The Reality of the Dream

By: Victor Dubin

August 28 is the anniversary of “The Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” that most of us know simply as The March on Washington. Most everyone can quote a line or 2 from the famous speech that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered to the crowd, to the nation, and to the world that day. A sound bite, however brave, insightful, or powerful, is not a complete speech. Instead the power of the “I have a dream…” portion of Dr. King’s address that day is in the context from which it arose. Below you will find a link to an article written by Dr. King’s son which outlines his views on the importance of that context and the complete text of the original speech given back in August 1963. If you are in class on Saturday, you may just get to hear that context with your own ears.

Washington Post Article By Martin Luther King III: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/24/AR2010082405003.html

“I Have A Dream” speech:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sara’s Birthday Mix

By: Victor Dubin

About 5 years ago the Tuesday night intermediate class and I went out to dinner at Olitas. At the time I was using only “yoga” music in my classes, flutes, sytar, chanting, etc. At the dinner the topic of my personal yoga practice came up and Sara asked what kind of music I listened to while practicing. I mentioned Led Zepplin, Mos Def, among others. She suggested I start using that kind of music in class and I began experimenting with different music mixes. Since then many of you have come to enjoy the Martin Luther King Birthday mixes, and the mixes for holidays, and even just encouraging the sun to shine. Thanks to Sara for the encouragement. This one was for you:

Tuesday 5:30 Intermediate
Someday We’ll All Be Free Aretha Franklin
Track 13 MNM One Shot
One to Grow On UMC’s
Come Together F. Zion I (World Premier! Produced By J.Period) J. Period & The Roots
The Weight Aretha Franklin
Staying Alive Wyclef Jean
Food For The Masses Michael Franti & Spearhead
Sunshine Mos Def
A Brand New Me Aretha Franklin
Move On Muneshine, Raks One, Kenn Starr
Feelin’ Alright Jungle Brothers
All Falls Down Syleena Kanye West
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Aretha Franklin
Got Mos Def
It’s Like That Run-D.M.C.
Been Thru The Storm F. Stevie Wonder (J.Period Exclusive!) J. Period + The Roots
Love Mos Def
Umi Says Mos Def
A Change Is Gonna Come Aretha Franklin
Shoulder Wordsworth
We Don’t Mind Michael Franti & Spearhead
Drinking Again Aretha Franklin
Try A Little Tenderness Aretha Franklin
Holy Holy Aretha Franklin

Sexual Misconduct Among Yoga Teachers

Posted by Valerie Moselle

I was just reading this week’s article in the GoodTimes Santa Cruz titled Yogis Behaving Badly.  The article is written on the subject of yoga teachers and the specter of sexual harassment that has been known to loom in the shadows of the yoga world between teacher and student, guru and disciple.  The article points out the tenderness of the relationship between a student and  his or her teacher, and how that vulnerability can be, and has been, abused.

Certainly, becoming a successful and inspiring yoga teacher should go hand-in-hand with adhering to the moral foundational principals of yoga (the yamas and niyamas).   But it doesn’t always work out that way.  Yoga teachers are human, tempted by all the same urges as everyone else.  Fear of retribution from an almighty and judgmental God did not make Catholic priests impervious to molesting little boys.  There is no reason to think that all yoga teachers would be immune to the same impulses, especially when worshiped themselves by a roomful of women in spandex routinely in the process of opening up –physically, emotionally, and one would hope, spiritually.

It was obvious to me, as I got deeper into the writing, that one of the author’s purposes in broaching the topic of abuse by yoga teachers was to publicly air the events that brought one of our own local teachers under criminal investigation for the alleged rape of one student, and the sexual harassment of two others.  As far as I know, those claims are still being investigated by the Santa Cruz Police Department.

On one hand I appreciated the explicit (and anonymous, as the names of the victims had been changed) descriptions of what actually happened to these women.  These women felt that they had been violated, and they were willing to reveal the actions that made them feel this way.  For a woman who might be feeling weird or unsure about a suspect interaction with a yoga teacher, reading the description of another woman’s experience might help clarify her reaction.  Women, especially with a history of sexual abuse (1 in 3) sometimes get confused.  Some feel they should give the benefit of the doubt to the abuser, and that they must be misinterpreting the event.  A common pattern is to feel they deserved or even invited the abuse.  And then there is just plain old shame and embarrassment.  To read another woman’s account of harassment spelled out for all to see could (and should) give women courage to confront their own experiences, so that they can make appropriate choices around processing and healing the trauma.

On the other hand this article has caused me a fair amount of discomfort since I first read it the other day.  I’ve been chewing on the ‘facts’ I know about our local situation, as they have been revealed to me over time.  I have no personal history with the accused, but am aware of the scandals under which he left my former professional stomping grounds.  I have heard the rumors that have been floating around the yoga community for years, and have internalized the ‘inside scoops’ from people closer to the source of the ‘troubles’ than I am.  None of this is conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, which is why under the umbrella of news organizations, or even the umbrella of Nourish  the dirty laundry cannot be completely hung out to dry.  We won’t name names, we can’t speak openly about what may have happened, to whom, and because of whom.  But by now I am skeptical enough to steer clear of any involvement with the accused.  It’s frustrating that in most cases of this nature the ‘real’ story is never allowed to come out.  These accusations seem to always exist in the realm of rumor and gossip.  I have to say, though it was nice to finally see at least something in print, it’s frustrating that an article inspired by local events had to be so….generalized.

