Category: Pagan Life


So here is The Arts!, let’s get right to it.

Find an Event (Pagan Pride Project)
Want to find a Pagan event in your area? Discovered via the African American Wiccan Society group on Facebook, this site, the Pagan Pride Project, can help you. These seemed to be primarily focused on Pagan Pride events but it is just as useful to know about those events as well.

The site works easily, you just put in your zipcode and there you have it. Look at what is in my area when I put in my info.

Pagan Pride Project

What convenience!

Tropes vs. Women
This is one of my favorite online series. Anita Sarkeesian, who is the creator of Feminist Frequency, created this series which deconstructs video games through the lens of feminist theory. From this deconstruction comes the identification of tropes that are so strongly prevalent in so many games, especially popular titles such as Mario, God of War, Pac-Man/Ms.PacMan, Hitman and Grand Theft Auto.

Here is the first episode, which breaks down the concept of a trope and starts with deconstructing the idea of the Damsel in Distress.

The latest episode, which I will admit, gets a bit grisly so if you can’t bear seeing images of violence and brutality, skip to 23:30. This episode is Part 2 of using women as background decoration (Part 1). Remember, if you can’t stand bloody brutality, skip ahead to 23:30, where Sarkeesian sums it all up.

And, yes, the series does get a lot of hate and crap flung at it by wildly misogynist and anti-feminist gamers. Here is a write up on Dr. Nerdlove about the whole debacle here annnnnnd here.

Actually, she talks about it here at TEDxWomen about cyber harassment and online mobs, which she has to routinely – even to today – put up with. Since I’ve told guys I’ve worked with at the Library of Congress how bad gender harassment can get online – as well as how it can eventually trickle offline – just to write a well-formed opinion about games and they were completely floored in disbelief, lemme slap this video up here.

And of telling dudes at the LoC about gender and gaming, I really remember the one dude who was from the Performing Arts Division collecting Prima guides in my area and I saw he picked up one for Remember Me. I recommended it strongly since I’ve played it and it had a Black girl as the lead. That started a conversation of gender and video games and he mentioned he had a 9 year old son and wanted me to recommend women-starring games (that were age appropriate) because he literally said “I don’t want my son to grow up and he’s hitting women on an elevator”.* This dude actually cared that his son wouldn’t become some future harasser/rapist-in-training/douchebag and knew part of how was by playing games that would let the kiddo see that women are people, not simply things to be acted upon and in brutish fashion at that. So I recommended a series of games that were appropriate for his kid to play now at 9 and when he gets older as well as what to look for in games that star women so his kid can have tons of fun (because games should be fun) and continue to develop healthy ideas about women.

And remember, next week is Ask Black Witch. Send in your questions! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

*This is in reference to what Ray Rice did. It was awful.

Metaphysics and Reality

When being a witch – or psionic, or high magician, or anyone else being involved in metaphysics and the esoteric – it can sometimes be difficult dealing with having your experience and/or beliefs dismissed. Being told that “spells don’t work”, “your gods aren’t real”, “no one can predict the future”, can be so annoying and aggravating.

Now, a lot of people go by personal experience and media they’ve experienced. Granted, if someone hasn’t knowingly seen ghosts or only know about pop metaphysics learned via reality shows and tv dramas, it kind of makes sense that they would be dismissive of occultic happenings. However, it is important to note here that there is a difference between make believe and reality. What happens during Supernatural and Sleepy Hallow is make believe (I love Sleepy Hallow like I love my cat but they still over dramatized sin eaters and Supernatural has a too much of a race casting issue to be anywhere near accurate). There is not nearly as much glamour and sparkliness and bright lights in actual magick, those are just creative choices by the director and producers to best convey that something magical is happening or else the viewer would be so lost given that tv is an audio-visual medium so it has to express the other senses somehow. Reality is much more boring, the metaphysics doesn’t add a pop of spice to one’s life. Confusion, oh sure. Spice, not as much. Since what people experience isn’t what the tv and movies promise them, it’s easy for people to say “Oh, that’s not real,” or “If people could really do that, it would be all over the news/social media/etc”. And trying to explain metaphysics in layman terms to regular people can be so easily confusing, it’s almost easy to just not bother to explain. It just becomes such a bother to the practitioner when hearing such dismissive things about the esoteric are so constant.

Then you have folks who are strongly in the “Science know all” camp. Just looking at science’s track record with simply race (eugenics, anyone?), gender (science “discovered” the clitoris three different times, that’s depressing) and mental illness (the hard sciences still sees psychology as hokey) shows that science isn’t perfect. While science is definitely important to determine physical ideas and theories, it doesn’t know the answer to everything because science is ever evolving. What science knew 100 years ago is radically different from today and what science will know 100 years from now is most likely going to be radically different from the world of now. Besides, metaphysics literally means “transcendence beyond the physical”, of course science isn’t going to have the answers for the esoterics – at least, not readily. That and it seems when someone does do actual sound studies on parapsychology, science tends to go “Ehhhh, we’ll ignore that.”

Then there’s the fact that science in the West is not really that inclusive of various cultures and beliefs. I know, science is supposed to be all logic and if it can’t be proven, it’s not worth noting but when scientists feel compelled to use science to justify stereotypes and bigoted beliefs of race and gender, maybe science could stand to be a bit more diverse in its perspectives, it would probably arrive at some answers baffling science in general faster.

