feminism

Propaganda About Muslim Women: How Does it Fit into White Oppression?

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If you live in America, then no doubt you are aware of the “politics” surrounding what Muslim women choose to wear on their bodies. I wanted to write this blog post about it, because it is actually very important.

Usually in topics such as these, whether it’s white people speaking about sexism in the black community or what Muslim women choose to put on their bodies- notice how there is always a need to make it appear as if somehow these cultures are any more sexist than their own.

They will always try to make it seem as if their culture is somehow the pinnacle of appropriate behavior, overlooking their own flaws and instead choosing to focus on those in PoC communities, because those flaws they find only serve to feed how great white culture is as compared to those of PoC.

Also is a need to “save” brown women from brown men, (or other PoC). Here we also see how many white people view MoC (Men of Color) as beastly, uncouth, and uneducated. The idea that WoC would be “better off” if they simply emerge themselves in white culture or just stay away from men of their own race is also present- as if somehow things are always better if they are white.

The very fact is that white people are offended that you will not shed your own beliefs and culture and be more like other Americans. (White) This is also coupled with the propaganda the U.S. is using in order to fuel it’s interference with the Middle East, under the guise of fighting terrorism. The U.S. has a history of painting other races and cultures as barbaric, lazy, uncivilized masses in order to fuel it’s political agenda- today is no different, albeit in a much more subtle form. 

Hatred, misunderstanding, and down right LIES about what is and what it means to be a Muslim only serve to rile white America up into outrage, building anti-Islam into a smear campaign against Middle-Eastern Americans.

The idea of a white Nun being the epicenter of purity and devotion but a fully covered Muslim women being oppressed is no coincidence.

Because the idea that women’s bodies- especially those exotic, foreign brown women- are covered from white male eyes is literally throwing white America into a tizzy. Because in American culture, women’s bodies only exist for the gratification of white men, to serve as their own sexual fantasies and conquests.

The idea of a Muslim women- or any other women- is refusing to please the white male gaze is like an unmentionable crime.

Also present is the confusion that sexual freedom somehow equals power, because if  you please white males and entertain their white male privilege, everything ill be a-okay. Just don’t mention their privilege. Or your culture, other than those “exotic” adornments. Or expect him to take your customs seriously. Or honor your family.

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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.

Why is a Space for PoC (Pagans of Color) Needed?

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Pagans who are also PoC require their own safe spaces to communicate, find solidarity, and be able to express themselves in a space where otherwise their opinions would not be valued.

Often times, Pagan places are often perceived to be “safe”, simply because we are all Pagan- however, when someone chooses to speak out against issues in the Pagan community i.e., cultural appropriation, racism, classism, exclusion, and other issues that are often swept under the rug in favor of more “positive” discussions notice how the mood changes. Often times, PoC’s experiences are ignored, as the majority of the Pagan community is white, and many white Pagans uphold the idea that Paganism is for white people, or at least people who follow a traditionally European spirituality.

The idea that PoC (Pagans of Color) are expected to simply shrug their shoulders and just accept paganism as a “white thing” effectively silences their voices and minimizes their experiences. The idea that being pagan (and thus being a minority in one regard) cancels out any other privileges they may have is also a common idea- for example, white pagans who believe that they do not have white privilege because they are pagan. This is simply untrue.

Also needed is a space where PoC (Pagans of Color) can discuss non-European spiritualities, such as Buddhism, Taosim, Shinto, Voodun, and Santeria- with a focus on these particular spiritualities where no overwhelmingly European bias exists. By having a space such as this, PoC (Pagans and People of Color) can have a space in which their spirituality takes center stage and is not scooted aside for traditionally European deities, practices, and holidays which is common in other pagan spaces.

There are those people who may be offended that my blog does not focus/ cater to the white pagan populace, however I feel as if white pagans are otherwise represented, accounted for, and have spaces where they are free to speak about their own experiences. PoC do not have such spaces, and it is them that I am catering to- because otherwise they would not have accurate representations of themselves or places where they can comment without feeling as if they are outsiders.

I cannot tell you how many books, websites, and forums I have read that treat me as if-because I’m pagan- I must be white. Books where the author proclaims that “we” should ‘get back to the ways of our ancestors” (in reference to Celtic spirituality) effectively leaves me out, with the assumption that if I’m picking up a book on Celtic spirituality, I must be white.

There is also much more literature about European Pagan deities than there are of say Chinese, Japanese, or South American other than the token Kuan Yin or Amaterasu, not often do you find non-appropriated details on non-European pantheons, minus the Egyptian one, which often is appropriated by other pagans.

