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at Laughing River Yoga

Free and incentivized programming designed to support and sustain the health and wellness of our BIPOC community members.

The Yoga Equity Project 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

What is an affinity space?

 

An affinity space is a space, virtual or in-person, where people who share a particular identity can gather in community. This identity can be based on race, gender, socio-economic class, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, etc. 

 

Who can be part of an affinity space?

Only people who share the identity of those in the group can join the affinity space. That way, people can feel safe to share without being misunderstood by someone who does not share the same lived experience.

 

LRY has offered affinity spaces throughout its history, including classes for those who have experienced trauma, sexual violence, those struggling with addiction, women, men, white bodied folks, and BIPOC. 

Aren’t racial affinity groups just exclusive and segregative?

We all benefit from interactions with people who share common identities and lived experiences.  Affinity groups require a certain level of exclusivity in order to create an environment in which participants feel safe. For many, this sense of safety can only be achieved within an affinity space. As Kelsey Blackwell writes in "Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People," “These spaces aren’t acts of oppression, but rather responses to it.'

 

Affinity spaces inspire discussions that can contribute to the dismantling of systems and structures that keep us separate.  

I’m white, why can’t I participate? 

It is impossible for white-bodied people to fully understand the lived experience of BIPOC as they do not share the same identity. This lack of shared identity has the potential to cause further harm. We will continue to offer all of our regular, and more, classes, workshops, trainings and retreats open to all. When more people have access to healing, everyone benefits.

"Even if white people can’t access an embodied understanding of why PoC spaces are needed, they can still cultivate genuine compassion for our experience of needing them, and they can trust our voices enough to support these spaces. If the presence of spaces for people of color engenders discomfort, insecurity, or anger, I hope those emotions will be seen as an opportunity to look deeper within oneself to ask why." - Kelsey Blackwell.

 

What is wealth redistribution? Reparations?

There is a longstanding, vast, and deeply problematic disparity in wealth distribution in the United States. BIPOC households hold a fraction of the wealth that white households do, about one tenth to be exact. Take a moment to let that sink in.  1/10. This disparity is no accident, and emerged as a result of centuries of federal and state policies that systematically hindered the ability of BIPOC households to generate wealth. 

 

Wealth redistribution asks white-bodied people to share their excess in a concerted effort to shrink the racial wealth divide. National conversation surrounding wealth redistribution in the U.S has also begun to use the language of “reparations.” Within the U.S context, this term acknowledges the immense intergenerational trauma inflicted on BIPOC communities and opportunities for repair. 

 

We are committed to making yoga accessible to all. We offer "Pay What You Can" Membership packages for anyone who would benefit. 

 

I’m BIPOC, why are you paying me to do yoga? 

We offer a financial stipend in the interest of reparative justice, in recognition that it is money that you are owed, in addition to acknowledging the cost of transportation, child-care, the value of your time, etc.

I have never explored anti-racism education before, but I think I am ready. Where do I start?

Here is a list of resources you could engage with:

The work of Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams

Skill in Action: Radicalizing your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World by Michelle C. Johnson

BLM of Greater Burlington Community Healing Caucuses

Somatic Abolitionist Trainings

"Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People" by Kelsey Blackwell

Learning for Justice: Making Space  by Monita K. Bell

Support the Yoga Equity Project at Laughing River Yoga and make your gift below.

Any amount that you can give is GREATLY APPRECIATED.  One thing we have learned these past couple years is that we cannot do it alone.  When you give to this project you increase access to wellness in your community.