So today’s topic is going to be light, cheery and non-controversial. Nope. Nope. Not at all. If you want that, check out this post or this post. If not, stick with me!
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:
How sad that people feel the need to leave unnecessary, unproductive, ignorant comments. I applaud the way you handled the situation! If someone doesn’t like what you are doing, they can simply choose to not watch, not subscribe, and find a woman of their apparent preferred color to zumba with. We appreciate your videos, keep them coming!
third…you are amazing. I have seen you Zumba in person and girl you got it! I can’t believe this idiot said this. You keep doing your videos, we love them!! I am glad you reported them, these internet trolls are just out of control these days.
I love that you blogged this, and good for you on keeping offensive comments from coming in – it is very distracting and unproductive! We are here to enjoy your blog and your videos! Personally I have visited over 100 You Tube videos for good Zumba and Barre – and yours have been the best and really created a sweat and burn. A lot of us had ballet and jazz dance classes as kids, so this helps in keeping up with your form – which is very classy as well as fun. Keep up the good work!
I wish I could say this is shocking but it’s not. It’s awful and horrible and I can’t imagine how you felt when you read it but it just seems to be so *common*! That said, I totally have to subscribe to your channel!! I have one too but I have like 2 videos out there. One of my goals after my races are over is to post more and get more info out there.
Thank you for sharing this. So glad you’re such a great/smart lawyer and you knew exactly what to do!
Wow! 1st: you are amazing for confronting the issue so eloquently with so much class and poise. 2nd: you know how to work it! I’ve seen your videos. 3rd: I ♡ you and don’t let those wack YouTube trolls get you down.
I am saddened by the erosion that others cause for no reason other than their own insecurities. I am crying with joy in the way that you handled the situation–in a fair way that prevents perpetration of the negativity. I love Zumba and I love your videos–you transitions are like Fosse! Most of all I love do Zumba while watching you teach me on You Tube ! Keep it up! L, Makah
I think that this is one of the hardest things about blogging and one of the specific reasons I try to avoid videos. It scares me and I think the you tube videos are frequently used to hurt (the video producer) instead of encourage. You are exceptionally brave and awesome for putting yourself out there to help others. It’s incredible!
I would have handled that comment exactly the same way. If they wrote it to you they are saying things like this to others and it might not be someone with the maturity you have to handle it.
Now, you know I just subscribed to your channel last week. I was like, she’s a YouTube celebrity!!! You are reaching so many ppl and it’s not because you can’t move. Kudos for inspiring many to have active lifestyles and at THE MOST affordable cost! People are cruel and have nothing better to do. They make slanderous comments and don’t think about the individual any longer. We would all do good not to let them get under our skin. Glad you reported it.
I am actually in shock that anyone would have the audacity to post that. You handled it in stride, lovely. Don’t EVER let ignorant people make you question what you love to do. One of these days I will get around to trying out a Zumba video, but for now I just enjoy watching you dance 🙂
I think that you videos are adorable! It sucks that people feel the need to be so negative and racist. I think that there are a lot of people in this world who are unhappy with themselves, so they hide behind a computer screen and bash people to make themselves feel better. Sometimes I try to not even look at comments on articles or videos because the things that people say can be so unbelievably hateful and bothersome. Like you said though, all you can do is take it in stride, and keep on dancing and doing what you love!!
Thanks Nicole. I know I need to have a thick skin putting stuff out there for people to see but I think you are right, the people who say negative things really are doing so because they feel bad about themselves.
Well said. This was truly an honest, real, and empowering post to anyone who wants to put themselves out there through blogging, videos, public speaking, etc, etc. It is actually beyond my comprehension how people can be so mean. I also wonder how people’s lives can be so boring and unfulfilled that they have the time or desire to post such pointless BS…. I could go on forever but really I just want to say, GO YOU! You are awesome for doing what you do because you love it. Your husband has it figured out. Great job 🙂 XO
Love, love, love your blog and your you-tube channel!! You are helping a lot of us to be healthier and happier. Thank-you for the excellent workouts and the recipes, and for putting yourself out there!!! I have been doing the videos, and they are so much fun. Ignore the crazy people, you are awesome and we appreciate you!!
Excellent workout as always. It's challenging, fun and easily one of my favorite workouts!
Fantastic class! Great technique pointers. Always new exercises to challenge oneself!
I am excited to take classes with Brittany in person this summer! I have followed Brittany online for some time. I particularly like the Barre and Pilates workout videos. Her workout techniques reflect current thinking and best practices. She supports all levels of fitness. Definitely worth a try!
Brittany is the BEST. She is inspirational, motivational and innovative. No two classes are ever the same. I'm sad when the summer classes end, but I'm looking forward to checking out her online classes this fall and winter.
My wife and I decided to give Balance Barre Fitness a try and we were not disappointed. We thought the classes would be pretty easy but were surprised at how rigorous they were. The class was great for working on our coordination and core strength. I don't get to many ...