A lily white yoga studio in idyllic Santa Barbara, California recently held a "Ghetto Fabulous" yoga class. In preparation, students were instructed to wear cornrows, snapback caps and heavy lipliner along with their lululemon leggings. Who knew gang signs could be so cute?! The invite promised to provide "various costumes" — there was a do-rag giveaway, attendees said — and "guaranteed belly laughs."
Power of Your Om Yoga Studio caters to the tony area's elite: a flashing announcement above the website's class listings announces that they "sell lululemon mats and mat carriers, Manduka mats, blocks and straps, Yogitoes towels, China Gel, Tanya-B Clothing and Power Yoga DVDs." Last week, the studio decided to mix it up and invite patrons to "come dressed in your favorite ghetto fabulous outfit, snap-back caps, corn rows, heavy lip liner or whatever you can dream up." For inspiration, they literally linked to a "How to Be Ghetto Fabulous" article from WikiHow, because no one at Power of Your Om Yoga Studio has ever met a black person in real life.
Outrage is brewing on the studio's Facebook page. One commenter repasted the original copy, which was even more tone-deaf, if you can believe it: "'Each month we will be featuring a new funky class...this month let's get ghetto fabulous! You sport the white tank, roll up one leg of your tight black pants, and we'll make sure to have a rockin' playlist bring the bling, lip liner and bandanas....seriously. This class has no extra charge. Just a chance to do something a little whacky.'"
There are public photos all over Facebook of girls in yoga gear excitedly primping with their grills and flashing gang signs. Whacky!
" You should cancel this class and issue a public apology," one commenter wrote. "Or use the class time to have a discussion about racism. Changing the name is, pardon the pun, a form of white-washing. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves."
Another expanded: "The main reason this problem is even arising is because we have white people teaching an art form that originated in the Middle East/India. Like Miley Cyrus twerking, and minstrelsy (yes, you better believe it) they think that doing something 'ghetto fabulous' which is mocking and horribly racist, is supposed to be fun. The white mentality hasn't changed that much, it's just more subtle and acceptable. I'll be sure to tell my friends in that area to steer clear of this place for sure."
Here's owner Adrienne Hengels' response:
Thank you all for the eye-opening discussion and I do apologize for offending anyone - those of you that commented, emailed, and anyone else for that matter. The class happened and we are doing other themed classes in the future that may include various types of music/genres and we have made note to focus on the music versus singling out any group of human beings that has the potential to offend others as that was not the intention. I can see how it could be offensive and we do apologize for offending you or anyone.
It didn't go over well. "Wont be going to this studio. Looking for a good class. Any recommendations for non racist ones?" someone asked.