On “Yoga Girl,” Race, Writing, White People, And Knowing When Not To Share » VSB

Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

On “Yoga Girl,” Race, Writing, White People, And Knowing When Not To Share


***Yesterday, I had separate conversations with Panama and Maya Francis about everyone’s favorite Skinny White Yoga Girl and the reactions her piece generated. (If you’re not aware of this story, here’s a quick synopsis. Skinny White woman writes very, very awkwardly about feeling very, very awkward about seeing a heavyset Black woman at her yoga class, internet reacts.)

The conversation with Panama and I took place on Gchat. Maya and I also talked on Gchat, but she decided to send me something longer later in the evening. Both the conversation between Panama and I and Maya’s piece are below.***

Damon Young: You saw that yoga piece everyone is talking about, right?

Panama Jackson: Of course, lol. Poor white girl. Opened a shitstorm and was probably as sincere as sincere could be. THAT is an example of white privilege. Macklemore is not.

Damon Young: The most favor-ed comment on XO Jane literally had me laughing out aloud for 10 minutes. I think I even woke up my girl.

Panama Jackson: Yeah I saw that shit…I laughed hard as f*ck too. Thing is…its a weird but honest ass look into how white people feel. To that end, its actually educational. Like this white broad REALLY felt that way. Its white guilt at its best

Damon Young: We want white people to be honest. but we really dont. We just want them to listen and not speak

Panama Jackson: EXACTLY. Shut up and let us think you suck. We don’t care how you feel. But its like…look…I’m f*cking sharing here. THIS IS really how I think.

Panama Jackson: Do you remember some years ago I wanted to put together a collection of essays about race from white and black people anonymously?

Panama Jackson: This is EXACTLY what i’d expect to get from some overly empathetic white folks. Naive but necessary to keep the convo going. And folks are going ham. I appreciate this shit. I mean she needs a good talking to. But that kind of honesty from white people? Priceless

Damon Young: I wonder if people are more upset by the thought or the expression of the thought

Panama Jackson: That’s a good question

Damon Young: I think it’s the thought. Like, it’s great that you were honest and bared your soul and shit. but what the f*ck is wrong with you?

Panama Jackson: Yeah. At the same time…her biggest problem was using race as identifiers. If she hadn’t used race, it would just be body size insensitive, and it doesnt get traction. You throw skinny white girl and heavyset black woman in there? HIROSHIMA.

Damon Young: Thing is, every 25 to 35 year old black chick I know does yoga at least occasionally. Like, literally every single one.

***I received an email from Maya a few hours later***

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, I was 10 years old and had just suffered the loss of my great-grandmother. It was a deeply personal, life-altering thing, one that had me contemplating my own mortality, long before a person should have to think about such things.

As I sifted through her personal affects, I craved something tangible that would remind me of the music in her voice, the firm delicacy of her touch, the way she always knew exactly what to say when it needed to be heard. I wanted to read something that would instantly put her in the room with me.

I took the week off from school in mourning, and when I returned found myself even more invested in my favorite books as a means to escape the sadness that plagued me. At some point in the following months, we learned about the advent of the printing press and the role of the written word for the modern world.

“Words are given greater importance when they are written down,” my teacher said. It was at that moment, that I realized that my byline would become my closest shot at living forever. It was then that I started collecting my favorite quotes from people who’d long since been dead (a practice that I continue even now), and think about the legacies left behind. I thought about what my name, on paper, would mean when I was gone.

Things have changed since then, particularly in terms of what it means to be a writer. Like any writer, I am still a bit self-serving, but more than anything I strive to be an active student of the people, circumstances, and subjects I choose to write about. I write because I never want to stop learning; I write because I cannot see myself doing much else without going completely insane. I write because I’m naturally very nosey, and this is a great way to put it to good use. I write because I think its important to think critically.

Digital media has changed the way we think about writing, and the way scribes go about the practice. What was once an isolated, pensive undertaking is now filled with the loud noise of other people’s thought pieces (which we feel compelled to respond to), deadlines (that come faster than the traditional news cycle), and the crowded lanes of traffic that make up online content. It’s fucking loud in the echo chamber, and there are times that I have to walk away from my computer for a few weeks to figure out what the hell I really think. With a 24-hour news cycle and tweets coming in at 2am, it’s easy to get confused sometimes.

The really intimidating thing about writing in the online space is how quickly (and intensely) readers respond to your world. Most writers, I’d think, don’t read the comments section. I respond to everyone who e-mails me directly, but I never read the comments; it’s like giving birth to your favorite child and the world immediately telling you what an ugly piece of shit they are, and how worthless you are for having her.

In the best case, the forever-ever nature of the internet (thanks, Google Cache!) and the ridicule that comes with it can force a writer to be deeply intentional about the things they put out into the internet. In the worse case, a person will throw shit at a wall and see what sticks.

