BREAKING NEWS: Yoga Journal Puts African American on Cover! /// Doesn’t Prep White Public Like the Old Days

Truth be told, thirty-seven-year-old Yoga Journal is no stranger to having African-Americans grace the cover of their highly esteemed documents, and in doing so have made a handful of pale face yoginis just that much more comfortable riding the subway. I mean really, when you’ve produced upwards of two-hundred-forty different covers and presented African-Americans on a whopping ten (if our numbers are correct), you start to know a thing or two about this new-fangled “diversity” stuff all the kids are talking about.

There was a time, however, when Yoga Journal would at least prep the nervous white public about the contents of an issue that featured real live African-Americans hidden inside. ‘Cause, let’s face it, when white people wanna read a magazine, it’s not like you can just put a black person on the cover without giving it some context, right?!

Think about it….

First, there was the January 1987 “Out of Africa” issue, which let everyone know that this wasn’t going to be just another white-boy vanilla experience. No, this Yoga Journal featured real live Africans in it who apparently are all about something called “roots”….

This is a “black person,” which is apparently code for “roots” and, of course, “Africa”

Then, there was the August 1994 “Radical Ritual” cover, which reminded us that black people were supposed to be really connected to indigenous rites and wisdom….

These are “black people,” and therefore enjoy making rituals

Then, in April 1998 came the cutting edge “Yoga in the Inner City” issue that…well…you know…had a black person on the cover along with the words “inner city.” It also utilized a cool “graffiti” font. Classy….

This is a “black person” who, we are to assume, appreciates graffiti and inner-city living

Then came the aughts, a time when Yoga Journal had ditched its “angles and ideas” cover copy, and settled into its “check-out counter” sell lines approach where anything potentially interesting and radical was taken out back and beaten with a stick.

It was also a unique time for another reason….

During the years 2001–2009 the very conservative, if ultimately confused, George W. Bush took office as the president of the United States. During his entire eight-year tenure only one African-American appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal, consequently right after the US invaded, and subsequently occupied, Iraq. This period of time marked an African-American dry spell not seen in Yoga Journal since its first—very non-black—twelve years.

Operation Timely Cover Model

Then Obama took office, and well, you know how liberals are….

Anyway, it’s nice to see Yoga Journal diversifying the playing selling field a little more often these days. And not so shabby to see India.Arie busting out a pretty decent back bend. Although, you have to hand it to ol’ Yoga Journal. They take the whole “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” trope to an entirely new level. Two covers. Two years apart. Two for the price of one.

Go frickin’ green!


  1. Linda-Sama

    great analysis! wondering how many INDIANS (and I don’t mean Native Americans) have appeared on the cover of this “yoga” magazine….hmmmmmmm………

  2. Also: how many gay, lesbian, transgender, East Asian, and Latin American persons have graced their cover over their years?

  3. the moment already came

    You’re missing the real story here. The Out of Africa issue prominently features a conch shell on the cover, making it Yoga Journal’s only mollusk-inclusive cover in its history. Gastropods have been blatantly under-represented by Yoga Journal, and while some may applaud YJ’s step toward welcoming invertebrates into the yoga community, here in the conch’s sole cover appearance, its dead, lifeless carcass is garishly, thoughtlessly displayed under the headlines “The Case for Animal Rights” and “Choosing a Vegetarian Diet.”

    Consider that African-Americans have, by your estimate, been featured on 10 Yoga Journal covers, or roughly 4%, ten times the representation of the conch. Yet the conch has played an integral role in countless yoga traditions for centuries: it is featured in the Bhagavad Gita, still used today in puja, depicted in the hands of Durga and countless other gods and goddesses. Can African-Americans say the same about their presence in the tradition of yoga?

    Racism, implicit or explicit, is a travesty in any community. But conchism has for decades been marginalizing sea creatures from a community in which they held a sacred place for eons. I encourage anyone who reads this to consider a donation the National Association for the Advancement of Conchs, Please (NAACP). After all, if we do not speak for the conch, who will?

  4. Yoga Dude

    Viva el Gastropod!

    We must be rid of that vile scourge conchophobia!

  5. Greenpoint

    banality, insipidity , YJ will take you there…piece of poopie that arrives in your mailbox unannounced…

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