Challenging Intersectionality

Nikky Definitely Inc. launched The Yoga Noir Project in April of 2017. It has grown and changed so much since it’s conception. When I first started this project, it was simply because I was tired of being the only Black woman in any yoga class that I decided to attend. I didn’t realize that this project would take off the way it did. Over and over I hear stories from other Black women that are similar to mine. Some of them are instructors themselves, who also feel the frustration of being the only women of color in their own classes. When I finally got up the nerve to talk to White women in these classes about the Yoga Noir Project, I was met with responses like, “I didn’t even realize that Black People weren’t coming”, and “I don’t see color.” These statements have left me grappling for answers for why it is acceptable, not only in the yoga studio, but throughout life, for Black women to be so ignored that people don’t even notice that we are missing from certain arenas. 


And then I discovered Intersectionality. “The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor. Crenshaw writes that "[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated."

I’ve gotten all sorts of reactions to The Yoga Noir Project. Mostly positive, but some not so positive. I absolutely hate conflict, but interestingly enough, I’ve chosen to stand by my choice to move this project forward. This project has pivoted from a somewhat selfish need to be in an atmosphere that represents my culture with like-minded people, to a broader desire to provide women of color a comfortable place to experience yoga, without bias and without feeling like they need to assimilate as we so often do in most areas of our life. Welcome to the Yoga Noir Project, 2018.