When a piece falls flat – or worse, when it’s received as roundly offensive to a group of people – there’s an urging to find some greater value as to why it fell flat. We want the failure to mean something. Usually, someone will say that it “helped to start a conversation.” I’ll say now, while everyone is entitled to their opinions, some conversations just aren’t worth entertaining because of the basic expectation that grown people don’t say everything they’re thinking aloud.

It’s easy to fire up our laptops. It’s easy to have an opinion and make it matter because it’s in black and white. Digital media has, in many ways, made us forget (at one time or another) about the labor in our labor of love. The responsibility we have. We owe it to our audiences to not only be exciting, but to be interesting, poignant, reflective, honest, and insightful. It’s not enough to want to live forever; we have a responsibility to push existing conversations forward. To make good art.

If we can’t do that, then we should chop it up Love Jones style with our homies over wine and cheese and whatever other bougie shit we like to do when we’re feeling self-important. Let those conversations help us check our own privileges, assumptions, and naval-gazing. If our names are to mean anything at all, we’ve gotta make sense of the world around us, not further agitate the things we already don’t understand.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • h.h.h.

    i…didn’t want to read this at first. but, i did, to see if i had the same amount of indignation that others on my social media landscape had.

    so, i read. and…i didn’t.

    i agree with Ms. Francis, in that if you take your craft as a writer serious, you want your words, your phrases to mean something, even to the end of time, so you have to be cognizant of your audience, and you have to know how your words can come out as supportive or destructive.

    with that being said, what she wrote…the explanation of her thoughts within that interval of time..feels (to me) the equivalent of what *I* see when i get on the train…and i see someone slide a little bit away from me. white female, black female, white male.

    if anything, *I* see if as a lowkey response to that piece that QuestLove wrote about his experience in an elevator in his building.

    so while this is an uncomfortable conversation, i feel like this is adding another voice to the conversation.

    also, Champ and Panama touched on something:

    “We just want them to listen and not speak” – “EXACTLY. Shut up and let us think you suck. We don’t care how you feel.”

    part of the push for ‘equality’ is that we all have a chance, an opportunity for share our stories, our voices, and that they have equal time in the sphere of public opinion, to hash out whether valid, logical, or what not. and when you’ve had a subset of society with privilege and power, there has to be a way of balancing that out. but nowadays it seems like that the only stories that are worth hearing, that are worth importance and worth being exalted. are the ones that have been marginalized, in some way. for example, black males stories are more important than white males, female’s stories > male’s stories; black female > *, etc etc.

    just odd that we desire to have conversations, to have discussions, to make our society a better, more just, more merciful society, but if we were to ask for honesty, for earnestness…we shut it down by saying it’s the voice of privilege.

    so…those voices stay quiet.
    congrats, the pendulum swings.

    • h.h.h.

      i apologize for the length of this response, and i’ll let others speak.

      *tiptoes out the conversation*

      • Sahel

        Revokes G card,because real Gs move silent like lasagna,they do not tip toe

        • h.h.h.

          i’m tip toeing because i’m happpyyyyyyyyy and i feel like a room without a roof

    • iamnotakata

      “just odd that we desire to have conversations, to have discussions, to make our society a better, more just, more merciful society, but if we were to ask for honesty, for earnestness…we shut it down by saying it’s the voice of privilege.”

      I hear what your saying and agree with it to some extent but there is no way I can read a post like that, and not be angry. To me the tone of the post was derogatory and extremely offensive.

      Especially when you are living the experience of the only woman of color to enter an all white environment. You are already unsure of yourself and then are greeted with unwarranted hate, anger and then disrespected just for being you…..I can not…She would have to completely rewrite and rephrase her statements. I especially can not get over the self centered tone of the whole article..

      • Val

        I was only angry that it was published and it was a Black woman editor that approved it.

    • Rachmo

      Hey! *waves*. I’m typically “the Black friend” and I can tell you these voices don’t stay quiet, they just don’t post it online. I get pulled into these convos often and have to dig deep to explain politely how yes you are privileged no no ignoring this fact doesn’t make it go away. I’m thinking Skinny White Girl would have had the sense to maybe bounce that piece off the one minority person (there has to be one) she knows. I’m sure that interaction would make a better article.

      • esa

        ~ I’m thinking Skinny White Girl would have had the sense to maybe bounce that piece off the one minority person (there has to be one) she knows. I’m sure that interaction would make a better article.

        the writer was asked by the managing editor, a black woman, to write the piece. here’s her response to the backlash: http://www.xojane.com/issues/i-assigned-that-yoga-class-piece-and-heres-why

        • Rachmo

          Wow that editor needs to do all the way better. She needed to do better by the writer in not setting her up for a hard fall like that. Further she needed to do better by her website. Also hold up Jenny lives in BK and never sees Black women doing yoga…girl what…

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Is there ever a good set up when it comes to discussing race?

