yoga & anti-racism SERIES, PART 1.1 OF 8
June 5th reflections, as shared in the Coco Yoga Community Forum:
I am committed to incorporating a lens of social justice to my yoga practice both within the container of the yoga shala and outside in our larger communities. I recognize that as someone who has benefited from a system ingrained with racism and white supremacy at the expense of black, indigenous, and people of color, I have responsibility to take part in actively dismantling racist systems and attitudes, and co-creating new systems and attitudes that honor and bring healing and justice to those who have borne the immeasurable inhumanity of racism and white supremacy. I recognize that my part in this work begins with my own active and committed contemplative practice.
Where are my limits? I will never fully understand the multi-layered experience of those who live the oppression of these systems day in and day out. Furthermore, I will never fully understand the extent of the benefit and privilege I garner owing to these systems. I am not qualified to lead this revolution, and given how blind I have been to my own complacency with systemic racism, and how unaware I have been around my own ingrained white supremacy, I am not qualified even to assess how well I am doing in this practice.
Is this work risky or counterproductive? Given my place of privilege, this work does not pose any risk to my own wellbeing. The risk that engaging with this work poses is the possibility that my own unidentified racism surface in damaging ways, causing real harm and perpetuating racist beliefs and systems. I must be thoughtful in this work because it puts others at risk, but ultimately sincerity in pursuing new systems and ways of being with cautious care could never be counterproductive. This work is the only path for my personal liberation in dedication to raising my own bar for understanding, compassion, empathy, and integrity; and each person’s commitment to doing better is what will achieve the new reality for all for which this revolution is calling.
What are my capacities? I am capable of educating myself, of seeking out and hearing BIPOC thought leaders as well as common and varied BIPOC voices and experiences. I am capable of engaging with what I am hearing, bringing new ideas and perspectives into my practice however uncomfortable I may feel, however difficult it is to hold the truths of the experience of oppression. I am capable of leaning into the discomfort, sitting in stillness with ideas that I have previously avoided, and applying yoga philosophy to reorganize and attune to a better way of being. I am capable of listening and reflecting on feedback, of taking proper time for rest and pause. I am capable of owning my blind spots, faults, and mistakes, and dedicating to repair damages done. I am capable of learning, and unlearning, revising and updating my perspectives and understandings. This is not easy work, but I commit to keep with it into the long-term and stretch beyond my own resistance and discomfort.