For the Western practitioner, part of what it means to be a “spiritual person” means having your snail-mailbox filled with an insane amount of we-sold-our-mailing-list-and-consequently-your-name-to-another-company spiritual pooh-pooh. That’s how a trip to Kripalu gets you a mystery subscription to pooh-pooh Yoga Journal. Which is how you get on the Omega Institute mailing list, the Open Center mailing list, and apparently the Integrative Nutrition mailing list, as a copy of their catalog showed up in my box a few weeks back.
While less pooh-pooh than Yoga Journal—in fact I’m quite interested in knowing more about their caveman diet classes—Integrative Nutrition, like other more New Age-inspired spiritual enterprises, still seems to market solely to the white crowd. I mean, look at that ad! Looks like a box of mint Tic-Tacs.
And in New York! tsk tsk…
Of course, to be fair, Chopra is in there. And, then you’ve got David Wolfe, but really he’s more tan than anything else…
…wet and tan, to be specific.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I get it. These are the “experts.” It just so happens that twenty-three out of twenty-four just so happen to be the types of people who might click “White/Caucasian” on a census. And it just so happens that within the magazine only a handful of photos are of non-white-identified peoples, but of those, with the exception of Latham Thomas (who is technically a featured graduate), none are instructors. To be exact, 143 of the people photographed in the catalog probably identify as “white,” while only 29 probably identify as something other than “white.”
Weird, right? I mean, the past three health practitioners I went to have been of Guyanese, Asian (didn’t catch where specifically), and Pakistani decent. And, that’s without even trying!
Now look, I don’t mean to get all “Diversity Week” on you. I know that the way my skin color is perceived by the State puts me in a strange position when discussing race. Truth be told, I wasn’t even gonna post this piece. I’ve actually had it in the “Drafts” cue for weeks, feeling like it was a big ole downer. But then last night I found this Omega catalog in my recycling and was just like, “No way. F– this!”
Is this the guest list for the Kentucky Derby or something?
I can’t wait for the day when places like Omega start hiring people outside their comfort zone. Think: actual Hindus teaching ayurveda, actual Muslims teaching about the ancient Islamic medicinal practice of unani, Rastafarians lecturing on “The Ital Diet & You.” It’d be amazing.
In the meantime, here are some links to African-Americans who might be able to help you with your diet, none of whom can I “officially” endorse for not-so-obvious legal reasons:
Here’s an NPR story on African-Americans and nutrition aptly titled “Eat to Live: African-Americans and Nutrition”