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posted Feb 22, 2013, 10:17 PM by Justin Lin   [ updated Mar 30, 2016, 5:59 PM ]
A few weeks back a relative of mine sent over an article about the Yoga Journal conference crossing San Francisco strike lines at the Hyatt. Speakers included Deepak Chopra, MC Yogi and local practitioners. While I'm not sure how it struck other people, the idea of people attending a Yoga conference by crossing a strike line was ludicrous. My understanding of Yoga has been in a cultural context of being social conscious, thoughtful, and part of a spiritual discipline that extends into social justice and mutual human compassion. I assumed this spirituality permeated these White American practitioners. I was wrong. Its just another example of cultural tourism.  

While I don't really imagine Mr. Chopra escapes the trappings of fame, I was quite shocked that there wasn't much dialogue from M.C Yogi and the practitioner I reached out to when I forwarded the strike article and asked for their thoughts. I wasn't making accusations, I literally asked for thoughts and was curious to see how it was being talked about within the community. My personal emails, facebook messages were met with silence. Then I decided I might as well post the question on their facebook pages. However silence and removal were the only responses. Dialogue has not been possible. 

So with all that has been going on in popular culture, I thought I'd vent a little. Particularly in the context of other types of popular cultural appropriation: the 2nd wave Harlem Shake--the best was NPR's legitimization of a culture of theft with uncomfortable excuses, and "Best Friends Forever" insisting to keep a potentially interesting young black american girl character as a stereotype--let her be god damned vulnerable and more then a prop. I think many of of us who aren't portrayed as full individuals in the media people are sick of being commoditized, objectified, and made into a series of cultural one liners without full human context (that is part of appropriation).   

Rant aside, I hope this reminds me that I have to mindful in my own life to respect, honor and do justice to cultures and cultural concepts that I build on and take from. I also hope to remind myself that while we do live in a white majority, appropriation can be done by anyone, myself included. But to never confuse the experience of a white person who has an experience of racial discrimination with the racism experienced by people of color facing the oppressive histories, institutions and continued ignorance on a broader scale.


My Vent Poem/Spoken Word Peace(yes its meant to be ironic): Namaste


Cultural vikings tried looting their shop, but their shop won't stop, their shop won't stop. 
So they filled the market with all that crap, slapped on a sticker and said buy that rap 

But no its not real, yes you got ripped
Because all they are selling is a click on a shit

They don't give a fuck, its image they love
Saving the beasts and freeing the doves

But the second you point out that they are crossing the line
they turn down their heads and shut down their minds

They block out your words and covers their ears
because silence is easier to continue their careers

Because cultural vikings just walk through the store, pick up whats shinny but the rest is a bore
So when they resell that crap, and hi-five you online, you should remember its a just a hollow rhyme