Posts Tagged With: diversity

February 2016 Astrology- A Breather before the Charge

 

February 2016 looks like it will be some kind of pause before the action spills over in all directions. Both Carl Boudreau and Steve Judd have indicated that something is definitely in the air. Steve said that the first 6 months of 2016 will be still of an uphill battle while the second half is where we crest the hill and can ride down with our bicycles, with gravity behind and below us doing the work and the wind in our hair while we speed down.

Already 2016 has been a heavy year, with the sudden rash of deaths of many prominent public figures in January alone, the Oscars race heating up again on issues of diversity and inclusion and more than just a handful of Tinseltown types talking about the systems of racism and privilege in Lalaland and within the greater United States and the UK (I wrote about it last year as well, no change there – sigh).

From the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies as they launch the Hollywood Diversity Report, a landmark study on race and diversity in entertainment.

From the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies as they launch the Hollywood Diversity Report, a landmark study on race and diversity in entertainment.

And then of course the American election gearing up with the first series of caucuses taking place on February 1st in New Hampshire and Iowa which will no doubt set the tone for the rest of the campaign year.

Carl pointed out that Neptune is the cosmic solvent and that there will be a very powerful Sun and Neptune conjunction on February 28th.

“The Sun/Neptune conjunction on February 28th marks a special moment during Neptune’s tenure at the top of its power.
Our egos have been pummeled by outer turmoil, worked over by inner turmoil and soaked in cosmic solvent for many years now. We have been set up to change fundamentally and forever. And we want to, just not quite yet.
I believe the energy of the Sun/Neptune conjunction on February 28 will overcome our last bit of resistance to change. As personalities around the globe experience this lasts big ‘nudge’ the pace of global change will accelerate dramatically.
The progressive tipping point will have been reached. Expect to hear of preliminary and precursor events as February 28 approaches.
I believe the suddenly enhanced willingness to make changes will soon become apparent globally, on all levels. Resistance we thought would continue to block reform indefinitely will evaporate.”

This reminds me of a geography lesson which I still remember from back in the 7th grade. We were taught that the 3 main types of rocks in the world, which generally fell under three categories were i) Igneous Rocks (rocks and minerals which are the result of the cooling of magma and lava) ii) Metamorphic Rocks (rocks with are the result of intense transformative pressures and geological changes deep within the earth like marble) and iii) Sedimentary Rocks (rocks usually produced from layers and layers of debris usually under water, which over time solidify and become rocks like sandstone).

The cave of the Giant Crystals in the Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico. Can you imagine what the energy in here must be like???

The cave of the Giant Crystals in the Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico. Can you imagine what the energy in here must be like??? The majority of quartz crystallizes from molten magma.

Change, like the aforementioned rocks, usually happens deep, deep underground for mind-numbingly extended periods of time. We’re walking and don’t even realize the intense, constant but quiet and incremental pressures at work underneath us. Sometimes we’re reminded when we see a volcano blow, and the change is very sudden and in-your-face.

New Hampshire's famous "Old Man of the Mountain", stood unchanged for hundreds of years and then about 13 years ago started to crumble away.

New Hampshire’s famous “Old Man of the Mountain”, stood unchanged for hundreds of years and then about 13 years ago started to crumble away.

Sometimes things brew for a long, long time unnoticed and then one day, you look again and things just aren’t the same anymore. Something has permanently shifted and you can’t go back to the way things were.

We’re on the brink of something. Some say a new earth, maybe it will be a new philosophy or new invention or something which is a permanent game-changer. Maybe it will happen this month, maybe a bit later. For now, gather your energies and focus on what you want or need to happen in your life. Take advantage of this pause, because I don’t think we’ll get another one anytime soon again.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Shift of the Ages effects | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Diversity Card

diversity

As per my last post, I have been very busy with other projects which is why I have not been writing much at all. Even though I still watch what’s happening everywhere, even if the intent to write is there, the energy isn’t. The thing with starting your own business, you’re always told how much insane amounts of hard work is involved but until you actually start getting your hands dirty, you don’t realize how EXHAUSTING it really is. You’re constantly researching, networking, constantly meeting new contacts, following up and starting the process, over and over again. The thing with networking, it’s like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets but at times, some aspects of it can eerily parallel with what is happening in the larger world.

