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THE LIES TOLD TO BLACK PEOPLE TO MAINTAIN WHITE DOMINANCE

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If you ever wondered why African Americans are portrayed so negatively in almost all media sources, please look no further than this.

African Press International (API)

By F. Jones

Many African Americans now holds the opinion that in the face of greater gained opportunities that many within their race became their own worst enemies. It is not uncommon to hear these negative sentiments about their own race now echoed by many African Americans themselvesthey that consider themselves as being exceptions to this norm. This perception often engenders profound feelings of immense humiliation, racial self contempt, and disunity among many African Americans in the 21st-century. But are these self contemptuous views among so many African Americans correct?

And if so how have African Americans, the racial group that demonstrated an unprecedented degree of Black racial pride and unity during the 1960’s civil rights movement now become living contradictions of their former selves? The common response, when presented with this daunting question is to take the position that the core problem lies with something to do with Black…

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Pagans: Please Stop Stealing Hoodoo

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A reoccurring them I seem to be realizing through many of the Pagan books I’m reading is the tendency to take traditional Hoodoo formulas and then relabel them as a generic “magickal” formula. Lets dig deep into this, for those of you who are confused.

Hoodoo, also called rootworking, is an African American spiritual practice that came into being via  slaves brought over from Africa into the Americas. By mixing not only each other’s beliefs, but also those of Native Americans and Europeans, the system of “Hoodoo” was created. Let me repeat: although Hoodoo is a spiritual practice that anyone can practice, it is an African American one. I have seen many books that seem to feel uncomfortable with this fact and will often drop the African American part and simply address it as a spiritual practice that anyone can do of apparently mysterious origins.  Recognize  the system as what it is- a system rooted in African American culture.

This is problematic because the common trend in modern, eclectic Paganism where said Pagans will decide that they enjoy/want a particular aspect of a culture and will take from it without doing further research, by attempting to sever this new system/practice from it’s traditional  structure  and repackage it as if it never belonged to a system to begin with (i.e.- chakras, yoga, the Elder Futhark) because it suits their need to incorporate an element into their personal practice without having to sacrifice the work, effort, and energy to study said system in it’s original context, feeling that their own interpretations are good enough to suffice for authenticity.

Hoodoo is a very specific system- it is not just general “magick” or magickal herbalism- it is unique in that not only herbs and stones are used, but also animal parts, soil, body fluids, and the like. The individual meanings and how each element is incorporated into a trick or working is specific to Hoodoo- when you redefine the meanings of formulas,candle colors, or herbs, it is no longer hoodoo.

Also there  is the tendency for some to look down at Hoodoo because unlike other modern magical systems, hexes and curses, called crossing, are also used as a part of the system. While many individual root workers may choose not to practice such things, favoring other practices instead, there is often a break in history where people forget why they were used in the first place.

It is because African Americans in the past faced (and yes, still do, although in a much different, non-institutionalized form) oppression and racism that was  constant threat to not only their well-being, but the well-being of their loved ones and communities as a whole.

When having an enemy can mean danger to your family, or when racist cops are quick to find offenses to get you in trouble over, you don’t give a shit as to whether or not your actions are harming someone else. Your concern is the safety of your own- your family, your community, and your people.

You’re not concerned over whether or not the white man at work whose sexually harassing you is harmed, or whether or not your  nosy, snitch neighbor develops a disease and moves away- as long as he’s gone and your shit is safe, that’s all that matters.

Hoodoo is a practice born out of desperation of a people with the desire to live and prosper under horrifying circumstances-not some gentle, herbal practice that those with no appreciation for the it can just go buy on Etsy without even understanding the circumstances of it’s creation.

This is not to say that no rootworker-then or now -has ever used it for unjustified malicious purposes- because yes, it was common at one point in time.

What I’m saying is that many Pagans today have no or little understanding of what it means to be truly desperate.

There is also a long standing history of whites appropriating from black culture while giving no credit to the culture they appropriated from. Keep this in mind when traditional (black) rootworkers become offensed over your taking of their shit.

If you want to work or practice Hoodoo- do some research. Until then, quit stealing our formulas because the idea of having tons of magical formulas entices you, or because you like the way the packaging looks, or because it’s so versatile, or whatever bullshit excuses you’ll try to give for being too lazy to learn shit about the culture you’re stealing from.

The versatile, Earth-based practices of Hoodoo- floor washes, Mojo hands, powders,incense, bath crystals, handwashes, candles, and perfumes make it an easy target for those who are interested in new ways to incorporate herbs into their practice, but who could care less about the oppressive history of African American culture and spiritual practices, it’s apparent “lack” of ethics, and it’s lexicon of new words.

That will be all.

Websites and Blogs for People of Color!