            • Rachmo

              I’d say if they did it as a conversation or an interview, bc they did have a convo, it would have been much better and not put Jenny in the position of sounding so stupid.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                IMO, it’s still messy because the interview can come off as too scripted and the conversation staged.

                • esa

                  virtually all media is scripted. without people preparing adequately for the conversation, we tend to get a free for all. which has its purpose, but doesnt really stand as as part of the record itself.

                  the difference is the quality of speaker. to paraphrase a line from Sunset Boulevard, The audience doesnt think of the writer; they think the actor makes it up as he goes.

                • Rachmo

                  Better scripted than this bs

            • Yes. Any person of color can set up a race discussion in whatever way they want to do so. However, the proper protocol for white people discussing race happens only after they’re willing to admit the following:

              1.) Their ancestors did a whole bunch of fukc shid
              2.) They enjoy a privilege that others do not
              3.) They’re part of the problem unless they are part of the solution

              • In the NYC area, I would drop the first one. After all, if their ancestors will chillin in Eastern Europe or Italy while slavery was going down, I’m not going to blame them for ish. That said, it makes it a lot easier to put the weight on #2.

                • One still applies to all white people. Eastern Europe was not free from slave trafficking nor was it a safe haven for black bodies. Italy was heavily involved in slave trading during the 16th and 17th centuries. Lol let’s be clear, plenty of black bodies were run through Italy before they made their way to the Americas and other parts of Europe such as Britain and Portugal.

              • Val

                The reason these conversations get tiring is that it feels like “we” are forever having to explain the most simple concepts to them and we never actually get to the real conversation.

                • Which is why I don’t discuss race with white people unless they admit to these things. If you’re white and cannot admit to you being a benefactor of racism you can’t engage in a race conversation with me.

          • esa

            ~ Also hold up Jenny lives in BK and never sees Black women doing yoga…girl what…

            New York has always been socially segregated. in my experience there tend to be two types of folk when it comes to socializing: people who always mix, and people who almost never do.

            • That the last paragraph is the truth. The upshot is that these two types of people often know each other and can have deep ties to each other. New York is strange like that.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                It’s not even a New York thing; have you looked in a middle school, high school, college lunch room lately?

          • Epsilonicus

            This is very believable. Welcome to America.

            There are White folks who live in Baltimore who do not realize that Baltimore is a majority Black city. Mind you Baltimore is 70% Black…

            • Rachmo

              RIGHT! I’m like but…you’re the minority he-oh you’re not? Oh ok…

              • Epsilonicus

                A few tried to argue me down. I even showed them Census data…

                • Rachmo

                  No Eps they were totally right…you were in the Inner Harbor which is representative of ALL of Bmore. Put away your silly census data

                  • Epsilonicus

                    The only neighborhoods in Baltimore are Fells Point, Fed Hill, Mt Vernon, Canton, and Hampden.

                    • We’re talking about Baltimore City and NOT the counties, right?

                    • Epsilonicus

                      When people say they are from Baltimore, they mean the city. Baltimore County is referred to as “the county” lol. Its like a separate country

                    • Val

                      I learned that watching The Wire! Lol

                    • Epsilonicus

                      “the Wire” is legit schooling people on Baltimore.

                    • Rachmo

                      Even Baltimore County is mostly Black so…I’m still lost where i’m the minority but i let them rock

          • Shamira

            Rach, you watch girl, you know its possible! Lmao

            • Rachmo

              Bahaha i was just thinking this must be the “Girls” neighborhood in BK

              • Having been in that area, it’s like the freaking Matrix in real life. You have hood negroes on one side, a large Latin neighborhood on another side, old Italians and Polish people to the north in Greenpoint, and Williamsburgh has turned into this hipster Disney. The only reason the Hasids still hang on is that they own their own buildings and don’t do business outside of their own community.

              • afronica

                When I read the xojane piece, my first thought was Bushwick or Williamsburg, gotta be one of those.

                • Bushwick changed in a hurry though. 10 years ago, it was nothing but hood there. Then the people colonizing Williamsburg realized that the L train has more stops…

        • CrayolaGirl

          I was ready to call bullshiggity on this managing editor’s response but let it go. This may have been her intent but Jen didn’t execute it correctly. Jen’s post didn’t give me any deep insight on how a white woman views the world that I didn’t already know. Or why this experience brought her to actual tears.

          I hope people actually read the editor’s response but it probably won’t change anyone’s interpretation of Jen’s post.

          • esa

            i think that there is enough responsibility to share among editor, writer, and site. everyone plays their part, and when failure occurs, everyone is called to step up.

