from the bahevior). Thank you for your words and your support. Peace and love to you!

  18. by Meg on August 19, 2011  9:56 am Reply

    Wow. Big courage. Big Truth with a capital T. Thank you for standing up to Elephant Journal - someone had to do it and this was the platform that could not be ignored. Perhaps because yoga's mission is so grand, there is a lot of room for marketeers to take advantage. Major kudos to you for doing what so many of us have only thought about. You took on the big one.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:42 am Reply

      Thank you so much Meg. Your support inspires courage. Peace, love, and respect!

  19. by Shulamit on August 19, 2011  10:34 am Reply

    Chelsea, I believe you did the right thing in calling discrimination out when you see it. I perceive the actions of those debating you as based in White privilege. I feel sad that this privilege and it's effects and benefits remain unseen and largely unspoken by White folks. I would love a world in which, when any person living an oppressive experience names that experience, others would respond with curiosity. Thank you for making what is happening to you visible in the world. It meets needs I have for truth and inspiration.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:45 am Reply

      Thank you Shulamit. So much has been revealed to me during this process. Believe it or not, more positive than negative. It is what it is :) Thank you so much for your support and words. Peace to you!

  20. by Trishula on August 19, 2011  10:58 am Reply

    Chelsea, thank you for speaking out! It is great to laugh and have a sense of humour but EJ is gone mad. I found the video to be an insult, also to the people of India who have preserved, and passed down this sacred knowldege for thousands of years. EJ has shown a lack of respect for your voice, for yoga, and for intelligence.. My husband is Indian from a very long lineage of Bhakti yogi's, what is going on today is such an insult to a very ancient practice. It would be great if EJ did a parody on Islam, lets see how brave they are... You wrote clearly and from the heart and that should be respected, not insulted.. Keep speaking your voice is needed. Jai Maa

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:51 am Reply

      Thank you Trishula. And just for the record, I hope that EJ does not do a "paraody" on Islam, or any other group for that matter. If they decide to, I hope that they have learned that people may respond and I hope that the result will not return to this once again. I really hope that we are learning about RESPECT from this ordeal. Again, thank you so much for your words. Jai Ma!

  21. by Pollie Massey on August 19, 2011  11:06 am Reply

    Chelsea thank you for allowing us to share your truth through this post -- it is wonderful and shines your light -- I am grateful that I know you and see how your light draws people to you.

    So "W's" ego is mad because he "W" made an error in judgement. His negative energy can't change the fact that our ancestors and our families have a different experience than his -- no amount of bullying should shut us up. Yes, you have chosen to turn his foolishness into something positive.. until he recognizes that he is in denial he will continual to use marginalization of others to lift himself. Chelsea, thank you for the reminder that our Ego tempts us to 'be right’ and move away from our center. You are my hero and 'W' belongs on Anderson Cooper's ridiculist. Chelsea, thank you for being in community and speaking your truth. Much love to you!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:55 am Reply

      Thank you so much Ms. Pollie! You are spot on about the error in judgment because anyone who visits the site to see the initial post can read that I never accused anyone of being racist. I was simply adding to the community dialogue and was attacked for sharing my grandmother's story. We should not be silenced, when speaking our truth. Thank you for all that you do in this world to bring cross-cultural understandings and conversations about diversity to light. Love you!

  22. by ananda Mayee on August 19, 2011  11:39 am Reply

    Thank you Jaya Dasi for sharing your light, I'm sorry you had to go through this, I admire your standing up for what you believe in and telling the truth. Even if someone else doesn't like it.
    You are a beautiful bright light and getting brighter, you just shined on someone's darkness so it can come out to be healed. Hopefully, whoever this person is will be able to see and learn from this. Good for you for using it as a lesson to get stronger.
    Namaste Ananda Mayee

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:56 am Reply

      Thank you Ananda Mayee! You certainly embody that beautiful name. I am so grateful for people like you in my life. Namaste!

  23. by Isvari on August 19, 2011  12:57 pm Reply

    Good for you Jaya Dasi. I am shocked that W does not know better. It is bad enough he uses sex to get readers but to stoop so low as to defend racial jokes is a whole different level. It is a shame because some people that write really embrace a yogic lifestyle. I hope people will begin to boycott the publication as a result of this. I am proud of you!
    Love Isvari

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:57 am Reply

      I love you mentor.

  24. by Lynn on August 19, 2011  4:42 pm Reply

    I know we learn more from the challenges and negativity presented by others but I still wish we could respect and celebrate our differences. I was bullied as a child and still have boundary issues and consequently I know how hard it can be to take a stand and stand in that space. You are a wonderful teacher and I repect your integrity in this matter. It makes me sad that folks remotely think that this behavior is acceptable but am proud of you for taking a stand. Love, Lynn

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:58 am Reply

      Lynne, whether you know it or not, you inspire me. I don't think I tell you enough. Missed you in class Sunday! Hope to see you soon! Love you!

  25. by J.E. on August 19, 2011  5:48 pm Reply

    Peace, Love and Light to Chelsea for shedding light on an issue that is overlooked or excused far too often. Color discrimination (in general) and inside of yoga is very real. In America and even in India, this issue goes unaddressed and it is time people face the light they claim they are one with. Everything is always cool and blissful until people begin to claim their power and exercise their right to live in Maat. Proud of you for stepping up and speaking out, the reality of the situation is, that we as a people must educate everyone about the origins of what is being called yoga and its extremely ancient ties to our people. From the trance rituals of the San bushmen to the more recent practices of the priests of kemet these techniques have been with us for at least 20,000 years. Respect should be a given but even amongst the "more enlightened crowd" it is not. You have my support always, we need more people like you fighting the battle for enlightenment on all levels. Thank so u much!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  6:59 am Reply

      J.E. that was so powerful. Thank you for reminding about the beauty and reality of Maat. Your support means so much. peace, love, and light to you!

  26. by Nancy Leigh-Smith on August 20, 2011  12:31 am Reply

    Thank you for speaking out. It's very common for people to silence themselves because of the wrapper that covers something you know isn't right - whether it's yoga, religion, a priest, a guru, a popular blogger, a parent, a boss - there's no get-out-of-bad-behavior free card. And congratulations on moving the conversation into your own territory!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:00 am Reply

      Thank you for your support Nancy! Peace to you!

  27. by Waylon on August 20, 2011  1:12 am Reply

    Chelsea, this is W. Thank you for the above. It's funny, this online debate stuff...everyone gets hurt—I did when you called me racist, someone you don't know, for sharing a video from Funny or Die, it wasn't of course by me—and now I see you're deeply hurt. I'd love to talk directly, if you like. If not, I understand.

    If not, I'll just say two things:
    1. I personally apologize for any offense.
    2. maybe I'm confused/naive (likely), but I thought the video initially was making fun of how yoga is often a white, hippie sorta thing...the video host was Asian-American and I thought very funny, not mean-spirited. But I understand you didn't find it funny.

    Yours,

    "W"

    PS: the second half of that quote, "who makes him embarrassed to teach yoga” wasn't by me. It was another someone on Facebook or something. And yes, you're a great teacher to me, too, and a great writer and obviously deeply feeling and have a community who loves you. If you'd like to find a happy ending, here, I'd suggest we offer you a safe, supported forum for you to write the above or something like it and share it on our site, with our readers, who will love you. ~ W.

