Category: Pagan Life


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

It is the fourth anniversary post of Black Witch. Yep, we’re going into the fifth year of BW. This means I have been around for quite a minute. Nearly half a decade. I’m just as surprised as you are. Don’t forget  Black Witch 4th anniversary Ustream vcast TONIGHT  at 10:00 PM EST!

I really never know what to say for these anniversary posts. I kinda wanna copy what Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man does but I don’t have Bruce Lee as the patron saint of my blog. I would elect Janelle Monae for that buuuuuuuut it just wouldn’t feel the same.

Fo’ years, ‘doe.

I am really surprised that this blog has gone this far. It’s nice but wow, I’m astonished I can come up with regular content weekly for four solid years (and the occasional filler posts for the times I can’t). Yeah, my timing could be a little better with posting, I’ve been plenty tardy this year but you try running a blog all by yourself and creating original materially regularly on a weekly basis. It’s no walk in the park. Bah humbug.

I think this is the year I parted ways officially with Afro-Punk and BW has been flying solo. This year had a lot going on, non-BW wise as well. I managed to lose my backstage pass after a Janelle Monae concert (I still mourn that), I took Lupe Fiasco to a museum for it’s Black superhero exhibit (tho I feel bad for making him walk steps because I didn’t know his knees were giving him problems), my big bow on my Putumayo dress got trampled and nearly thrown away at a Deep Cotton concert – and the fans thought I was stalking my friend Kellindo despite spending the whole day with him (fan mentality is weird). I have a drastic increase in smorkin labbits, including two Deadpools (a big one and blind box one). I just got a Pop Toy of Assassin’s Creed Aveline de Grandpere and she’s adorable.

For this upcoming year, I’m going to try to improve my real world footprint byyyyyyyy… speaking gigs! See that “Contact for Speaking Engagements” page above? You can fill that out if you want me to speak at your place/event/whatever. For now, I’m opening this up for the Mid-Atlantic region since I’m just starting out. Hit me up and let’s get something going!

Also I am revamping the donation center, look at the right of this site. In addition to the regular one-time donation (which can also be reoccurring payments), I’m using Patreon also for reoccurring payments! What’s Patreon? Here’s the difference:

Regular Donations: They’re a one-time donation. You can make them as many times as you like in whatever amount. They also can be reoccurring in whatever amount you would like and easy to cancel.

Patreon: It’s reoccurring donations which is a monthly, automatic donation where you can contribute anything between $1/post to $10/post. (For mathematical reference, I post roughly 4-5 posts a month). You can also stop payments any time you want.

This helps keep Black Witch up and running (as well as ad-free and multimedia capable), the cat fed annnnnnnnnd the writer of Black Witch fed. That would be me.

Sorry for the late post! I’ve been busy with stuff (*cough*LibraryofCongressjobacquiring*cough*) that I have had my hands tied. So here is this adorable kitty video! It’s French but with English subtitles. And remember,  Black Witch 4th anniversary Ustream vcast on June 9th at 10:00 PM EST!

Alright, everyone! Don’t forget! Black Witch 4th anniversary Ustream vcast on June 9th at 10:00 PM EST! Be there! I’ll be taking questions via Ustream and twitter (@thisblackwitch).

Hello, my name’s Evangeline. I have thousands questions, but my two main concerns at the moment is how to connect with the Goddesses. I’ve been on the Pagan/Wicca path for about a year now. I haven’t truly dedicated myself yet. I’m leaning more to Diantic Wicca. I’ve put together a notebook and I’ve decided to choose 10 or so Goddesses that appeal to me and working with them each for a month. I’ve meditated on a few and I intend to continue doing so, but is this a good way to approach it and what do I need to know about them? What do I need to research? Also, I’ve been fascinated by Divination. I’ve dabbled in Tarot (Rider Waite deck), Runes, scrying, and I use a pendulum occasionally. My question is can I work with multiple Divination tools together?

- Evangeline

I recommend research. Reading is probably the best you can do to understand the deities you like and the cultures they come from, which is crucial in understanding and relating to how your selected deities work and their place in the universe. You can start by using Mythology Dictionary (which is in the Links of Interest) and going from there by researching their cultures and backgrounds.

