Dismantling White Supremacy Culture
Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash
Dismantling White Supremacy Culture
Unless you have been living under a rock, by now you have probably heard about the Covington Catholic High School students raucous behavior and one student smirking at a Native American elder. There have been several articles circulating such as, Don't Doubt What You Saw With Your Own Eyes, White Washing White Supremacy: Media Rushes to Excuse Covington Catholic Students, or I Failed the Covington Catholic Test.
Is this what is still happening in 2019, minimizing and justifying racist behavior and scapegoating black and brown men?
Yes, You’re A Little Bit Racist
I have been moved to write about what I consider a blatantly sexist, racist fiasco because I have seen so many yoga teachers (and non-yoga teachers) post and comment in support of the Covington Catholic High School students. And the media couldn’t make up its mind about what story to tell. Below are a few of the comments from yoga teachers in the Bay Area.
“Boys Will Be Boys”
“Quick to Judge, or Quick to Justify?”
As upsetting as it is to witness racial bias from yoga teachers, I think this is a perfect opportunity to practice yoga and social justice. Looking closely or as someone said, ‘digging deeper’ into this story provides an opportunity to examine your biases, conditioning, values and beliefs.
I have read several articles and posts that report the story either as racist white students or threatened white students. In order to seek the truth, you just have to think critically about the facts that occurred that day. Then you will need to examine and reflect on your own biases and conditioning. This is the work of anti-racism practice. Begin thinking critically about racism in the spaces you inhabit and throughout the world. You can also check out Commune’s workshop, “Unwinding Prejudice” with Evelyn Carter. A five day video training on How to break down bias and forge equality. You can click here to join the Commune community and learn more. And it is not too late to join our on-line course, Yoga and Social Justice at Spiritual Justice Academy.
6 Things We Know about the Covington Catholic High School Incident:
1. A large group of at least a few dozen all male Catholic high school students attend the March for Life. The March for Life is a pro-life, anti-abortion rally held on the National Mall in Washington D.C., to demonstrate objections to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision. This group of “boys will be boys” were there as an activist group to protest women’s health care and reproductive rights. If they think they are mature enough to understand pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, and parenting, then we should avoid coddling them. You have the right to be pro-life but you don’t have the right to hold power over the bodies of women.
2. This group of majority white Catholic high school students were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats. If you’re still wearing MAGA hats after baby cages, Muslim Ban, refugee ban, pussy grabbing, Charlottesville, Pocahontas, shit hole countries, NFL protest, Puerto Rico, Mexicans are rapists, and refugees are terrorist…you are racist. Racism is a matter of life and death for black and brown people.
3. Someone posted an article titled, “Stop Trusting Viral Videos.” This scares the shit out of me for black and brown people. You mean if we have video footage of racism or even murder, the facts could be spun to minimize or justify racism or homicide? Yes, that is what you mean. Look to the following people for examples, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter L. Scott, Alton B Sterling, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III and Michael Brown.
4. There is video of a Covington Catholic student saying, “It’s not rape if you enjoy it” and others performing the tomahawk chop. There is footage of the Covington Catholic students in blackface at a school basketball game. And of course footage of the students behaving appallingly during a Native American march.
5. The White House reached out to voice their support for the students and of course Trump took to twitter to defend the students. Their actions have united the right and they have since been invited to the White House.
6. The element that spun this whole story and attempted to justify the racist behavior of dozens of high school students, was the presence of Black Hebrew Israelites. Five black men to be exact. Five. There are reports that the students were taunting the black men, as well as, reports that the black men were harassing the students. So, at least 25 white students felt threatened by five black men? Five. Yes, Black Hebrew Israelites often say offensive and abhorrent things. The Black Hebrew Israelites, were doing what they typically do, stand around shouting obscenities, but they’re unlikely to engage in violence. Do you know what people usually do in response? Ignore them and walk away.
Dozens of high school students acted racist and inappropriate because they were feeling some kind of way due to five Black men and a Native American. They were feeling threatened? Or was their white power and privilege threatened? In 2019, people are still finding a way to blame black and brown people for their wrongdoings.
Examine your thoughts and conditioning:
1. How did your respond and/or comment to these articles/videos?
2. Did you find yourself looking for a way to minimize or justify the high school students behavior?
3. Did you blame the five Black Hebrew Israelites or the Native American Elder for the events that occurred?
4. Do you think it’s acceptable to wear a MAGA hat? For perspective, many black people experience it as equivalent to wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. The red hat is a white hood.
5. Should men have power and control over women’s reproductive rights?
6. And in case you are wondering, it is NOT okay to wear a blackface! A Florida politician recently found this out.
We all have implicit biases, so it is important to examine your conditioning and self-reflect. Many may not be ready to consider their role in perpetuating this dynamic and too scared to do the work of self-reflection. This is not only about Trump supporters. This is about EVERYONE.
At the heart of racial healing is learning to think clearly and respond wisely. Now is the time to invest in racial awareness and justice. Unfortunately anti-oppression and anti-racism trainings are not a part of Yoga Alliance requirements but they should be.
After over 15 years of teaching yoga, I have experienced quite a few racist yoga teachers in the yoga community. We must understand how we enact racism and maintain oppressive power structures within the western yoga world in order to dismantle them. Discussing racism and examining our biases is important work to begin healing ourselves and our world.
How do we create real sustainable change for oppressed people? We start with a willingness to see the truth, and a desire to transform ourselves and systems at the institutional level. It will take active work to dismantle systems of oppression. We are not trying to “make America great again." The America we want, the promise of liberty and justice for all, is the America yet to be achieved. We are trying to become something this country has never been. We are trying to make the entire world a more fair and just place.
What is your vision for a just world? Comment below.