Yoga of Reparations


Kerry Porter of USM Huntsville branch, at their momentous “Reparations: A Revolutionary Demand” event, March 5, 2016.  

Hello! This message is directed to my yoga colleagues, students and associated folk. I am writing to you because my comrades in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement asked me to fashion an article detailing our (yours and mine) mutual interest in Uhuru (Swahili word for “freedom”) and why you should consider this Movement.

Let me review the demographics of our circle. Yoga practitioners in the States are overwhelmingly white, educated and well-off. Even if you don’t fit inside those specifics, you are, by far, some of the wealthiest people on the face of the earth now and historically. And all of you benefit from being born in the USA, which enjoys the greatest wealth of any nation on the face of the earth now and historically.

My question to you is: have you considered how this came to be? Have you invested any time in understanding your relative position in the world? And, what does your position look and feel like to those who are not inheritors of wealth and power?

I am asking you to consider these questions because as yoga practitioners, you are part of a process of discovering who you are and how you can be more effective in your own life and by extension, in the life of your communities. And these questions around your position of wealth and power are part of that process.

The white world came into its wealth and power via a process of colonizing large portions of the world’s landmass and people. Right here, in America, we have inherited land that was acquired by conquering and committing genocide to its Native peoples. White people are not indigenous to this land. We brought disease, hostility, death, and the very idea that we could OWN property to a vast, ancient, and complex nation of societies. And the people indigenous to this land are conveniently absent from our governmental structures, communities, and personal interactions.

We further captured our wealth by enslaving African people and utilizing FREE labor to build this country at a complete loss to their freedom, wealth, and integrity. It is we, white people, who have inherited the wealth accumulated through a process of killing off Native peoples and enslaving Africans. Following the Civil War, when slavery became technically illegal, we continued to assert our power over black lives though Jim Crow laws, lynchings and convict leasing. The inequity we see in wealth distribution, incarceration rates, and access to clean food, water and healthcare are a direct result of the actions of white people over black and brown people. The word for this form of violence is colonialism.

These are the facts.

Most of you already know this, but perhaps you have not had the opportunity before now to internalize the narrative. We were given a much more noble narrative through our educational system and by our own self-interest. We tend to think the genocide of an entire nation of people and the enslavement of Africans was committed passively, by folks swept up in ignorance, but who were otherwise ‘nice people.’ The official narrative is ‘white people are smart and driven heroes and heroines who have brought civilization and freedom to the Americas through a bold experiment in democracy.’

This is a lie.

White people have terrorized the world for hundreds of years, thereby gaining access to stolen land, stolen resources, and stolen labor. THIS is our inheritance. No doubt, it comes at a cost to those we terrorize. It’s time to look at our own contributions to this horror show and own up. I invite you to do this, because you are in a process of understanding who you are. Yoga is difficult, often painful work. But once the process is started, it cannot be reversed. And there is a way forward!

Uhuru Solidarity Movement is an organization of white people created by, and working directly under the Black/African leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party. Our biggest demand from white people is REPARATIONS NOW! We believe it’s time to pay our debt. We cannot continue to pass off the responsibility of righting this situation by saying we have no hand in it. Our hands are drenched in the blood of African and Indigenous people and our pockets are full of their wealth. It’s right to return it.

I am calling on you because I suspect that you may care about this matter by virtue of being yoga practitioners. TKV Desikachar defines our practice this way, “Yoga is relationship.” We cannot explore our internal relationships and deny their effects in our larger sphere. It is simply not good enough for me to fill my own life with joy and freedom, when that freedom comes at the expense of others.

If you feel as I do, here’s what you need to do:

(1) Go to and read about the work we do. Absorb some knowledge. This is what taking responsibility looks like.

(2) Sign up to contribute monthly reparations to African people. You can choose from several levels of economic capacity, from as little as $5/month to as much as you can afford. It’s voluntary. You determine what you can do. Check out where this money goes! It will break open your heart.

(3) Consider attending our yearly National Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida which takes place on April 16-17 this year, so you can learn more about us. If you can’t attend in person, we make this program available through live stream @  If you can’t do either of these, we will be in contact with you about the many educational opportunities we offer on-going: online studies, conference calls, radio, etc. We are all over the nation and world.

(4) Don’t stop with yourself. I mean, that’s really what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s not enough to attain peace or freedom for yourself, when the conditions required to attain peace and freedom are denied to the rest of the world.

Uhuru and Namaste’

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