American University’s Yoga Group Disbanded After Cultural Appropriation Charge

I have been critical of the widening charges of cultural appropriation and microaggressions on our campuses as statements and even programs are targeted with little resistance from faculty or administrators.  We previously discussed how yoga classes were denounced in Ottawa as cultural appropriation. Now American University in Washington has become embroiled in the same charge after a single student objected to white individuals performing an Indian epic as part of university’s Bhakti yoga group. American University student Maya Krishnan seems to believe that the school should limit performances on the basis of race and national origin — and that objection appears to have succeeded with the dissolution of the group as well as the resignation of the group’s faculty adviser, student president and vice president.

Krishnan filed a complaint with the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion on white people daring to perform an Indian epic. She then wrote an op-ed in the student paper, The Eagle on the performance of “The Ramayana,” by American University’s Bhakti Yoga Club.  She complained that “Having my culture represented by an almost entirely white troupe of dancers is incredibly frustrating.”    While that frustration would seem discriminatory on the basis of race and national origin, Krishnan was somehow excused by declaring it’s all cultural appropriation.  Indeed, Krishnan simply rejects the notion that such groups are celebrating her cultural: “Additionally, the director and other representatives of the theater company absolve themselves of cultural responsibility by saying that the point of the show is to increase exposure of Hinduism and its traditions.” 

The Bhakti Yoga Club had invited Viva Kultura, a multinational performing arts group, to perform”The Ramayana.”  However, Krishnan could not see beyond the race and national origin of the performers. Indeed, it did not matter to her if the epic was performed perfectly because the performers were the wrong race. Indeed even converting to the religion seemed to be an effort to rob Krishnan of her “intersectional experience’:

The sponsors of this show and the artists acted as if their actions were acceptable because they have converted to the Hare Krishna sect of Hinduism. The reality of this is that white European dancers will never know my intersectional experience as a Hindu woman, being a brown bodied person and the other aspects of systematic racism that I, as well as other South Asian people, have experienced. These people will never know my experience and will never have to think about knowing it. To place their narrative over mine and other people who practice Hinduism is a disservice.

Instead of defending (and encouraging) the right of all students and faculty to immerse and participate in such performances, American University was largely silent as the race of its students and faculty was used in this fashion.  

Ironically, we discussed not long ago how the show “Hamilton” has refused to audition white performers despite anti-discrimination laws.  Of course the original figures were white but the performance has been confined to minority performers.  That was generally accepted as artistic license.  Moreover, there is a common practice now in rejecting race as limiting actors like confining Shakespeare plays to white performers.  

This brings us back to American and the perception that students are limited by race or national origin by what they can experience and perform.  The school should expressly support students and clubs that reject limitation based on such criteria.

50 thoughts on “American University’s Yoga Group Disbanded After Cultural Appropriation Charge”

  1. For my edification, was it “cultural appropriation” or hegemony when Americans put on “red face,” feather headdresses and buckskin breechcloths for their roles as Injun characters in the old Cowboys and Indians movies and TV shows of the 40’s and 50’s?

    “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

    – Dizzy Dean


    – President Donald J. Trump

  2. Well, I don’t want to see no more blacks playing classical music, or singing in operas. In fact, I don’t want to see any more blacks blowing horns, clarinets, saxophones, and playing guitars. From now on, blacks may only beat on bongo drums and play those one string instruments with a gourd. And no more blacks on piano! As a white person, I am outraged that they would steal from my culture in that way!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Did you just say “Affirmative Action Privilege,” generational welfare, food stamps, quotas, Obamacare, forced busing, rent control, utility subsidies, social services, WIC, HAMP, HARP, HUD, HHS, TANF, SSI, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, “Fair Housing,” “Non-Discrimination,” “hate crime,” “Reconstruction” amendments, “untouchable” status, etc., etc., etc.?

      FUN FACT: Abraham Lincoln believed that America owed compassionate repatriation for the benefit of freed slaves to provide them with a sense of closure, culture, nationhood and self-esteem:

      “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

      1. Lincoln split the difference with the Democrats and let them keep their “slaves” on Ye Ol’ Democrat Plantation with the provision they get the synonymous social classification of “democrat voter.”

        1. Lincoln egregiously violated the U.S. Constitution and should have been thrown in prison. Slavery should have been eliminated through the employment of the tools of the free market and free enterprise such advocacy through free speech and press, boycotts and divestiture. Freed slaves should have been compassionately repatriated at the expense of their owners and/or their industry for the benefit of the freed slaves themselves. This methodology would have been eminently constitutional.

  3. What do you have to say, Professor? Another piece of evidence that the people who run higher education shouldn’t be trusted to take care of a Chia pet. Take their privileges away.