    • by Patrick on August 22, 2011  1:09 pm Reply

      Thanks for the really grounded push back and analysis, Chelsea. As far as I’m concerned, when white folks blame folks of color for the ways we challenge the racial subjugation (even in the microaggressive form of humor) that we experience, they fail to recognize their own role in perpetuating oppressive paradigms and practices in the world. This is a major obstacle in creating communities that can honestly, humbly, and holistically confront the conditions that reproduce social injustice facing communities of color. I’m not too familiar with the practices of yoga, but from what little I understand, it supposed to promote growth, mindfulness, and non-violence. What you experienced is racial hostility!

      It is only when white folks begin to admit to their privilege in a racially stratified society that they can become open to the possibility of engaging in anti-racist, cross-racial solidarity. Overcoming this type of honest humility requires a lot of self-criticism on the part of people of privilege. The homie Zeus Leonardo once wrote, “White guilt blocks [this] critical reflection because whites end up feeling individually blameworthy for racism. In fact, they become overconcerned with whether or not they ‘look racist’ and forsake the more central project of understanding the contours of structural racism” (The Color of Supremacy, 140). To this, I’d like to finish by citing, Tim Wise, one of the leading white anti-racist organizers, “the first thing a white person must do in order to effectively fight racism is to learn to listen, and more than that, to believe what people of color say about their lives” (White Like Me, 67).

      When these meaningful, respectful, and patient discussions are avoided because of guilt we experience from our positions of privilege, then the silencing of relevant conversations in our lives are more a product of social adolescence than humane maturity. Without owning up to these tensions, it becomes difficult for white racists to join anti-racists in our struggle against racial injustice. Hopefully this is a start towards moving in the right(eous) direction.

      PS: Allow me to plug the homie’s blog, “A field guide for White liberals who want to break up with Obama,” which covers some very similar issues: http://www.communitychangeinc.org/field-guide-white-liberals-who-want-break-obama

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:13 am Reply

      W, you are absolutely right. I do not know you at all. All the more reason why I still stand in the truth that I did not call you a racist. I see that it is challenging for you to see that through your interpretation of my comment about my grandmother. As a witness/observer of the conversation I wanted to contribute another side of the story that is reality for many. It is clear that you took it personally. Again, I can take constructive criticism and I can handle people not agreeing with me; however, the behavior following the comment was confusing.
      Thank you for your apology and thank you for offering a space for me to share my story with your readers. Believe it or not, my happy ending is beginning now as I witness and participate in a discussion with a diverse group of people about a subject that is very uncomfortable and scary for so many. I wish you all the best Waylon.

  28. by Sherri on August 20, 2011  6:53 am Reply

    Sure, write for that site for free so he can use your talent to pay his mortgage. I would caution about sending any traffic there since it has become really sleezy and think you would be tainted by doing so. The best yoga blog writers avoid it like the plague.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:15 am Reply

      Thank you for your input Sherri. I think so much good and awareness has come out of the this experience. I appreciate you lending your voice to the discussion. Peace and love to you!

  29. by dionne on August 20, 2011  8:44 am Reply

    I´m in disbelief about this video, not only the intentions of the people who created it but that it could be shared as a "joke" with no regard for the offensiveness and down right ignorance it breeds. I´m sad you also experienced bullying for declaring truth in this matter, and from someone who should know better. Still a believer that the vision of oneness and intelligent clarity can intelligently counter this segregation and division. Thank you for standing up and raising awareness - you are supported!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:16 am Reply

      Thank you for your words and your voice Dionne!

  30. by Uma Devi on August 20, 2011  10:57 am Reply

    WHEW! Just read through every post am inspired and amazed by you, your truth, your fearlessness and your community of support. So glad to be a part of that support (and love!) for you on your journey.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:16 am Reply

      Love you Uma Devi!

  31. by Cynthia on August 20, 2011  5:46 pm Reply

    That W guy seems pretty creepy. I don't know if he is racist since he lives in Boulder and most likely doesn't see any people of color anyway but from his postings he does have issues with women as he continues to objectify them on his blog. Maybe this is what made him go off to be questioned by a strong women such as yourself. I like the suggestion above to boycott his site but don't think anyone here really goes there anyway. Glad you stood up to the harassment and maybe this will get out to the readers there just how unethical he is.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:17 am Reply

      Thank you Cynthia. Hopefully this has awakened us all to mindfulness and respect. Peace and love to you!

  32. by linda on August 20, 2011  6:42 pm Reply

    Chelsea, "W" is like those politicians that get caught cheating on their wives...they only "apologize" once they're caught! until then, they continue to happily engage in sleaze without a clue as to how it affects others. and then he had the cojones to ask you to write for EJ, for free, just to send EJ traffic! it's all about the Google analytics!

    as Sherri said, "The best yoga blog writers avoid it like the plague."

  33. by Svasti on August 20, 2011  6:48 pm Reply

    That video is only funny to those with a lame drunken frat boy sense of humour. The most positive thing I can say about it is that it's boring.

    I have to ask, where is your mind? I'm not sure how much you actually claim to be a Buddhist, but seriously? If you have any sort meditation practice at all, how can your first sane response to Chelsea's comments be to create a blog post ATTACKING HER? Where is the consideration? Where is your humility (certainly not in this "apology")?

    Waylon, in case it's not clear to you why people are pissed off at your actions, I'll spell it out for you:

    1) You're the so-called Editor of a so-called popular (although not with me or a lot of people that I know) website that supposedly sometimes writes about yoga and other spiritual/green topics. You abused this position to make a public and personal attack on a commenter because boohoo, you thought that she called you a racist and that offended your sensitive little soul. Awww, poor you!

    2) Even if you think you're not being a racist and even though no one suggested you were until YOU did (which is interesting in and of itself), you decided that was a good enough platform to cyber-harass Chelsea simply because she left two comments saying she found the video offensive.

    3) For those of us who've been around long enough, we know that this is simply the latest in a long line of bad behaviour from you towards others who have the audacity to disagree with you or criticise your website.

    Amusingly, YOU drew attention to yourself, and what's even more hilarious, you made yourself look like a horse's ass in the process.

    Now that enough people have come out in Chelsea's support, you come over here with your lame-ass apology which doesn't even apologise for the right things, AND you want Chelsea to write for your often-salacious website?

    Is that supposed to make her feel better?

    I'm sure Chelsea will forgive you since she seems to be the bigger person in this situation. But I really hope she doesn't choose to take up your offer and write for you.

    That would be super-lame given the way you've bullied and harassed her and back-peddeled just enough to make yourself feel better.

    In what way would it be "safe" for Chelsea to write for you after you've gone out of your way to attack her? You're the one looking for a happy ending here. I suspect Chelsea feels perfectly fine about herself, having said her piece and made her stand.

    Once again I ask, where is your mind?