With this blog, I will share books, other blogs, research material and artwork, as well as provide accurate information on non-European deities, holidays, and systems so that people who are looking for information about them from a non-approprative view can read them.

I hope that I can create a safe space for PoC to deepen their spirituality in a place that understands their unique experiences.

This is a Public Service Announcement: My Blog is Not For White People

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Please let me make this clear.

My blog is not for white people- my job is not to coddle you and make you feel better about race relations or cultural appropriation. I am not catering to white people- I am here to cater to PoC as well as pagans, people whose voices are seldom heard much less appreciated. If you are white and read my blog, please do not comment on my blog telling me about your opinions, feeling, or xyz, because I don’t care about what you think.

However, simply because my blog does not cater to the white populace does not mean that I am telling white people that they cannot read or experience. The very plain fact is that when it comes to social justice blogs, many white people cannot choose to put aside their own opinions to simply listen to what PoC are saying-and, instead-choose to ignore what we are saying in favor from their own opinions, either because they refuse to admit that whit privilege exists, that they benefit from it, justifying racism and the like, standing up for cultural appropriation, and the list goes on and on. I will have none of it.

Your opinions are valued everywhere else- they will not be here. Do not police my tone and tell me that I am not being fair or that I’m being rude- I don’t care. I am tired of white people always wanting to invade every space, because any space that does not include them is somehow offensive, as if they do not have  a thousand other places to comment and express their opinions. Many PoC do not.

This is a not a coddling blog. I am not here to make you feel comfortable, wanted, or appreciated, or to reassure you that you are not “like other white people”, or assure you that you are a good person.

This is a place for PoC to express their own opinions and experiences- because we have very few safe places to do so otherwise.

Thank you, PSA over.

Why Do We Still Treat Asian-Americans as Foreigners?

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One of the things I have continued to notice is how people seem to constantly look at Asian-Americans as foreigners, ignoring them as American citizens.

Questions such as ‘Where are you from?”, “Where were you born?”, usually come before more racist questions such as ‘Do you eat dog/cat?”, “Did your parents own a Chinese food shop?”, and “Do you like sushi?”

The problem with questions such as these is that people tend to put emphasis on someone else’s Asian ethnicity, completely tossing aside the idea that they may have been born in raised in America, or even that their parents may have been born in America. The idea that if someone is other than white or African American must be a foreigner can have negative repercussions on people, especially those who uphold specific cultures and customs.

For example, Indians who choose to wear traditional Indian clothing, such as saris or kurta-pajama may be looked at as foreigners unwilling to “adapt” to American culture, instead of people who are choosing to wear clothing specific to their ethnicity.

Other Asian-Americans may have a cluster of inappropriate comments and generalizations made about them, comments that destroy the cultural differences between them. This is why questions such as “Do your parents own a Chinese food shop” can be offensive- it’s not that there is anything wrong with owning a Chinese food shop, or denying that Asians can own Chinese food shops- it’s the idea that you are associating being Asian-American with stereotypes, refusing to see the differences between Asian cultures in favor of a more homogenized view.

On the other side of the spectrum is the exotification and constant “need-to-know”- that is, people who treat Asian-Americans as if their ethnicity is a game, something to guess and figure out. The funny thing is, if someone were to go up to someone white and go “What is your ethnicity? Where are your ancestors from?”, they would receive odd looks.

The exotification and appropriation of Eastern cultures has a long and dirty history, as is plundering from Eastern spiritual practices in order to “spice up” Western ones. Practices such as yoga, Eastern forms of meditation, yoga, and even martial arts have all been appropriated in the West, presented here as a new form of exotic spirituality/ exercise that’s fine for everyone to do! Cultural appropriation benefits only those who are doing the appropriating, as spiritual practices that were once held sacred or of high importance in their original context are now watered down to merely an excercise done by girls in sweats or an after school activity for kids.

The exotification of Eastern countries and people is also a huge problem, as many Asian-Americans face issues regarding those who view Asian women through a hyper-sexualized lense, one in which Asian women serve only as exotic sexual conquests. Men who state how much they love Asian women are only continuing the racism against them the idea that somehow, being Asian is to be one specific type of person, with no distinction between multiple Asian cultures.