        • yeah, it told me that maybe the yoga girl wasn’t ready, that this isn’t her ‘craft,’ but a foray into unfamiliar territory.

          • esa

            yes ~ as a writer, you understand. the Word is much too powerful, when written, to be casual about heavy subjects in a public forum.

            there’s a whole lot of things i never write because i know exactly what would pop off in going public with some of my more radical political views. and that ultimately, not all dialogues need to occur in a public forum to add quality to our lives.

      • I used to be the black friend, too. I went to a very liberal PWI and thought these well meaning white girls were well meaning down to the core. But the thing that maybe even they don’t know is that their entire indentity is founded on the assumptions within Skinny White Girl’s thought process. You can’t explain things to them and get them to let go of their superiority complex because once they get rid of that, they crumble.

        Liberal white people don’t get rid of their racism, they just repackage it as pity and cast themselves as heroes in your story. If you don’t think this is true, try challenging the idea that they are helping you, tell them you don’t need their help. That’s where you will get the red faced rage of a liberal white person. They are not well meaning, they have just fooled themselves into thinking they are.

        How do I deal with the Skinny White Girl in my everyday life? I subtly let them know, that as an overweight Black woman, I am fit, I am desired, I am feminine, I am disciplined, I am accomplished, I love myself, my skin and my body with all the fat on it and I gets lots of attention from attractive men. They swallow that pill with difficulty, but they eventually do swallow it.

        • Liberal white people don’t get rid of their racism, they just repackage
          it as pity and cast themselves as heroes in your story. If you don’t
          think this is true, try challenging the idea that they are helping you,
          tell them you don’t need their help. That’s where you will get the red
          faced rage of a liberal white person.


        • SuperStrings

          “If you don’t think this is true, try challenging the idea that they are helping you, tell them you don’t need their help. That’s where you will get the red faced rage of a liberal white person. ”
          That’s because they know more about your struggle than you do, and they know even better what solutions need to be implemented.

          • lets start with the assumption that there is a struggle and there are solutions to be implemented. Or the assumption that any white person can implement solutions if there were any. In this scenario, she assumed the woman was having problems because she was black and overweight. And hated herself because of it and that hate was compounded by looking at the pinnacle of yoga perfection, a skinny white girl. All of that is wrong. Body size has nothing to do with flexibility, and we know skin color doesn’t. If it were another skinny white girl having trouble with the poses, what would she assume?

            • Rachmo

              Ma’am you are speaking too much truth this morning

            • SuperStrings

              There’s a struggle because they say there’s one, and whichever solution they say should be implemented is the correct one. They are the experts on struggles and experiences not their own.

          • Epsilonicus

            There are things we need White people to do. No offense, they are sort of the source of the whole racism problem. Nothing gets fixed if they don’t take care of it.

        • Rachmo

          Girl…we don’t often agree but today we are >>>here<<< +1,000,000

        • Deeds

          “Liberal white people don’t get rid of their racism, they just repackage it as pity and cast themselves as heroes in your story. If you don’t think this is true, try challenging the idea that they are helping you, tell them you don’t need their help.”

          This was just spot on!

        • I know I wasn’t built for a PWI. I would’ve been expelled for scalping some ditzy teenage white girl who asked me why don’t I have a tail.

      • h.h.h.

        i guess…thank you for being that black friend? i went to a PWI, and as fate would have it, i didn’t make many friends of different ethnicities..the few non blacks that i got acquainted with it…either got it, or we never had those types of conversations *shrug*

        • Rachmo

          I usually don’t even know I’m “the Black friend” bc I keep assuming they have others.

          • h.h.h.

            the others are like me…they have no time to teach for free lol

            • Rachmo

              Hahaha I do sort of look up at the sky, sigh deeply to myself, and order some whiskey to continue the convo respectfully

      • afronica

        I am often *assumed* to be the black friend. That is to say, it is often assumed that I will be friendly (and helpful and explanatory) while being black. White people, more chicks than guys, will just start talking about things and look at me for cosigns or explanations of why black people do x.

        I then have to decide if I want to lift that weight that day. I bench pressed a lot when I was younger. As I get older, unless I decide I want to have a friendship, a *real* friendship with that person, I just play dumb and two step, side to side, away.

        But I continue to be surprised at the lack of elegance white people have when talking about race. These are people who display nuance when talking about US foreign policy, how to make make quinoa taste like something or the limitations of the engineering mindset when trying to appreciate art. But throw race in there, and their speech becomes subtle as anvils.

        • But how do you make quinoa taste like something? And can I say I have strong engineering tendencies when it comes to art?

          • afronica

            You kill me Todd, you do. You seem more…human or something since your split. Sorry if that’s condescending or insulting. I don’t mean it to be.