  34. by Isvari on August 20, 2011  10:49 pm Reply

    Chelsea and community,
    Ask for W's resignation. Let someone step up that can run this publication with integrity. This is suppose to be a yoga magazine. I hope elephant journal takes this opportunity to clean up their act and that subscribers take the time to cancel their subscriptions.
    Love you Chelsea.
    Ish

    • by Waylon on August 21, 2011  3:09 am Reply

      Linda, if my apology rang false for you, I'm sorry. I'm genuinely sorry to have so deeply offended someone I don't know, and was trying to connect. I'm accepting now that this is just a chance to kick the shiite out of me online, and will give up—some of the comments above are downright...wow. I do hope in any case that you all will give elephant a chacne...it's much bigger than me, and I'm full of failings, and it's sad that the community there and its mission be held responsible for what my words.

      In any case, I'd just restate that the Funny or Die video, created by an Asian-American woman, was, yes, boring, as Chelsea said. While I did personally find it funny, I agree it's certainly not brilliant or classic. It's just a comedy video. What is valuable about the video is that it uses comedy to raise serious issues of race, as we can see, which may be valuable to explore. I understand others may view it as horrible, and me for passing it along to our readers, and I do apologize to you Chelsea for reacting passionately to your original comment.

      • by Simon on August 21, 2011  3:55 am Reply

        W. Buddy. #1, I hope no one believes you set out with mean spirited intentions. Ele is a great publication, and you pour your heart and fucking soul into the thing. I've read your posts and you've never once shown a shred of animosity toward any single person based on their skin color / gender / nationality / dick size / whatever.

        #2, that vid is not "just a comedy video. It's humour at the expense of ugly racial stereotypes. It doesn't "raise issues of race." It contributes to blacks (a minority who likely already feel out of place in most yoga studios) feeling mocked and belittled by an industry dominated in the US by whites. Saying it was created by an Asian woman, or pointing out the token snapshot at the end, is pulling the equivalent of "Some of my best friends are black!" Sorry, but no dice.

        #3 I don't see anyone trying to kick the shit out of you. I see people trying to get you to hear their side of it. If it comes across as a little heated, that's only because unlike you, other people need to live with this shit every day. It's not an attack. It's frustration. I promise.

        I commented to C. earlier (and ough say that I found her site thanks to someone who shared the link on an Elephant article) to support her POV. I support yours too. And if you do tender your resignation to yourself, I hope you don't accept.

        • by Waylon on August 21, 2011  11:22 pm Reply

          Thanks, Simon. Look below for people trying to kick the shit out of me, online, anonymously. Or, above, I'm sure. And I know I deserve it, in this case. I just hope they don't enjoy vilifying me, or anyone, too much.

          As for debate on elephant journal, it's something we encourage and promote, generally. I'm sorry, again, I was defensive.

          Yours in listening,

          Waylon

      • by Jonathan on August 21, 2011  6:44 am Reply

        What is unbelievable is that W is here whining about being beat up when his website does that constantly to people who don't agree with posts. He makes snide remarks to those who question the juvenile content and the sex related titles and photos to get the people to click. I think what is happening here is a lot of pent up frustration from people getting their comments deleted from that site. I did cancel my subscription awhile ago since I found it has a kind of a 13 year old boy mentality; "tits and asses, snicker, snicker". Pretty shameful behavior from a so-called Buddhist.

      • by linda on August 21, 2011  9:04 am Reply

        I am certainly not the only one to whom your "apology" rang false. read all the other comments after mine. if you were truly apologetic you'd pull that post and every other comment you made about Chelsea. she is right: you cyber-harassed her after she made TWO comments about how she found the video offensive.

        stop defending your behavior that you know is questionable. you say it's "just a comedy video." Yeah, and the N word is just a word, but many African-Americans find it offensive. Does that mean you should use it just because YOU don't find it offensive? So you repeat misogynist jokes just because YOU don't find them offensive? get real.

        what is even more offensive is the typical reaction of EJ readers to a black woman who stood up for what she believed in.

      • by Svasti on August 21, 2011  5:59 pm Reply

        Wailin' Waylon, letting loose with the "poor me" riff since 2001.

        Man up Waylon - accept the very fair criticisms being levelled at you instead of choosing to summarise it all as people wanting to "kick the shit out of you online".

        We wouldn't be bothering at all if there was nothing to talk about. Ever thought of that? You're the one giving us the perfect opportunity to talk about the things we find appalling in your actions.

        Maybe before you press "publish" on your crazy website, you really need to get someone else to review/edit your planned posts. Perhaps if there'd been a pause between what you'd typed and what you published, you wouldn't be in this pickle, eh?

  35. by Simon on August 20, 2011  11:13 pm Reply

    C: I probably don't belong in this arena, given that I've never even seen the inside of a yoga studio, but I wanted to add a public statement of admiration for your courage and perspective. I'm a white male. I found your site through elephant journal. I don't know much about US racial politics, and haven't been living in the states long, but in the time I've been here, I've witnessed more instances of insidious racism--especially in the form of minimization or outright shaming of another's experiences--than I'd care to admit. I get angry every time I see it, and have a hard time knowing what to *do* with that anger. This time I'm channeling it into a comment here.

    I stupidly went to look for the Funny or Die video referenced in the article, and am having a hard time getting my head around how anyone with any sense of decency could consider that "funny." I felt embarrassed just to be watching it. I can't imagine what it would be like to feel the subject of the clip.

    I'd like to hope that Waylon doesn't realize how insensitive he was being, and how deep the pain--and fear--of racism in the US goes. Certainly Boulder seems comfortably buffered from it. Still, ignorance is no excuse.

    Keep writing, please. I'll send others to read.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:20 am Reply

      Wow. Thanks Simon! Your insight is so valuable. Thank you for your encouragement and thank you for participating in the conversation. peace, love, and respect!

  36. by j. jows on August 21, 2011  2:29 am Reply

    Dear Chelsea,
    I loved your well written and thought provoking post. I have followed Elephant Journal since it's inception (paper form) as I used to live in Boulder several years ago. What I can tell you is that "W" is a self promoting narcissist (who had at least 2-5 pictures of himself in every paper publication) from the beginning. Those who have encountered him know that he can barely hold eye contact while speaking with you, is interested only in who you are/who you know/or how you can help/assist him and is humorously self promoting all while pretending to be self effacing(if you read his specific blog posts you will continually see evidence of that). He is a Buddhist brat who is shockingly privileged as well as extremely well connected. It appears (use his "Walk the Talk" as an example) that his primary goal is to use Yoga and the "green" or Ecology movement to launch himself into some sort of pseudo-type celebrity role regardless of how strongly he may or may not feel about these subjects. He is clearly not self aware enough to understand how his being a (presumably straight) white male living in an extremely affluent community would somewhat organically anesthetize him to the real struggles regarding race that people continue to face every day in the United States, not to mention in the much larger world. His knee jerk reaction to your statements as well as his defensiveness of "I'm not a racist" are only indicators of how clueless he really is and are indicative of someone who is privileged beyond reproach. Anyone who has true empathy with a grain of multicultural sensitivity understands how insidious racism and sexism can really be- and therefore would choose to engage in a meaningful conversation versus overreacting and then asking for blanket readership support. And as a multiethnic male I read your post as an attempt to to point out that there was the subtle undercurrent of racism in these two specific Elephant Journal offerings- that one might not immediately see. I saw you try to create a dialogue regarding this subject, and offer a different perspective (all fair play). You did not call him a racist- you simply drew attention to the subject, in what I saw as a skillful and articulate post. Please know that his knee jerk reactions says more about him than it does about you. It simply confirms his Narcissism (lacking empathy and sensitivity to others) and his extreme ignorance born of utter privilege. I urge every Yoga enthusiast to see that not only that "The Emperor has No Clothes" and that in some way every dollar given to Elephant Journal helps to support his privileged "eco lifestyle". (It must be nice to write off your mortgage as a business expense) I will be reading your work from this day forward Chelsea- Thank you for pulling back the curtain and exposing the wizard of Elephant Journal. Yoga, after all, is meant to help clear the mind and help us to use discernment and compassion with our opinions and our thoughts. Thank you.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:22 am Reply

