From Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be An Antiracist:
RACIST: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
ANTIRACIST: One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
From Nick & Matt
Inclusivity and Accessibility have been core values of M3 since its inception, so we feel it is vitally important for us to unequivocally say that Black lives matter. Not only do we believe that Black Lives Matter, but we also believe we must do something about the health crisis affecting the Black community caused by the systemic racism that our society is built upon. The truth is (as difficult as it is for many to hear) that we live in a society that creates opportunity for white lives and disproportionally suppresses the black community. Yoga is not exempt from this.
While this is not a new crisis, it has unfortunately taken the very public deaths of Black men and women like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and many others for us and others to begin to truly evaluate our personal and professional parts in this system and to calibrate our practices differently.
While M3Yoga has been vocal speaking out against racism before and during this movement, we have been doing even more internal (both personal and professional) work within our business to more specifically address racism and supremacy within our structure. We have chosen to listen and learn, both educating ourselves through literature and training by BIPOC. We also have been evaluating how the things we have learned about ourselves and existing structures have contributed to or benefited from the current system that we live in, and also how we can turn intention into impact starting with our business.
We believe as leaders in the health and wellness community that we have no choice but to treat racism as a pandemic, just as we have COVID-19. The pandemic of racism has been around since this country’s inception and will take way more than a vaccine to fix. We recognize that yoga in the West has been appropriated and monetized, and we have benefited from that structure. We at M3 must do our part and become true antiracist allies to BIPOC and create systemic change to help push equitable opportunities and policy forward.
We also recognize that we will not do this perfectly. We know that many may see ways in which we can do better, and in that we invite all forms of feedback and suggestions. Antiracist is not a fixed position; however, we have learned and believe that one person or entity is either acting within a racist or antiracist framework, within an exclusive binary. We will continue to strive within our business to be actively antiracist and, if we fall short, commit to owning up and learning from those mistakes and do better.
Nick & Matt
What We Believe
M3Yoga was founded with accessibility and inclusion at its core. We celebrate our differences and believe our lived experiences contribute to strong community culture. It is vital that our staff and students feel safe and included in our spaces. M3 benefits from including individuals with differences in age, skin tone, race, ability, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political affiliation, religion, education level, citizenship, and lived experience. In order to continue being an inclusive and accessible space, we commit to continued and ongoing work to celebrate our differences within our community so that all people feel welcome, safe and included in the powerful inner and outer experiences that yoga has to give us. We strive to be the best representation of inclusion in Athens, Georgia.
What We Are Doing
We have done scholarships on the backend since M3’s opening. This is something we have not been public about, and we now see the error in that. Instead of granting scholarships to people who already have contact with our studio, we wish to further our reach and create more socioeconomic diversity.
As a result, we have opened 25 monthly memberships as “pay what you can” memberships. We strongly encourage BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people to apply. We do this to offer more equitable opportunities, especially to groups of people who have been systematically oppressed and don’t have pay equality to their counterparts. We truly believe in our diversity and inclusion statement; diverse experiences make our community better. We plan to open more opportunities like this over time.
To learn more about our Pay What You Can Memberships, click here.
We have charged members of our team to head our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, paying them to develop a community conduct code, complaint process, and ultimately to evaluate our business’s structure and practices through the lens of antiracism, inclusion and diversity. We have charged them with setting benchmarks and holding us to these standards, evaluating our hiring processes and new hires. This committee operates independently of our owners and Leadership Team, helping to redistribute power in our studio.
The current committee members include: Allison, Chase, Rachel, and Sydney. You can learn more about them here.
We pay each M3Yoga employee a stipend to purchase antiracist reading material to further educate themselves twice a year. We also provide access to relevant workshops and trainings that help promote inclusion in a health and wellness space. Most recently, we provided Chrissy King’s Antiracism in Wellness Industry training to our entire staff; it is now required for all current and future employees. We also plan to provide more in-person workshops and trainings for our staff and students when possible.
We removed Sanskrit out of our marketing materials and merchandise. We have recognized the harm in appropriating Sanskrit for monetary gain. While we will continue to use Sanskrit in class and speak to the philosophical roots of yoga, phrases like “Kick your Asana” and “Om sweet Om” will no longer appear in our marketing materials or retail items. We also are asking our instructors to use music that is significant and relevant to them and their experience, appreciating it instead of appropriating.
We have created a community commitment to continue to explore our personal privileges and our collective privilege at M3Yoga and to utilize that privilege for the betterment of our community as a whole. We believe that we are not free until we are all free. We are evaluating all business practices and aspects of M3Yoga on an ongoing basis to ensure our privilege is not harming others and is instead being used to help fight racism and oppression.
Our staff has created an antiracism book club that meets virtually each month to encourage each other to continue learning and growing on these issues.
1. We commit to providing more opportunities for BIPOC to be represented in Athens, Georgia as yoga instructors and studio members. We are currently developing a sliding scale yoga teacher training system, along with scholarships for BIPOC. This scale is not created out of belief that BIPOC cannot afford the programming; instead it is meant to be reflective of the pay inequity that exists for people of color in this country.
2. We commit to use our platform to advocate for social change, raise money that supports local causes and amplify BIPOC’s voices. We will continue to amplify voices of those who have been silenced while challenging those who have not to be allies in this fight against racism and oppression.
3. We commit to listen and learn from people from all lived experiences and changing our behaviors, thinking and policies to reflect our antiracist beliefs and fight oppression in all forms.
4. We commit to putting an increased focus on diversity in hiring and actively recruiting those with a diverse background. We will focus not just on racial diversity, but on gender, gender identity, body type, citizenship, socio-economic background, and life experiences.
5. We commit to increasing access to yoga to marginalized communities. Yoga has not been accessible to communities of BIPOC, both in exposure as well as non a socio-economic level. Through our M3 Outreach program, we are working to bring yoga and mindfulness to more area of Athens, including groups that support BIPOC.
As we move on after the pandemic ends, there will be many things we don’t know, and honestly, we don’t have all the information for what a post-COVID-19 world looks like. We are committed to making this a priority in our business and community and to keeping you in the loop as we learn, address issues and make changes.
Thank you for holding us accountable and supporting us as we have an open and honest dialogue.
The goal of this page is to provide a transparent look into our internal commitment to antiracism and to keep you informed of our efforts. It also serves as a resource to join us in the fight against systemic racism, injustice and oppression.