On yoga and race writing
It's been several days since XO Jane rocked the internet with its gripping tale of white privilege and the lack of black people in a Park Slope yoga class. Let me preface this commentary by acknowledging what trolls will point out to you: Yes, I am a white male. Yes, I am commenting on an issue of race. Yes, I am outraged by this so-called article.
If you're not familiar with the piece, go read it before you continue. I'll wait...
I've said in many conversations that this editor should be fired for allowing something so base-level and seemingly incomplete published on a web site (even though we can all agree that thanks to sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, etc., online standards certainly aren't all that phenomenal).
I might be bursting at my gluttonous seams with white male privilege, but I've also been a journalist for more than a decade. I've been an editor for two of those years. If one of my reporters turned in a piece like this, they would be told to continue to develop the story.
This is such an interesting concept to address, but not by someone who lacks the intellectual capacity to form and develop a thesis rooted in facts gathered through interviews.
"My feelings" aren't a source. This writer assumes far too much about this woman in her yoga class. It's patronizing. It's insulting.
The author could have remedied her entire thesis moot if she just walked up to this woman and had a conversation. She should have revisited the yoga studio and interviewed people. There are no quotes, just a white woman assuming what a black woman might be feeling. And don't give me any BS about it being inappropriate for a white person to ask a black person about an issue related to race.
The glorious comedian W. Kamau Bell once said (and I'm paraphrasing) that one of the biggest problems in this country is that white people feel scared to ask honest questions about race. That's what makes this such a missed opportunity.
Of course, this isn't meant to be serious journalism. It's meant to be a commentary. While I'm smart enough to know the difference between this and good journalism, the public is increasingly finding it difficult to make that distinction. Solid journalism is served on the same platter as knee-jerk commentary and Jezebel opinion pieces. That's unfair and dangerous to the greater collective conversation.
There's room for honest dialog in every corner of the race spectrum. Articles like this don't help.
Besides, white people are always going to be in abundance in yoga class. It's like a Wilco concert for your body.