Stay off of New Age-y sites, they’re full of nonsense written by people who possibly slept all the way through high school science and culture classes and possibly think fluoride is a toxin that’s put in our water. They’re not researchers, just really people who are more opinionated than they are educated. Stick with sites that actually go into the cultures of the deities you want to work with and make sure it’s not framed on the spectrum of Whiteness, that people from the culture are actually talking for themselves. And if the site describes the cultures as “barbaric”, “savage” or anything that basically translates to, “aren’t you happy you’re here and not there?”, it is not a good learning material because it is super biased. Even if it is a wiki page from Harvard, get off the site.

Also, read actual books. Internet doesn’t have everything. Go to actual libraries and read actual books. You’ll get a lot more information that way because you’ll see multiple viewpoints on the same thing, which is necessary. Research your deities there and their cultures and see what you come up with. Again, same stuff stands: Stay away from New Agey books (they’re possibly going to be incorrect), stay away from “spectrum of White” books (they’re inaccurate), books that treat the cultures like Western modern culture is the best culture ever and everyone else sucks (also wildly inaccurate).

You can use varying forms of divination together. You’ll be tired a lot, especially if you’re new to it, but you can do it.

Before we start, remember that on June 9th, there is going to be a Black Witch livestream on Ustream for the 4th anniversary of this site at NEW TIME: 10:00 PM EST

Moving on!

Neko no Shuukai
This short film is so cute! It’s called “Neko no Shuukai”, which means “A Gathering of Cats”. It’s about a kitty named Chobi that’s tired of being stepped on day in and day out and he’s not the only one. Time for a kitty revolution! Maybe.

Dr. Nerdlove
I have been referred to very few relationship blogs and dating columns. To be honest, I usually read Dan Savage and listen to Loveline but it seems Dr. Nerdlove is very good at creating materials specifically for nerds, geeks and everyone in between because if anyone needs to know how to be social and interact with others, especially in dating, it’s them.

Granted the website is fairly directed at the usual White, straight nerd guy, I have found that the pieces are fairly well written. I like his writings on Creep Week, how to interact with women and even goes as far as deconstructing misogynist ideas most commonly held in nerd circles so nerd dudes can go from fedora-wearing douchebag neckbeards to decent guys.

I really liked these posts most:

Socially Awkward isn’t an Excuse
On Labeling Men ‘Creepy’”/”On Labeling Women ‘Crazy’
How Not to be Creepy
Coerced Consent: When ‘Yes’ Really Means ‘No’

I know so many guys who could benefit from this site a lot more than whatever they’re currently reading. Dr. Nerdlove breaks down gender issues in a way that’s actually understandable for guys so they can develop the empathy necessary to develop relationships with. That and they can do away with the “Women are evil/mean/skanks/such catty b*tches/crazy” thinking since Dr. Nerdlove successfully deconstructs such problematic (and sexist) thinking. I really like it and thus, highly recommend it.

The advice is fairly sound when it comes to picking up folks. Dr. Nerdlove breaks it down bit by bit so everyone can easily follow along and apply it to their lives. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaad eeeeeeeeett.

Learn more about Dr. Nerdlove:
Dr. Nerdlove Twitter (@DrNerdLove)
Dr. Nerdlove Facebook
Dr. Nerdlove Tumblr

Musicogyny
It’s no surprise that the music industry is rife with misogyny. It has 3% women in the industry, which most certainly is not because of lack of talent from women in both the music side and the business side of the music business but of the douchiness of the guys in the music industry creating hostile environments that unnecessarily oust women, creating a near sausage-fest.

Of course, you will still have some random dude saying that he doesn’t see any misogyny in the music industry – in fact, it’s somehow easier to be a girl in the industry because there’s so little competition and they can use their womanly wiles to get what they want…even if they didn’t ask for it. (Read Dr. Nerdlove for an explanation of why this is such a dumb and myopic perspective). This blog is to document all the times women have encountered sexism in their respective fields in the music industry. I highly recommending giving this site a look because it is indeed ridiculous how difficult it is for women to make it in the music industry because they’re framed in the lens of “Is she hot or not?” lens which is mostly placed and enforced by guys.