      "You did not call him a racist- you simply drew attention to the subject" ---Thank you for seeing this!
      "Yoga, after all, is meant to help clear the mind and help us to use discernment and compassion with our opinions and our thoughts"---Profound statement.

      Thank you for all of your words and critical analysis of the situation. Peace to you!

  37. by John on August 21, 2011  7:41 am Reply

    Hey Check it out, don't blow this up anymore. I'm pretty sure that the dude is stoned half the time.
    I'm a vet and I've been insulted by some of the columns written on ele.
    I am proud of Chelsea for stickin up for herself, and I'll wager w (weird using a oneletter moniker suggests a high ego) is sorry for attacking her while he was high. Yeah I'm an old white guy living in the south, I believe in freedom of speech, and equal rights. I am proud Chelsea is not only a very good writer but has a different forum than ej. I don't like racism and I think w is just a privileged knucklehead that's never seen real racism. I do think we should be able to laugh at ourselves, and the same type of humor being called racist here is on the Dave chapelle show every week. The problem here is when Chelsea was attacked for telling ej she was offended. Everyone has a right to their say, and I would defend that. I'm not Buddhist but I'm pretty sure he'd speak about all these drops of rain making many rivers flowing into one, and I hope all your emotions have found your centers as well.
    Sending love to everyone.

    • by Waylon on August 21, 2011  11:19 pm Reply

      I sign my name Waylon Lewis, or Waylon. Since I blog a lot, I sometimes sign off as "W"...ironically, in an apparently futile gesture toward modesty, or at least not wanting to see my name all over the place.

      And I don't smoke, so I'm out of excuses. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/06/why-not-to-smoke-pot-from-a-buddhist-point-of-view/

      Again, I apologize not because I'm taking a beating from you all but directly to Chelsea, for any offense my defensive reaction caused.

      Yours in hoping we all, particularly myself since I seem to have the most to learn, learn something from this,

      Waylon

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:26 am Reply

      Thank you for your support John. Once again, I do not know W at all so I cannot make assumptions on his state of mind. I do thank you for your support and kind words. Thank you. Thank you Thank you. Sending love to you as well!

  38. by Jessica Durivage on August 21, 2011  10:23 am Reply

    ***DISCLAIMER***
    I am a PROUD unpaid writer for Elephant Journal and GOOD FRIEND of Waylon Lewis.

    Lots more in the world to worry about people. The map is thought provoking, the video... JUST PLAIN FUN.

    Humor helps us to sometimes see the larger picture (the world) through a lens that might not feel so hard to embrace. That is why we are all practicing on some level or another, right? To embrace the world, ourselves and one another AND all of our differences, perspectives and opinions? Elephant does that every single day.

    Chelsea - girl, lighten up. You probably got a couple hundred more fans on your page, clicks on your site and comments on your blog. Including me. Guess what girl.... THAT is what humor, sex, thought provoking stories that raise questions and conversation gets ya. Enjoy it.

    Peace -
    #WIMG

    • by Beth on August 21, 2011  12:51 pm Reply

      Jessica, this has nothing to do with that map. It's about being cyber-bullied by your friend. I think you should read all the comments and figure out what the real issue is here before making a comment.

    • by Svasti on August 21, 2011  5:53 pm Reply

      Jessica, if this was Elephant Journal, simply having a different opinion than the majority would mean you'd be ripped to shreds.

      The map is not even in question here. The video seems to be a matter of opinion - those with a very basic sense of humour seem to enjoy it. The rest of us... don't.

      It is kind of obnoxious of you to tell Chelsea to lighten up after she's been attacked by your good friend Waylon. All of us would be very happy for Chelsea if she'd never had to go through all of this.

      Hilariously, you're pointing out Elephant's raison detre - using stupid humour to get traffic. Clearly, but the number of comments here, there's a lot of people with whom that doesn't fly.

      Maybe, girl, you need to start taking things a little more seriously and stop writing off how other people feel simply because it does't gel with your own world view.

      Just a thought, girl.

    • by Tressie on September 7, 2011  7:58 pm Reply

      Why are you calling an adult woman "girl"? Do you know her personally? I understand you know W so such informal speech might be appropriate there. Perhaps I missed the part where you also have a similar intimate relationship with Chelsea?

  39. by Susi Costello on August 21, 2011  10:59 am Reply

    Wow, nicely put, Chelsea. I did read the first thing you wrote after the video (which seemed neither clever nor funny) but had no idea anything was continuing after that. It's bizarre that he would continue like that...
    Looking at it as an outsider, he might have felt embarrassed after the first posting and then, rather than simply apologize, tried to "strengthen" his position by acting as if it wasn't really a problem in the first place. Doesn't make it appropriate, of course...and it's just my guess...

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:30 am Reply

      Thanks for your courage to voice your opinion Susie. Great way to put yourself in the other person's shoes. That takes compassion. And no, it was not appropriate.
      Thanks again!

  40. by Omar on August 21, 2011  3:40 pm Reply

    Namaste, Chelsea.

    Although I disagree with your opinion of the "Yoga for Black People" video, you were fair and reasonable. You certainly deserved better from EJ. If memory serves, no one made the effort to actually respond to your points. It was just one insult after another.

    There are real yogis, and there are people who practice yoga. Thank you for being the former.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:32 am Reply

      I respect that Omar. We disagree--cool. Thank you for your fair and reasonable assessment of the situation. Namaste to you brother and thank you for your words.

  41. by nathan on August 21, 2011  9:54 pm Reply

    What a brilliant response you have made. I found the thread on EJ to be a sickening display of ignorance and arrogance. I just added your blog to my list and hope to read more from you soon.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:32 am Reply

      Thank you so much for the work you do Nathan. Love your blog!

  42. by Produce on August 22, 2011  2:49 am Reply

    Atleast one pro out of this mess, is that I've found an amazing blog!

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:33 am Reply

      thanks Produce!

  43. by dayita on August 22, 2011  4:29 am Reply

    So I agree that the video is tasteless and offensive. But you know, there is an ancient bit of internet wisdom that might have helped this whole situation: "Please don't feed the trolls". There has certainly been more traffic generated both to EJ over a nearly year-old posting and to that video because you highlighted it. I'm not saying you shouldn't have - I'm just saying that's the way the internet works and frankly I'm still learning when it is best to just shut up.