All in all, it can be tough keeping up the faith, so to speak. I guess the best way to deal with this is to try to find like-minded people and spaces wherever you can but to not get overboard. You want to keep your metaphysics/psionics learning up so you don’t give into subtle discouragement (and, trust, that is hard because it is everywhere in Western society) but you don’t want to become a ditzy hippie thinking that having a wide array of crystals alone will heal cancer and death. I always like to remember that nothing is impossible. Possibly improbable, but not impossible. If there’s one standing idea in all metaphysics, it is exactly that. Even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

For The Arts!:

Find an Event – Pagan Pride
Tropes vs. Women

Alright, time for more Witchier writings! Gotta bring some balance back to the site or it will be all gender and race issues. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing but that’s not 100% what this site is about (About 50%, 60+% when I super feel like it). Besides, if I posted more regularly on race and gender, it would only be a matter of time before White allies would just thieve my work to boost their own visibility. Can’t be having that. And also can’t be having folks forget that I practice witchcraft and my site’s name isn’t an attempt at being edgy.

So today, let’s talk about the wrong reasons to get into spellwork.

Now, of course, there are the basics of why not to get into spellwork so here they are:

- Revenge
– To look/be different
– To control others
– To pass the time

Let’s break these down further:

Revenge: Hexes seem really convenient when you don’t know anything about them, I’m sure. Now, I’m not entirely anti-hex (I’m more for “grey magick”) but if the only reason you see usefulness in practicing magick is to jinx people left and right for wronging you, that’s not good. You’re not defending yourself (which is different), you’re just going at people who you feel wronged you, even though it could actually be you who is in the wrong. And that’s part of the whole point, being vengeful when really, it could be you who is the bad guy. It’s important to try to be objective whenever possible and use mundane ways to react to people who crossed you or at the very least, do grey magick such as karma spells so if that person is in the wrong, they’ll get their just desserts and if it is actually you who is wrong, then the yoke will be on you instead. Otherwise, don’t do it.

To Look/Be Different: How hipster. And annoying. You’re not showing any respect towards metaphysics and let’s be honest, you don’t care much either way. The part that is problematic is that these folks tend to be major psuedo-intellectuals on the subject and oh man do they spew such nonsense, one could ride a surfboard on it. Here’s the thing about spellworking: it requires a lot of heavy reading and none of that is Harry Potter or Twilight. Yes, imitating what you saw in The Craft is great fashion-wise but that’s pretty much it. Trying to impress random people by saying “Oooooh, I do spells, I’m so spoooooooky!” is pretty annoying.

To Control Others: This is bad, even if you were doing it in a mundane way. Remember, if it is wrong for mundane ways, it’s wrong in magick. Want to get a date? There’s a spell for that. Want to force someone to love you? There’s a spell for that. Only one of them are morally acceptable and it isn’t the forcing one. Gotta have free will, kiddo. It’s important. Being controling isn’t good at all. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong.

To pass the time: It’s one thing when you’re a practiced witch and you’re doing magick because you’re bored out of your skull and thinking, “Hey, some random pope used to summon entities and spirits for teh lolz, I should try that,”* it’s another thing altogether to try magick just because you’re bored. That’s called “dabbling”. Don’t do it. Ever. Spellwork is a practice, not a simple hobby.

Spellworking can be pretty intense (especially when things go wrong and then things go really wrong.) It would be wise to simply get into it due to a natural, intrinsic pull in opposed to trying to look different or because your current life feels boring and thing that knowing spells would liven things up.** There’s a lot of work that goes into spellcasting, it’s important to respect that and to be earnest about getting into spellworking as you grow your information about it and start doing it more and more. And for the love of the gods, don’t do spellwork just because Halloween/Samhain is coming around. That is so not cool. And unbelievably corny. Even I don’t do magick around Halloween/Samhain.

*I can neither confirm or deny that I have done this. However, I am glad I have a Nintendo 3DS now.
** It doesn’t, my life is still boring.

BW Busy Day

Seems like I’ve been nothing but busy. Suxxors.

So here’s two kitties boppin their heads in tune

And an episode of one of my favorite Korean shows, Running Man. I found this one on SBS FunE (I think they have Running Man on pretty much all day, every-freakin-day. I have rarely seen a different show on that channel short of entertainment news shows but a complete marathon of Running Man*). It has English subtitles but as this show is on Korean television, it’s in all Korean.

 

*Punz!

How does one go about reading their own future or getting their future read for real free?
- Austin

Learning to do divination is just a means of research for what type of divination you want to do. There are so many of forms of divination from tarot to reading flames to scrutinizing how the wind blows. That’s up to you to decide how you want to go about which form you want to pursue and then research about it (especially if it is lesser known) to see how it works. Divination is just a tool, like a tv remote. You  can easily get up and turn on a tv, change channels, manage the volume and settings, but a remote aids you to do the  same with but without having to move. In some respects, divination makes things easier because there’s something for your intuition to process what it is trying to say through. And notice I never said once about how “you have to believe in it,” because that’s crap. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. 

