Storytime! So one day I was at my local metaphysical shop and I saw a goddess statue for sale among many on the wall behind the register and mentioned, “Hey, that’s a nice Brigid you have.” It had a white dress on, pale skin, flowing hair, I figured it was a Celtic goddess. Then the shop assistant, who I have known for years, snorted a laughter and said, “That’s Yemaya.”
I immediately responded, “You lyin’, she’s White,” and as solid proof, she took down the figurine and there it was beneath the pale feet was “Yemaya” stamped on the name plate.
Lemme throw up a picture here so y’all can see what I saw, sans the nameplate:
The shop assistant was just as baffled as me, “I don’t know why we have it, Yemaya is not White, she looks like she was dropped in bleach.” I told her, “Yemaya is whitewashed, why is she so light? Y’all should just chip out the ‘Yemaya’, chisel in a ‘Ceres’ or something and leave it there. Does anyone buy this? Has anyone noticed?”
“Nope, our supplier sent it to us and no one has noticed because her name plate is so small at a distance. I don’t know why we have her, the boss thought it would be fine, we do have Latin customers,” the shop assistant tried to reason through muffled laughter because the boss was in the back and the boss has had some testy problems with the community over race. In our hands was one of them.
“Nah, she could make Beyonce look like Wesley Snipes, y’all may have some Latin customers but apparently none with identity issues so strong this figurine is gonna make it off the wall. Would Yemaya even come if someone summoned her using this? If I were Her, I would stare at the statue and the witch asking for me and go, ‘Newp, whatever your problem is, it’s not as big as mine with that powder light statue. You’re on your own, laters,’” I couldn’t help but to joke.
Many laughs were had because of how ridiculously light this statue was. It reminded me of when I was at a now-defunct metaphysical shop out in the boonies and they had an Isis with a ski-slope nose and light enough to pass – nah, she was lighter than light enough to never be tested in the first place. I knew it was a White owned metaphysical shop with a clearly White consumer base there because I was the only one geeking on the racefail. All the Isis statues I have ever seen for the most part were Black. Black and very beautiful. A White Isis? Uh no. D’accord, this had made some folks at the meta shop uneasy because they knew I was right bringing up the inaccuracy but c’mon, if you’re gonna have deities from Africa, let them be from Africa, not Europe. Isis didn’t need a nose job and some skin lightener.
See, that’s things I don’t like, especially in Paganism. Do not whitewash anything, do not perform cultural swagger jacking of any type. It’s disrespectful beyond belief and if called out on it, do not cover it up. That’s like me stealing someone’s watch and when asked, “Is that my watch?” I respond, “Nah, man, I’ve always had this. Gift from my best friend, dude,” even when it’s clear the watch has a “Love, from mom and dad” inscribed on the side. Thieving is wrong, no matter what.
The part that kills me, though? Is when people try to make up for it with a million and ten excuses. This did not happen at my local meta shop clearly but definitely did at the now-defunct one. The main bullsh*t excuse? “Isis comes in all forms. Even Jesus has been portrayed as Black.” That makes me wanna strike with the fury of the Furies. Wanna know why Jesus was portrayed Black (even tho that’s entirely accurate either because Middle Eastern setting)? Because Jesus definitely was not vanilla White with L’Oreal straight, flowing hair and a perfect goatee. And Jesus only looks that way thanks to an Italian painter that didn’t want to do his research.
Look, Paganism is really, really diverse. Diverse background, faiths, myths, the whole kit and kaboodle. I don’t want that diversity to become All White Everything and anybody who tries to justify that makes me wanna turn their eyes All Black Everything.
It isn’t rocket science to keep things as they are, and if the Pagan doesn’t want to come out as racist, welp, they might as well. Racism can affect anyone but when it comes to White Pagans, they have an affliction which has dated back centuries, even before the existence of Paganism as we know it now. Don’t try to cover it up, just say, “I just want to rob your culture. I like it but I don’t like you, the end.” It would move things along a lot quicker. I learned a variety of culture growing up and also in Paganism and I never tried to turn everything I touched Black because that would be inaccurate of culture. Though, I’m sure if I did, White Pagans would crap a brick because they may be okay with heavy applications of White-Out, they’re pissed to see anything colored in. It’s not hard to include minorities for anything, I can ensure you. Y’know, as long as you’re not racist or do racist things, be it overt or micro-aggressive.
Thing is, Paganism isn’t all White. It’s not the White Pride club, that would be the Klan, Tea Party and GOP you’re thinking of. Africa is the home of the first human, China is the home of the longest standing civilization, how on earth does everyone wind up looking like they came from Milian? Even Gardiner, who created Wicca, took things from his (orientalized) Egyptian learning and from the Hindus as well (don’t that 3x thing sound a lot like karma? And how about reincarnation?) It may have a lot of European parts in it but check closer, there are few “Product of India/China/Egypt/native America” stickers on there. Paganism, again for the slow ones in the back, is not and never was White. Anyone who thinks that is a bigoted idiot, simple as that. It doesn’t matter how ones dresses it, they are exactly that. They are bigoted because they refuse to acknowledge that the world is not White. If anything, the world is mostly other than White so it is rude to ignore that. They are an idiot because clearly they do not know about Paganism from the Paleolithic era to now and very understudied in all the cultures of the world which are part of Paganism and a much bigger part at that. Again, for the really slow ones anywhere, Paganism is not a White Pride club, join the Klan for that or whatever White supremacy hate group is in your area.
If anything, I’m for accuracy and if we’re gonna be inaccurate, let’s color everything in. I want to be reflected and I will. Otherwise, there is hell to pay. I actually remembered some random dude made a dvd about “realistic Pagans” from “diverse backgrounds” and tried to tell me about so I could promote it here on BW. Ha, no. Unless he was talking hair color, there was no diversity, it was a bunch of White kids convening in the woods. I told the dude exactly that and plus some. When he has an 80-100% minority cast, then we can talk. Until then, go bother someone else or go back to the drawing board. I don’t prefer to support any Pagan ventures that won’t reflect me at all. If they feel folks that look like me should be absent from their works, then they should be absent from mine too. And it has to be an honest effort, not a “We have a token! Happy now?” Shivian of Oh My Gods! did that, thoroughly was not appreciated because the character was a clear afterthought. I liked the comics but he should have spent more brain cells on that choice.
What to leave with this? That there’s a world out there and it doesn’t look like how folks depict it on the tv, the movies or even the news. Please acknowledge it or find a new religion. Or just be Atheist and keep the whitewashing out of religion as a whole.
Now, that’s done. The BWshoppe has been really poppin! The marimos are my biggest sellers, I can barely keep them in stock with all the demands. W00t! I was going to introduce a new marimo, a lux marimo but I’mma have to save that for later for I have hit some snags. Nothing bad but definitely don’t want to jump the gun on anything.
Next week on The Arts! is what was what it should have been last month before I fell sick:
- Red Oak Wands/ Merlin’s Realm
- Smooth E
- Nikki Lynette
- What Are You Doing Here? (Laina Dawes) Black Women in Heavy Metal