You know how we’re always asking white people to gather their own folks if they want to address and end racism? We’re going to stop asking now because some of you are simply incapable of not centering yourselves in any and every instance, and therefore can’t be trusted with the responsibility of assisting with the liberation and equality of others. (Besides, we know those of you who are really about that life are already doing the work without being asked.)
Case in point: A criminally myopic criminal profiler from Prince George’s County, Md., named Pat Brown thought it’d be a super-fun, thought-provoking idea to create a mock event called “White Women Yoga Meetup” on the online engagement platform Meetup.
“This MeetUp group is to allow space for White women to gather in the name of yoga, surrounded by the supportive community of White people, White yoga instructors, and all around safe White spaces,” read the now-deleted invitation, as reported by Insider.
*snort* Since when is America—or any yoga class—not a safe space for white people? But I digress ...
Of course, Brown says she never intended for the event to actually take place, despite receiving seven RSVPs as of Saturday, nor is she racist. Ironically, Brown, who has children of color, claims she intended her invite to be a provocative sendup of the PoC supportive spaces on the platform ... to “bring forth the racism and separatism promoted by Meetup,” as she told Insider.
Yes, because the way to combat racism is always with more racism.
In fact, Brown had previously complained to the platform about her exclusion from groups intended for people of color, calling out the “blatant racism” of allowing these groups to exist.
Meetup (clearly having more patience than I) responded to Brown’s complaint, explaining that it allows groups that share common identities such as “gender, race, religion, political affiliations, or language, among many other things” to form events on their site. They even encouraged Brown to do the same, reportedly telling her via email: “If you feel the need to have a private space to connect with other white folks, you are allowed to do so ... Now bear in mind, and this applies to all groups regardless of their identities, within your description we recommend refraining from mentioning who you do not allow. Rather, we recommend focusing on who you do allow.”
Uhh ... okay. We guess.
Deciding to boldly test that policy, Brown decided to create her white women-only event, proving that aside from being utterly obnoxious, she clearly doesn’t understand how racism works (aside from ignoring the obvious, which is that yoga is an Indian practice appropriated and already overpopulated with white women).
But since Meetup opted not to do the deep dive with Brown before removing her white supremacy-suggestive event from their platform, we, as a black-centric site, thought it might be worth revisiting (for the 5,011th time) why PoC groups exist and are, to many, psycho-social lifelines in the face of real racism (not the “reverse racism” Brown has manufactured because for the 5,012th time, that’s not a real thing).
So, for the really cheap, not-so-critically-thinking seats, here goes (again): Racism is an institutional construct based on the social construct of race, which can determine access to very real resources for masses of people, determined solely by their ethnicity or the color of their skin (i.e. education, jobs, financial capital, housing, voting rights, freedom, etc.; social mobility being the least of these). As for exclusionary groups, perhaps Brown forgot about the exclusively white bastions of the Daughters of the American Revolution, first-wave feminism, any number of colleges until about the middle of the last century, or sororities, or country clubs, or ...
Really, do we really have to explain this again? We really need to break down like a fraction why PoC, out of necessity, have created and continue to create spaces of empathy in a world that still considers whiteness the default? Because we’re pretty sure Brown and her ilk already know why and just can’t stand the fact that anything exists that isn’t intended to include them. Because that’s how entitlement works. (Interestingly, Brown’s main issue seemed to be with WoC-centric groups, and not the many created solely with men in mind.)
A real question: Why would you want to be part of a group that is neither intended for you nor expressly in opposition to you, but exists solely for the benefit of marginalized people? Is it for the sheer pleasure of disrupting their equilibrium? Is it because you’re afraid we’re organizing? (Hint: we are.) Or is it like the n-word, and you just want to participate because it feels naughty and verboten?
“So, why, WHY, did I do this?” Brown asked on her blog. “As the hate mail poured in about the White Women Yoga group, I was finishing up a month in India, touring schools with my Indian friends who run a charity which I support and sponsor poor children’s education. I am a mother of two biracial children and one black son. What gives?”
Whew, nothing like a white savior complex to make your point, but please continue, Pat.
“I worry about my children and my grandchildren and my friends, Black and White and Asian and Hispanic, having to choose which group to belong to and who they dare not associate with. ... Ramping up racism, refusing to associate with people of a different color, and claiming to need ‘safe spaces’ because even being near a person of another race is emotionally destructive. This should not be happening in America.”
Well, that escalated quickly.
“So, this is where we are in society today and why I formed the White Women Yoga group on Meetup to bring our societal dilemma into the open and hope that we can work to find a solution to the dangerous road our country is headed down,” she wrote in a later post.
Gee, Pat, what would we do without you and your martyrdom? Racism, man ... you solved it!
“After conducting my “White Women Yoga” Meetup experiment, the most troubling response I have gotten from people is not that they were upset over the concept of an all-White group that excludes POC (People of Color)—because I, too, do not believe all-White groups that refuse members based on the color of the skin is anything but racism and discrimination—but that so many believe all-POC groups are not only acceptable but necessary in today’s world,” she writes.
Oh, Pat ... I’m so glad our comfort level is your “experiment.” But real talk: You know what’s emotionally destructive? Needing to infiltrate someone’s Brown Girls Brunch simply for your own edification. Because Pat, the truth is, we do need safe spaces, just so we can speak freely about microaggressive bullshit like this.