A free reading done here on Black Witch only happens during Samhain/Halloween and only through the sweepstakes “Samhain Pickers” where a reader has to submit a ticket (email) and they have to be one of the three winners picked. Otherwise, all readings are paid readings and those are only when I feel like doing mass divination (which isn’t often (mainly when I’m encountering financial strife (not as common as prior, thankfully) or someone makes a 20″ tall statue of Storm.) I suppose you can bump around on Tumblr but you may not find as many free readings (and make sure they’re free, if they ask for money during any point of the process, it isn’t free) as paid ones.

And that’s all the Ask Black Witch for today! This was posted from the WordPress app so it shows up odd, that’s why and make sure to inform me so I correct it later.

Batter Up

So, it’s been tough trying to post new stuff with all that’s been happening as of recently. I honestly was working on a new post about frost magick (sorry everyone who’ve been waiting for magick and spellwork posts, y’all going to have to wait more).

Frankly, I feel very frustrated. While what happened in Ferguson is really an everyday occurrence for being Black, it really is frustrating because these stories are really getting way too common. I mean, it’s always been like this, that you can’t really do anything around cops or other forms of authority without risking a bullet, but it’s getting really tiring. And while this is tiring, White allies make it worse.

Worse. Not better.

I have seen everywhere from Tumblr to Twitter to Facebook, White allies forever keeping silent about what is going on or continually bumping their gums about how it is a “human being” issue and not a Black issue. Brah, I’m getting so sick of that I can’t even see straight. Does empathy for specifically Black people bother you that much? Because I don’t know of a story when a White person have been shot by a cop, aggressive homeowner or random vigilante, completely unarmed/hands up/coming home from the store/needing help from a car accident. And these stories I reference are the ones that made it to media. There’s thousands more like them. A White person is automatically considered human before the gun is drawn, a Black person has to have a national debate on personhood even well after they’re dead.

Hell, being White while criminal gets you on the cover of the Rolling Stones magazine, taken alive to see a trial date, get to be talked about as “smart”, “bright”, “promising future”, “great grades”, “attractive but mentally ill”. It’s always mentally ill isn’t it, too? It’s never “terrorist”, “Mass murderer” or “thug”. It’s “mentally ill”, like the dude was normal during some point of history but then they went completely coo-coo.

Imagine if it were a Black cop that fatally shot a White kid. Man, that cop would have been saying goodbye to his career and hello to a jail cell if not an electric chair. Dude would have been demonized as a “thug”, a “ruthless cop”. There would have been “See? White people do experience racism” tv features everywhere. The kid shot would have been anglicized as a “good kid”, “great grades”, “promising life cut short”. And media wouldn’t go from “kid had no records” to “kid may have been involved in a strong arm robbery.”

And given the default human being in the West is a White person, White allies who pull the “Why aren’t we saying ‘human being’?” are actually saying “What about my feelings? Why is a Black person getting attention? It would be easier if we could have the option to imagine they were White.” If you want to say how race isn’t a factor in how you see people, why does it bother you when someone says they’re anything other than White? If you’re so colorblind, someone mentioning a Black person being harmed should be a non-issue because a Black person is a human being. No one is implying that a Black person and a human being aren’t the same thing…unless that’s really how the White ally feels deep down inside. Which, considering their actions, it wouldn’t be at all surprising. Just a bigot that simply tends to lean democrat.

Unless it’s about using Black life to further their own causes or to use as crude examples or as pawns for their own means because then they never avoid mentioning the fact someone is Black when it comes to that. It’s never “human being” then. Black is hyper emphasized like that’s all they notice. And as if that’s all we are.

Now it is fact that this issue is a Human Rights issue. That’s true. Black people should be able to have access to their basic human rights. Because they’re human beings. Thus, should be open to their human rights. White people, the ones who tout this erasure of race in favor of saying “human being”, don’t have to worry about their human rights being so much as dinged. No one is trying to take away their human rights. They still have access to better schools, food and resources, there’s no denying that.  They could bomb a marathon and wind up on Rolling Stones with a really appealing picture and entry. They could air out a movie theatre full of people and still get taken alive. Keep in mind, these are White folks doing very, very illegal things. Neither can say, “I’m innocent. I was just walking by.” Even Timothy McVeigh, who is solely responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, got better treatment than the innocent Black folks (men and women because despite Black girls are no safer) who have been gunned down or nearly murdered because of their skintone. It took them years to bake that guy and people were actually arguing that he shouldn’t be put to death because he’s a human being. What they meant was “He’s White, can’t possibly be that bad despite the glaring fact he’s a complete and total terrorist.” Innocent kid walking down the street? Totally fine to turn him into swiss cheese, even though he had his hands up. And to assassinate his character now that he’s dead and therefore can’t speak for himself, thus all the robbery accusations now.

The police are going to get dissolved in Ferguson. That’s not a good thing if you’re Black because your oppression just got upgraded from “cop” to “National Guard”. Before some White ally goes “But, what about Little Rock Nine?” What about how that was a rare thing (that’s why it was considered remarkable) because usually the National Guard gets summoned to do what the police can’t in weapons, manpower and might. And when it comes to race problems, that means folks are gonna be leaving protests in body bags. And it’s tiring to hear “White people live in Ferguson, too,” because they’re not targeted. At all. Unless they decide to march with Black protesters, no officer will look at them twice. Hey, they could march with Black protesters and the police will just filter past them to get to the Black people, even if it is the White person that is throwing Molotov cocktails and looting. I’m almost certain if one was too scared to walk off their porch because of the firefights, an officer would escort them to wherever they gotta go. They’re not in danger. It still is a race issue, no need to worry about the less-than-30% of the people who live there. How about the 70% who are acutely targeted? Now is not the time to go “Won’t someone please think of the White people?” because trust us, we’re thinking about you. About how you’re killing us, dismissing us, making it worse for us and still trying to make it about yourselves. Stop being so selfish because no White person is in danger. They got the National Guard protecting them whether they want it or not.

