It’s pretty difficult to post about something as light as yoga poses and yoga products while there’s a collective outrage over injustice and racism happening to black Americans. When I launched this company less than three months ago, I (like all of us) had no idea a pandemic would hit or that I’d have to talk about black men and black women getting murdered by police. My mother is white and Native American, and my father is black. Race and identity have been a precarious and sensitive topic for my entire life. Frankly, it’s been difficult to know where I fit in the conversation around race and racism or the black American or white American experience.
I can say that it hurts to the core to see black men that look like my father, uncles, cousins, and brothers harassed for doing mundane activities, brutalized and incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and murdered by white police because of their blackness. What’s so exhausting about all of this is that many of us have been watching it happen to black communities our entire lives. We’ve watched Rodney King brutalized by white police in 1991. In 1994 I’ve personally seen white cops from the NYPD draw their guns and beat down a group of black and Latino teenagers for essentially a misdemeanor—No arrests were made or charges filed. Because of phones, we’re seeing more of this racist brutality—small and large—surface. Sadly, It’s been going on for hundreds of years.
Because of my past obsession with graffiti, I’ve been through the legal system a handful of times. The population caught in the justice system is overwhelmingly black and people of color while the police, district attorneys, public defenders, judges, etc are overwhelmingly white. It’s impossible not to notice if you’ve been in it. What’s the solution that’s going to fix all of this? I don’t know. Maybe it’s donating to a cause. Maybe it’s reading a book about racism. Maybe it’s joining a protest. Personally, I needed a more tangible way to connect and to give back to my black community, so for years I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club. I’ve been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters for 22 years. As a brand owner, I work with people from all kinds of backgrounds and try to represent a diverse cast of ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. Like many of you, I’d love to figure out how to do more to change this situation that feels so overwhelming.
As someone with both black and white family members, I can say the thing that transcends our surface-level differences and bonds us together is love. I wish all of us could simply have family members of another race to make us see the humanity in everyone. But until that happens, let’s keep having these tough conversations and doing what’s in our power to change things.
Founder of YXO