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Hello again my dears- here I will begin the stock piling of sources for those of you interested in sources that cater to the experiences of PoC.

On another note, let me define what I mean by PoC. In some cases, I use it for shorthand to mean Pagans of Color, to which I usually will put in brackets for understanding.

People of Color does not mean just Black people- it also extends to Asians- Laotian, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean- Latin Americans, people of Middle Eastern decent-

You get the picture.

The idea is to have multiple resources for those who come from different cultural backgrounds, so I have compiled all of these links together for your enjoyment! This page will continue to be updated as time does on.

Racialicioushttp://www.racialicious.com/

This website details the intersection between race and popular culture, and is very inclusive. There is a focus on not just African American PoC, but also Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other PoC.

Angry Asian Manhttp://blog.angryasianman.com/

A blog that caters to a wide variety of issues facing Asians and Asian Americans, including not only racial issues, but media, music, and other blogs. Read it.

Gradient Lairhttp://www.gradientlair.com/

Here you will find articles written by and for African American women. Beautiful and inspiring artwork, essays, and thoughtful disscusions provide a safe place for African American WoC (Women of Color) to express themselves and discuss race. 

Excluding Definitions of Paganism: How Does it Effect Pagans of Color?

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Often, especially in old books and websites, I find definitions of paganism that go a bit as follows:

“Paganism is an umbrella term for any pre-Christian European religion”

When people define paganism as such, what they are effectivly doing is setting up a system in which European (white) is the default, and any PoC or-non-European traditions- are considered an outlier. When you ask pagans why there isn’t more PoC representation in the Pagan community, often the excuse is that paganism is defined as European religions, and that most pagans choose to follow those paths that their ancestors walked. Instead, the case is that PoC (pagans of color) and non-European traditions are often overlooked in favor of Euro-centric ones.

Not to mention that that excuse doesn’t make  sense. How do you get the idea that if you are following  a European religion that that is the path that your ancestors walked, so long as it’s European?

I do not know where my ancestors came from, and just picking and choosing a traditional African religion does not mean that I’m following the “path of my ancestors”, much in the same way that a white person picking any European spirituality- regardless of their ancestry- isn’t necessarily  following the path of their ancestors.

This system is problematic, as it also upholds the idea of privilege where any pagan who is not following the defaults of Paganism (read: is white, follows a European spirituality or a spirituality filled with cultural appropriation) is seen as different.

Also seen in the Pagan community is the idea of mutual exclusivity, or the idea that, if you are pagan, you cannot be something else, because pagan and xyz are not possible because they are mutually exclusive.

Also not true.

You can still be a pagan and be a racist.

You can still be pagan and be prejudice.

You can still be pagan and have white privilege.

You can still be pagan and have male privilege.

You can still be pagan and have heterosexual privilege.

YOU CAN STILL BE PAGAN AND HAVE PRIVILEGE- just because you are oppressed in one way- spiritually-doesn’t mean you aren’t benefitting in other ways-being white.

Those are the simple facts, and by pointing out the fact that many pagans feel as if they bear the worst oppression because of their spirituality is laughable-especially because many uphold ideas that racism and prejudice no longer exist, while also choosing to remain “colorblind” (which is a form of racism)- they feel as if you are being antagonistic or simply “bringing race into it” or being a ‘race-baiter”

I am choosing to point out these issues in the community because it remains a constant problem, and in order to truly progress and understand each other, we must be able to create a space in which we can accept others without silencing them in favor for a more homogenized, blind view.

Many PoC feel as if they cannot be pagan because they aren’t white. Others avoid talking about race/cultural based subjects in fear of being seen as a negative race-baiter.

This all goes hand in hand with the fact that people with privilege often feel uncomfortable speaking about it, and will often a) avoid the conversation completely, b) adamantly refuse the idea that they have privilege,thus effectively silencing the voices and experiences of PoC, or, c),  become belligerent, rude, and embarrassed.

All terrible responses to have.

As pagans we need to understand-yes, understand, because despite all the feel good books speaking about how paganism is open to all people from all walks of life- many still choose to discount those who come from different situations and experiences than them, because often times they bring with them experiences which point out blatant differences between them and other pagans.

I did not come from a wonderful home with loving Christian parents who were outraged at my involvement with paganism.

I came from a broken, abusive home where my mother accepted my maturity in studying a spiritual path and my father applauds my philosophic skills.

I did not come from a home where milk was a given, or that dinner was a given- I came from a home where good food (read: not ramen) was considered luxury and should be respected.

I am not the standard white middle class pagan, and I will not have my experiences as well as the experiences of others droned out in favor for a more homogenized view of pagans and paganism.