If White allies want to do something, how about not make it about them and their feelings? How about not attempting to erase the racial overtone of this situation as if it doesn’t matter? How about not supporting other White allies who say this type of stuff and refuse to listen to the Black people in your life, even if the only Black person you know of is a musician you follow on Twitter? How about noticing that Black person already means “human being” so you don’t have to mention the latter (unless you don’t see us as one)? How about not trying to use this moment to live out your dystopian dreams because this is not a video game or a movie? How about just treating us like people instead of things to make yourself look better?

White allies forever wanna say they’ll defend us, they just never had a moment to put that desire to functional use. Well, here is that shining moment to prove you’re not a lying, two faced, selfish, cold hearted and wildly bigoted, sack-of-crap yuppie you constantly depict yourself as. Time to see how much you’re really being honest about how you stand up for what is right, to always do the right thing. Time to step up to the plate and finally batter up.

Let’s see how fast you strike out.

Self-Bound

So, I had to deal with a recent encounter of intra-race policing. In the middle of having a conversation with someone about rock music, a completely different person swooped into the conversation and completely interjected with “Are you Black?” We’re all in the same room, I’m not obscured annnnnnnnnd that was a really random comment when the subject was just on “Oh, so you like this band? Have you heard of this other band?” Ah, Black folks telling me how to be Black because they know near nothing at all. I immediately and snarkly responded “Uhhhh, I’m related to Marcus Garvey and my hair is in afro-puffs so maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe?”

The person responded “Who he?”

Are you freaking kidding me?

How is it this person wanted to police my Blackness because I listened to a Black created (albeit White washed) genre but she don’t even know who Marcus Garvey is. Dude, if you know less Black history than a White person, that’s when you put away your race police badge and keep to yourself. Of course, as with my experiences of dealing with dimwitted people, the person decided to keep talking. Despite the fact there are members of the Tea Party and hipsters more informed on Black history than her, person continues, “I hear you talk and you don’t sound like a Black person.”

If the person was smarter, the word they probably was looking for was “mushmouth”. I don’t sound like I dropped in straight from a minstrel show. Or “hoodrat”. Come on, I can speak 5 languages – excluding Latin – and have an English degree. Yah, I probably wouldn’t sound like an illiterate person. Reading books, particularly books with actual sustenance and even cultural value, can do that to the brain, even while Black. I know, shocker, right? It’s – it’s almost like I’m a multi-faceted person.

Let’s not even get into the fact this was when Shades of Ritual was coming out soooooo it isn’t exactly like I don’t spill ink on the subject of race to have some lesser informed bumpkin attempt to check me on something they themselves know way too little about. Thaaaaat irks me because it means all the stuff I say, the theories and explanations I implement, all that means, like, nada because being informed and simply different – not doing anything wrong like doing drugs or harming people – just being different, or simply considered different, apparently equates to “Whiteness”. Basically, when these folks think they are somehow fighting Whiteness by saying ostracizing things like “You sound White” or “How come you don’t talk like you Black?” (read: why do you sound literate? We’re supposed to be allergic to education.”), they’re actually upholding Whiteness through self-oppression and spreading that self-oppression around like SARS to others.

Then here came the kicker: “I’m not racist, I love White people, but just by listening to you , you don’t sound Black. It’s just -“

I’mma let you fill in the gap.

This person barged into a random conversation about music to call my racial identity into question as if that’s totally normal and then wants to go “I’m not racist.” Dude should have completed the sentence with “I just don’t like seeing Black people act like individuals with lives of their own. It bothers me because a White person hasn’t signed off on whether we can have access to it. That’s really important, ’cause how we know we Black without a White person to measure against as the yard stick?”

That’s upholding Whiteness, whether they like it or not. If you’re Black and hearing about a Black parasailer bothers you because “Black people don’t do that, we’re terrified of water”, that means you’re upholding Whiteness by saying that a) This Black person is not Black at all because only White people can have fun and do daring things, everyone else has to settle for the usual “crappy life of the Negro” narrative where it is filled with just about nothing fun but there’s an awful lot of stress so here you’re already ostracizing a person from their own culture just for following their own passions and b) This  person is an outsider because they’re too different, therefore somehow “not Black”.

Remember, Blackness isn’t theatre. You can be Black while astronaut, astronomer, parasailer, skateboarder, rock climber, aircraft trike pilot, whatever. You don’t magically turn White because you didn’t live in the projects, got a good education, got a job you actually like or listen to a Black created genre of music such as rock or blues or jazz (or basically nearly every genre but classical and polka). You’re still a Black person. Skin still dark. Nose still wide. You didn’t magically change into a White person because of your individual interests. Folks tend to forget that. That’s why I snarked to the person who asked me the really stupid question, “Oh man, I forgot I was Black. Lemme go rob somebody to redeem my Blackness. Totally forgot.”

