OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Remember when Peloton was accused of sexism this past Christmas? Mock and Daisy discussed the hullabaloo on their Common Sense Cast. The ridiculous “controversy” erupted after Peloton aired the commercial below:
People threw a fit over this husband giving his wife a Peloton and her going on a fitness journey. To my hubby, if you’re reading this, I will not be offended if you buy me a Peloton. In fact, I would be thrilled. Please get me the treadmill though, not a bike.
Well, now, Peloton is in the news again. You think the last fit of outrage was manufactured? Wait until you read about this one. It’s even more ridiculous.
NBC writer David Kaufman is now accusing Peloton of RACISM!
Writing for NBC News’ THINK platform, African-American writer David Kaufman claims that, while he’s found his Peloton spin bike incredibly useful during the coronavirus pandemic when most gyms are locked down to prevent the spread of the virus, he’s concerned that the company has a “race problem” and that its mostly white instructors are pigeonholing rap and hip-hop artists and appropriating language more typically associated with black culture in order to encourage Peloton’s mostly white consumer base.
“It’s not that Peloton the company is actively racist or has even failed at being #woke; a quick spin through Peloton’s app or blog reveals that the brand is intentionally including racially conscious content throughout their marketing materials,” Kaufman says.
The streaming workout programs, though, are a different story. “Black instructors offer rides filled with typically “Black” music (rap, Caribbean or hip-hop) while white instructors offer ones with mostly “white” music (rock, pop and heavy metal) — though the thought that white people don’t work out to rap or hip-hop music and Black people don’t use rock or pop music to fuel their sessions in 2020 is laughable,” he says.
“Also curious — and curiously concerning — are the ways in which white Peloton instructors take on the affect of typical African American cultural tropes, using phrases like ‘go gurl,’ or ‘yassss b—-es’ to whip their riders into a frenzy,” Kaufman adds. “Yes, I realize that Black-inflected drag culture is now mainstream thanks to ‘Pose’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and that digital culture can often transcend traditional notions of race, but absent actual Black people, this type of cultural appropriation and tone-deafness feels woefully out of touch at a time when class and race-based inequalities are literally killing thousands.”
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Mr. Kaufman is working really, really hard… at being offended. People like Mr. Kaufman actually hurt the fight against racism. Calling things that are not racist cheapens the term and takes away attention from real acts of racism.
We are so far gone from Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind society that judges people based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Mr. Kaufman pretty much admitted he was full of it and just being a crybaby near the end of his piece.
In this era of senseless death and mass unemployment, whining about an overpriced exercise bike program admittedly feels manufactured and churlish, but that doesn’t make it less necessary. And, nearly three months into quarantine, Peloton is probably the only reason I’ve not gained weight. But with its outdated optics and oblivious racial dynamics, the being part of the community feels like participating in peak #whitegaze.
Actually, in light of high unemployment and death, your whining is decidedly not necessary.
Kaufman’s piece did not receive positive feedback from Twitter commenters, many of whom were African-American. Hopefully, that causes him to realize the error of his thoughts on this matter, notions he created in his own mind.
Having a Peloton during the pandemic saved me, writes @kaufmandavidnyc.
But the more I ride, the more wary I get: https://t.co/GX6xxTlQkp
— NBC News THINK (@NBCNewsTHINK) May 19, 2020