Stolen Property

The article “Top Yoga Studios Unite to Racially Profile Black “Yoga Thief,”” on the feminist wire by Sabrina Strings explains how a young black man has being considered the “yoga thief” because he has stolen various yoga instructors’ materials and is on the run. Various students at the yoga facilities have encountered this so called “yoga thief.” The extent of their fears of the young man compelled them to implicitly ostracize him. One woman, sitting in a café, could not believe he was sitting beside her and sent an email to her other colleagues telling them to watch-out for him. As I continued to read, I stumbled on these words, “…the petty theft of property by a black man surfaces as the underlying justification for his perpetual harassment, dehumanization, and criminalization. It is the typical U.S. politics of valuing property over humanity.

Thus, I began to think back on the discussion about John Locke and his views on property. Dr. McCoy emphasized what Locke’s argument implied, that “Western Africans” had to be “construed as always already ontologically in a state of war.” In other words, Locke’s argument is that if the land is just sitting there on its own and not being used, it is a waste, and the “inhabitants value it not,” (sec. 38). That being the case, their waste has promoted the engagement of the state of war with Locke, and I guest is comrades, who considered them self the “industrious” and the “rationale.”

As I recall my studies throughout high school, the conquering of nations, the colonization of countries, the slave trade, it is exactly what slave masters did. And as Locke stated, the “rationale” and “industrious,” once being attacked by those who are below levels of their sentient, they have a right to conquer, enslave, imprison, or, ‘and’ demand reparations from them. By enslaving and/or imprisoning, you have become property. You are no longer human. I own you. And you no longer own yourself, nor no longer in a state of nature. Yes, my property is more important to me than your humanity. You are not even human.

And that is exactly how those fearful folks treated the young black man. Without evidence, they made speculations. Now, I am not saying stealing is right, and to point out, Strings made a valid argument about evidence, that there should be away in which our disposition to the evidence does not “contribute to the fear-mongering and racial profiling that would further deter people of color from entering into a [yoga] space” wherein they do not feel the effects of public disgrace. But the fact that these woman treated him as such, they are already claiming that he is a property that must be taken up before it becomes rotten – become an endangerment to society/ to the yoga facilities.

This idea of property is seen greatly throughout Octavia Butlers’ Seed to Harvest: Wild Seed. Doro continually treats “his people” as a piece of property that he disposes whenever he pleases to. In Part Two of the novel, he treats Thomas as a disposable ‘thing’ despite Anyanwu’s pleading request to have mercy on him. Doro’s views of others is highlighted clearly in one of the scenes where he returns from an errand in a new body as Butler writes, “Dora came in hours later” with a “new body. He had bought or stolen someone’s small crudely made wagon to carry his things,” (154). This is just as Strings asserted, it is a valuing of property over humanity. To Doro, this man and others were nothing to him but his disposable entities.

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