That kinda made the person quiet for a minute. They went, “Not all Black people rob and are like that.”

“You said I wasn’t Black enough, I guess that’s what Blackness was. Thieving and acting like you came out of Birth of a Nation” Yes, this chick most likely didn’t know what Birth of a Nation was but who cares? Probably would have treated as a life guide of how to exist while Black whenever BET has slow days.

Look, if you don’t question someone’s racial identity of whether or not they’re Black when they’re joining gangs, committing crimes, living on a suffering wage or listen to gangsta rap but you do when they’re not, that means you equate Blackness with eternal hardship and to super limiting genres which further regurgitate those hardships – again, which upholds Whiteness because hey, why wait for a White person or institution to oppress you when you’ll do it yourself? What convenience. That way they don’t have to work or risk looking criminal because you did it all to yourself. Self-oppression/internalized racism does not fare well because it causes just as much damage as expressed racism – if not more since it is coming from the exact group you’re part of. You’ll hear such popular hits such as “You must think you White”, “Why are you such an Oreo?”, “You know Black folks don’t do [whatever it is that you're doing]“. As aforementioned, these folks think they’re protecting a really monolithic and (usually toxic) idea of Black culture but man, they’re upholding Whiteness like there’s a trophy to get out of it because the Black culture they’re thinking of – that one is actually framed through the lens of Whiteness.

Whenever I get the “You don’t sound/act/look/think Black,” it’s interesting what folks count as “Black” and what is counted as “White”. It’s like a really screwed up game of Green Glass Door:

  • Talking standard English or simply without a hood draw to your words = White. This mean you could be a Black person that was born and raised in England and because you have a British accent, you are somehow “Not Black” on the grounds of “Black people don’t talk like that.”
  • Liking anything that isn’t in the narrow confines of what is considered Black culture today = White. Apparently, if you like rock – even if all the bands you listen to have all Black members  and the lone fact that rock was created by Black musicians – or anything that isn’t hip hop, gospel, R&B and/or Soul, somehow that means you’re not Black anymore.
  • Not Christian? = Brainwashed by White folks to think that you’re White. Despite the pretty glaring fact that Christianity itself in the US was only “accepted” by Black folks because it was forced on to us as a psychological tactic to break all bonds and ties to identity and a sense of self so to make a “better” slave. (This doesn’t mean that Black Christians are slaves to a mentality but it would really help if they understood how they historically came upon the faith they have.) According to my experience, even simply praying or acknowledging African deities made you “White”. Whiiiiiiiiich doesn’t make sense, especially considering historical context.
  • Dress in raver clothes? Like punk? Prefer to have glow in the dark dreads in every color possible to glow in the daytime and nighttime? White, White and White. And you can forget that whole “Black carefree girl” thing, it doesn’t include Black girls in alternative cultures such as Rivethead, Cyberpunk, Goth or even Lolita.

It’s really frustrating and that frustration can be ever so apparent. There are Black kids in alternative cultures or simply with unique interests to them who want nothing to do with mainstream Black culture because they pretty much got pushed out by all the “Not Black Enough” chiding they heard everywhere from Black people. That alone can make people internalize self-disdain, racism and even make someone engage in dangerous acts such as skin bleaching because they’re so convinced that what they’re seeing is all Black culture has to offer and what they’re getting. In making a choice backed by all the ostracizing, they rather not be associated with all that, even if it means using caustic chemicals on themselves. That’s a problem.

Race policing should be used for people to get accustomed to seeing a Black person not simply be a stereotype or to expand their interests outside the super-enforced monolithic depiction of Black culture. It shouldn’t be used as a method to convince people out of improving themselves or exploring the varied interests they may have because that doesn’t protect Black culture from being further infected with Whiteness, it actually reinforces Whiteness because what is usually sided with what is “Black” and what is usually sided with “White” is nearly night and day. And Blackness is constantly aligned with negative traits and aspects, even if those traits and aspects aren’t true.

Basically, it really annoys (practically infuriates) me to deal with Black folks being more prejudiced about Black people doing things than White folks are. Nothing good comes out of the mentality. At all. Being Black is not a performance where if you stop, it goes away. It’s part of who you are, no matter what.

So seriously, wipe off the burnt cork, it really isn’t necessary.

Not Always Right

First and foremost, check out this podcast from Pagan Musings! I was apparently snark-tastic! And then get the book Shades of Ritual, I’m in it.

So there was a post on the Root a about three weeks ago titled “Street Harassment; What Men Can Learn”  and it was a doozer. At first, I automatically though a girl had penned the piece but as I read on, it was clearly a dude and one that didn’t really have a full grasp on this subject.