Case in point: The diversity issue (or lack thereof) which this year’s Oscar race has sparked (not helped of course by actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s ill-informed, unfortunate use of words which practically caused a media melt-down).
Ben, don't worry about it. It's all good.

Ben, don’t worry about it. It’s all good.

Now, the superficial, flighty side of me only pays attention to things like the Oscars as a fluffy distraction. They are just films after all, here today and forgotten about by next year. However the blatant lack of diversity and opportunities for persons of color or other minorities in the entertainment business and film-making industry as a whole has always rankled my nerves. Do any of you remember the show “Romper Room”? I used to watch it as a kid and I remember with sadness when the host would call out names of the kids she saw through the Magic Mirror at the end of the show. I knew I had one of those names which would never be called out.
I don’t understand why we’re living in a world which accepts a 5th re-boot of the Spiderman or Batman franchises in as many years but doesn’t see anything wrong in the lack of mainstream films, actors, narratives or stories focusing on, empowered and strong women,
persons from the LGBT community,
Australian Aborigines,
Muslims,

I think the last Muslim to ever be nominated in an acting category was Omar Sharif for “Dr. Zhivago”, where he played a Russian

Asians,
Haign S. Ngor won an Oscar back in 1984 for "The Killing Fields"

Haign S. Ngor won an Oscar back in 1984 for “The Killing Fields”

or Native Americans
Personally, I’ll watch “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” or “Thelma and Louise” any day over “Die Hard”.
If anything, whenever Hollywood  does cast someone “ethnic”, it’s usually a form of tokenism, at best, and always some kind of secondary or tertiary role, never a main one. At worst, it’s just plain ignorance and racism. Hollywood also has a long and ugly history of using “brown face” and similar devices in films.
The actress Merle Oberon was half-Indian but she was always depicted as “exotic”.
Jean Simmons donned brown face to play an Indian girl in “Black Narcissus”.
So did Hugh Griffith in “Ben Hur” to play an Arab sheikh.
Sir Alec Guinness donned brown face to play an Arab king in “Lawrence of Arabia” and a Hindu Brahmin priest in “A Passage to India”.
And who can ever forget the most embarrassing example of all, Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese man in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?
The leaked Sony emails also showed up how truly bigoted and racist many Hollywood execs and studio heads are. So is anyone surprised that when persons of color are cast, they are usually portrayed according to negative stereotypes which reflect their worldview (evil, scummy Arab Muslims  in “American Sniper” or dysfunctional African-American families like in “Precious”) instead of being portrayed in a more positive, empowering or sympathetic light?
You can't pay me enough money to go see this movie voluntarily.

You can’t pay me enough money to go see this movie voluntarily.

Instead practically every year, there always some “coming of age” film about another white, quirky, awkward teenager from some affluent suburb with divorced parents or has issues around sex (“Juno”, “Thumbsucker”, “The Kings of Summer”, “Youth in Revolt“).
Michael Cera in "Youth in Revolt"

Michael Cera in “Youth in Revolt”

Every 10 years or so, there’s always a film which belongs to, what I call the “Idiot-Savant” genre. Again, usually white, male, misunderstood geniuses with challenging personalities or life circumstances due to their mental condition and/or intelligence (“Charly”in the 1960s, “Rain Man” in the 1980s, “Shine” in the 1990s, “A Beautiful Mind” in the 2000s, “The Theory of Everything”and “The Imitation Game” this year alone).
Not to minimize the Holocaust but there has been many Hollywood films on that atrocity or related to it over the years (“Schindler’s List”,“The Reader”, “Life is Beautiful”, “The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas” right off the top of my head) When it comes to other genocides I can only think of two, “Hotel Rwanda” about what happened in Rwanda and maybe “Ararat” about the Armenian genocide in 1915. I have yet to see something about what happened in East Pakistan in 1971, Cambodia in 1975, Algeria in 1954, Hispaniola in 1492 and many, many others.
I would love to see a Hollywood and a viewing public that sees and can accept a manly hunk like Idris Elba go toe-to-toe for leading-man roles with other equally manly hunks like Clive Owen or Mylène Jampanoï  becoming a Bond girl as easily as Denise Richards.
I think it should go to Idries.

I think it should go to Idris or Clive.

