Dean’s Response: Black Lives Matter (Off The Mat)

Dean PohlmanBlogs, Off The Mat, From Dean41 Comments

Dean's Response: Black Lives Matter (Off The Mat)

“Better stick to yoga.”

“Don’t choose sides.”

“You should be careful, you don’t want to lose any customers.”

As I look at my morning to-do list and think about the yoga content I’m creating today, I can’t help but think that what I’m doing is insignificant compared to the people who are addressing more significant issues. To be honest, I don’t think I have what it takes to continually address difficult issues like these on a daily basis. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.

And I realize that even having this ability to choose is privilege. So if I’m serious about what I’m saying, it’s exactly for this reason that I have to continue to state my beliefs. To avoid doing so would make me guilty by omission.

Being silent is the problem.

Racism won’t be solved by people of color. White people have to assume responsibility to move forward.

Here’s the hard truth – as a multi-national country, we have to do more if we expect to function peacefully together. We have a responsibility to learn about cultures different than our own, to practice empathy for people are different than us, and to be okay with the fact that people may have different values or lifestyles than the one we’re used to.

For White people in particularly, we have to recognize that we are responsible for racism, even if you don’t think you’ve consciously engaged in it. We have to admit our guilt, even if it’s uncomfortable and you don’t think you’ve done anything.

To start seeing change, we have to do more than say that “racism is wrong”.

What exactly is that? Based on what I’ve been reading, my own upbringing in a diverse community, and my own personal reflections, here are 3 things I think that we can each start doing – today.

  1. Confront the uncomfortable past of our country, understand that racism is built into the various levels of our government and laws, and that the legacy of slavery is alive and well in every level of our society.
  2. Work side-by-side with Blacks and other minorities to enact the legal changes to help change the system
  3. Admit that each and every one of us is subconsciously racist, and vigilantly take action when we notice it is affecting our behaviors.

This is not comfortable nor easy to do. This is emotionally, physically and spiritually draining. And if you’ve got other things to do or feel you’re already maxed out with other responsibilities, just remember this – these are issues that the Black community (and other minorities, and pretty much anybody who isn’t White, straight, and Christian) face EVERY day. They don’t have the ability to decide whether or not to engage in these issues. Having a choice to engage in these issues is the very definition of privilege!!! To deny that it exists or to deny your responsibility to accept it is morally wrong.

Confronting these issues brings up anger; and as I stated before, that anger is rooted in a sense of helplessness, the feeling that no matter what I do or what I say, people will not change their mind.

So I’m presented with a choice.

I could stay silent and let things die down, go back to creating yoga content and appeasing the people who disagree with me –

Or I can do the right thing. I can stick to my guns. I can do what I can with my platform to effect the change I want to see – even if it loses me customers or followers.

I won’t lie and say the haters don’t get to me. It does hurt. It makes me angry. It distracts me from my other work. It occupies my mind, and if I don’t keep it in check, it can have an overall negative impact on my personal relationships.

But despite the discomfort, despite the threats of losing followers or customers, and despite the well-intentioned advice of friends and family, I persist – because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s within my power to do so. Because it’s an example that others in my situation ALSO have the power to do so.

Saw Lebron James’ post and it inspired me to write something similar.

41 Comments on “Dean’s Response: Black Lives Matter (Off The Mat)”

  1. Hey Dean – I have followed you from the early days of YouTube vids and have purchased a few of your videos. I have never commented on your posts, though I do frequently read them. That said…

    YOU ARE DOING THE EXACT RIGHT THING. I am proud of you and for you for your convictions and living the truth and living as a conscious human being. Keep up the good work that you do for people’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as the collective social-consciousness.

    NAMASTE

  2. Thank you, Dean. I’m also wrestling with the question, “am I doing enough?” It helps to read that someone else is struggling and reflecting. It helps to read that you are angry about the people that push back, and that it gets to you. I respect the hell out of you, and am more appreciative of your character and willingness to take a stand as I am the content you provide for me.

  3. Amazing comments this is something everyone should do and has the power to do so Fingers up to the haters 🖕. Things need to change

  4. Watching the turmoil that has swept America since the murder of George Floyd is heartbreaking particularly in the wider context of that excuse for leadership currently residing in the White House. Division has been inflamed by every statement /directive from the Oval Office. I totally agree with the sentiments of your impassioned plea for white folk to acknowledge and assume responsibility for the legacy that the historic slave trade has left so tangibly across contemporary America. In Britain we have been increasingly reflecting on the legacy of slavery and our role in it since the 200 year anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 2007. My city Glasgow had a hidden, unacknowledged history implicated in the trade. We have street names like Virginia, Jamaica and Cotton. A key shopping area called Buchanan Street named after a Tobacco Merchant slave trader has recently been symbolically renamed George Floyd Street by protesters! Scotland has the blood of all those enslaved on its hands, we provided the accountants and administrators who managed the whole 400 year episode of exploitation and murder. In the culture sector there have been many discussions and reflections about how to acknowledge our role, honour the victims and honestly tell contemporary and future generations the truth. This in itself, we hope will go a long way to resolving local racial divisions. Many white folk simply don’t have any idea though that is slowly changing.