I responded to the piece via twitter to the writer, Jozen Cummings, who pens the Until I Get Married blog. This was my critique (compiled from various tweets):

“The piece started out okay with the listing (Tho #2 confused me b/c I thought that was said after sneezes). When you mentioned “considers himself a gentleman”, I thought the piece would go the Fedora route. It sorta didn’t so yay to that. However, women more focused on the fact we’re being bothered like our time and space is not ours, not whether or not a dude has game. In ref. to dudes going “But Idris Elba!”/”It’s not creepy when he’s handsome”, lemme link to Dr. Nerdlove before con’t on. Here it is: “Creepy Behavior and the Difference Between ‘Attractive’ and ‘Attracted'” Highly recommended read doctornerdlove.com/2012/09/creepy…. Meaning if Elba started acting like Robin Thicke with a side of Too Short, his beauty won’t save him from the “creeper” label. Moving on, if women have told you that your approach puts them off, it means you’ve wound up in the muddy area of street harassment. Granted, you kinda acknowledge this later on in the piece so huzzah for some self awareness but still, can’t say “Nev’ happen to me”. You put down some good examples of street harassment responses but you had an opportunity to discuss enforced notions of masculinity. That would have been nifty because, no, guys don’t have to be the aggressor, it’s taught. Women do it less because societal blowback. You mention “I also know what it means to be a misogynist or a male chauvinist” but it might be in a detached sense. Kinda like how folks called out on their racism goes “I’m not racist! I love [group they just insulted]” b/c they only know the idea. It can take forms in subvert and overt ways. So you can still say “I’m not a misogynist” & then do something misogynist. There’s various forms of street harassment but no hard or soft version. A little/a lot, yea but not exactly soft/hard. I agree men should be part of the convo because it’s their problem but you gotta remind guys to not take the convo *over*. Because we already have guys like that, they’re called MRA’s. It has to be stressed that convo needs dudes to *listen* more than say[…] Pickin up where I left off, it’s great you mentioned men should be in convo, just stress that they gotta listen too. It’s a big issue and that means dismantling ideas about masculinity (and esp. hypermasculinity) so there’s a lot for dudes to learn. Thompkins is right in that just like a White person can’t tell us what is racist, a guy can’t tell a woman what should be offensive. Using “stop & frisk” as comparison is actually really good, I often employ the idea myself in teaching why harassing others is wrong. For “I laugh at the mens attempts….” Brah, that’s a super WTF right there because as a woman, it lightens the problem. By laughing, it makes the woman feel helpless because instead of anyone stepping in, it’s like they’re watching a joke unfold. To be brief, it’s humiliating for the woman and the harasser learns nothing, he’s gonna do it again. It would be smarter to just go, “Hey, man, leave her alone. She ain’t trying to talk to you.” So, to the woman, you don’t look like you side with the harasser. It’s a bit of a cultural enabling of “It’s alright. It’s bad but hey, her woe is my comedy!” It’s also good to tell guys to get into the habit of telling harassing dudes off because it’s creates a safer environment [b]ut also remind dudes they don’t deserve special cookies for just being a decent human being. Nice Guy syndrome is just as bad. For “Is it offensive for women to label as street harassment every unwelcome but respectful attempt at engagement?” Nope b/c there is a difference between “actually respectful” & “unwelcome but respectful”. The latter ain’t respectful at all b/c what is respected? Not the time for the woman or her right to privacy in public spaces. (If it is unwelcomed, it’s unwelcomed. Like telemarketers). Also, what is/isn’t offensive to women isn’t that much of a mystery. Listening can clue one in on “what to say, what not to say”. And for the NPR bit, I think it is a bit mangled up she is trying to end cat-calling because it is bad. Talking to random ppl is ok [b]ut harassing, making sexist comments, gestures and physically attacking folks (mostly women) is not. Basically, there is a way to talk to women & it’s fine as long as the woman is still spoken to like she’s human and not an object. to be acted upon. Which is the point of street harassment. Treating women like objects to be acted upon, that’s bad. Talking to women like they’re regular people, that’s perfectly fine and dandy. Preferable, even. The ending was derpy. There is *already* a solid consensus of what street harassment is. There’s no mystery, trust me. At all. And that’s my feedback. It was a billion and three tweets, yeah, but I tried to keep it as brief as possible.”

Yeah, I probably should have sent an email. Billion and three tweets indeed and I truly was trying to be brief.

It probably was the sheer the amount of tweets (hey, he said it was cool to give feedback) but yeah, dude never responded. I’m not gonna say I didn’t expect that because I kinda did. I have spent years discussing and dissecting gender issues and one thing I know about dude participation, unless it’s a pat on the back, they’re not keen on being bothered with it. At least he didn’t pull a Talib Kweli and say some misogynist stuff but when called out on it, start declaring himself an ally of women and thus should be excused from all gender-interaction criticism because he’s on the side of women… despite saying stuff which robs them of agency.  At least the dude didn’t quote Too $hort, who gave out a rape manual passed off as “How to express to a girl you like her” (Guys, it’s should be renamed “How to get arrested and labeled a “sex offender” for the rest of your life”). At least he didn’t say Robin Thicke was just expressing love to women (despite getting divorced by one because of those expressions and how he’s acted on those expressions). So yeah, this piece could have been worse. But the piece still wasn’t good, it just could have been worse but still doesn’t excuse how crappy it actually was.

Thing is, when it comes to guys talking about gender issues – especially when it is something like Street Harassment where they think it is perfectly fine and everyone else is being sour grapes – they tend to be more miss than hit. Apparently the idea of women’s agency to wear what they want and that it doesn’t imply consent to bother them in any way, shape or form is lost on them buuuuuut the second someone mention hoodies as police-magnets, here comes an uproar of “We’re not thugs because of our clothes! Don’t tread on us!” even though the ideas are pretty much borne from the same concept (clothes does not equate consent to be controlled/harmed by others, particularly privileged groups). I agree guys need to talk to each other to keep Street Harassment from breeding by basically snuffing it at the source but Cummings seems to either not know or conveniently forgot that when privileged folks (male privilege, here) get together to talk about their issue with the problem, it turns from a potentially useful forum to an echo chamber of “why are we the bad guys?” Which is pretty much how MRA’s got started.