Here’s a few stories collected from Musicogyny:

Musicogyny example post 1

Musicogyny example post 2

Musicogyny example post 3

The one thing I constantly think about is when a friend of mine told me she once went to a band’s hotel room because she and a friend really wanted an autograph and managed to find the manager, who led her to the hotel room and how she was nearly sexually assaulted by the six guys because they apparently were planning to do something to her in one language and talking plainly to her in English and thankfully she knew the other language. It wasn’t easy to leave because the manager was standing in the way of the hotel door and she was on the other side of the room so it wouldn’t be easy to get out. She tried to pin the blame on herself but I spent around 10 or so years dealing with fans, it wasn’t her fault at all. All she wanted was an autograph, something that is in and out. That’s what she and her friend wanted, that’s what she explicitly said, that’s exactly what she expected. Not having a band she likes get the really wrong idea and even attempt to use an assumed language barrier to premeditate how they’re going to act on their really wrong idea.

Then, I think about how my other friend, Lupe Fiasco, got his career started. It also started in a hotel room. When he was 19 or so, he wanted to meet Jay-Z bad. Got a chance to go to Jay-Z’s hotel room, spit a few lines and, boom, a fruitful career is born. Never once did Lu have to worry about rape, one of the acts trying to take his clothes off. If anything, sexual assault would have been the furthest from his mind. He’s more worried about the fact he’s about to meet a favorite rapper, hope he doesn’t say or do anything stupid, forget his lines, that this was his chance. He was a fan getting an ultimate opportunity to meet his favorites well past meet & greet time.

This is very much biased. One got to be treated with respect to himself as a person, the other was treated like a call girl and they both wanted the same thing: to meet and interact with their favorites. Hell, asking for an autograph is much easier than asking for a minute of their time to spit some random lyrics but the fact that Lu got that time without so much as a hyper creepy and rapey comment about his body, his stance, the fact he came alone (Oh man, if Lu was a girl, he’d have a much different story on that premise alone) or anything that my other friend encountered.

Misogyny sucks, especially when paired with music. Or comics. Or society.

 

Alright, that’s all for The Arts!, next week is Ask Black Witch. Get your questions in. Remember, good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

Black Unlike Me

I currently am on the bus going to ECBACC so yay for time to actually be able to write something. Or just watch the kid on my left who’s throwing his hands as if shadow rapping.

I got an email not too long ago of some person confusing the Black Witch name. See, instead of actually reading the site or anything crazy like that, they thought I was a black magick practitioner (also known as the “Left Hand Path”). Granted, even though magick is neither black nor white, I am not on the Left Hand Path. Also, when I say I’m Black, it’s in reference to my race. The “witch” part is in reference to what I do. This email annoyed me only on the principal that the person who wrote the email never had it cross their mind once that I could be called Black Witch becaaaaaaause I’m, I dunno, Black? Like, as in a Black person, a person who is part of the African diaspora, a Negro, I have the skin tone, facial features, hair texture and all. I’ve been bothered by cops, passed up for jobs I’m perfectly qualified for, even yesterday, some random lady pulled her bag closer to herself when I was behind her on the escalator. There’s even a picture of me on the “About Me” page. It’s dated by five years or so, my hair is now natural instead of permed like back in that pic so I should change it but that’s basically still me. Y’know, Black, as in a Black person.

I think I even wrote on there on the About Me page that this blog is for the intersection of the Black and Pagan experience. I have posts on race here that are pretty decent written – waaaaaaaaaaaay too well written for this site to be penned by a White person, especially the average White Pagan. Most of them can’t even get past their own micro-aggressions and casual racism to just not culturally appropriate, it would be nearly erroneous to assume they could pen nuanced and sensitive pieces on something they know little about. Actually, I think that I mentioned my race several times in those pieces, either directly (“I’m Black”/”as a Black person”) or indirectly (“Black people have definitely suffered many trials and tribulations but we as a people…” (Notice the “we”?)) so I don’t know how the letter writer missed that. And if they weren’t checking, they still should have skimmed the site some before simply blowing me an email I ultimately would dismiss because of their lack of attention to detail.

I also know that I have made really clear that this site is mainly for Black Pagans, the core audience. Anyone outside that audience, I don’t care so much about. So many Pagan blogs are hyper-focused on Whiteness and White-washing that I don’t have to care since there are literally hundreds of options out there for White Pagans to pick their media, even down to Pagan magazines down to random blogs and social media. And the average Black blog is so Christian centered that it’s pretty annoying in and of itself. Christianity is an important part of the Black experience, true, but wow, how about acknowledging Black folks in different faiths exist? And not in a “potential convert”/”Look at that weird person over there not worshiping Jesus” way? But ultimately, this blog is for Black Pagans, plain and simple. I’m not incredibly concerned for my White readership, this isn’t their learning ground of “how to interact with darkies”, it’s a space for Black Pagans ultimately so they have something to read that, at least, is directed at them. I’m not the champion voice of the Black Pagan experience, there’s definitely other Black Pagans who have opinions that are just as valid as mine on the same subjects I write on, even if it is not the same opinion. I just want to provide something because there wasn’t anything I could find prior to Black Witch and trust, I looked. As said originally on the “About Me” page, you don’t have to be Black and Pagan to read Black Witch but please know that Black Pagans will always come first and that particular intersection only. We have such few spaces as it is, needing a space for ourselves in the whole world of Pagan media is important.