It’s not just film.  Activism around diversity, for the moment, is happening in the margins but it is inching closer and closer to the mainstream. I see this in the corporate world now and particularly in my networking discussions. Corporate culture has always been very strict, regimented, formal, conservative and about keeping the status quo. If you’re 1) male 2) white and 3) tall, you’ve basically got it made and you’ll more easily be considered for leadership and managerial positions. However, if you’re female, ethnic and petite (like me for instance) you have to work doubly hard to even get a chance to get your foot in the door, let alone an interview. Industrial psychologists call it the mirroring effect. The gist of it being that you will probably hire and consider people who are most like you first because that’s your comfort zone and it takes a huge amount of work to really see your own inherent racial biases clearly and work against them, which most managers either don’t have the time nor interest to do.
It’s a shame really that so many people don’t get it or don’t want to get it. I’ve already written why even in nature and in ecosystems, diversity is usually key to ensuring long-term survival of certain species and the ecosystem itself. Homogeneity is a dangerous place to be in for extended periods of time. I’m of the persuasion that the closer human systems come closer to mimicking natural ecosystems, the better off we’ll all be. That goes for the corporate world and the film industry as well.
Don’t believe me?
Watch this and really pay attention to what Ted Carns is saying in between his lines about disposability and setting an example to others.
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Yoga Awesomeness going down this week in NYC!

shift

To those of you who follow this blog because of the issues of yoga, accessibility and BS gurus – Listen Up!

Roseanne Harvey who runs the renowned blog, “It’s All Yoga, Baby!” and noted yoga writer  Carol Horton Ph.D are hosting two (2) discussion sessions on yoga. According to the Abhyasa Yoga Center event page,

“Yoga today is changing – and fast. Once-powerful gurus are falling. New alternatives are snowballing. Why are these changes happening? What do they matter?

Join Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey, co-editors of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, for a provocative discussion of the current paradigm shift in yoga culture. Key topics include 1) representing the “yoga body,”  2) re-envisioning the “guru,” and 3) revitalizing Karma yoga. Come add your voice to what promises to be an important conversation on the cutting edge of thoughtful yoga practice today.

This event will follow a participatory lecture/discussion format and includes no asana. No preregistration required.

Cost: $20 or pay-what-you-can (nobody turned away for lack of funds)”

Monday, May 19th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Abhyasa Yoga Center
628 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tuesday, May 20th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
tascbar
309 East 108th St #1A
New York, NY 10029

Same topics will be under discussion each evening but it will be happening at two different locations.  The awesome Yogadork is hosting Monday night’s session in Brooklyn and prominent yoga blogger J. Brown is hosting the East Harlem session on Tuesday night.

If you are in the NYC/Brooklyn area and if these issues mean something to you, I suggest moseying on down to add your voice to the discussion. It would seem both anonymous and non-anonymous bloggers are venturing out  to take part in the action. I’m gonna be at the Brooklyn jam if anyone wants to say “Hello” or as Charlie over at Emergency Awesome would say “High Fives”!

Categories: Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Go with The Flow

Surely, We have sent revelation to thee, as We sent revelation to Noah and the Prophets after him; and We sent revelation to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and his children and to Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave David a Book. We sent some Messengers whom We have already mentioned to thee and some Messengers whom We have not mentioned to thee …” (Koran, Ch.4 v.164, 165)

“Verily, We have sent thee with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a Warner; and there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent.” (Koran, Ch.35 v.25″)

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I have to admit that I actually don’t have a lot of other Bengali/Indian/Pakistani  Muslim friends. 
While I did grow up in a largely non-orthodox Muslim household, being Bengali meant that many of my parents’ close friends were and are Hindu, and it meant absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for us to go over to their homes for various Puja celebrations or having them come over to our place for Ramadan
Breaking the Ramadan fast

Breaking the Ramadan fast

 
That’s not always the norm in many Bengali Muslim homes. In fact, there was anti-Hindu bigotry right in my own family. Several of my more “hard-core Muslim” uncles would forbid their kids (i.e my cousins) to play with us because they feared our family would have a “bad influence on them”.  
Just cause a girl wears shorts, does that make them a "bad influence"?

Just because a girl wears shorts, does that make them a “bad influence”?