I understand The Root was trying to bring in a guy’s voice on the matter but dude, this guy was an awful choice. Was Deep Cotton busy?* The guy needs to be more informed about Street Harassment, why it is a problem, what actually constitutes it, the culture behind it and why. There is so much out there about the subject. Dude, if he wanted a dude’s perspective because he clearly had selective hearing with women anytime he says “What women consider street harassment is a mystery”, that exists too. Hence why I linked Dr. Nerdlove’s piece “Creepy Behavior and the Difference Between ‘Attractive’ and ‘Attracted” because he nails it in text form. If he wants to hear it from someone else who is also Black and still a guy. There’s The 1Janitor’s vid that breaks it down as well:

One on “Nice Guys”

And one on Street Harassment called “Dudes, Stop Being Creeps. Seriously.”

And another called “Sexualization vs. Objectification”

Brah, there’s a well-made, completely intricate and informative comic from Robot Hugs in case holmes needs a cartoon strip to further explain to him how this stuff works and why it is toxic.

What else is needed? Sock puppets and animation?

Thankfully, The Root seemed to go, “Yooooooooooo, this was not at all what we expected” and found some dude who had some sense. Aaron Randle penned a piece titled “Dear Men: It’s Not Hip Hop’s Body, It’s Nicki Minaj’s Body”. He understood slut-shaming perfectly and right to personal agency perfectly. It wasn’t a “I’m a guy therefore I will treat Minaj’s body like I own it but guys shouldn’t do that [tho we will, because we’re guys and wanna uphold the ‘men are animals’ stereotype… until it gets us murdered by neighborhood watchmen and cops, then we don’t like it]” piece. The dude actually understood his subject matter and exactly why it was problematic. If Cummings wrote like that, I wouldn’t have given my whole diatribe. It does take guys help to dismantle sexism but they gotta know what they’re doing first. Randle clearly shows he knows his kit, there need to be more dude-penned pieces like his.

*Inb4 fandroid whinging: While Deep Cotton are fantastic musicians who’s music I highly and strongly recommend, they showed with their initial music video and the sock puppet characters, the Scum Warriors, that they are waaaaaaaaaay out their league when it comes to talking about gender issues. They’re musicians, not activists. That was excruciatingly crystal clear when they butchered a Radical Feminist manifesto and morphed it into a male power fantasy. I still recommend their music immensely because it is great but that video should have never happened. Evar. I still think they should have just lengthened out what they did in the Sonos commercial (everyone at Wondaland Arts Society was just jamming and having fun to the song) and all would have been good in the world.

Only Negro Syndrome

So, being at the present Summer Solstice ritual prep, I am starting to feel what I think I can sufficiently label the “Only Negro Syndrome”, where you are the only Black person in a sea of White faces and slowly, but most definitely, this starts to irk you.

It. Is. Tiresome.

Only Negro Syndrome is when you have to act differently than you usually would, much less relaxed than usual, because you’re thinking with double consciousness of “Hey, I’m trying to engage myself with the activities at hand,” and “I am probably going to hear a racist joke or experience a microagression before all this is over.” Or the ever popular but occasional “Am I going to die?” To avoid racially-focused comments and microaggressions (even if it is near inevitable sometimes):

- You try to avoid any and every known stereotype you know about Blackness. This means you remove most slang or you’ll be dealing with the White folks around you echoing as if severely mentally challenged and completely hinged on that particular slang. They will think that you’re the living version of the creatures they’ve seen on such wildlife documentaries such as The Wire, The Corner, The 12 O’Clock Boys. In their minds, it is perfectly fine to live out their poverty porn fantasies since to them, you somehow consented to getting boiled down from a multifaceted human being to a modernized minstrel character just because you didn’t feel like talking as if making a formal speech. You change your clothes, anything that could look like it didn’t come from Lands’ End catalogue could be seen as “threatening” and all of a sudden, people don’t trust you being alone. Ever. If you have natural hair, you’re going to be on edge because they want to touch you and you want to hit them out of surprise because grabbing and stroking random people is not cool.

- You avoid “stereotypical” foods such as anything that could possibly come from a chicken, regardless if it is fried, baked, roasted, salad-ed, whatever. If it is watermelon, gotta avoid it, even if everyone else is getting a slice. It doesn’t matter if it is the only fruit you see, it’s only a plain fruit, a healthy summer treat when they eat it, but get seen eating it while Black, here comes the Black jokes. If it is soda, you avoid purple (grape) and if there are sweets, avoid apple flavored (but somehow apples themselves are perfectly fine). If it is greens (kale, collard greens), either stay away from it (it will taste disgusting, I can assure you) or risk race jokes or just stomach all the “We just discovered this! Let me tell you about kale!” from the White folks who are baldly and awfully appropriating foods you grew up with. And if you so much mention “cultural appropriation” or “culture vultures” or “no, you didn’t because Black folks have been eating this ever since we were dragged to this country” expect hurt feelings. To them, being called a racist is faaaar, far worse than experiencing racism.

