Category: Pagan Life


Alright, kiddos, this is going to be weird. First and foremost: I’m caught up on rent! That means I am ok car-wise and rent-wise. We hit our goal and I don’t have to suffer thanks to Hopkins’ discriminatory practices.

Oh, wait, I still do. On Feb 3rd , my apartment got ransacked, liiiike, I thought my home was broken into…despite locked doors and windows. Turns out, Hopkins paired up with Baltimore’s finest and decided to turn my whole apartment upside down. Where there used to be neat and nice stacks of boxes are basically slushpiles of my stuff. Having police raid my apartment is just part of the bs I’m going through now. Oddly enough, this is after I got my EEOC claims up and going. I added what happened to my ACLU complaint as well (they’re starting to go, “Okaaay, you miiiiight be on to something there”).

Granted, I can’t talk much about it because now I have a lawyer. Needed one after having a chat with a detective and learning that Hopkins really likes being a douche, long story short. So that means I can’t give as much of a detailed update as I want.

What does this mean for you? The update posts will be shorter and more likely to be things that I have done, instead of things I will be doing/am currently doing.

Still wanna support? I still take donations! Paypal donations as well: thisblackwitch@hotmail.com

Here is a new update on what is happening since I was illegally fired from Johns Hopkins University back in December. First, let’s check the donation bit because that’s super important:

Click Me to Donate!

Click Me to Donate!

As of this writing, I have had only 17 donors (including Paypal donors (thisblackwitch@hotmail.com)). Things were starting to stagnate but beginning to pick up again a little. Please do donate, every penny counts. Car stuff is fine so I have reliable transportation that vastly reduces my chances of triggers, we just have to work on rent, now. I will be visibly keeping track of how much of rent is paid with a “???/$1722” count. Right now, as of this posting, it’s only $861 but it’s going to double to $1722 on Tues. Because that’s Feb 2. The day rent is considered late.

This past week was hit with a blizzard at the start of it but finally, I made it out to here:

1131-EEOC_SEAL_2

For some odd reason, every employer fears these guys, even other government agencies

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC/EEO, a federal organization that mandates and oversees all complaints and regulations of historically marginalized people in regards to age, race, gender, disability and religion. I know I originally said that I tried the EEOC and didn’t want to work with them because I thought “What good will they do?” but a friend of mine who happened to be a police officer told me he went to them over his chief. My friend is Black, chief is White and they’re cops, take a wild guess why my friend would be contacting the EEOC.

For the slow ones in the back and the front, it was because of racial issues. The chief got the boot (and weren’t the only one) and my friend had it a bit easier at work. The fact a White, high ranking officer was successfully taken to task by a lesser ranked, Black officer for racial reasons is fairly uncommon. Usually, especially in Maryland, nothing ever happens. If anything, usually it would be the minority that gets the boot for making noise and as officers? There can be really nasty blowback for being a whistleblower in the police field, especially in regards to race. They may think Blue Lives Matter but not if the dude in blue happens to be Black, then it’s You Don’t Matter. That convinced me to give EEOC another try, especially since my friend showed me how to locate the form he filled out and everything necessary to start proceeds. Thankfully, they have a Baltimore office that I live mere blocks from.

Basically, when you file with EEOC (and they find that you have a case), you can choose to officially charge the discriminating place with discrimination, which opens up an investigation. I’ll update as I can, of course. But so far, I have a case. Charges have already been filed, as of this writing. Hopefully, this will all be resolved soon but until then, please continue donating because that’s a must.

And just this past week I had to delete an anonymous comment. I doubt it was an authentic anon comment because I don’t allow those on my site but someone who simply posted that as their name, which is an insta-delete, especially if it’s in regards to race. I don’t feel like doing IP tracing so a delete button works fine. I’ve only had two people ask questions about the dismissal letter, mainly the van part because somehow, they believe it magically negates the whole thing. The only thing they’re semi-correct on is that has nothing to do race, because it’s ableism.

