As many of you know I have a YouTube channel where I post videos of barre and Zumba workouts. I love this channel almost as much as I love my blog. Quite honestly, I do it for me. I used to teach group fitness classes in high school and college and then taught A LOT of group fitness, including BodyJam, when I lived in Sydney. When the Hubs and I moved back to the US from Australia I stopped teaching. I was in law school and I didn’t really have the time. When I tried Zumba though, I knew I had to teach that class. I became certified in 2011 but I’ve never taught a live class. Why? Well, the same reason I stopped teaching. I don’t have time. I work in a demanding profession, I blog (all.the.time!) and I want to have adequate time for my family, friends and fun things. So I started doing these videos as a way for me to “teach”.
I make $0.00 from posting these videos. I can’t even get ad fees because of copyright issues (it would be a violation of copyright law and would not constitute fair use). I do it for the joy of music, dance and inspiring others. Now, we all know that the second you post something on the internet, you’ve put yourself out there publicly. The good, the bad and the ugly. You invite disagreement and criticism merely by stating your opinion in a public forum. There are entire websites devoted to trashing healthy living bloggers. What you don’t invite or at least you shouldn’t invite is hate speech.
Last week on one of my Zumba videos I received this comment:
“White girls can’t Zumba … Especially classically trained ones.”
To say I was floored was an understatement. I’m not naive, I’ve received negative comments and thumbs down before. Obviously these things bother me because I am putting myself out there and to be judged harshly by others is difficult, especially because negative comments and thumbs down are not practices I engage in. However, I try to look at these comments with a constructive eye and figure out how I can make things better. One thing I cannot change is the color of my skin.
And is it really the color of my skin that causes me to move the way I do or the training I have had? Yes, I am a classically trained dancer in ballet, jazz and contemporary and yes, I do sometimes look funny doing hip hop moves. But does that mean I can’t do Zumba? No.
I have stated before and will state again that everyone is a dancer. Dancing is moving to music. It’s not about the steps, it’s about the way you feel when you hear a good song. Obviously there are different types of dance, some requiring more technical ability than others but I like to think that Zumba is for the masses.
Do you think Beto Perez, creator of Zumba, thought to himself “Gee, how can I invent a dance class that will cater to only a certain type of person?” Yeah, no. While I cannot speak on behalf of Zumba as a company or Beto as an individual, I can guess that their goal is to bring Zumba and the joy of dance to everyone.
So whether you love my Zumba videos or hate them, I don’t really care. I just care that you don’t stereotype, hate or otherwise classify a person on the basis of their race.
And because I know you will ask, this is how I handled the situation. I contacted YouTube and reported the comment as hate speech against a protected class (race of any kind is a protected class by law). I requested the user to be blocked and the comment removed. To be clear, I can block the person myself but because I found this particular comment to be so offensive, I decided it was important that I report them. The user was blocked from my channel and the comment was removed. It is unclear to me if there were any repercussions against the user but there should be as this conduct violates YouTube’s terms and conditions.
The majority of people out there are wonderful, encouraging people. I’ve had emails from around the world, comments left in French and moms telling me I helped then lose their baby weight when they couldn’t leave the house. These are the people I make my videos for and these are the people who make me smile every day. Thank you and keep watching because there will be more videos! As my husband likes to say:
Do it because you love it.
Wise words indeed.