Why do we spell womxn with an ‘x’?
In short, it’s all about inclusivity and a way to regain control of the feminine, separating it from the patriarchy. Some people spell it with a ‘y’, but womyn is associated more with the often white, cisgender sector of the feminist movement, while womxn denotes gender fluidity and inclusivity. Our resident mathematician has also pointed out that x, as opposed to y, is the independent variable; further strengthening our ties to each other and regaining control and independence as womxn.
If I’m queer and white, can I attend classes?
Unfortunately, no. While we are committed to safe(r) space regardless of gender, religion and sexual orientation, this space is for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). Our experiences differ from those who are white, cisgender and want it to remain a place where similar experiences are shared.
Does holding an exclusive space for racialized people further victimize us?
The intention of holding closed classes is not to “further victimize us.” Usually, when people ask this, they are concerned about creating a larger distinction between Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) and white folks. They fear that instead of doing away with racism we are reinforcing racism by segregating ourselves. However, even if segregation does not supposedly exist in the same way as we read about in our textbooks (— surprise!), segregation is still real (reservations, housing projects, etc) and thriving. Us acknowledging that our experiences are different from that of white people and declaring that we need spaces wherein we can exist without having to explain ourselves is not equal to the very real institutional racism we face. Not talking about racism and/or not acknowledging the difference in our experiences will not make racism go away. Instead, it will create the false impression that everyone lives the same life, possessing the same amount of privilege and power. If you can understand that womxn need separate spaces from men in order to interact and be safe(r), then why is it so difficult to understand that BIPOC need these spaces too?
Are our classes a form of “reverse-racism”?
No, REVERSE RACISM DOES NOT EXIST!
At its core, racism is a system in which a dominant race benefits off the oppression of others – whether they want to or not. We don’t live in a society where every racial group has equal power, status, or opportunity. Reverse racism is a myth because it tries to ignore the fundamental question of who holds more power / privilege between the individuals / groups involved; the myth of reverse racism assumes that “racism” occurs on a level playing field.
Some people simplify racism as one group not liking another or think that racism and other aspects of racism (ie. racial prejudice, discrimination, ignorance) are interchangeable. However, racism is far more complex; racism is a concept that operates on both an individual and institutional level. Racial prejudice or discrimination can indeed be directed at white people but is not considered racism because of the systemic relationship of power.
Holding intentional space that excludes white folks is not racism (or “reverse-racism”) as it is not oppressing or taking away systemic power from white folks; in Canada white people continue to hold structural, institutional, and cultural power in society due to Eurocentric modes of thinking, rooted in colonialism, that continue to reproduce and privilege whiteness. On an individual level, we encourage white folks to confront feelings of exclusion and acknowledge the amount of privilege that they continue to carry in our city and the wider Canadian society. Moreover, we respectfully encourage white folks to feel free to practice yoga in other spaces that are open to all.
Our classes aim to promote healing between folks with similar lived and generational experiences of colonization, segregation, and systemic racism (experiences in which white people are often the primary perpetrators and beneficiaries of). In an attempt to foster trust and authentic / safe(r) spaces to reflect and heal, these classes are closed to People of Colour (POC). These spaces are created out of necessity, and the argument that they should not exist (or that they should include white people) speaks to the pervasiveness of white privilege.
A great resource for a more in-depth explanation: “Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People” written by Kelsey Blackwell.
“These spaces aren’t acts of oppression, but rather responses to it. They are our opportunity to be with each other away from the abuses of racism and patterns of white dominance. Given that space to breathe, there’s a possibility of healing. Being together can offer resiliency for bringing our fullness into integrated spaces where it will inevitably be challenged.”
Other Sources Used:
If I am white-passing, can I attend the class?
In essence, if you identify as a cis, queer, or trans womxn, fem-aligned, or non-binary, AND you also identify as racialized or a person of color, you are welcome to join the class.
White-passing is a term to describe the physical identity of an individual, which is only a small portion of the many parts that make up a person’s full identity. We believe that no one should have to prove (or feel the need to prove) that they are racialized. We honour and trust that folks who access our space do so because they identify as a person of colour (POC).
We are committed to safe(r) space regardless of gender, religion and sexual orientation.
We also acknowledge that having white-passing folks in class could contribute to some confusion among more “visibly racialized” attendees, and we ask that folks keep this in mind when gathering in this space.