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.
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.
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 🙂 .