- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2020

The popular fitness giant Peloton is being accused of “cultural appropriation” and playing to a “kind of white fantasy” in a new op-ed for NBC’s “Think” section.

Former New York Times editor David Kaufman blasted the company on Tuesday for subtle but “problematic” classes that evidence of “an unrecognized race problem.”

“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,” he wrote. “The problem is more subtle.”

At issue for the writer is the way instructors “get away” with specific rhetoric, inflections in their voice, and “‘brother from another mother’ banter” with millions of cyclists each week.

“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—s’ to whip their riders into a frenzy,” he wrote. “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.”

Mr. Kaufman then pivoted to the claim that black instructors try to make riders “black by association”

“It’s clearly playing into a certain kind of white fantasy, like when suburban white kids think they’re ‘hood because they can quote Jay-Z or fleece-wearing tech bros imagine themselves players because they worship Kobe and can afford front-row Lakers seats,” he wrote. “White folks might fall for those coaches’ banter, but real brothers would destroy them for fronting — which is why I suspect they’d be less inclined to perform this way if more Peloton riders were actually Black.”

The piece titled, “Having a Peloton during the pandemic saved me. But the more I ride, the more wary I get” did not escape criticism. 

John Sexton of the conservative website Hotair roasted Mr. Kaufman highlighting what “feels like the definition of first world problems.”

“Maybe write an email to the company if you don’t like the music selection but the rest of it feels like woke one-upmanship,” he wrote Thursday. “On the left, you get socially rewarded for finding problems with everything these days, even your over-priced stationary bike.”

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