    And suspecting that this is one of those times as well. Irony is the worst taskmaster...

    • by dayita on August 22, 2011  4:36 am Reply

      one of the times I should have shut up...oh the trouble when tone of voice and body language are lacking

      Namaste

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:34 am Reply

      Dayita,
      I do not regret speaking up. I would not change it for the world. Thanks for your contribution. Peace, love, and truth!

  44. by Sam on August 22, 2011  5:55 am Reply

    Chelsea, coming over from Nathan's site and just want to say how sorry I am for your trials at the hands of a so called mindful website.

    I disagree with the comment above about shutting up. Can you imagine if MLK or Gandi just shut because they refused to call the trolls out. A lot of people just saw how off base that post was but time will tell if the unpaid writers there will step up to the plate and stop sending in content to literally stop feeding the troll.

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:36 am Reply

      Well said Sam. Love your referenece to MLK and Gandhi! Continue to speak your truth! Peace, love, and infinite light to you!

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  47. by Saivite on August 23, 2011  4:42 pm Reply

    Namaste all,

    Just caught up with other posts since I read C's first post on this topic. Compassion, ignorance, sincerity, passion, unawareness, irresponsibility and genuine thought-fullness thread all through these posts.

    To sum up:

    Seems the end game is this: EJ has a lack of awareness in centering it's practices in yoga, primarily Ahimsa and has a real opportunity to take their yoga off the mat.

    Time will tell. I will not be watching to find out. I have more conscious publications to pay attention to.

    Jai Kali Ma,

    S

    • by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:36 am Reply

      Thank Saivite! Great insight! Thank you for contributing. Love you!

  48. by Caine Das on August 24, 2011  11:55 pm Reply

    Bless you Chelsea. I saw the many 'I have been called a Racist' tweets and comments from W. I am glad to finally see the real truth I knew was being buried. Your handling of this insult campaign is most honorable. The fact your picture was used on 'EJ' is repulsive and more than ignorance. Attachment to self or self-cherishing seems to be the mentality you are dealing with. I am very glad you stood up for yourself, your grandmother, history and culture.

  49. by Chelsea on August 25, 2011  7:38 am Reply

    Thank you so much Caine Das! Bless you! I hope you continue to read about all of the amazing yogis in the community that are featured on this site who speak their truth each day! Again, thank you for your contribution to this world. Peace!

    • by Caine Das on August 25, 2011  11:21 pm Reply

      Peace to you as well. I look forward to your posts and will enjoy learning about the wonderful people you have in your community of Yoga. I thank you for your presence and influence in this world. You have confronted the trials of Mara and held fast. May the Buddha bless you.

  50. by Wishinoo on August 25, 2011  10:15 am Reply

    greetings, all!

    we were discussing this issue on another online venue and chelsea asked that i share one of my comments from that discussion:
    =====
    what i found troubling--and STILL find troubling--is the magnitude of opposition to chelsea's comment, as well as the position of ethical/moral authority that the publishers of the website are claiming.
    they are espousing a profound sense of "superior otherness."
    (and, somewhat insidiously, the publisher and his fellow contributors seem empowered to use core tenets of yoga as a shield whilst simultaneously avoiding any adherence to said tenets.)

    it would've been easy for them to simply acknowledge/embrace the reality that not everyone would find the video amusing, and/or entertaining, and/or any way insightful.
    but...
    instead, they decided to frame any sort of dissent as:
    * the product of some sort of pathologically invalid worldview, thus...
    making chelsea "The Problem"...
    and releasing the publisher from any due diligence in analyzing the 'genuine' problem(s);
    * this led to the publisher--and his associates--to go even further and adopt a defensiveness that was rooted in speaking about the tone/tenor of the exchange vs. the substance of what was being said.

    people are certainly entitled to their opinions; however...
    i'm not certain they're allowed to impose their opinions/worldview/philosophies/etc on others...
    and i think that's the core of what occurred in this circumstance.

    i don't find that website's responses regarding this issue representative of me as a yogi--as a black yogi, or as a yogi in any other way.
    so...
    while i agree that we can--and should--offer compassion to the creator of the video, and the website editor...
    we should also be compassionate to ourselves:
    as far as i could tell, reading all the comments on the posts at the website (and many of the associated articles)...
    chelsea only sought to elevate the discourse, not escalate it.
    =====

    i've reserved general commentary because there are larger themes/issues that we, as a society, have been working through for centuries.

    but, i have read the original post, mr. lewis' comments there, his targeted follow-up post, and the comments there, his comments here, as well as one 'supportive' post.
    in those words, i find he's made it clear:
    * he has a vested interest in protecting his community's reputation;
    * by extension, a vested interest in safeguarding his own reputation;
    * and a need to explain/justify his own reactions.
    (given mr. lewis' own comments, we're clear his behavior wasn't "actions".)

    however...
    as stated, i still only see that he's apologized for perhaps "tone." with his language, and this is what some might be finding further polarizing, there seems to be--again--a need to control the "narrative." he defines chelsea as "hurt," and "offended," (and earlier "passive aggressive"). her feelings are not his responsibility, but the manner in which he offers apology--for the way things were said, not WHAT was said--might serve to lead the uninitiated/misinformed to an understanding that he's adopted a "high ground" position, and any opposition to him is merely emotional, not well-reasoned and rational...

    and forgive me if i've missed it, but has mr. lewis written any posts or comments asking about what he could've done/can do to improve his knowledge on these issues?
    he's previously made posts about his lack of knowledge regarding, say, women & dating. and feels quite comfortable acknowledging things he does not know.
    (which also makes it ever more curious to me about how comfortable he seems regarding issues of race.)

    i'm not sure he has a grasp on the entitlement and, yes, privilege being expressed as the issue regarding his reactions...

    and since i don't see any evidence that comments from others--especially those of color--have made any headway, i wonder if mr. lewis and/or his collaborators are familiar with the work of, say, white anti-racists?
    that might be instructive here...

    given the events, as i read this:
    "If you’d like to find a happy ending, here, I’d suggest we offer you a safe, supported forum for you to write the above or something like it and share it on our site, with our readers, who will love you."

    i was reminded of something that malcolm x once stated:
    "If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even begun to pull the knife out. Much less try and heal the wound. They won’t even admit that the knife is there..."

  51. by Erin Hansbrough on August 27, 2011  1:28 am Reply

    Hi Chelsea,
    I was very pleased to find your thoughtful and courageous post here. Though I felt shocked, upset and alienated by W's statements in the discussion of this topic on Elephant, I am happy it led me to your site. Your commitment to speaking the truth and maintaining a high vision comes across as a very powerful form of love. Many, many thanks, and please do keep writing!
    Blessings and much respect,
    Erin
    New Mexico

    • by Chelsea on August 31, 2011  11:31 am Reply

      Thank you So much Erin! SO happy to meet you. PS I LOVE New Mexico!

