“It’s not okay to merely be a passive ally. I need accomplices. I need white accomplices to use their privilege, and bodies (if they’re able) to actively interrupt white supremacy. I need white accomplices who understand that it’s not going to be comfortable.”– Lincoln Mondy, a progressive communications strategist in the Aug. 2, 2019, article, “How White People Can Hold Each Other Accountable to Stop Institutional Racism,” by Elly Belle in Teen Vogue.
At the heart of both yoga and Christianity – the two spiritual/religious traditions I practice – is liberation. The work of liberation is freeing, but the process is uncomfortable because we must unlearn many habits that oppress black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC); members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community; women; members of the disabled community; and many other marginalized groups.
As a white yoga teacher, Christian leader and business owner, I commit myself to creating more and more liberation through a process of reckoning, repenting and reinventing. This process interrupts and changes the habits of white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and other social structures that harm marginalized people to preserve the comfort of white, heterosexual, able-bodied people. Below are the commitments I am making now in 2021, knowing I will need to reinvent these commitments to reflect my learnings at least annually.
Many of these commitments are inspired by Tejal Patel and Jesal Parikh of the Yoga is Dead Podcast and community and the article, “White Supremacy Culture,” by Tema Okun.
Embrace Discomfort. I will allow myself and the teaching, learning, healing spaces I create to be comfortable with the discomfort of calling out and dealing with white supremacy and other oppressive social constructs.
Listen. When hearing from marginalized teachers and students, I will listen to their needs and make changes accordingly without becoming dismissive or defensive.
Be Curious. When exposed to new ideas about racism and white supremacy, heteronormativity, sexism, ableism, etc. — especially when being called out for my behavior or practices that support these systems — I will ask questions with an open mind and seek to learn. I will express gratitude to the people taking the risk to invite me to learn in this way.
Cite Sources. I will always acknowledge when I have gotten information from other sources. Doing so ensures that the contributions of Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities are appropriately acknowledged and not erased or appropriated to seem to be part of the white, dominant culture.
Learn from Diverse Teachers. In all my years of yoga training, I have had only one teacher of color. Over the next several years, I will take teacher trainings from a majority of teachers of color.
Accessibility. I will always invite people into physical and spiritual practices giving a wide variety of options that honors all bodies and abilities. I always encourage people to explore what is working in their bodies and minds and invite them to do exactly what they need in that moment.
Diverse Partnerships. I will invite BIPOC and other marginalized teachers and professionals to partner with me as I build my business and teaching. I will allow their guidance and feedback to shape and reshape how I structure my business and teaching.
Invite BIPOC Guidance. At the beginning of a relationship with a BIPOC teacher, partner or client, I will name my privilege and acknowledge that I can do things that are racist. I will invite that person to in turn name when I am behaving in a way that is not anti-racist. I will promise to embrace discomfort, listen and be curious about what they are telling me. I will then reflect on their feedback and make adjustments as soon as possible to my behavior, practices or policies.
Include Anti-Racism in Everything I Do. I will weave anti-racist thought into everything I teach. As someone who guides individuals and organizations through change, I need to name white supremacist habits as a probable source of the challenges an organization faces in times of change.
Reparations. I will offer a 20% discount to BIPOC individuals and BIPOC-owned businesses who work with me. You can simply use the code BIPOC20 on all events and on my memberships to receive the discount. Discount for other services will be taken at the time of invoicing.