See, I’m dinging Hopkins for racism and ableism, not just racism. If I was a bigot that objected to read, I would have thought it was 100% about race, too. But, newp, I have more than one thing to be discriminated over in my lifetime. Here’s the list:

Race (I’m Black)
Gender (I’m female)
Religion (I’m Pagan)
Disability (I have disorders. Not really disabling for me but Hopkins evidently disagrees)
Class (I was born and raised in the inner city/Working class)

That’s a lot. And out of that list, I’m just tagging Hopkins for two, racism and ableism (EEOC decided to add “gender” to the mix and, hey, I’m not gonna stop ’em). The “suspicions she’s a lunch thief” is the racism part. The “she can’t drive because she has a mental illness we’re scared of” is the ableism part. (The fact the neurodivergent guys at work were guys is justification for “gender”. And, quite possibly, my pay.)

I’m certain it looks very official the “she made it clear she can’t operate one of the core duties” part because that part looks actually official. Folks, this is why they thought I was clear I can’t work:

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That’s illegal.

Apparently this was more justification than anything I could say about my disorder. When you tell someone blatantly to their face that you’re worried their disorder, which they tried to explain to you time and time again so you wouldn’t fret, will interfere with their job and use that as justification of firing…that’s illegal. You can’t fire someone for having a disability, especially because you simply don’t understand it and have no, zero, zilch desire to do so. That’s absurdly illegal. Especially, if there were no requests to provide a doctor’s note or anything to verify (and legally cover their derrieres) with.

Here’s the thing: I may have what is considered, in the eyes of the law, a disability (as in, I could get disability payments instead of work but, hey, I like to work and I think I’m capable), buuuuut I don’t really see myself as disabled. I can walk up and down stairs fine, I can drive okay, I don’t need a wheelchair or anything. I just have trauma disorders that, if not checked, could easily become a problem but I get regular treatment.

I see it as no different as wearing glasses. Technically, that counts as a disability as well: I literally can’t drive without my glasses because I would be slamming into things with the greatest of ease since everything looks like a horrific impressionist painting done by Picasso using crappy air brushes should it be more than 5 feet away. But with glasses, I can see better than most people. Hopkins firing me for DID is like my supervisor saying I should go because because I could potentially lose my glasses, break my glasses or he once saw a story on the internet of a person who crashed from having foggy glasses. Yeah, all those things could happen and he could think “she can’t drive because she need corrective lenses and that’s risky” but that would sound mental, wouldn’t it? Since I’ve had glasses for a long time, I know how to drive without murdering people because of them, I know how to live with them, I know how to take care of them and I don’t lose them (often) so using it as a justification would sound odd, wouldn’t it?

Ditto with DID. It is something, like my crappy vision, that could be seen as a disability but because I don’t feel that it is because I know how to work around it. Just like with my crap vision, I know that if I forget my glasses, I have to go get them or else I can’t drive. Why, I can barely cross the street or even identify street signs without them. I once walked into a parking meter, busting my lip, because I couldn’t tell if it was a cat or a rock across the street….It was a rock. Thanks to the Malcom X method of reading (reading tomes in poor light extensively), I’m practically blind as a bat. But with the five or so pairs of glasses I have, no one is going “we can’t hire her, how do we know she’s not going to stand in the middle of the street, squint and go ‘that’s either a squirrel or a Hummer. That’s a really fast squirrel coming at me.'” The simple fact that such a remedy exists called “get glasses/contacts”, no one thinks of blurry vision as a disability. Because it can be worked around and work with. Same thing with my DID, I don’t have to be part of the 70% of unemployed disabled people (which, like me, I’m sure can work but have to deal with very ableist employers and the remainder are living with a crappy, hyper-capitalistic system). I can work with whatever is wrong with me, starting with the fact I know I have it and how it works. But Hopkins is clearly very blind to that.

I was working with OIE (Hopkins’ Office of Institutional Equity), still sort of am but they’re going to be talking to the EEOC instead. The simple fact that they’re taking a bit long – 3+ weeks – to just ask 7 people (6 out of 7 working in the same teeny department) during an academic library slow period is problematic. It has been a month and a half at this point and they told me it’s going to be a few more weeks, this is a problem. Especially since they said I wouldn’t see a report, I just have to wait for a letter from Hopkins.

