An Open Letter to the Women of Color Sexual Health Network

 In Events

In the past three weeks I have been involved in numerous private and public conversations about racism within the sex education field. When I founded Urban Tantra® seventeen years ago, it was with the intention of creating a Tantra/conscious sexuality practice and community that is inclusive of all genders, sexual preferences, spiritualities—and races. For the most part, I have succeeded. But I can do better, especially around the inclusion of more people of color.

I have been contemplating writing a formal piece about this, but my German colleague, Lady Emma Steel, beat me to it. Here is a letter she has written on behalf of the worldwide Urban Tantra® Community to the Women of Color Sexual Health Network and it’s allies. I wholeheartedly echo her sentiments.


This is a letter of gratitude and solidarity to the Women of Color Sexual Health Network concerning the conversations around the book “Secrets of the Sex Masters” and the fact that only white sex educators are represented in it.

We, some white people in the Urban Tantra®Community—people who have taken Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra Professional Training Program—in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, carefully read the statement on your web site and the blog “When the Professional Is Personal: Calling Out the Whitewashing of the Sexuality Field” by Aida Manduley.

Thank you so much.

Thank you for your criticism.

Thank you for finding such clear words for complex issues.

Thank you for acting so transparently.

Thank you for your incredible patience.

There must have been a lot of hard conversations, and hours and hours of writing and discussing. Thank you.

White sex educators, healers, curators, book editors, sex workers need to hear your criticism. And there is no way we can simply stop at “let’s shut up and listen and learn.”

It is crucial we examine our events, trainings, parties, workshops, festivals, our work places and ask “What is missing?” as Allison Moon said in her blog post: “Race and Curation in Sex Ed”.

And it is crucial we move over and not only invite POC colleagues and experts to teach at those events, but to give up or to share the positions of power, of decision making, of leadership within these events.

The knowledge and the “mastery” of people who are on the profit side of white supremacist society is limited. Not only do white sex educators have to acknowledge the limits of what we know and can offer, it is also a basic ethical imperative not to let the structures that we build and inhabit and celebrate simply be part of “the white supremacy that is so deeply ingrained in the system“ as you so accurately put it.

Where there is hope is that next time something like “Secrets of the Sex Masters” happens there are some white folks of sex ed communities who will do a major part of the workload of calling people out in a respectful way for what went wrong—just as you did this time.

We totally agree that in order to get that happening (active steps by white people towards ending white supremacy in our scenes) a lot more needs to be done than writing letters like this or liking something on Facebook. We are grateful for your suggestions on how to do this and want to say “thank you and we are in solidarity.”


A note from Barbara: In the interests of full disclosure, we want to acknowledge that two members of our Urban Tantra® community were contributors to the book which started this discussion. They have made statements of their own acknowledging their responsibility and desire to act with heightened awareness in the future.

Showing 3 comments
  • Lola

    This is a terrific letter of support. I will speak for myself only, but suspect that everyone who is part of the Urban Tantra community shares a similar sentiment: we DO need to do more and we CAN do more. What we are pouching back against is not simply a single book, nor is it a single field (sexuality). Rather, it is the entirety of a system of structured inequality that effectively facilitates and co-opts an agenda of exclusion with what I would refer to as a string of red herrings all designed to allow us all to “feel okay” about things, about our lives. Yes, sexuality is a path to a deeper life that can feel pretty good, but there are a lot of difficult obstacles, and we must not forget that for too many, those obstacles are not simply something that prevents the inherence of an individual sexuality, but are often a threat to survival.

  • Aida Manduley

    Thank you <3

  • Cindy Lee Alves

    Thank you <3

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