And what about those Asian-Americans who don’t practice cultural specific things? A lot of times they have their ethnicity stripped from them, as if now, since they aren’t doing anything to further “alienate” themselves from American culture, that that now makes them fully American? Why does it seem that we expect Asians to always do/ act a specific way, while it is not the same with other cultures and ethnicities? (Most) people understand that not all Black’s eat fried chicken and watermelon before washing it down with orange soda- so why does the idea that all Asian-Americans must always eat rice and fish and wash it down with tea? Why is that they are always expected to maintain stereotypes and assumptions that may Americans still have about them?

Because America still sees Asian-Americans as being  foreign, and the idea that of course a foreigner would just maintain all their foreign cultures instead embracing American culture is a prevalent one. We need to stop seeing Asian-Americans as being any different from any other Americans, while understanding that they may have a different culture from us, wear different clothing, enjoy different foods, or just simply do different things. We need to understand that you can see race and understand and accept their differences without alienating and exotifying them.

Dear White Feminists: If You Know That You Should Say Something About Race, Then Say Something About It

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Nothing is more frustrating than having someone leave a comment on my blog telling me how they know that “xyz issue is a problem, and that yeah, you’re right, more people should speak about it!” and then not say anything about it themselves.

Then say something.

If you understand the intersection of race and feminism, than why don’t you blog about it? Why don’t you speak up, speak out, and attempt to create change?

It only seems to reinforce the idea that racial feminist issues are “not your problem” or the idea that race does not belong in feminism.

Because it is a problem, and it does belong in feminism. 

The reason many Black feminists (and other feminists of Color) decide to identify as Womanist instead is because they have a unique set of issues and problems that are rarely addressed in the mainstream feminist community. As long as white feminists continue applauding things that harm women of color,  while then ignoring other issues that are important to address.

Get. It. Together.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any white feminists that tackle both race and woman’s issues, but it is not a universal thing. It is less common to see a white feminist tackle issues pertaining to PoC than to do so. 

If you really want to fight for equality for all women, then you need to address issues that apply to ALL women, not just white women.

#OpenSeasonOnBlackGirls- What I Have to Say About It

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This is sad. This is very sad.

For all of those who will say that racism is a “thing of the past”, state that “I’m just being sensitive”, that you “don’t see race”-

This is for you.

Let this “OpenSeasononBlackGirls be an example to you, an example of just how my blackness, my gender, is still seen by a joke by people.

So tell me- if this is the 21st century and racism is behind us- why is it that in order for another race to prosper and feel good about themselves, another one must be torn down, deminished, and dehumanized?

This is not just a string of black girl stereotypes- these are people degrading women’s black woman’s  bodies, comparing them to animals,to furniture and to food- for what?

Because being black is a joke to some people.

This outlines the main reason Black Girls Rock is needed in the first place. This illustrates why safe places for minorities are needed in the first place.

This is why feminism is needed in the first place.

Oh, wait.

Where are those feminists?

Because apparently when race and feminism meet, I’ve found that many white feminists go silent. Why? Why has the feminist community gone silent, when under other circumstances they are quick to comment, quick to protest, quick to demand change.

Because apparently, this is a black issue, and has nothing to do with them.

Despite the fact that we continue to fight and comment about how society continues to comment, grade, and shape the perception of the female body, it has nothing to do with them.

Because apparently, despite the long history of black women’s bodies being used as a joke to humor others, it has nothing to do with them.

Because apparently, despite stripping a group of human beings of their human status and turning them into nothing more than a joke at their own expense- has nothing to do with them.

Because, instead of continuing to fight for the freedom and equality of all women, what you are really saying is that youa re fighting for freedom and equality for yourselves.

And to the rest of you in the ‘racism doesn’t exist crowd”, I have something to say to you:

This is what I am fighting against. Yes I am angry, yes I am black, and yes, I am a woman. I am tired of watching my race be swallowed up by hatred, racism, and sexism. I am tired of a community of people being pitted against them selves- black women against black women, black men against black men- because of the mandates and expectations placed on them by a society that would rather see us fall than to see us rise.

I am tired of my experiences being cast aside, thrown away, and misinterpreted, because someone felt “guilty” or “attacked” whenever I speak about racism in America. I will not be silent, and if screaming is the only way I will be heard, then so be it.

Because apparently talking isn’t going to do it anymore.

I will not “calm down”, “learn to take a joke”, “stop being so sensitive”, and “stop bringing up the past”. I WILL hold my head high, wear my curly hair with pride, love my beautiful brown skin, and continue to shatter each pervasive stereotype as I continue to fight for equality in ALL forms. Let this be a reminder to you on how society and those within it view black women- and let this be a reminder to you that self hatred in the black community is also as prevalent.

 

Done.