So many books portray paganism in this particular way that it becomes seen as the norm. We tend to see those that practice differently or don’t believe in the Three Fold Law or don’t follow the Wheel of the Year as “those other people” or just “others” instead of validating them as pagans with different experiences and practices.

I am pagan just like everyone else, and just because I am not the “typical pagan” doesn’t mean that I am not pagan. We need to stop drowning out ideas and voices because we don’t like what they have to say.

Cultural Appropriation and the Pagan Community: AKA White Privilege

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shadow-m
AKA, how to take a shit on Native American traditions

In my attempts to hunt down and find information about how members of the Pagan community view the topic of cultural appropriation, I stumbled across this thread.

Here we go.

This is very important, because it shows how those who do the cultural appropriating are attempting to define what is and is not classified as appropriation, without even understanding the definition appropriating.

This goes hand in hand with white privilege-because, yes, it does exist- and the fact that even mentioning so will receive outrage and denial from people who refuse to understand and learn from the experiences from PoC.   This plays into the ideology that you somehow have the right to take from other cultures what you wish, without giving any care or concern for those whom you are appropriating from.

Also important to understand is the fact that those members of the cultures who you are appropriating from are telling you no, that you cannot take their practices from them, and yet you are doing it anyway. 

Here and here and here and here are all examples of people telling you that it is not okay to take their shit, and yet you still believe that you have the right to anyway?

And for those of you who do not understand, appropriation is not learning about someone else’s culture, or taking genuine interest in someone else’s religion or spirituality. It is not wanting to worship other deities or incorporating other’s beliefs into your own.

Cultural appropriation is when a person decides to take from another culture without understanding or throwing aside any cultural significance or meaning, instead choosing to re-define it, until it is nothing like it was in the traditional context.

This and this and this and this are all examples of cultural appropriation in the pagan community, as if, somehow, taking something with “good intentions”, even spiritual ones, excuses you from the fact that you are stealing from other cultures. 

Choosing to personalize your practice does not account for laziness and refusal to do your research. Many non-European religions have long-standing traditions and are still practiced, their traditions being upheld by members of spiritual clergy, unlike many European ones, to which are no longer practices by a large community and as such are open to modern interpretation.

I am tired of seeing the same old excuses and stuttering when it comes to topics such as these, and the sad fact is that many people will refuse to admit that they are doing something which oppresses another culture and group of people. It shows the unwillingness of people to give up their privilege-privilege which benefits them very well.

You want to appropriate another person’s culture? Fine. Just don’t get mad when we call you out on bullshit.

Stop cultural appropriation of Yoga: Yoga is all about Hinduism, albeit without the ism

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Here is the perfect example of how cultural appropriation effects the culture that is being appropriated from, as well as how the appropriator decides what counts as appropriation and what is not.

Sandhu Bhamra on Finding Self

By: Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra

Yoga is not teaching religion.

Or is it?

A California judge has ruled that Yoga in a public school’s fitness program does not amount to teaching children religion because it is rooted in American culture.

To me, the whole debate on whether Yoga teaches religion or not, is blatant cultural appropriation of Yoga. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy that kids will be allowed to practice this blissful routine, but equally unhappy that this debate has robbed Yoga of its true origin, and meaning.

So is Yoga teaching religion or not?

To understand this, you first have to understand what is religion.

Religion from a western perspective is a set of practices and beliefs in a Higher Being, which is referred to as God. To reach God, a person needs a medium, which is outside of him or her – a separate entity. In the…

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PSA: Please Stop Romanticizing the Romani People and Using the Slur G*psy

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Over and over again in the Pagan community I see people who constantly romanticize the Romani people. Despite multiple discussions on the subject and information provided by Romani themselves people continue to romanticise them, stereotyping them and refusing to understand the struggles and discrimination they underwent.

It’s extremely rude, inconsiderate, and oppressive.

I am sick and tired of the excuses of Pagans make as to why they continue to use the word “G*psy”- “Oh, some G*psies don’t care if I use it”, “I’m actually part Romani, you know” “It’s not a slur”- all excuses. There are Native Americans who may use the word “Indian” to refer to themselves, but that does not mean that, because some don’t mind it, that others don’t. I don’t care what the shows on television are called, how many books use the title, and how many other dozens of pagan books use the slur. I do not care how the word is spoken, I do not care in what reference it is used- it is a FUCKING SLUR, often combined with ROMANTICIZATION .

The fact that the Romani have been DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, SYSTEMATICALLY MURDERED, should be REASON ENOUGH to stop these stupid stereotypes of them being some type of card-reading, crystal gazing beings- not to mention that they’re are homogenized, much like Asians.

Stop. Using. Slurs.

Here is a Tumblr blog that describes exactly what is mentioned above: http://thisisnotromani.tumblr.com/

Public Service Announcement over.