            The trick with quinoa is the same with rice pilaf. Saute finely minced aromatics (garlic, onion, ginger, etc.) in a wee bit of fat (chicken fat, butter, olive oil, whatevs) for a little while. Add quinoa and toast until you get a nutty smell. Add already simmering stock (chix, beef or veg) and maybe a little white wine and cook at 350 in the oven or stove top per package instructions.

            I myself appreciate strong formal structure in art, so as much as engineers can frustrate me when discussing art, I can dig where you’re coming from, I think.

        • Rachmo

          THE FIRST PARAGRAPH! I’m like…wait I came here for craft beers and now I’m being cornered into talking about Al Sharpton? i don’t know him.

          • afronica

            Chiiiile. It’s like get off me. Just cuz I’m “articulate” and “polite” doesn’t mean I can’t clap back when I want to. And I have no interest in being round robin questioned by six of y’all, answering ignant questions all night. This ain’t lopsided Crossfire up in here. Make that negroni a double and slide it this way.

            • Rachmo

              Yeah just talk amongst yourselves while I get some tater tots bc I’m not interested

        • Val

          “But I continue to be surprised at the lack of elegance white people have when talking about race”

          I agree and that’s why I think many White folks feign ignorance just to get away with saying crazy things. Then they say, ‘oh my, I didn’t know that was offensive’. Yeah, right. We’ve been in this country dealing with this crap for 500 years together. They understand. They just want to be able to to use plausible deniability as an excuse.

          • afronica

            Hmmm. Maybe. But maybe not.

            Follow me here. I never took a physics class, so I really don’t understand it and can’t really discuss its basic principles. So when people around me start breaking out discussions of torque and plane and whatever, I either hang back or try with my non-existent physics vocab to ask my sad little questions. I sound like a first grader.

            I sometimes think white folks *choose* to think of race like physics. And they sound childish and uninformed. I’m not talking about the deniers (“white privilege doesn’t exist”) or the haters (“nucka! nucka! nucka!”). I’m talking about people who have chosen to invest intellectual energy in lots of different subjects, but have thrown their hands in the air where race is concerned, and expect some black person to explain it to them. IDK.

            • Val

              Yeah, I get what you’re saying. That’s plausible deniablitity.So, I’m not sure if we are really disagreeing so much as just coming at the same answer from different angles.

        • Epsilonicus

          “But I continue to be surprised at the lack of elegance white people have when talking about race. ”

          You should not be surprised. One of the rules of racism is that White people should not talk about it. It is not a conscious rule but that unspoken type.

    • It’s about being an echo chamber and validating each other. Which I’m actually pretty fine with just be honest about that being what you want it to be and don’t dress it up as an open dialogue.

    • you’re so right. I’m a little tired of hearing backlash against “white tears,” as if white women, white people, don’t have feelings…and much less are entitled to said feelings.

      The prevailing sentiment has become: “We don’t care how you feel.”

      He hit it on the nail. We no longer desire dialogue. We just want the mfkn mic and an audience.

      • esa

        ~ We no longer desire dialogue.

        mm. i think there have always been two different, long-standing camps. i could be wrong, but i have noticed that over all, more people prefer the act of monologue to the act of dialogue. monologue serves the ego, dialogue serves the soul. i enjoy both, but i’m training myself to lean towards dialogue as a way to break free of the narcissism that fogs my life.

      • Word. I think a lot of marginalized people want a co-sign from the powers that be, full stop. That’s fine, but don’t pretend that you want to actually speak to them. What I find strange is that by demanding that powerful people co-sign you, aren’t you effectively co-signing their power? People don’t realize that the game is chess, not checkers.

    • Freebird

      you’re right,

    • Epsilonicus


    • veryaveragebrotha

      “just odd that we desire to have conversations, to have discussions, to make our society a better, more just, more merciful society, but if we were to ask for honesty, for earnestness…we shut it down by saying it’s the voice of privilege.”

      Sorry, I have to call out this BS. The accusation that someone not responding to an insult with some ‘kumbaya’ type ish means they aren’t interested in dialog is plain BS. You are essentially blaming someone for getting defensive after a viscous non retaliatory personal attack. No, the attacker is to blame.

      We all know that you can terminate a discussion (regardless of how important) before it even starts by the words you choose to use or something as simple as your tone.
      For dialog to occur there are certain ways that BOTH parties have to approach the discussion. No sane reasonable person can possibly expect black women to respond calmly to an essay like that.

      But I guess black people are just supposed to be happy with any type of attention/conversation huh?

      • h.h.h.

        i guess if you desire to use a kumbyah example, which is kinda extreme…i could see where you would get that…

        but i don’t know if i’d call it an ‘attack’ if that’s an honest feeling that person has…

        if that’s the case, if one literally claps back (with words) silencing the ignorant, will the ignorant learn?

        from my experiences, probably not, the ignorant will be on the defensive and not hear the other’s point out.

        ergo, silence for the ignorant, but not much learning.

        huzzah for the new controllers of the mic.


