My name is Angela Tucker and I am the director/producer of a web series called Black Folk Don’t. First, I am black. You might not know that so let me begin my introduction that way. It might matter to you. It might not. But I thought I’d begin there. Now, before the tongue and cheek title of the series scares you, the point is that black folk DO Everything. However, there is this idea that there are some things that black folk Do and Don’t Do. By asking people this provocative question, a lot of important dialogue takes place.
Our final episode of the season is Black Folk Don’t Do Yoga. I was inspired to do this episode for a few reasons.
I’ve been practicing yoga since high school. Before I even knew it was called yoga, my drama teacher would have us do sun salutations before every rehearsal. Throughout my life I have come back to yoga because, quite simply, I get a lot out of it. Yes it is an incredible workout but being that centered for 45 / 90 / 10 … however many minutes a day has brought an indescribable amount of peace to my life.
When I first started practicing, I hardly ever saw any other black women in my classes. You might ask the question why it matters if other black people who do yoga. It takes a lot of strength to partake in an activity that other people in your racial group do not typically participate in. If you have not had this experience, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I would talk to my few black friends who practiced yoga and they would tell agree that few black men or women were in their classes. Even in classes taught by black teachers, we were always surprised by the lack of diversity. This was a conversation we would have with one other but never in public. I had a feeling that the ideas brought up in this conversation might be helpful to people of all races so I decided to do an episode of Black Folk Don’t about yoga.
When I did these interviews, I asked people if they agreed with the statement “Black Folk Don’t Do Yoga”. Whether the answer was yes or no, they had to say, “Why?” That is most important question right, “Why?”
This conversation elicited many interesting ideas and responses. Yes, there are plenty of studios, especially in urban areas, filled with diverse clientele but several people mentioned the marketing of yoga as something for upper class, white women, as a reason that may keep people away who could benefit. This is particularly ironic because, as one of our commentators says in the episode, yoga comes from a history of “super accessibility”. Many people mention their love of bikram and their black celebrities that do yoga such as Newark mayor, Cory Booker and hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons.
Many fascinating ideas are brought up in this episode so check it out. My hope as a media maker is to create dialogue. What happens next is up to you.
If you want to watch the other five episodes of Black Folk Don’t, check them out: blackfolkdont.com/pages/episodes/
Check out Erica Robinson’s studio in Harlem, Asali Yoga: www.asaliyoga.com
Shout out to Kula Yoga Project where we filmed the interviews: www.kulayoga.com
A fascinating article in Clutch Magazine, about yoga in the black community: clutchmagonline.com/2010/08/namaste-yoga-in-the-black-community
Black Folk Don’t on facebook