 
The sources of that bigotry are many and it easy to see why so many hard feelings developed over the course of time. The British effectively ruled India by pitting Muslims and Hindus against each from Day 1. Divide and rule was official policy. While the British were there, preferential treatment was given to Muslims because it was an Abrahamic religion they could relate to, hence why Muslims got the choicest jobs and opportunities. When the British left, the tables were completely turned around, communal fighting broke out all over India, Muslims were discriminated against and Hindus went to the top of the power structure. 
part_india01
 
This is an excellent video about Partition, about how India and Pakistan were formed after British rule. While the video talks about what was happening on the Western front, please bear in mind the atrocities were also happening on the eastern front, namely West Bengal and East Bengal (—> which became East Pakistan and then finally, Bangladesh). 
 
I bring up the quotes from the Koran because, really what those quotes are saying is that named and unnamed prophets, teachers, seers, sages, wise and holy men and women have been sent to all people of this world, every creed, every color, of all lands, at all times and that Muslims are to revere and respect them all, no exceptions. This includes First Nations Elders, Australian Aboriginal Elders, Mongolian shamans,  Buddhist bodhisattvas, Gnostic Christian spiritual masters and anyone else who has genuine spiritual insight and can teach us all to become better human beings with wisdom and grace. 
 KW_FeaturedIMages_Hopi
This sense of inclusiveness and plurality is unfortunately missing with many of the Muslims I grew up with and knew (which would probably explain why I don’t get along with many of them).  Rather, a certain rigidity in outlook, a sanctimoniousness and belief has set in and with the money from Saudi being poured into the rest of the Muslim world.  It has unfortunately meant that Wahhabi Islam, an extremely puritanical, minor, rigid and monolithic form of Islam native to Saudi Arabia is also spreading. It’s a “Live by the Sword – Die by the Sword” form of Islam which in my opinion,  is completely against life and sucks royally and anyone with even half a functioning brain would be wise to run away from. 
These guys and their ideology DO NOT represent all Muslims

These guys and their ideology DO NOT represent all Muslims

 
What’s also happening is that very poor, migrant workers from countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan are going to the United Arab Emirates to work as cheap laborers for construction companies.
Many of them are illiterate, not educated and completely ignorant about the history of their own countries, cultures and religions. Many of them don’t realize that there was a history in those areas long before the introduction of Islam. They see the vulgar wealth in the UAE and it’s then very easy to develop an inferiority complex in the face of that wealth and power especially in contrast to what they saw and lived through back home. What then happens is that they start using Islam and faux-piety as a form of showing up who is “more Muslim” and then that Wahhabi Islam then becomes something worth emulating, copying and spreading.
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If you went to Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1980s, you would never see a burqa or hijab on the streets. Women were always in saris and salwar kameez and were considered decently dressed according to Islamic norms.
saree_group
You go to Bangladesh now, and hijabs and burqas are everywhere. When I talk to my Turkish friends, they say the same thing is also happening in Turkey. 
This is NOT the way it used to be.

This is NOT the way it used to be.

 
It’s not just dress that’s being affected. 
Take for instance female genital mutilation which is NOT an Islamic practice, but one rather which is from  sub-Saharan Africa and became incorporated into those cultures, primarily Somali and Eritrean. When Islam was introduced to those areas, cultural and religious practices became fused and suddenly it was an “Islamic” practice. Now the practice is being exported to other countries like Malaysia under the guise of “Islam” when it has exactly zero to do with Islam.
Female-circumcision-006
This is my biggest axe to grind with many in the South East Asian Muslim community. Nobody flippin’ questions or investigates anything. They just internalize whatever their parents and grandparents told them and that’s it. I remember once having a conversation with one of my cousins’ husband. Dude has a PhD in Biochemistry so he’s not exactly dumb. However, he is from the village in Bangladesh, was extremely bright, did well in school, got full scholarship and landed in the USA and completed graduate work there. We were discussing the very Koranic verses I cited above and hence why I read so much about other traditions. His response is that was “you don’t need to understand Buddhism. You don’t need it. Who cares?”
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It was a repudiation of Buddhism. It was a mechanical, pragmatic way of looking at the world and a deliberate method to staying ignorant and comfortable in a narrow worldview represented by his upbringing and socialization. It was also a slap in the face to my world view which is expansive and inclusive. (I should add, I can’t stand the guy and neither does most of my family.)
It’s not just Muslims who are like this. I mean we can point the finger at the Christian Right in the United States or Hindu radicals in India. That rigidity is everywhere. My only wish is that people everywhere become more fluid and accepting, like a stream or a river.
Afterall, isn’t it the Chinese who believe that water is the strongest element, capable of changing the earth itself?
water-canyon-jon-berghoff
Categories: False prophits, Politico, Raise your EQ, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Rainbow Tribe

"Controversial" ad by Benetton

“Controversial” ad by Benetton

“The Rainbow Tribe consists of everyone, of native and non-native blood, that believe that in our coming together as a tribe of people, of all colors ,that we will make the one true tribe of two-legged ones that we are.  The Rainbow Tribe is actually many small groups that are coming together in understanding and celebration of the diversity of people and who understand their importance and their obligation of love to the Mother Earth and all that is here.”