        • veryaveragebrotha

          “but i don’t know if i’d call it an ‘attack’ if that’s an honest feeling that person has…”

          Whether or not it’s an ‘honest’ feeling has no bearing on whether or not it’s an attack. Calling someone inferior is an insult/attack regardless of whether you believe it or not.

          “if that’s the case, if one literally claps back (with words) silencing the ignorant, will the ignorant learn?”

          This makes two assumptions:

          1. Just because someone says something to you, they are willing to learn
          2. That the only way to ‘learn’ is by polite discussion

          Both of those premises are false – I’ve learnt some of my greatest lessons from vicious lash-back.

        • Epsilonicus

          My pov, though you did not ask

          think this woman had a real moment where she realized that folks like her can be racist. She probably only thought of racists as people like Paula Dean and Duck Dynasty (who are fake rednecks fyi). She realized that supposedly liberal folks are racist too, it is just quieter than expected.

          I think she framed it awkwardly but of course it will be awkward bc she never was taught how to have critical discussions about race. Most White people are not taught that to be honest.

          I feel bad that she got shitted on instead of folks helping her process her feelings.

    • cilgen

      This is a really important comment, h.h.h., and I’m glad you stated it so clearly. And while my heart agrees, and my faith tradition would demand that I certainly agree, I find that in my old age I’ve become a little less patient, a little less inclined to forgive, and bending more toward “fight the power” than “kumbayah.” It’s curious that I’m in that mindset at this stage, having spent all of my life wanting to faciliate these “conversations” and help everyone understand one another.
      I’m just exhausted, these days. And white privilege is real.
      I saw this hashtag on Twitter yesterday “#openseasononblackgirlsisover: and I actually wanted to weep. Because I’ve been feeling lately that it is indeed open season, and I’m tired of being the unaware prey quietly munching on the grass in the field, while the hunter aims his rifle.
      Yes, I know that’s a bit hyperbolic, but I’m feeling that way today. Tomorrow may be better.
      Great topic/post – Champ and Panama.

    • JayIzUrGod

      You and me are nerds. Closet people. We keep quiet and to ourselves, letting the world pass us by, because no one wants to stand around long enough to listen to what we have to say.
      With that said, you know, like I know….there is way too much pain on the outside which is why we can never get through the honesty on the inside. People say they want change, but since that requires them to change as well, they back peddle as soon as change comes their way. I don’t really know what it would take for people to realize their feelings have to take a backseat to the issue at hand, but we just don’t have that mastered, in the least bit.
      So you are right. But in the same breath, let us not pretend the response to this article isn’t merited in some fashion. Maybe not completely, but there is merit to it.

  • helga_g

    from some reason yoga girl did not surprise me, and I think there are many more like her. We as Americans are taught to respect cultures, and not to stereotype, and to see people as individuals but how often are we forced to put those teachings into practice? We often live in our own bubbles surrounded by those that look talk act or all of the above similar to us. At my HBCU I woke up as my God given name and spent the day being me, but now at my PWI grad school I am constantly aware that people don’t see me as who my mama named me but as the black girl. Unfortunately for yoga girl and her peers the world is their HBCU (look that makes sense to me) and they rarely have to worry about the world outside of that bubble.

    I think she could have formed her thoughts a bit better but then again if seeing a black girl in yoga produced tears maybe not, who really knows but her. I don’t judge.

    • iamnotakata

      “At my HBCU I woke up as my God given name and spent the day being me, but now at my PWI grad school I am constantly aware that people don’t see me as who my mama named me but as the black girl.”

      This is my life right now!!

      • Andrea

        Grad school was my first experience at any PWI. It’s just different.

        • iamnotakata

          Its actually not my first time I went to all white schools from elementary to high school. However in going to an HBCU you become entwined in the culture that is your all black school and to say the least I got comfortable with every one around me looking like me, not looking at me wide eyed when I switched my hairstyle and not expecting me to understand or appreciate whatever random “urban” term they slung my way.. to say the least I miss my life at an HBCU!!

  • Val

    Here are my thoughts on this debacle.

    – I really don’t give a hoot what “Jen” thinks of Black women or Black people in general. After reading her post and a half-azzed apology she left in the comments at X0Jane, I don’t get the feeling that she has the power to put her bigotry into action.

    – “All my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk” is what I thought of after I read the mea culpa posted by the Black woman who claims to be an editor at X0Jane. Her explanation as to why this happened was bulls*it from beginning til end. I knew she was full of it when she said, as the editor of a commercial site like that one, she didn’t give a damn about clicks. Yeah, right.

    – Not one single thing written in “Jen’s” post surprised me, confused me or was anything I didn’t know or assume many White women think.

