august: working through mental health

At the AARC (Asian American Resource Center) staff retreat I had a minor crisis, because I didn’t know which committee I wanted to be on: multiracial or mental health/ability. The AARC has production/service and engagement committees each semester, and expects each intern to be on a production/service committee and an engagement committee. On the production/service committees you either produce materials for the AARC (see HYPE) or you commit to serving Asian American communities outside of the Claremonts. On the engagement committees, you create programming surrounding specific issues that are relevant to the Claremont Colleges API community. Multiracial and mental health/ability are two engagement committees.

I ended up picking mental health/ability because I am very interested in the framework of healing justice, but I realized shortly after that they are not the same thing. One is issues-based, and another is community-based. (I realize now also that while I was very interested in forming a multiracial committee at the beginning of last semester, I have become tired of identity-based politics, and I want to think in other ways, which is also maybe why I didn’t choose to do the multiracial committee) They are very connected, and healing justice has disabled queer people of color driving it, but it takes some work to explain compellingly what the connection is between the two, and why people should care about both. I’m not there yet, but I am hoping this committee will help me.

At the retreat, I wanted to bring someone who would do a workshop on yoga for people of color. It seemed like a fun and exciting idea, but I wasn’t able to explain why this was important – I don’t know why it is important myself, really. I still want to do this event, eventually, but first I have to figure out the intention of hosting a workshop on yoga for people of color. Intent is important.

Why yoga for people of color? What is different about yoga for people of color than it is for white people? Sure, yoga was invented by people of color, and sure, it has been hugely appropriated by upper middle-class white people in suburban neighborhoods, but what does it mean to make it a yoga workshop for people of color? Where does the racial analysis and the yoga come in?

Perhaps the whole idea is the framework of healing justice. Instead of focusing on analysis and the politics of power, focus on healing. Yoga for people of color as a way for people of color to heal and self-care. It may be different from self-segregation, but it can be very prone to misinterpretation. How do you explain yoga for people of color to majority white-privileged college individuals who have been taught to see that as exclusionary politics? I don’t know yet, but that’s okay.

August Guang, originally posted at (


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