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A fitness trainer used Kenyans as “props” during a workout retreat, and humanity needs to do better

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A fitness trainer employed Kenyans as “props” during a workout retreat, and humanity needs to do better

A fitness trainer used Kenyans as “props” during a workout retreat, and humanity needs to do better

From fashion brands invoking blackface to the continual use of reductive stereotypes in brand ad, it can sometimes seem like true social progress is constantly just out of reach. And in the latest example of” what were they thinking ?”, fitness trainer Russell Bateman used native Kenyans as “props” during a fitness retreat. BuzzFeed News reports that Bateman was hosting a retreat in Kenya from March 6th to March 13 th for his invite-only group, “Skinny Bitch Collective”( um…what ?). And many have since conveyed outrage over Bateman’s use of the Maasai people during his group activities.

On March 8th, the blog Diet Prada shared videos and images from the retreat to Instagram. In the post, the retreat participants–almost all of them white women–could be seen educate while several Maasai stood in the background. In other images, the group appeared to be weaving in and out of the Maasai, as if they were merely inanimate obstacles. In the post, Diet Prada wrote that Skinny Bitch Collective( SBC)” managed to use the local Maasai people not only as a backdrop, but as literal props in their fitness routines .”

” It’s 2019 and apparently people still haven’t learned that POC/ ethnic groups don’t exist to embellish already privileged lives ,” the post concluded.” The Colonial mindset is alive and well I guess …”

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Ummm…happy International Women’s Day? Russell Bateman( @russellsbc ), the white male mastermind behind the invite-only fitness collective SBC( Skinny Bitch Collective ), took a gang of apparently cloned, pony-tailed white women on a retreat in Kenya. Among the sisterhood-fostering activities like hot air balloon rides, chef-prepared organic snacks( that chia berry jam !), and dancing’ round a tree of life, they also managed to use the local Maasai people not only as a backdrop, but as literal props in their fitness routines. Some videos have already been deleted, but screenshots appear to show the girls writhing around the locals like an obstacle course. Booty twisting on Maasai cloth chick deserves special mention…real classy lol. It’s 2019 and apparently people still haven’t learned that POC/ ethnic groups don’t exist to embellish already privileged lives. The Colonial mindset is alive and well I guess …* #internationalwomensday #womensday #sbc #skinnybitchcollective #russellbateman #kenya #africa #poc #maasai #maasaitribe #tribe #health #fitness #retreat #smh #wtf #colonialism #chiaberryjam #lame #maasaishuka

A post shared by Diet Prada ™ (@ diet_prada) on Mar 8, 2019 at 3:47 pm PST

It wasn’t long before others started speaking up.

Jesus. This is absolutely horrendous. A group of white females called “the skinny bitch collective” do workouts in Kenya, apparently utilizing local Maasai people as props. Has this been covered by mainstream media? I’ve missed it https :// t.co/ HfJ4uCzNKT

— Bella Mackie (@ bellamackie) March 10, 2019

Congrats to the Skinny Bitch Collective workout programme- for being even more vile than they already were.They’ve held a retreat in Kenya& used the representatives of the Maasai as markers/ props.Colonialism never ended- it just changed attires& is wandering around in Lycra& a sports bra pic.twitter.com/ AV88rnSgeh

— Samira Sawlani (@ samirasawlani) March 9, 2019

But you also have to watch til the end of this video because it has been purposely edited to include the clip of him saying, “Cassenia, can you pass me the chia berry jam? ” which is just absolutely next level. https :// t.co/ 25 PgZjMwsQ

— Afua Hirsch (@ afuahirsch) March 9, 2019

The SBC website currently states that it is” down for upkeep .” Bateman’s Twitter account has been suspended, and his Instagram account appears to have been deleted, but BuzzFeed reports that on March 9th, Bateman issued a statement apologizing for the incident. The trainer reportedly claimed that the Maasai people voluntarily “joined in” with the SBC’s activities and consented to being recorded.

” Our aim was to promote a cross-cultural exchange through shared experiences, and to highlight the beauty of Kenya and its indigenous people ,” he wrote, per BuzzFeed.” However, having taken a step back, we accept and understand that our content fell well short of this aim, and absence appropriate culture sensitivity by reinforcing colonial epoch stereotypes of people of color .”

Bateman’s use of the Maasai in his retreat was altogether dehumanizing, and we sincerely hope that the SBC re-evaluates its practices.

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