    – My main take away from this is that trust is a hard thing to gain and an easy thing to lose. I will never trust the intentions of that site nor will I ever trust the intentions of anyone who posts there. Any site that’s willing to be so astoundingly cynical as to inflict pain on its readers just for clicks is the worst kind of enterprise and can never be trusted.

    – Finally, thankfully we have safe places like VSB to congregate online to share our thoughts on important subjects without being cynically used for our click-value.

    • I posted there! lol

      • Aly

        Well she didn’t mean YOU of course! lol

      • Val

        Nope, I didn’t mean you, but has this craziness made you reconsider whether you would post there again?

        • Epsilonicus

          I think we need Dara voice in places like that.

          • Val

            We need her voice period, but I’m curious as to whether she thinks she’d be risking any of her credibility by posting there after this.

  • LehcarB

    I went to a PWI for undergrad and I have stories for DAYS. When i read “What could I do to help her?” in the Yoga piece I recalled one day in class when we were discussing “Stop and Frisk”.

    After the prof finished his spiel on the matter this white girl follows up with the fact that SHE doesn’t see the problem especially since it doesn’t really targets POC. She said that. She said it’s helpful because more guns and drugs are off the street. The professor (with what i swear was a hint of smile on his face!) tells her to imagine being stopped every day while entering her home to check her oversized purse for coke. She really ponders for a minute and says ” That would be crazy, I dont look scary or like I would have coke”. I (the only black person in the class) was not the only one giving side eyes.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Curse you Champ for making me read more stuff!!!

    Personally I didn’t see a problem with her piece. If Monique had this as a part of one of her monologues, we would be in stitches. The article blends together gym / yoga etiquette and socioeconomic status. Most women in general hate going to the gym because a) working out in general b) shape envy / bias since it appears that all the fit folks goto Golds Gym or LA Fitness and the full figured women goto Curves c) clothing d) being ogled by men while working out; then you add socioeconomic into the mix for sprinkles. The black women I know who do yoga are bougie. While I do know some full figured women that do yoga, they are statistical outliers.

    The bigger question for me is if the sista was skinny and couldn’t hit the yoga poses, would the same socioeconomic awakening have happened? Why would you expect to see sistas at your yoga class in Tribeca if you know a) the black population is extremely small and b) those black folk who do live in your area can afford to have the instructor come to them.

    • MimiJ

      Her yoga studio is in Brooklyn, I believe.

    • Bougie sistas do love them some yoga

      • Andrea

        Yoga doesn’t appeal to me. Guess I’m not bougie.

      • Limber women are awesome.

      • Nah, bougie women like CrossFit!!!!!!!!

        • LehcarB

          If i had to choose it would be #teamcrossfit

          • I’m all about HIIT so while Yoga is definitely a great form of exercise, the track girl in me needs more than just some stationary poses.

            • Shamira

              I find the mixing HIIT with distance running, lifting and yoga is a great balance. HIIT, especially plyometric stuff, tends to do stiffen your muscles, and yoga is a great way to balance that out. But stationary yoga, does bore me, which is why I mostly do ashtanga and vinyasa, which require constant movement.

              • I’ll keep these things in mind! Thanks!

            • LehcarB

              Same. Plus I need variety. Switching from burpees, to crunches to running keeps my attention

              • Yes it does! I hate burpees with a passion even though they’re so wonderful.

                • SuperStrings

                  Been hating burpees since football as a kid. We just called them “up-downs” then though.

                  • Shamira

                    Me too!! I didn’t know they were called burpees til college lmao.

                    • SuperStrings

                      Sheeeet for a while I didn’t know what people were talking about when they would talk about burpees. When I found out, I was like “sheeeet those are just up-downs”. lol

                  • That’s what lots of football and basketball coaches use. I guess burpee doesn’t sound masculine enough lol

                  • miss t-lee

                    Everyone was calling em burpees, and I looked it up–we called those squat-thrusts…lol

                    • SuperStrings

                      Yeah I remember calling them squat thrusts in P.E. too.

  • White people :/

  • esa

    ~ If our names are to mean anything at all, we’ve gotta make sense of the world around us, not further agitate the things we already don’t understand.

    perhaps this is why the author created an alias to hide her true identity after the post reached notoriety. i believe one must stand for their name, and stand for their word. and if one is proven to be wrong or misguided, it behooves them to gracefully acknowledge this openly.

    • Heavens2Murgatroid

      Owning up to one’s actions and being responsible is a thing of the past, in today’s society.

      • esa

        i respectfully disagree. as a member of the media, i am always practicing this. and so are many of the people around me.

        • Heavens2Murgatroid

          Look at our leaders. How willful are they to own up to theirs, the first time around?

