I heard your apology. I am grateful that I have experienced times of resentment in my past, and learned early on that I usually end up more hurt than the individual I refused to forgive by holding on and reliving the pain over and over again. However, forgiveness and forgetting are not synonymous. Your attacks toward me following my critique of the video and comment about my grandmother were disturbing and in my opinion, reach far deeper than the posts, the video, and this conversation. Do I think you jumped to conclusions and took it personally when my comment hit a nerve for you? Yes. Do I think you are human and imperfect?—absolutely. Do I think you are a racist? I am really not concerned with making that judgment, and contrary to what you assumed I never called you a racist.
To be perfectly transparent with my intention behind writing “Sometimes it is not all good”, it was to expose the abuse I received after stating my opinion, an opinion that is the reality for my grandmother and other well intentioned human beings who suffer oppression throughout the world. Whether you were attempting to silence, challenge, or mock that voice, your behavior was reckless and inappropriate and I felt you needed to be held accountable for your actions.
About the video:
Since you and many other people who support you in this situation continue to revisit my initial reaction to the video I will say this: My personal observation is that some members of yoga communities, Buddhist sanghas, and just about any other community seeking enlightenment in this presumably “post-racial” era enter a murky area when diversity enters the picture. In just about every guided meditation I’ve received I have practiced removing the identity labels I carry in order to experience oneness with the world and tap into my True Self. Granted, these meditations are powerful; however, I think they become dangerous with regard to our relationships with one another when healthy boundaries are compromised and not respected. For example, as we get closer to “enlightenment” (however an individual interprets that) are we not bringing more mindfulness into our actions as we develop a closer relationship with Self? Why should mindfulness of actions and words be disregarded as we develop relationships with each other? The video is a perfect example. It was not “humor about ourselves” it was entitled “Yoga for Black People”. Therefore, as a member of the community I voiced my concern as an African American woman; consequently, the boundary of respect was violated. Yes, I’m sure there are millions of comedians who identify as Black, White, Asian, Latino/a, etc. who make these similar jokes regarding race. The difference in this particular situation is that I have not heard any stories of them tormenting individuals who disagree with their humor, and if they did I hope that someone spoke out against it.
For me, the shift of attention toward my “lack of humor” about the video is two-fold. On the one hand it has offered yogis, citizens, and people who are concerned about the marginalization of people throughout society and media the opportunity and platform to use their voice and speak their Truth. On the other hand, the fixation on my comment about my grandmother (by people who do not agree with my comment) has distracted some individuals from the severity of your actions.
Sri Pattabhi Jois is often quoted saying, “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory”. We can talk, blog, tweet, sensationalize, and belabor the topic until it shows up in the “trending” feed on our social networks; however, issues do not go away just because we lose readership, laugh them off, ignore, or silence their presence. I think this has been a powerful learning opportunity for us all. So what now?
I posit the following for all of us to critically reflect upon and consider: What good is our talking going to do if our actions through practice do not shift? How will we engage in healthy dialogue about uncomfortable topics without resorting to disrespecting those who do not agree with us? How will we use this experience to overcome fear and move into the realm of transformation?
Chelsea (Jaya Dasi)