  52. by Kate on August 31, 2011  10:45 pm Reply

    Wow! It seems like there are some folks with major axes to grind in the comments. The great thing about the internet is that if you don't like what you are reading, you can click the little "x" and leave it. Not sure why someone (Chelsea Loves Yoga) who is not interested in a spirited debate would comment on ele in the first place. What I personally enjoy about elephant journal (including but not limited to the post in question) is that issues are addressed in a way that reflects the whole of the human experience...we all have biases, we are sexual, we enjoy humor, we try to be mindful, we struggle, we fail, we succeed, we laugh at ourselves in the process.

    I would rather read someone who owns up to being a multifaceted flawed human being (ie Waylon) than someone who reads as self-righteous and a bit phony (Chelsea). Unlike some commenters with their rallying cry of boycotts, etc. I don't intend this as an attack, but merely a response to a public blog. There didn't seem to be anything bullying about the comments on the Funny or Die post...if it's not for you, why devote the time and energy to clutter up your own blog whining about it? And with that, I'll go back to reading something more enjoyable. Cheers.

  53. by Peter on September 1, 2011  8:44 pm Reply

    What is amazing is the amount of people commenting on the dubious nature of Waylon. Someone just sent me this link

    https://plus.google.com/104211937675577750331/posts/C34TbbycSPW

  54. by Wishinoo on September 2, 2011  9:16 am Reply

    well.
    that didn't take very long, did it?

    hi, e'rybody!

    chelsea has been vigiliant about not naming the site, or names, of other folks involved but...
    i guess...
    others are less reserved about who said what, where, and when.
    so...
    i might take a cue from them.

    since "Kate" has left the conversation for something...
    "more enjoyable"...
    i guess we won't have the pleasure of her company for a response.

    some might say her absence is more helpful for all involved...

    to remind everyone, this is a quote from waylon lewis, of elephantjournal, from a comment he wrote, here, on this post:
    ---
    "If you’d like to find a happy ending, here, I’d suggest we offer you a safe, supported forum for you to write the above or something like it and share it on our site, with our readers, who will love you."

    i expected that people like "Kate" would be more representative of the elephantjournal community's response vs. waylon lewis', more 'optimistic' assessment.
    accordingly...
    i'm not really sure that he, nor some of the commenters at his site, have a good grasp on a workable definition of...
    "Love."

    maybe they do.
    "Tough love?"
    or maybe it's a definition of "Love" i'm woefully unfamiliar with because i don't know of one where one person refers to another as...
    "self-righteous" & "phony"...
    yet...
    frames that response as not being an attack.

    hmmm...
    i'm thinking they have a number of 'creative' definitions for words like...
    "love"...
    and...
    "debate."

    for me, "Kate's" response is a bit confusing.
    She champions...
    "the whole of human experience"...
    though, it seems, not particularly where chelsea's involved.

    from the way i read things, it's ok for "multifaceted flawed human beings" to say whatever they wish, and employ the resources of their media organization to--at the very least--misrepresent the words of others; and--at worst--outright attack people they consider dissenters.
    (and their attacks may have risen to the level of "libel" but, i'm not an attorney, so i'm unable to establish that authoritatively)...

    as for "Kate's" assertion...
    "There didn’t seem to be anything bullying about the comments on the Funny or Die post..."
    that is accurate.
    and, YET...
    very, VERY misleading.

    waylon lewis made other posts & comments on both elephantjournal and his twitter account that were much more, let us say...
    'assertive.'

    chelsea's initial comment, the one that sparked this firestorm, was simply this...
    (and Please Note The Approximate Date of Posting):
    ---
    "At this point I am assuming there are no standards or criteria to write for elephant journal. This is lazy humor at its best by attempting to insert relevant "Black" pop culture into asana to receive attention. #FAIL. I am Black, I am a yogi, and I am not impressed. Contrary to what many may expect I'm not offended, quite frankly I'm bored. This is irrelevant and tasteless. Good luck next time."
    http://chelsealovesyoga.com/
    * 2 weeks ago

    waylon lewis' reaction to her comment was to create a separate post on elephantjournal, and add this:
    "I got called Racist by a "Chelsea Loves Yoga & Calling People Racist" for posting this."
    ...as he took to the internet to make a point that it was her, not he, that was clearly out-of-bounds for making such a comment.

    though i think her response...
    WITHOUT ANY NAME CALLING, or EVEN IMPLICATION that there was something wrong with the psyche/personality/mental health/etc of the original poster...
    was more representative of:
    "...merely a response to a public blog."
    than anything i read in "Kate's" comment.

    you might find it interesting how some folks from elephantjournal, notably "Kate" and waylon lewis himself, are continually advocating for chelsea to stop posting on her own blog, yet feel entitled to post here, themselves.
    the implicit message being:
    'We'll tell you what to write, when to write it, and where."

    there may be a valid (for them) reason to do this.
    on the internet, traffic--people going to websites--is currency.
    that's why people "monetize" their sites.
    that's how advertisers choose where to place their ads, and what sites to pay for that privilege.
    it BENEFITS waylon lewis and elephantjournal if chelsea actually posts her writings with them.
    it would:
    * drive more traffic to elephantjournal;
    * legitimize their responses, thus far ('see!? she's one of 'Us!');
    AND...
    * keep advertisers (current & potential) from seeing what some might call "controversial" content about elephantjournal, and waylon lewis, on other sites.

    content that might cause them to question/reconsider advertising with elephantjournal.

    you'll notice in this post that i have copied comments from elephantjournal, i have mentioned both elephantjournal & waylon lewis...
    but...
    i have not provided any links to his site.
    That Is Deliberate.

    if someone can read it here, they don't have to go there.

    i'm not boycotting elephantjournal but, if a google search for "yoga black people" results in a high ranking for that video/post, on the elephantjournal site...
    i'm not gonna' lose sleep if one day, soon, i discover that a search for "yoga racism OR racist" points here and the main topic is...
    elephantjournal and/or waylon lewis.

    maybe those search results will be the catalyst for the "spirited debate" the elephantjournal community seems to love so much...

    see!?
    i did my best to cover the humor and mindfulness parts, too!

    [and, speaking of google, it might be possible for the curious to google, say, "chelsea yoga black people waylon", then...
    * use the "Cached" link on selected results
    'Cached'--or google heaven--displays a copy of the link from google's servers, if available, to view some of the posts and comments without actually going to the elephantjournal site.
    just say'n...]


    in closing this comment...
    AN IMPORTANT ASIDE

    here are some the earlier comments on the post where chelsea posted her opinion.
    * note the approximate dates.
    * note the words.
    * note the responses.

    you'll find those commenters were much more direct, and accusatory; and the 'official' responses much more measured, and reserved, compared to anything directed at chelsea.

    i think a fair question, still unanswered, is...
    "Why was Chelsea attacked?"

    curiously enough, i note:
    chelsea seems to be the Only, Dissenting, Commenter that left a link to their website!
    this would have the effect of making her very easy to find...

    is it possible...?
    could it be...?
    that waylon lewis has been attached to all this pent up resentment, for almost a year, waiting and hoping to find a target on which he could employ the resources of elephantjournal to vent his frustrations and...
    possibly...
    rage?

    wouldn't that be a unique interpretation of someone walking their talk!?
    wouldn't that be an interesting buddhist approach to working through these issues, eh!?

    namasté


    =====
    "This is not funny. I linked to this site after doing a search on "Buddhism Love". I jumped to the yoga tab and came up with this, the extreme opposite of the Buddhist concept of Loving Kindness for all beings. At the core of this is hate and loathing and to me, they can never be funny."
    * 49 weeks ago
    Guest99
    ---
    I agree! It's horrible! Raise the roof! On the floor.