Because having folks write to me thinking that I’m not Black despite my site saying it in such point blank and not-so-point blank ways is really annoying and insulting. The letter writer could have saved themselves the time and megabytes it took to write their email if they decided to read – or skim – the site and figure out, “Oh, she’s a Black person practicing witchcraft, not a person (assumedly White) practicing Black magick, my question is probably not her forte. Back to Google it is.” That would have been a much smarter idea. Yeah, I could be a left handed practitioner who is also Black (for the LH people who need directness: I’m not.) who is actually Black but I’m pretty sure it would also be noted in the naming of the site and how I talk about things here. Pretty certain. Besides, Konstanos doesn’t take mail? Go bother him. This site is mainly for the African diasporic experience within Paganism. Only reason I don’t have the tagline saying “Life as the African diasporic Pagan experience” because why sound like a text book because some random White person was too dumb or lazy or hurried to even skim for basic information? If this site isn’t for them then it also means I’m not going to construct a site name or tagline to help them along when the average Black Pagan seems to understand the point of this site just fine. The point of this site isn’t so buried that someone should or could say, “I didn’t know what the site was about, I just assumed.” That is why this is fairly irritating. Even when being direct, your identity is still White-washed. It’s like the Tumblr posts about white washing book characters when they hit movie theatres:

race and literature

Because God/dess save the Queen, King and rest of the kingdom if there is even the slightest mark of visual representation. Or any marked representation at all. Same here, I’m a Black person, that part of my identity (which is part of why I made this column-turned-blog) is kinda important. Just a leeeeettle important. Thus I’m going to get miffed if people not simply dismiss it but confuse it for something else I have never alluded to ever.

It’s almost as bad as when White Pagans come onto this blog to comment on race topics as if a) I nor any other Black person hasn’t heard whatever excuse or reasoning they’re going to say b) their opinion on something they have never experienced before is going to have weight c) they’re going to get e-cookies for trying to center the discussion on their feels or on how White people feel. Those guys know I’m Black and should know that I’m probably more hip to race issues than they are since I’m more negatively affected by it and at a much, much more frequent interval but it doesn’t stop them from going “but what about the White people?”

Dude, it’s like if someone wrote a blog called “Rainbow Express” that was about gay relationships and I wrote in regards to my boyfriend, completely neglecting the point of the blog and then sending in another email going, “Oh! I didn’t know that you were a gay person! Well, I’m straight but could you still provide some help?” Yeah, no. The writer would have every right to go, “What? Are you serious? How did you not catch that this was for gay people? Dude, there’s countless relationship sites for straight relationships and you had to pick this one. That’s not for straight relationships. At all.” That’s exactly what happened to me. Not cool, brah.

So yep, do your research. This worse than when folks have written to me thinking I was a guy. Do people just not read or something or is my About Me picture not big enough? I certainly thought it was. And the pictures the Black Witch facebook page (actually, I’m in both pictures, the profile picture and the cover picture). And this pictures on the Black Witch tumblr. Even the illustrated icon should be a pretty strong hint of what I mean by saying “Black Witch”. And on the Black Witch Twitter. Basically, would have taken the letter writer a couple clicks, if even that, to figure out they made a boneheaded assumption.

Reading and research are both fundamental, everyone. Please actually do some so you don’t look like a dunce like this person.

Alright, that’s all the Black Witch for this week. Next week is The Arts!, let’s see what is getting featured:

- Neko no Shuukai

- Musicogny

- Dr. Nerdlove

Also, the Black Witch 4th anniversary is coming up on June 9th. This means vCast livestream. Celebrate with me on Ustream as we go into the fifth year of Black Witch. I’ll be communicating with readers over the livestream via chat and over twitter (@thisblackwitch)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,146 other followers

%d bloggers like this: