A segment on Vice News Tonight exploring a unique way Black women are dealing with institutional racism has struck quite a nerve—with white women.
In the segment, Andrea X discusses the Costa Rican retreat she created specifically for women of color to escape racism. The island getaway is not held at the exclusion of white people, but for the inclusion of Black women— to be exact. The Vice cameras follow Andrea and about a dozen of her attendees around for the week, as they experience the solitude and community of relaxing with one another away from the stresses of the world—particularly, those racist aggressions many experience in the United States.
Andrea is an expatriate who moved from Brooklyn to Costa Rico to create The Women of Color Healing Retreat in Puerto Viejo in 2014.
“Every time I have a conversation with [white people], I just pick up on certain things that they say, I pick up on the micro-aggressions, the passive aggressiveness, I pick up on it,” Andrea told the reporter from Vice. “So, I decided one day to just eliminate white people from my personal life, and ever since then, my life has been way more breezy.”
So breezy, in fact, that she decided to create a getaway for other women of color who felt the need for the breath of fresh air and an escape from racism. The retreat lasts 10 days and costs around $3,333. It focuses on eating healthy (vegan food only!), yoga, community, nature, hiking, herbalism, and other group activities.
Alexis Bromley, of Omaha, Nebraska, and others were also interviewed about their reasons for attending the retreat. Many cited similar concerns saying they needed a break and the retreat promised something that they can’t find anywhere else. “It’s very segregated,” Bromley said of her life in Omaha. “It can be very isolated if you’re a person of color. It’s hard in Nebraska because it’s a red state. So, you just don’t know who you’re interacting with on a daily basis. If they believe that you’re lesser, if you’re inferior, and how that in turn can affect me.”
Watch the segment here:
While the retreat focuses on healing Black women, many white people have expressed outrage online.
“Why do people who feel this way about white people insist on living in the West? They should leave permanently & never have to put up with us again,” one tweeted.
It seems absurd that Black women can’t treat themselves to a ten day break from racism without being compared to the violent aggressions of the Ku Klux Klan.
Taking on the critics
Andrea is standing firm in her commitment to the audience the retreat serves.
“I would say it doesn’t have anything to do with them,” said Andrea X in response to the criticism. “This is about us healing our community.”
“I have no tips for a white person,” she continued. “My tip for white people is to let us have our space, let us have our room, and go hang out with other white people. We’re okay, you know? You’ve done enough damage.”