I don’t like that. Time is something I, frankly, don’t have. And every day that passes makes me even further destitute, so unnecessarily and unfairly. If anything, I hope EEOC speeds things up because I want to get back to work and support myself again. Like I should be doing. Until then, please donate. Updates coming weekly, daily updates on my twitter (@thisblackwitch) and tumblr (@thisblackwitch).

It’s been roughly a week since I broke the news that I lost my job at Johns Hopkins University library because of discrimination. I also posted a little during the week about how donations were only trickling in. Since then, I went from two donors to eleven. I’ve been taking donations from not only YouCaring but also direct donations to my Paypal as well (thisblackwitch@hotmail.com). According to YouCaring, this is where we stand now:

Click me to Donate!

Click me to Donate!

Add in the Paypal donations and the total amount raised so far is nearly $250. Now, I moved back in Oct. and got a car so I could best sustain and stabilize myself to work at Hopkins. Apparently, they don’t care and gave me the boot anyways for ficticious and trumped up reasons…like the (non-examined and baseless) suspicion I would steal my co-workers lunches. Because at the Library of Congress, I could be trusted with the Treaty of Versailles and very sensitive government documents buuuuuuut at Hopkins, I can’t be trusted next to a cupcake. It’s really no wonder how Ben Carson could last so long at Hopkins with the opinions and mouth he had.

What is left now to raise money for (and quickly! Like, within a week or super sooner):

Car note ($324) PAID
Car Insurance ($230)
Rent ($861 ($1722 by Feb 1))

Please donate! I’ve been doing all that I can to scrounge up and be able to at least purchase food and still have some independence.

And here is what Hopkins have said to me so far:

I have been working with the third party lawyer (considered such because she is hired by Hopkins’ Office of Insitutional Equity to basically get to the bottom of the case, represents neither me or Hopkins). She said she is still doing interviews with people selected. I asked if I could see a report when or before Hopkins does. She responded that I will be getting a letter from Hopkins in the next few weeks deciding their determination on my situation. To note, it has already been well over a month. To do a proper investigation that involves, at most, six people. And will need a few more weeks to be told what going to happen. No discussion or conversation.

This is very suspect.

And I plan to esclate. Thankfully, I worked at the Library of Congress prior so I already have people in mind. Those details will be shared as they are safe enough to do so.

However, there is some good news, I will have a new job soon working for a financial publication so I won’t have to live forever on donations (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate however.) Job starts Feb 1st but the first check doesn’t arrive until the middle of the month. This means I have to hustle and work to get more donations and finances in so I don’t wind up homeless, thanks to Johns Hopkins University.

I have been posting about this issue very regularly on my Twitter (@thisblackwitch) and Tumblr (@thisblackwitch). Regarding the dismissal letter, Hopkins shouldn’t be ashamed – they should be embarassed. I’ve had numerous people read this letter from other librarians to police officers and people with HR background. No one can believe that Hopkins, a prestigious institution that is commonly confused for an Ivy, had the audacity and wherewithal to dismiss me with such petty claims. Everyone gets stuck on the “may steal food from co-workers” bit. That’s embarassing. There’s actual, fireable offenses that happen at that university library – such as my White co-worker wearing an afro wig and strutting about saying “I’m a street walker, I’m a street walker” in the middle of the day where a student could have easily walked in – and the library HR decides to fire me on a pithy, unexamined suspicion of theft? As if I didn’t come from the Library of Congress, a library where I had to be trusted with extremely sensitive documents. And the theft of lunches – nothing valuable – lunches have been happening looooong before I got there. Even my lunch got stolen, that’s never happened to me before at any library I’ve worked at. Not at the crappier ones nor the more prestigious ones, only at Hopkins. They just figured I’m a hoodrat so the suspicion fits? That’s disrespectful to me and my work experience. Entirely disrespectful. I came from the Library of Congress, have they lost their minds?! And mincing my words simply because I have a disorder, that’s super rude. They basically shoved out a Black, mentally ill person for no justifiable reason. Wow, that’s a show of strength right there, must have taken such bravery. Hopkins being Hopkins, everyone.