          • esa

            (smile) i choose my leaders as i choose my friends. those who i take lessons of leadership from are accountable.

            the other folks in power who are corrupt ? those are the people i avoid at all costs, and if there is to be an interaction, it is their corrpution that inspires me to create something of substance as an antidote.

            • Heavens2Murgatroid

              Be careful of the company you keep, right? If there were more people with that logic (or just logic, period) the world could be a better place. But then what would we have to blog about?

              • SuperStrings

                Lack of logic is only the problem some of the time. In my observations, it’s the willful act, despite the obvious logic, that is the problem. People who don’t know, don’t know. I’m more willing to give them a pass. It’s the people who know full well, but still decide to act against that, that are more dangerous to me.

              • esa

                ~ But then what would we have to blog about?

                there are so many subjects up for grabs !!

      • Val

        Yeah, to a degree I agree. I think corporations and public figures set really bad examples when it comes to owning up to their wrongs.

    • I’d agree, except the Internet has a nasty habit of finding out people’s addresses, workplaces, and phone numbers. You can gracefully acknowledge your faults and flaws, but there are people who lack corresponding gracefulness and will stalk you. I’m not here for that. I will stand by anything I’ve written; I don’t believe in insincere apologies. But what I won’t do is stand in front of a firing squad with my arms open wide in the name of peace.

      • esa

        agreed. there is an ugly side to the anonymous that allows some folk to feel free in issuing threats at will. even tho to threaten a person is illegal, they have no compunction about acting in this manner because they have no fear of repercussion for their word.

        that is why, for me at least, it is incumbent that i be conscious and aware of my Word. and when in error, i always own it. and more importantly, i always think, “what Good will this serve?” .. if the only good is my ego, thas just not good enough.

        which leads me back to Miss Francis’ words, “We’ve gotta make sense of the world around us, not further agitate things we don’t understand.”

      • Epsilonicus

        Yuuuup! Anonymous may just keep you safe.

      • SuperStrings

        Agreed. What’s worse is that people often don’t just stop with you. They attack your kids, family, and loved ones as well.

      • afronica

        Yes, I’ve seen this happen on the twittah a number of times now, and it is scary. But I think I’ve also noticed that people seem to go into seek and destroy mode when the offender doesn’t own up to their mistake and *listen* to what people are saying. The find and kill happens when the offender doubles down on what they’ve written, said or done. I’ve seen the twitterati take a deep breath and back down a bit when the person instead eats some humble pie.

        Or maybe I’ve got that wrong?

        • Epsilonicus


          Twitter is a dangerous place. Folks keep going hard bc they think there is no consequences. I have seen folks eat their humble pie and still get death threats, etc. I wish a ninja would threaten me…

    • 321mena123

      Her real name is posted in the comments over there. The commenters were on a seek and destroy mission.

      • esa

        damage control is everything. dont start none, wont be none, but if it pops off, i believe the best thing one can do is to step up and right their wrong. that goes for both everyone, from writer to editor to commenter alike.

        • Aly

          I’m curious, do you think the author did something “wrong” besides not using her real name? If so, what?

          • esa

            i think “wrong” was not the proper word. i think a better word word be ignorant. lots of examples in her post. could write an essay inspired by it ..

  • BreezyX2

    *epic face palm* Its amazing to me that people like this young lady continue to make their inner thoughts known to the world via the internet.

    P.S.A. The internet is not your diary…ya dig. You would think that after witnessing the public dragging of people like Paula Deen, Romeo Rose and the like folks would learn to internalize more. But I guess nah.

    • lol. That’s the magic of the internet. It invites sharing but dishes out heavy doses of censure.

      • Aly

        Where’s the line though between valid criticism and plain ol’ mean spiritedness?

        • Kozy

          I think we can draw that line right around the same place the sincerity stops.

        • It that line between the Send button and your thoughts lol

        • afronica

          Is the truth teller just stuntin’? IDK. Sometimes, you can almost feel the adrenaline surge coming through the screen of the person executing the take down. That’s when I wonder about the intention of the disher.

    • The internet user is here for entertainment… Whether that’s enjoying ur writing or dragging that a**, its amazing how much trust one puts in strangers

  • Couple thoughts
    1. For all she knew the big girl was there to reduce stress, its pure vanity to assume someone is jealous of u because ur just *that* fly
    2. If her intuition told her not to talk to one black woman where were her Spidey senses to tell her this wouldnt be received well online
    3. She’s a participant, mind ur damn business let the instructor seek the woman out and help her
    4. Where’s token from south park to explain to her she doesn’t get it

    • Rachmo

      But why is your #2 everything?

  • Rochelle Spencer

    Awesome, awesome quote: “The responsibility we have. We owe it to our audiences to not only be exciting, but to be interesting, poignant, reflective, honest, and insightful.”

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