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