Black women are underrepresented in yoga. When we look at yoga publications and settings, there is an undeniable gap that has been created. Diversity and inclusion is not a complicated problem; there are decisions that are intentionally made which exclude Black women from being represented. For example, if there is a yoga magazine and there are 12 magazines published per year, then for each month there should be someone on the cover of a different nationality or culture. However, if the cover of the magazine predominantly showcases white people or constantly excludes Black women and people of various complexions, body types and backgrounds, things become problematic. Yoga, in terms of diversity and inclusion, has been poorly represented by yoga studios and yoga publications. The dangers of this is that if Black women do not see themselves being represented in the practice, little Black girls will grow up to believe that something incredibly healing and transformational, like yoga, is not for them. The reality is that the lack of inclusion of Black women stems from capitalism.
Publications don’t represent Black women, because in a capitalistic society, their target audience is white people. This form of systemic oppression erases the healing of Black people, which then affects the entire Black community. When Black women are represented in white publications about yoga, it becomes a spectacle, almost as if the publication wants an award for finally seeing Black women. Black women are tired of being docile and underrepresented. Not only does systemic racism affect Black folks’ healing; it also creates frictions amongst Black women, who begin competing for visibility from corporations that do not really see or respect them.
Ironically, yoga is a practice created by people of color, so it is mind-boggling to see the lack of representation of people of color within yoga and meditation settings and platforms. This lack of representation perpetuates the narrative of colonization--colonizing something and then dismissing the original people from their own indigenous practice. It’s a dangerous game. There comes a point where Black women and people must stop asking for a seat at the table and must begin to create their own tables.