Day 17 : T o k e n i s m :: is the practice of using BIPOC as token props to prove I’m not racist.
1. I’ve mentioned in previous threads how much trouble I’ve had finding BIPOC yoga teachers. Through my nonprofit, @whyfw, it is not uncommon for me to be the only white person in the room, and I’d like to have more BIPOC teach for my organization because representation matters, and I look like the stereotype of what a yogi in the West is. However, I’m not sure how to go about this in a way that isn’t tokenism. How can I train more BIPOC to teach yoga? I sense I need to check my motives. Am I seeking to train more BIPOC because I want more representation and inclusion in the yoga community or am I simply wanting to feel assuage my white guilt around cultural appropriation. This is an area in which I definitely need more education. I’m certain more will be revealed.
2. “My son is black.” This does not let me off the hook for generation upon generation of racism I’ve inherited and perpetuated by remaining silent and complicit in keeping my white privilege and ultimately, white supremacy.
3. In the classes I teach where I am the token white person, I feel uncomfortable. It’s like how I feel being the token lgbtq person (or couple.) I hope this does not come off as insensitive...I understand I still have sooooo much privilege and with white supremacy, why would *I* be uncomfortable?...I think it is a reflection of my white fragility. My point is: it’s rare when I get to experience feeling “other,” yet white supremacy makes BIPOC feel “other,” day in and day out. My son, already...I can tell...feels it. In this stock tank, swimming with kids who likely don’t care he’s got brown skin, he feels it. He can’t tell me; it’s just a sense I have. This experience has helped me understand the need for safe spaces for people of color and why it’s important for me to surround him with more people of color. #meandwhitesupremacy