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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Baker

Leveraging Privilege

A few weeks ago I attended Floyd Yoga Jam.It’s my favorite event of the year. There are people from all over the country who march to the beat of their own drum, and everyone gets along. It’s my own utopia where differences are celebrated, hugs are given freely, people dress however they’d like, and sustainability is celebrated. I was fortunate enough to meet one of my yoga heroes, Dianne Bondy, this year and take a few of her classes. She is an ambassador for the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, and she fights to bring the healthy benefits of yoga to all people no matter race, income, or body weight.

While reading and watching what is happening in Charlotte after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, my heart is heavy. I have been watching violent protests on the news and hours of peaceful protests on friends’ snapchat and social media feeds. Race is an issue that needs to be discussed. The black community is hurting. They are calling for justice…justice for their race, justice against capitalistic natures of our society, and they are asking to be heard. Dianne Bondy encouraged all the people at Floyd Yoga Jam to “leverage their privilege.” Instead of looking at the privilege given to each of us as something negative or as something we deserve…to leverage for a greater cause…for greater unity.

In my Transnational and Postcolonial Feminist Perspectives course, so much my reading revolves around the idea of community and fighting as a collective. An organization I have been reading about that is fighting to organize Guyanese female workers suggests that to fight against the order and racialized polarity, organizations must “work across classed and racialized divides that serve to separate women and communities by engaging in acts of citizenship building that create more equitable social relations and communities” (Lock Swarr & Nagar 2010, 109). This is relevant to wok across any divide…especially in regards to what is happening in Charlotte. So how do we do it? How do we leverage our privilege…any privilege. How do we create dialogue and fight along with others while not stifling others’ voices? If small pockets of understanding, trust, and love can exist in places like Floyd, Va, how can we spread? Below is a video summarizing my four days at Floyd Yoga Jam. The beginning of the video includes a powerful message from Dianne Bondy about race before one of her yoga classes:

Lock Swarr, A. and Nagar, R. (Eds.). (2010). Critical transnational feminist praxis. NY: SUNY Press.

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