  4. Airplanes were invented by Americans for use by Americans. Ms. Krishnan and her relatives are appropriating our culture when flying. Why shouldn’t she be barred from flying as a cultural appropriator?

  5. Bill mcwilliams, it seems the left can’t find anything good about this country or what we refer to as traditional values. The right might have some issues, but the left is nothing more than ” Tyranny of the Minority”. It only takes one person to complain about something and the world has to be turned upside down.

  6. We had a relative who went to school there in recent years. I recall that the tuition was $58,000. or so. That is ridiculous. Fly over and flush.

  7. The idea that the American University took one complaint and shelved an entire program is insanity. Cultural appropriate is insanity. I wonder where it started.

  8. And there you have it; celebrate another culture and it’s appropriation. Ignore it and it’s racism. Reminds of this little ditty:

    One fine morning in the middle of the night, two dead men got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard the noise and came to kill those two dead boys. If you don’t believe this story’s true, ask the blind man, he saw it too.

    One thing is certain; this insanity will end peacefully or by force. And I’m beginning to not care which.

    1. You’re right OLLY because insanity never gets better when left untreated. Maybe being banned from yoga class is a sign it’s time to get a refund on the unused sessions and use the money to sign up for classes at the local gun range.

  9. I thought there was no identity anymore in college? If something as binary as male and female can’t be acknowledged, how can something as muddy like culture be inforced?

  10. And, if there was lack of participation in Yoga classes, there would be complaints from South Asian “minorities” and demands for such classes to be made compulsory. If “we” decide something is good for you, it must be made mandatory, and conversely, if “we” decide something is bad for you, it must be banned. The lessons for students (and others) here are obvious. You had best become one of the “we,” those who must be obeyed. Otherwise, you will have no say at all in life whatsoever. So much for the theoretical freedom of this, that, and the other things. Adios, (Whoops! Sorry about that cultural whatever expropriation thing!) self-autonomy!

  11. What a great idea! Why didn’t any leftist think of this before? In fact why not just save time, get it over with and bring this non appropriation stuff to it’s inevitable conclusion by moving this country foward into the pre Magna Carta days?
    Time to help the left restablish the racial and societal hierarchies of the old days.
    The new Rule will be any exercise, dance, music, literature, culture, company, corporation, infrastructure, medical discovery, device, knowledge, cure, protocol, engineering marvel, educational program, achievement, school, charity, or absolutely anything in the emm-effin’ Universe without exception else built, discovered, created, developed, bought by, sold by, run by, looked at, talked about, thought about, driven by, touched by or that has ever been within a thousand yards of Whites is declared completely off limits and forbidden to be used by touched by or be near any and all other races under pain of death. Said non whites will be rounded up and transported to uninhabited regions of Siberia, Greenland, Mongolia and Islands in the Pacific, dumped with nothing except what they have made and left to fend for themselves. The excess by-products and those that “resist” or for whom there is no room for will be “processed” appropriately.
    In liberal left world it’s all good and the only question is what is the color of the month gonna be?

  12. Performing Yoga is cultural appropriation? Is American going to forbid Robert Francis O’Rourke from appearing on campus while calling himself Beto?
    Is taking a Hispanic nickname not full fledged cultural appropriation?

  13. Was Elizabeth Warren the first woman of color to be a professor at Harvard, or did some other self described woman of color show up before her?

      1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me twenty-four citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after twenty-six weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. – it has been clear for the past 26 weeks that we cannot depend on you do your research. You could pay a grad student to do it for you, you kno

  14. The American Left is acting like a certain political party that came to dominance in Germany back in the 1930s. What’s next, book burning?

    1. Bob

      What’s the difference between Right and Left in I-Bob land – other than if right wingers don’t like it, they label it Left? Is Trump
      Left in I-Bob land?

  15. Well I wonder what Maya Krishnan’s major is, because when she applies for jobs and prospective employers google her name, they’re going to realize what a pill she is and won’t want her around. Good grief, could you imagine dealing with such a self-righteous, hyper-sensitive nut in the work place?

  16. I didn’t see all those uppity whites complain about them colored people appropriating “Hamilton”. I was once 8-12 satyrs* in a Greek satyr play. Is someone going to complain about that?

    *The satyrs comprise the chorus for the play and I played the entire chorus. 😉

  17. Good lord. The larger ethnic group, based on genetics and linguistics is termed


    It seems that all should study some Anthropology 101.

    1. huh did somebody mention the ARYANS? David, I didn’t know you cared!

      here’s a good book on anthropology by him,
      Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes
      check it out!

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