    Seriously, I personally found this funny...I didn't see it as racist and don't know many who do...but I know it could be seen that way and it's great that you're vigilant about such questions.
    elephantjournal
    http://intensedebate.com/people/elephantjournal
    * 49 weeks ago
    ---
    Great point, elephantjournal!
    Waylon Lewis
    * 32 weeks ago

    AND
    "Not funny! Not even! Are you black, people who think this is so funny???? RACISTS!!!"
    jolinda Van Haren
    * 49 weeks ago

  55. by Defne Suman on September 2, 2011  12:49 pm Reply

    I found that video insulting to yoga in general. One of my teachers once said grace is the courage under pressure...Thank you!
    Defne

  56. by Bajo on September 2, 2011  5:03 pm Reply

    Chelsea, the work you're doing is really important and I'm so pleased that you exist and you have this blog. As a woman of color and a yogini, in my own right, I love it!

    I am late to the conversation but I feel obliged to say my two cents. It seems like some people in the comment streams have been hurt by Waylon personally and are disappointed by Ele in general. You are all entitled to feel and opine as you do, no matter what. I do want to say though that some of it is unnecessary and not really useful dialog-based commentary and it's more like venting. There's nothing wrong with that but let's not kid ourselves that it is just expressing feelings and not conducive to solving issues of injustice, in fact it may be counter productive to very needed conversations about difficult topics such as the ones at hand.

    I want to keep in mind that some of you who are mad at Waylon are White too and as such you know very well how difficult it can be to find yourself in a position of getting called out for your privilege. Some of you have not always been allies to POC and must remember the times when you failed us, very well. Some of you are not even very good allies, anyway.

    I am appealing to your compassion and your sense of Right Speech to help me. As a woman of color it is not my job to educate White folks on how to not be rude and make them aware that they are stepping comfortably deep into their privilege. Sadly I find myself forced into this role too often, because as it is I'm directly below them. I am the territory they trample on. I am so glad that Chelsea is handling this so gracefully because I'd have blow my figgin gasket on somebody.

    I believe that we are at a critical point here, with somebody's possibility to change how view the world and their own privilege. You can't badger someone into paying attention because they are too busy avoiding getting hit on the head to really see what you're clearly holding up to them. This is frustrating and aggravating.

    I have a lot of compassion for Waylon. I'm not defending his comments and I have told him that. He's a person, though. Someone who proved to be a breath of fresh air to me, as a woman of color, in a city where everybody is quick to label me the angry/crazy/loud Latina. It is because of the Dharma that he was able to do that when everything else should have made him act like those other folks: blaming and alienating me because it's easier than looking at their own privilege. He is no Allan G. Johnson but he allowed a little space for me to be. That's more than I can say for some other White people in Boulder.

    So let this be not a defense of Waylon Lewis, but a long winded attempt to paint a picture of a human. A picture with more dimensions than we can dream of or essentialize. Let's see this as an opportunity for us to try to hold a space for very difficult growing pains in a fellow human being. Keeping the paddle at bay but ready. May I remind some of you yogis, you are imperfect and if you weren't so, you would never be as complex and as beautiful as you are.

  57. by Wishinoo on September 2, 2011  7:58 pm Reply

    2 things immediately come to mind:
    1) i wonder if some sort of organized, pro-waylon lewis, propaganda campaign is being foisted upon chelsea's blog?

    why don't any of the "friends of waylon lewis" posts start with something, like:
    "You are all entitled to feel and opine as you do, no matter what.
    BUT, AS I TOLD WAYLON LEWIS REGARDING HIS UNPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR...
    some of it is unnecessary and not really useful dialog-based commentary and it’s more like venting. There’s nothing wrong with that but let’s not kid ourselves that it is just expressing feelings and not conducive to solving issues of injustice, in fact it may be counter productive to very needed conversations about difficult topics such as the ones at hand."

    2) "Bajo's" comment is, definitely, a "friends of waylon lewis"/"defense of waylon lewis" post...
    and that's ok!
    everyone deserves to have dependable associates, loyal allies, & good friends...

    HOWEVER...
    that doesn't mean anyone should be treated as "more" than anyone else and...
    conversely...
    it also doesn't mean that anyone should be treated as "less".

    i'm continually amazed at how, now, his advocates come here to advise tolerance and moderation though, clearly, this topic came into being because of behavior--of waylon lewis, himself--that was neither tolerant nor moderate.

    let's be clear about what happened:
    * waylon lewis, whether it be because of "bad" moment, day, favorable circumstance, etc;
    * saw a comment on elephantjournal that he did not like;
    * decided to go on what could, arguably, called a tirade/tantrum/hissy fit/etc
    (or maybe it's just the way he normally handles things. i can't say...);
    * and, because he could find chelsea;
    * dedicated the resources at his disposal into an attack on her.
    he attempted to ruin her reputation.

    using somewhat militaristic terms...
    'waylon lewis attempted to wipe chelsea off the face of the Internet.'
    he took to elephantjournal, facebook, and twitter...
    Multiple Times...
    to misrepresent her, her words, and her intentions.

    there was no "broader" or "nobler" purpose to his actions...

    and, when he discovered there was not merely objection, but outright backlash to his actions.
    he decided he should attempt to change the narrative.
    and...
    i'm not sure that's been working very well for him.


    "...some of you who are mad at Waylon are White too and as such you know very well how difficult it can be to find yourself in a position of getting called out for your privilege."
    ---
    that part confuses me.
    are you calling out his White detractors on this blog?
    THIS:
    "Some of you are not even very good allies, anyway."
    ...would certainly seem to indicate that you are.
    is that meant to be, "conducive to solving issues of injustice?"


    "You can't badger someone into paying attention because they are too busy avoiding getting hit on the head to really see what you’re clearly holding up to them."
    ---
    this is an interesting analogy...
    though disturbingly inaccurate.
    and since i'm not down with whole violence/people thang...
    i think the following would be more representative:
    * man takes multiple, big, bats,and starts beating woman's computer...
    A Lot.
    * woman lets people know her computer is being beaten.
    * people appear to help woman;
    * man decides to keep beating woman's computer, but...
    more softly;
    * man and friends are upset because people are unhappy with the softer beating...
    and are doing their best to completely stop the beating.


    "...blaming and alienating me because it’s easier than looking at their own privilege."
    ---
    seems like this is...
    PRECISELY...
    what waylon lewis did to chelsea.