    Your courageous, principled and clear commitment to speak out even to the potential detriment of business is laudable. Anyone who decides to leave the group in outrage or simple disagreement needs to take a good look at themselves, their values and privilege. I wont be going anywhere and stand with you in solidarity. If I can be half as eloquent in calling out the racist issues inherent in the UK/Scotland as you have been here I will know that I’m on the right track.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. Thanks too for your on-going support, motivation and excellent coaching in yoga.

  5. Hi Dean,

    as a European subscriber I recently thought about how the ongoing turmoil might affect you and how you might think about that stuff. I‘m pretty impressed by your clean and explicit opinion and your willingness to make them public. I want to express my deep respect for your strength in both humanity and dignity of all people.

    Go on and I will see you in the workout tomorrow. 🙂

  6. Thanks Dean for taking a stand, being a father of biracial with African American heritage has brought the issues close to my heart. A heart change must occur, no matter the political power, nor socioeconomic status, we needed new hearts in order for change to happen. Again Dean thank you for speaking out!

  7. Thank you Dean. You are a shining example of what all folks need to do! We must actively address racism in all it’s many forms.
    Ever since I first read your comments about the 2016 election- I have been proud of you. As you mentioned, if you don’t speak up, then you are complicit in racism and hatred.
    You have a platform- so thank you for speaking out.
    Wishing you strength and much support.

  8. Dean, Thank you for your honesty and courage to speak your mind and describing the country’s struggle with racism so truthfully. I graduated high school in 1968. Suffered through the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Cheered the civil rights movement and took my fair share of abuse in protesting the Vietnam War during the May Day demonstrations of 1972.
    The main reason I believe this time in history is different is because the young people of all races are fed up. They , yourself among them, is what will make the difference this time. It’s your generations turn and you are different.
    We who walked the streets before you were often in two different groups, black groups and white groups.
    This time you are marching together and that unity is a demonstrable first. God’s speed to all who will not accept anything less than what this country can and must become. A multi-racial Democracy with respect for each other, equitable treatment in employment, education and healthcare and a beacon for the people of the world who seek freedom and human rights.

  9. Thank you Dean. Thank you for using your platform. Thank you for tackling the tough issues. Thank you for taking a step towards making a better world for my son. As you said, we white folks are responsive for driving a change. #blacklivesmatter

  10. Dean, you are right on target. You have identified the privilege that those of us who are white walk around with every day. You are right to describe the haters as distracting, and angering and how tempting it would be to go silent. And you are right to keep speaking. You are right to say that racism cannot be fixed by People of Color. It was created by white people to benefit white people, and white people must put an end to it working with all people.

    I can’t help but notice that people who want to suggest that you might lose customers are engaging in the kind of bullying that white people have used for years on other white people to keep them “in their place.” Thank you for calling the bullying attempts out and not giving in to them. Your statements in support of Black Lives Matters had made me even more proud to be a member of this community. To say that I belong to a men’s community who are interested in their health and where the message of Black Lives Matters is heralded is outstanding. Now. To get every men’s group to do the same. I support an organization called Athlete Ally which supports LGBTQ athletes. I wear their tank top to the gym. A white man tried to intimidate me into being ashamed for wearing the t-shirt. No chance, man. I wear now more often.

    Thank you for your stance and courage, Dean.

  11. Good for you for not being apathetic. I view the situation as perhaps more nuanced than you, but agree we all need to address our nation’s endemic racism. Everybody loses from it.

  12. Thanks Dean. Appreciate your comments, stance and action. Makes me an even more devoted customer.

  13. Thank you for doing this. I appreciate the courage it takes to live your values. I’m already a Member of your community so I’ll figure out some other way to support you in this cause.

  14. Thanks, Dean as an African American male, let me just say thanks for the post. We all need to play a bigger part when we see injustice, we need to stand up and use our power, that could be speaking up/out for others, voting, doing no harm to others and let the person doing the harmful act that we see them and we will not stand by while these injustices continue.

    p.s. Congratulations on the baby

  15. Well said Dean, all credit to you. There will always be haters, it is important not to give in to them and challenge them, then hopefully through constant pressure and education, their selfish, bigoted and ignorant views can be changed. Doing nothing is not an alternative.
    Keep up the fantastic work.
    NAMASTE

  16. As a person of color, I am encouraged by your comments. I am grateful to know that the MFY community is lead by someone willing to speak out the issue of racism and privilege. With some issues, “not choosing a side” is choosing. Racism is one of those issues.

  17. Thank you for your support of social justice. I’m sorry to hear some of your customers may leave you. It’s their loss. Know you are on the right side of history. You are setting a fine example for your son!

  18. As an African America man, I applaud your stance. I will be reaching out to my entire network to let them know about ManFlow Yoga, why I love the products and why they should only consider it for their Yoga needs. Thank you.

