There’s a huge shift in how the Western world is relating to religion and spirituality. A quick look at the hashtags #meditation, #crystals and #manifest quickly leads you to countless posts that suggest awakened personal journeys. Though impressive online, to what extent is this change benefiting society in the long run? I’ve quickly learned the extent to which these practices can be performative. Despite the knowledge many are acquiring, some have a take on spirituality that is distorted.
It was midday at the beginning of a cold and rainy afternoon. I was pulling up to my new flat while on the phone with a friend. As I took the keys out of the ignition, I look up to see a middle-aged white man standing by my car. He ignored my hi as he asked: “do you live here?” What followed was a barrage of questions (similar to those in this incident) when my 'yes' wasn’t enough. Not only was I asked to prove I was a resident, but he assumed I was there to break into people’s cars. I snapped at him, called him out on his racism and made it clear that he could never approach me or my car again.
Looking back on this moment, I regret not using my time to cancel my plans, decompress in my flat and process my feelings on what had happened. Instead, I ran to my kitchen, quickly ate something and dashed back out to make my barbershop appointment on time. I believed that once I arrived, I could comfortably vent in this black owned establishment. They sold sage, incense was typically burning and it was solely staffed (and advertised as a safe space) for queer black women. I was soon mistaken when my barber went on a negative rant. She told me the incident happened because I “put it out in the universe” and therefore “was asking for it”. She even went as far as to compare me to a weak gazelle ready to be consumed by a predator. Sadly, many people (especially black and brown women), have had similar experiences. Be it in yoga studios or retreats, the same people who created these practices are often chastised (if not excluded) by the people that now capitalise off of it.