    "Let’s see this as an opportunity for us to try to hold a space for very difficult growing pains in a fellow human being."
    ---
    so...
    it's ok for his supporters to tell him that they're not defending his comments...
    and simply leave it there?
    and...
    everyone else...
    should just...
    what?


    i also don't consider it my responsibilty nor obligation to educate people who engage in this type of behavior...
    but i think the point keeps getting missed.

    and, while i've said this before...
    i am going to say it again (hopefully, more concretely):
    in my estimation, these events are not about feelings.
    they are about actions.

    waylon lewis has made his feelings on this matter known, conspicuously and copiously.
    how hurt he was/is; the "beating" he's taken; "people trying to kick the shit out of him"; how terrible chelsea was; etc...
    and make his feelings the responsibility of others.
    i don't remember this being a teaching in either the yoga or buddhist paths...

    but actions?
    yoga and buddhism are absolutely focused on a person's actions.
    an example, here on this blog post, waylon stated, "* "everyone gets hurt—I did when you called me racist.."
    however, he has yet to admit that this assertion is just, plain, wrong.
    chelsea did not do that.
    but, "Bajo", as a friend to waylon, along with telling him you wouldn't defend his comments...
    did you also inform him that some of them were just, plain, wrong?

    among many things, the actions--or lack thereof--strike me as hugely problematic here.
    and in the online communities, forums, venues, etc where...
    waylon lewis made his initial comments & posts (and many of his follow-up ones)...
    he has NOT apologized for his actions.

    apologizing for offending someone?
    that's considerate. that's polite.
    but, ultimately, someone's feeling of offense isn't his responsibility.
    apologizing for someone's hurt feelings?
    i don't have the sense that chelsea has given over ownership of her feelings to waylon...
    so again, while considerate & polite, also not his responsibility.

    what is within the realm of his responsibility is...
    Apologizing For His Own Actions.
    he didn't set out to "hurt" or "offend" chelsea...
    * he set out to menace her.
    * his goal was to "damage" chelsea -- to undermine her reputation and credibility.

    and no one...
    not waylon lewis, not any of the elephantjournal authors, not any of his supporters posting here, not anyone who is just focused on personal growth...
    has done anything to address/resolve/rectify that element of this issue.

    where is the space for that being held?
    'cause i sure would like to know...

  58. Pingback : -isms and the need to belong « on the precipice

  59. by Bajo on September 13, 2011  1:31 pm Reply

    Thank you, Chelsea for having this forum and for allowing us to post here and be part of the dialog.

    I was torn when I wrote my two cents. I cried a lot when I found out about what Waylon said and did to you. I was hurt and offended that he acted this way but I do believe he needed to look at this and I'm sorry that it was you who served as a catalyst. I hate that women of color have to constantly decide between fighting for visibility and audience for our humanity or give up. I have given up many times. Thank you for not. I think you handled it with an integrity that, as I said before, I could not have pulled off. In fact, no one had been able to do respond to Waylon with more integrity and you're teacher to us all.

    I tend to avoid White folks, especially if they do yoga or are buddhist. I have been hurt and disenfranchised by this kind of White people for years and that's my own shit, I'll admit it. Their privilege stopped me from practicing yoga and buddhism for years. My experience is that even though I have had allies, the majority of White folks have lots of racism that they haven't worked on.

    I want you to know that I believe that some people are using your suffering and your hurt to create a space for themselves to talk about how they have gotten hurt, by the same person. It's actually not about you at all but about their own feelings of hurt. In my in my opinion that is the same privilege and racism they haven't looked at themselves.

    Wanna tell you that the work you are doing in the world is important to me, as a woman of color, as a yogini. Thank you.

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  61. by Jo on December 24, 2011  10:14 pm Reply

    Just looked into this from the YogaDork top 15 posts and still mulling things over.
    1. I found the video offensive
    2. I am not sure if I would have found the video offensive if it was from an African-american comedian, for lack of a better phrase the "nigga law" - I don't like it especially when other African americans use the term nigga but I get it - when someone else does it, I get pissed.
    3. An elephant (excuse the pun) in the room that a lot of Caucasian don't get is that there is a lot of racial history between other groups in America, that is,"it's not just a black/white thing" and these histories often have their own wounds and dark spots (the, it was another minority group, it must be okay, after, all y'alls are in the same boat, right, right???)
    4. I am sorry that you were harassed about expressing a view that many African-americans have and that it appears that the "angry black woman" stereotype was used to avoid conversation. I am not sure if discourse could have happened later on when W was more apologetic or not? But, I know I often feel I must eat my anger in situations in which I shouldn't because this will be thrown in my face as a way for others to avoid difficult conversations I would like to engage in (and the conversations would not just be difficult for them, but for me as well; our environment shapes us all in ways we would rather it didn't sometimes.)

    Thank you for standing up in a situation that it would have been easier to stay sitting.

    Like I said, I'm still chewing on this one.

  62. by LaNetta on December 28, 2011  5:52 pm Reply

    I am proud of you for speaking your mind and your Truth. I find it so strange how we just cant agree to disagree and then it ends up turning into ignorance. Thanks for being the voice that many people (out of fear) try to silence.

  63. by yogi fari on January 18, 2012  6:37 pm Reply

    You gave the perfect comeback :) Love your article and hope to keep reading. Keep staying true to yourself, it makes for the perfect teacher.

    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    -Mahatma Gandhi

    " A man cannot ride your back unless it's bent" - Dr.MLK Jr.

    Namaste.

  64. by Shiv on December 24, 2012  3:16 am Reply

    I came across this post after googling "yoga for racism". I was wondering if yoga is a good way to help me process all the racism that I keep running into in the world. I've always considered myself a loving person but the more of these experiences I have, the more negative I become. I am starting to scare myself with some of my hateful thoughts. I didn't go out into the world looking for racism and I was shocked when I learned how things work. It's depressing to me that this exists even among yoga practitioners. Are there no safe spaces?

    • by Chelsea on December 24, 2012  3:52 pm Reply

      Dearest Shiv,
      I am so glad you found this space. Unfortunately, this world is filled with a lot of confusion and fear that sometimes manifests in the forms of racism; however, there is also a lot of light in this world that can consume the darkness. Please continue to visit this page (We are actually a lot more interactive on Facebook if you have an account) because there are so many people who can support you through these challenging times. I think yoga helps us tap into our truth. Yoga can also strengthen our courage to confront and combat direct racism and the micro aggressions that people commit in this world. I wish you nothing but light and love.
      Love,
      Chelsea

  65. by Andrew on June 15, 2013  4:37 pm Reply

    Yoga is about wholeness, oneness, union. When will we wake up and realise that we are all on this same planet together. We are all so, so, so, so, so similar regardless of where we are from, our ethnicity, race, language, age, gender, religion, culture etc... All of these things are just tiny, minor, minute, miniscule, infinitesimal, differences.

    Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, energetically, psychologically, we are so, so, so, so, so similar that we almost seem like one. Perhaps we all are.

    Peace and love to you brothers and sisters with or without the similarities and differences.

  66. by Jayna - The River Tree on November 20, 2013  3:52 am Reply

    I was not sure whether or not to write something despite feeling moved by reading this. I decided that you should know that I respect that you raised your voice. Know that you inspire me to do the same more too. Love.

    • by Chelsea on February 2, 2014  1:18 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Jayna! Love to you sis! <3

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