  19. Dean,
    I appreciate your willingness to state your beliefs and commitment to combat racism and inequality. I hope you will consider supporting groups that have been established by black leaders who are mentoring young black men in their communities. They have even gone into prisons and talked with gangs and helped them to stop their violence against each other.
    Sadly, Black Lives Matter have not invested in these groups nor have they shown that they believe black lives that were killed by other blacks matter. Every life is valuable no matter the color of skin or age.

    1. Bob, for what it is worth I think your response is the best response on here. Well considered and suggesting a very good way of helping support local communities. I could absolutely get behind your suggestion.

  20. Your son will be proud of you for living your values. I congratulate you on your decision, the support of both organizations, and also on the welcomed birth of your son. I wish that you, your wife and son are all doing well. Your actions will give each of us a better world for tomorrow.

  21. Dean – Speaking as a white, middle class, heterosexual male who is also attempting to understand his privilege, I commend your courage.

  22. Once we exchange our money for Dean’s instruction the profit is his to do what he wants. Having said this, imagine what our world would be like if everybody willingly tithed their income (not to mention their energy and time) for causes they believed in.

  23. Dean,
    First of all, I appreciate your convictions and willingness to sacrifice subscriptions/money for something you believe in. While cancelling a subscription just because someone possesses a difference of opinion seems a little reactionary, the dissension may be more a matter of variances in political opinion than outright racism. I would imagine that nearly everyone supports the idea of uplifting the black community, acknowledgement of historical racial atrocities, and condemnation of current racism. In other words, everyone should agree that black lives matter. However, the differences may surface more in regards to the political platform of the group “Black Lives Matter,” that seem steeped in Marxist ideology, antisemitism, destruction of the nuclear family, defunding police, and an array of radical social reforms. Anyway, I appreciate you standing against racism and in support of the black community, even if it maybe through an organization that I do not fully support.

  24. Dean:
    It is an honor to join you MFY and many, many, others who want to do our best to dissolve racism ; make “Black Lives Matter”; and stand with our fellow Americans of color.
    I agree. The” finger” has to point both ways, outward and inward, if we are to move our country beyond racism. It is not easy. It is a humbling, frustrating, horrifying, and yet, soon I hope, a freeing journey. So, I know, I’m on it too. I’m listening and learning, and like Yoga, on occasion I fall on my ass. Still, it is the right thing to do.

    [Not to get too spiritual…] Yoga’s “Namaste” comes to mind now, not as a belief but as a practice.
    Dean, thanks for your initiative, drive and bravery. Declan is a lucky boy. Peace. –tc [Tim Curtis]

  25. Way to go. I’m all in, happy, and proud to continue to be a member and also donated myself to many of these causes recently. I will happily look for more man flow yoga product to support your continuing efforts. Thanks for doing this!

  26. Good on you Dean, as a 72-year-old White British male I’ve seen a few changes but nothing like enough!! It’s long overdue, everybody deserves not just a chance but the SAME chance as everyone else, without impediment. The problem is clearly not always a lack of opportunity because some individuals within minorities make it; what’s unacceptable is a society where a class or minority group are DELIBERATELY held back because of their race or background. Keep doing what’s right.

    Francis Riley.

  27. Thank you,Dean,for standing up for what is right.Proud to have you as a fellow “Buckeye” from Cleveland area(I’m from Lorain) & appreciate your stand to fight racism & support,”Black Lives Matter”. Congratulations to you & your wife for the birth of your baby son.He’ll have a awesome father & mother(because behind a great man there’s usually always a great woman!)God bless your family,always!

  28. Thank you for standing by your principles and helping to educate your son and others by setting a positive example.

  29. Dean,

    Please know that I appreciate your sincerity and your programs, but I am cancelling. I understand when you speak of values, however if you conduct a bit of research, you will find that BLM is a Marxist organization. It has nothing to do with blacks, lives, or black lives.

    I, as a matter of principle, and strong American values, support black conservative voices who are being censored and called “Uncle Tom” (in America, the freest, most charitable, and least racist nation on earth). I reside in the Chicago area, and BLM has remained silent on the issue facing the substantial black on black violence in this city. Regrettably, this has gone on too long, and the virtue signaling is disgusting and hasn’t done one single thing to stop the true racism and violence that plages Chicago.

    Marxism has led America to division in an other wise very strong economy (historically low black unemployment as well, by the way), and a country making strong headway into more fair trade (for you and all Americans). By ANY standard, this has proven to be excellent for America, as the last four presidents neglected this imbalance

    Your website and programs are excellent. For that I commend you and say thank you. But I disagree with Marxism on all levels, and I disagree with violence on all levels. We’ve experienced a coup by a nasty political party, which turned out to be a complete illegal hoax, and we are now experiencing violence (the rumor is, it is because of George Floyd’s death, but at this point it’s obvious this has been orchestrated by anarchists and Marxists and has almost nothing to do with racism – witness all of our monuments being destroyed – even those who fought as abolitionists, and to rid us of racism). This is unacceptable, as is the forces perpetrating such reprehensible violence (i.e. BLM).

    Thank you for the programs, and I wish you the very best.

    Tom

    1. Looks like your payment failed back in April and you’ve been using the site for free since then. Thank you for cancelling.

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