- You try to be agreeable because apparently any form of protest or amplified emotion is “angry”. Like, you could be jumping up and down in joy and it’s “anger/violence”. Or again, you’re going to be mockingly mimicked because oh hey, the Black person is doing something! We should do it too! That and you don’t want to risk getting chucked out because someone was upset you didn’t find their Trayvon Martin/twerk joke funny. Even if the White person (or people) want you to painstakingly educate them on the history of racism, it’s not because they genuinely want to learn, it is so they can get into a hissy fit and try to derail by making it about them personally.

- You’re going to have your English corrected. Even if you have a degree in English literature (*cough cough*) and can not only explain the structure of a sentence down to the disjunct, adjuct or conjunct but the history of the progression of English from its start to now, someone is going to think it is smugly funny to correct your English. Again, using any relaxed speech while Black somehow effortlessly communicates “uneducated”. Even if the person you’re talking to talks as if their cerebral speech center is controlled by a convulsing, rabid raccoon and a careless teenager.

- Dumb down and sanitize your culture and heritage…a lot. Again, it’s like everyone drank lead paint growing up because your culture apparently isn’t valid to anyone but you. Instead, it’s is a cornucopia of mocking jokes, memes and broad but negative depiction of “otherness”. You’re going to hear the word “ghetto” a lot, especially from people who A) have never lived in one a day in their lives and B) are terrified to simply drive down one. The people who live and exist there aren’t people, they’re things, objects, npc zombies and criminals. Don’t ask for or reference anything that is too embedded in your culture because if the White folks feel as otherized as they’re making you, someone is going to get their feelings hurt and you’re going to have to deal with being the bad guy. Or it’s going to get mocked incessantly because, well, I already explained above, your culture and heritage is discount bin fodder to them. A suburban school shooting is a national tragedy, a drive by shooting is hilarious. Black history is barely secondary trivia, White history is mandatory and primary.

- Get thanked. A lot. Oh my gods, you would have thought you discovered world peace or the cure to hunger or cancer or something. As the only non-White person there, you’re thanked for showing up as if you being there saved the event from going snow-blindingly White. Now it is snow-blindingly White with a speck of peppercorn chucked in for good measure. They don’t want to change the culture they have which keeps minorities away like a repellent, nor do they want to talk about how they’re creating a culture that keeps minorities away like a repellent, nor do they actively want to do anything besides bump their gums about why it is so difficult to keep/attract minorities that are staying away because the culture is such a repellent. Nope, it’s much easier to pretend nothing is wrong and that minorities just don’t want anything to do with them because those finicky minorities are so close-minded. (Yes, this is the black hole calling the kettle and the pot “black”.) It would just be easier to thank the random Black person who wandered in (and is probably planning to wander away now) and stayed for longer than a couple minutes while marveling to them – a lot – why they can’t attract a more diverse set of people. And then go promptly deaf or enraged when informed that the problem probably lies within them and not in the people they’re trying to bring in.

Even if you started with the intention of “Going along to get along”, it’s going to wear on you eventually and you’ll start to feel irritated more and more as time goes on. Or you just want to engage less and less with whatever is going on. You want to be yourself but know that if you tried, it’s going to be a lot of headache. It doesn’t take much to go from “Friendly Negro” to “Militant/Scary Negro”. It’s just that you see everyone not having to really put on a mask to reduce dealing with something as sucky as racially charged aggression (especially since that can turn fatal) but you do and it’ll begin to wear on you that it isn’t fair. It is frustrating to say the least.

It is frustrating because you don’t get to have as much fun. Instead, you have to be on the cautious look out or awareness that someone is going to make a race joke (because it always happens, no matter how faint), starts droning on and on about whatever White Savorism expedition they’ve been on (“I’ve been to the ghetto! Did you know they wear shoes there? I helped one brush her hair, it was like brushing cotton. The little girl’s hair was soft as a sheep, I wish I could stuff it in a pillow.”), and of course, how not racist they are by being completely and totally racist. You’ve got to be on guard because, honestly, you don’t want to get sideswiped with someone’s cultural bigotry.

If there were a Black Pagans group or one for minority Pagans, I’d join quick. It would be nice being in a place where people don’t grab my hair like I’m a petting zoo, make really object comments about race while thinking they’re so enlightened and expressions of Whiteness everywhere. I don’t expect for White Pagans to be progressive that much when it comes to race given my and other Black Pagans personal experiences as well as just dealing with Whiteness while minority as a whole. I rather avoid the trouble and just fellowship with others I don’t have to be that skeptical around.

When it comes to Pagan spaces that are White dominated, basically, they don’t want to solve the cultural problem which creates Only Negro Syndrome because they feel that they are not the problem and that such a problem doesn’t exist where they are. Whereas I am strongly deciding to just remove myself from going to these events altogether. They’re nice and I like the theatric of high rites but it’s getting to really not be worth it, plain and simple.

BW Sick Day!

So…I’m sick. Woke up sick yesterday, I must have caught something during my birthday the day before yesterday. So that means I’m inside with a stuffy nose, a killer headache and a sore throat. Sore throat I think is gone but everything else remains.

Therefore, here is some Red Dwarf

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