The Spiritual Network

I have steadily been watching various discussions online about the lack of inclusion in the yoga world this past year. Anarchist yogis “The Babarazzi” does a fantastic job of periodically putting out wonderful, thought-provoking posts on this issue. What comes to mind was a post they did back in October called “Is De-Culturing Yoga an Act of Good Faith or a Promotion of Xenophobic Ideology? /// A Light and Easy Subject”.

Taking the "Indian-ness" out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool.

Taking the “Indian-ness” out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool. This is a form of cultural appropriation

Moonlit Moth, by blogger Andrea MacDonald based out of Vancouver is also taking an anti-imperialistic stance in taking on the issues of accessibility and anti-oppression in yoga.
Andrea writes:
“I strive to make my classes anti-oppressive. By anti-oppressive I mean anti-racist, queer, trans and LGBTQ friendly, patriarchy resistant, anti-colonial, body and ability positive as well as affordable for my students and sustainable for me as the teacher. In order to create a safe space for all my students I will do my best to address oppressive language and behaviour in the studio. Usually I find open, honest discussion can help make the classes safer for everyone involved.”
Kula Yoga Toronto is also offering “Brown Girl Yoga” and “Queer Yoga”  in an attempt to reach out to those communities and create a space where others can feel comfortable.
From "Essence" magazine

From “Essence” magazine

I applaud all these initiatives and discussions and while I think these issues of inclusion, diversity and accessibility are now being talked about more than ever online and off and are a far cry from that fall evening back in 2002 when I first stepped into a Bikram yoga studio and found myself as the only person of color in a roomful of pony-tailed golden boys with wash-board abs and a host of tall, lithe Caucasian trophy wives  discussing their Filipino nannies in the change room, I still think there is a long way to go.  I did not even have to look further than to scroll down  to the comments section of my article on EJ to see how far the so-called “enlightened” yoga crowd have to go.
Rabbit Pose - Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

Rabbit Pose – Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

White entitlement and white privilege are in essence, almost taken for granted. They have been institutionally sanctioned for a couple of hundred years now, mostly in advent of  European imperialism and colonialism. It’s only maybe in the last 50 years serious questioning and scholarship has started to take place, mostly in academia and it has slowly started to filter down into mainstream culture.
W.E.B DuBois - serious academic and activist on racial issues.

W.E.B DuBois – serious academic and activist on racial issues.

That’s beyond the scope of this blog post but any discussion of race is going to cause fireworks to go off no matter what. Someone always ends up getting pissed off. People don’t like to think of themselves as racist or bigoted and they certainly don’t like it being pointed out to them even if it is done unconsciously.  And it would seem yogis, for all their talk of oneness and spiritualism, they positively hate to have it pointed out to them and have their artificial balloons of security and illusion popped especially by someone who is not white.
racist-eggs
One of the things I had to undergo when I did my stint as a spiritual caregiver at a hospital trauma unit as well as when I studied cross-cultural management for my undergraduate degree was something called diversity training. In essence, it’s about learning how to deal with people who are different from you in ethnicity, color, socio-economic background and culture without disrespecting them, their heritage, background etc, being mindful of the differences in order to bring out everyone’s best for the sake of improving overall teamwork and outcomes. In all honesty, I think more studios, more instructors, more training centers need to start including this as well, if all this talk of inclusion and plurality is to amount to anything.
diversitySymbol
I had to watch this film in the course of my studies. “The Color of Fear” is now considered a classic in diversity training and cross-cultural management seminars around the world and I think it merits several viewings. There are some comments alone which will force you to stop it and look at yourself and your own reactions. I think Victor Lewis probably has the most powerful voice here in expressing why some people are more equal than others. I warn you, it can be an uncomfortable watch but I think if we want that dream of a Rainbow Tribe to ever materialize, some hard questions and soul-searching needs to take place. This is as good as a beginning as anything else out there.
Categories: Ascension, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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