A yoga studio in Santa Barbara, Calif. made waves this past week when they hosted “A Ghetto Fabulous Yoga Event.”
Power of Your Om Yoga, which frequently has themed classes, looked more like a racially insensitive frat party than a trendy fitness facility during their stereotype-themed event. Pictures from the workout showed yogis installing grills, wearing bandanas and throwing up gang signs, and outrage ensued. One commenter on Jezebel wrote, “… I am a white yoga chick, but I can still understand cultural appropriation and racism. Not a single bit of this is okay and I already commented on their Facebook page and left them a terrible review. I’m going to make sure everyone I know avoids that place.”
But backlash about this event began long before the first sun salutation, when the event was posted on Facebook with taglines like “hOMies….Getting Ghetto Fabulous – For Reals,” and “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.”
Each month we will be featuring a new funky class…this month let’s get ghetto fabulous! You sport the white tank, roll up one leg of your tight black pants, and we’ll make sure to have a rockin’ playlist bring the bling, lip liner and bandanas….seriously. This class has no extra charge. Just a chance to do something a little whacky.
The flyer featured a parental advisory sticker, and the letters “N.W.A” scrawled across the side (which they clarified at the bottom of the flyer to mean “Namaste With Attitude”). In case attendees were confused on what to wear, the event creators even shared a link to a WikiHow article titled “How To Be Ghetto Fabulous.”
Dozens of viewers expressed their distaste for the event. In an effort to hush critics, Power of Your Om staff changed the name of the event to “Hip Hop Yoga.” They assured the public that they meant no harm by the original title or the class theme. But the damage had been done.
“Please cancel this racist event,” commenter Jaimie Baron wrote.
Another commenter, Cecilia Aldarondo, responded with, “You should cancel this class and issue a public apology. Or use the class time to have a discussion about racism. Changing the name is, pardon the pun, a form of white-washing. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Leilani Monfort said, “This is real insensitivity and real racism. A true apology and some serious education for yourself and your studio might sound like a tall order, but I believe that it would help you ‘be the change’ that I imagine you might strive to be from the inside of your privileged and sheltered bubble.”
Thank you all for the eye-opening discussion and I do apologize for offending anyone – those of you that commented, emailed, and anyone else for that matter. The class happened and we are doing other themed classes in the future that may include various types of music/genres and we have made note to focus on the music versus singling out any group of human beings that has the potential to offend others as that was not the intention. I can see how it could be offensive and we do apologize for offending you or anyone.