According to Power of Your Om's Facebook, students were encouraged to "Get down with yo' bad self & booty shake all the way into shavasana." An invite to the class also included a link to Wikihow's Be Ghetto Fabulous page, presumably to help participants learn how to create a "ghetto fabulous outfit."
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Students apparently took the advice to create their own outfits. Do-rags abounded. One student even made her very own "grill."
After a stream of negative backlash on Facebook, Power of Your Om's owner, Adrienne Hengels, posted her apologies, according to Jezebel. "I can see how it could be offensive and we do apologize for offending you or anyone," Hengels wrote in a post that has apparently been deleted.
This public relations disaster is hardly an isolated occurrence. Indeed, just three days before Power of Your Om shavasana-ed its way into the headlines, performer Miley Cyrus sparked a seemingly endless controversy with her "twerking" performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August. For many, Cyrus became an instant emblem of misguided white American appropriation of black culture. A Guardian article described the performance as a veritable "minstrel show," while an Ohio University professor said in a Vice interview that Cyrus could benefit from attending courses on African-American studies.
When it comes to cultural "borrowing," historical perspective and respect are paramount. An article in The Root contrasts Cyrus' twerking to Justin Timberlake's VMA performance that same night. "Artists similar to JT [Justin Timberlake] always add value to the soul aesthetic when they appropriate the right way," the article notes. "Their natural appreciation for it shines through effortlessly when they perform."
If only the same could be said for the Power of Your Om's "Namaste with Attitude."