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Postcard 8

meerajay's picture

Qui Alexander's talk really resonated with me last week. As I said during the discussion, I was wary about this class because I never connected his face to his name, and thought that I was going to be taught about yoga by a white woman. I was really uncomfortable with that idea. But hearing from Qui was really enlightening. What he said about the disconnect between social justice work and embodied practices really got to me, and made so much sense; marginalized bodies cannot be apolitical, and so take on a lot of violence inherently. The only way to eradicate that is to use embodied practices, and somehow, those practices like yoga are only available for the most privileged. 

So much struck me about what he said, especially about access: the idea that privileged people have to leverage access to allow that to flow to the marginalized - "How do I lift you up so that you can speak in your community?" - rather than speaking for that person. Along with that comes the idea that suffering teaches compassion, so you shouldn't try to fight people's battles for them. Instead, you support them through their choices. "I want people to consent to how they engage with discomfort". That last idea just opened up so much. I've realized that change takes discomfort but I often try to force that discomfort upon members of my own community (my family, etc). But allowing people to engage with that discomfort to the extent to which they feel safe is really important. It really speaks from the perspective that Qui is coming from, because at times you have to prioritize the well-being of the people in your community over their discomfort even as you try to educate them and help them engage. 

Finally, his point about realizing how detrimental playing the victim can be: He said that as a queer, trans, brown person he has been victimized and that label had been placed on him, so he used that in order to avoid the impact that his own actions had. I think while labels can be a powerful construct for change, a label like the victim will only limit you in social relationships. It's something that I unconsciously do at times, and that now that I am more aware of it, will change. Focusing on the future, on how you can make someone feel safer in any relationship - will always benefit in the long run.