Wellness retreat in Costa Rica that bans white people sparks controversy

A spiritual and wellness retreat aimed toward black women has become a major topic of debate after Vice News recently published a video saying that it bans white people from attending, and in which its owner goes further in stating that white people “shouldn’t have passports.”

The Women of Color Healing Retreat, which was founded in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, in 2014 by Brooklyn ex-pat and a former health care facilitator Satya X, brings women of color together for between a week and 10 days of yoga and meditation as a way “to unwind and disconnect from the psychological trauma of systemic racism.”


“It’s necessary to have a safe space for ourselves,” Satya X told Fox News. “People need to know about this. It’s about black people healing black people.”

Satya X said that since the segment aired in early February on HBO’s Vice News Tonight she has noticed a ramping up of the conversation — both positive and negative — about her retreat, especially regarding her more controversial comments, like her call to ban white people from traveling outside the U.S. and that she does not associate with white people. She told Fox News that she has no comment to make on what she said about passports for white people besides what she said to Vice News.

Conservative news outlets such as the Daily Caller and BizPac Review quickly picked up on the Vice News segment, noting that one of the women interviewed in the piece, Alexis Bromley, stereotyped all white Republicans as racist.

“Bromley stereotypes white Republicans as racists, saying that Nebraska is a red state, ‘so you just don’t know who you interact with on a daily basis, if they believe that you are lesser or inferior,’" the BizPac Review article states. “As for racists, the retreat founder is [Satya X], who believes that white people shouldn’t be given passports because of how destructive they are. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Andrea X, seen below, is an expatriate who no longer lives in the U.S.”

When questioned about how the motivations behind her retreats could be perceived the same as calls in the United States from white supremacists groups and neo-Nazis for a white-only nation or space, Satya X said that she does not believe that reverse racism exists, and that, unlike white supremacist groups, her work is “built on love, not hate.”

“This retreat has nothing to do with white people,” she added. “This retreat is a space built on a foundation of black love.”

Besides yoga and meditation, the Women of Color Healing Retreat also features hiking, surfing and vegan meals away from — as Satya X describes — the micro-aggressions and passive-aggressiveness that exists in the U.S.

Along with running and funding the retreats primarily by herself, Satya X is also working on a program to teach yoga and meditation to black children in Brooklyn, and she has created another program to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs at the local schools in nearby Cahuita, Costa Rica.


“This is so much more than the retreats,” she said. “Whatever anyone can donate, I would appreciate because I’m funding everything now.”