When we are restricted from talking about rape, sexual harassment, or any other kind of violence the offender is protected, not the victim.  I understand that until someone is convicted of a crime that it violates that person’s rights to speak about them as if they were guilty.  The mechanism for protecting the innocent-wrongly-accused has an important role in our justice system, obviously.  I believe in due process, etc… However, in cases like this I find it unfortunate that a potential threat to women is left vague and yet sensationalized.  Without specifics, we keep the issue at arm’s length, as if it has nothing to do with us.   Or worse, the uninformed assume the yoga world is rife with such problems and allow the fear instilled by the media to color their impression of yoga altogether.

As Judith Lasater so profoundly expressed in the GoodTimes article, this problem is not going to get better when someone gets put behind bars.  This issue won’t get better in any facet of our society until women refuse to be victimized, first by the offender and then later by feeling ashamed to raise her voice about it.  That’s a tall order.  (I know the former statement will have a lot of victims of violence perking up, so give me a moment to elaborate).

A quote came to me through one of my own teachers, Colette Crawford.  It is an ‘ancient Chinese saying’, one of those that has no source that I’ve been able to find.  Please correct me if I’ve got it wrong, or if you know something about it’s origins that I don’t.  It goes like this:

“Mountains will move, wars will cease, when women wake up.”

I’m not saying that we can necessarily end rape and sexual harassment.  With things as they are we have no control of what another brings to the relationship we have with them, whether that is the relationship with a friend,  a date, a teacher, a family member, or stranger on a dark street.  What we do have is the ability to overcome shame, heal, refuse silence, and raise awareness with the purpose of creating an environment where inappropriate sexual advances are never tolerated in any way by anybody.  Ms. Lasater’s fantasy about a woman standing up in the middle of class to announce an indiscretion, and then asking for solidarity in a boycott of the class is now my fantasy too.  My greatest disappointment is the gossipy nature of these discussions, when they come up.  Oh, and the fact that this teacher is still teaching.

My first thought was that there should be an organization for yoga teachers through which complaints can be filed and investigated.  That way, even if there are no prosecutions, at least there is a record of complaints.  You see, there very well may not have been a crime committed here.  Making passes at women, after all, is not illegal (except in the workplace).  But I think we can all agree that yoga teachers should not be making passes at students, any more than college professors, police officers, or therapists should be.  If there were some way to log a complaint, Yogis could be left to make their own judgments about teachers.  They would have a place to go to to look for red flags, or to place a warning for future students.

Then I realized that no governing body can protect us from these teachers, both few and far between, by-the-way.   It’s up to us to refuse to be taken advantage of.  Though I understand the purpose of the article, and the assumptions we have been guided to make.  Though I appreciate the interview with Judith Lasater, and the efforts to give voice to this serious issue–we will not see the end of this, as Ms. Lasater points out, until we, as a community start talking out loud.  We know this is happening.  It’s fine to name names and issue warnings.

My own mother was annoyingly over-protective when I was a kid.  She was constantly reminding me of self-defense techniques, talking with me about abuse and what to do if I feel unsafe with someone.  It was one of my least favorite things about being her child.  “Maaaawwwwwwwmmmm.  Cheeeeeeeez.”  But in my early 20s when I found myself suddenly in a violent situation with a boyfriend of two years, I knew what to do.  I got the hell out of there and pressed charges.  Not because I was angry and wanted to get back at him.  But because I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt.  I knew that whatever the outcome of his proceedings that he would have a blemish on his record reflecting what happened to me.  I knew, even then, that that blemish might in some direct or indirect way, protect another woman from escalating harm.

This is one case where I think we should speak up, even if it feels like gossip.  If you are experiencing, or know someone who is experiencing problems with a yoga teacher, (or anyone else for that matter) you owe it to yourself, and all women everywhere to talk about it.  Share it with your friends, a counselor, or a help line.  Share other incidents in your life that have made you uncomfortable.  Heal your own experiences by bringing them into the light and asking those that you love and who love you to take a look at them, even if it’s the last thing you want to do.

As a student of yoga, tell your fellow yoginis when a teacher crosses the line and disappoints your sense of morality, and by all means stop going to see that teacher.   Share with your fellow practitioners the teachers with whom you feel safe and respected.  As well as the names of the studios in which you feel supported.  The word ‘guru’ refers to a teacher that brings a student from the darkness of ignorance into the light of understanding.  In speaking about this problem out loud, we become gurus by bringing this uncomfortable subject out of the dark closet in which it has lurked, and into the light of our collective awareness.

It is unfortunate that we have to keep our wiles about us as we venture into the yoga world and subject ourselves to our teachers.  But we do.   I for one, have felt relieved to have been nowhere near the teacher that shall remain unnamed in this post, or the studio that supported him despite multiple complaints.  Instead I remain grateful that I am in the fold of an organization that puts the health and well-being of it’s clientele at the forefront of it’s mission (thank you Nourish) and to be teaching among teachers I would recommend to absolutely anyone who asked, male or female, regardless of their history.   Finally, I am grateful to be able to sit with my boss and fellow teacher, Victor, and discuss this serious issue together.  He and Jocelyn have brought this issue out into the light of Nourish by discussing it openly in meetings, and have asked us to share our feelings and insights about it with our students, and anyone who will listen.  Their message is clear.  Sexual misconduct among yoga teachers should not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.  “We want people to know that Nourish is a safe place to practice yoga.”