And they have something like Hopkins Local [link], what a disgrace and insult to the affected Baltimore community. They need to take it down if this is how they plan to treat people from distraught communities. At least I know I have trauma disorders and regularly treat them, how would Hopkins treat someone who didn’t know? Besides, y’know, as a lab rat?

Hence, why I’m taking this further since Hopkins wants to drag their feet and tell me nothing. What you have to do, readers, is just donate and spread the word so others can donate and take a read of what happened.

Hopkins Investigation Update (as of Jan. 19, 2016): Still the investigator is interviewing people. I think this might be the last week. Remaining bit may take “the next few weeks”, as said from the investigator.

Ok everyone, since Friday, I finally let the cat out of the bag about my illegal termination from Johns Hopkins University. Also, I had opened up a donation run to help keep me afloat as the investigation is ongoing. This is what it looks like today, so far:

Click me to donate!

Click me to donate!

 

Pretty dismal, frankly. It is greatly appreciated that I have already gotten two donations from readers but there is much more to raise.

The whole situation is easily angering because since Hopkins gave me such an unceremonious boot for a little over a month now, here is what is late:

Rent: $861 (about become $1,722 if rent becomes two months late, which it will be in less than two weeks)
Car: $324
Car Insurance: $230

The $3000 goal is actually what a month and a half paycheck looks like and so I don’t have to keep begging for money, I can just pay ahead to stave myself over until I can find another gig, which is really hard.

The reason I have this to pay is because when I worked at Hopkins, I moved and got a car to further stabilize myself so I could do well at the job (I worked there as a Library Assistant II). Apparently, Hopkins didn’t care and decided that I needed to go…just not based on my work ethic or anything legit like that. I posted my dismissal letter on the last post called “‘This is Hopkins’ or ‘How I Illegally Lost My Job'”, where you can see exactly what I was dumped on the basis of. Like the suspicion (as in “non-proven”, “no proof”, “baseless accusation”) that I would steal my fellow employee lunches…despite the fact that my lunch has also been stolen and I’ve had food shipped from South Korea via NYC so I would have a sufficient lunch.

Anywhoodle, I’m still pretty steamed about the whole thing because, frankly, I’m not supposed to be doing any of this “please donate” stuff, I’m supposed to be getting a paycheck from a prestigious university for performing regular, mandatory work. It’s frankly, really frustrating and emotionally devastating that something like racial and disability discrimination literally swiped out from left field and snatched my job from me. It would have sucked if I were fired because I did something dumb but at least it would have been justified. I could walk from that and go “I did something stupid, I earned that. Time to go struggle.” Instead, I got fired because of bigotry via the creation of trumped up accusations and false information.  And I still have to struggle as if everything was all my fault.

Maybe Hopkins will do the right thing, maybe they won’t. What matters now is that I stay afloat, more than anything. Please do donate. I plan to do a live stream by Friday to help do a donation drive, detail will come soon. I also been touching on this on my twitter (@thisblackwitch)

I usually don’t like to intermix my personal life with Black Witch because this is not a personal blog but this is pretty outstanding…and in a bad way. Yay, asking for donations, [/sarcasm]

I just recently got a new job at John Hopkins University back in September. It was pretty cooland I was stoked because I prefer working in academic libraries. There’s just more stuff to do in comparison to when I was at the Library of Congress. I thought I would finally get myself back on my feet and be pretty ok because at the time, I was going through a super rough patch, as I had mentioned some bits prior.

Then I lost my job without warning on Dec. 15. My supervisor found me shelving books, told me to come with him and before you knew it, I was sitting between him and the libraries’ HR with a letter waiting for me. It read that basically, as of that moment, I didn’t have a job anymore and how they felt unfortunate to tell me this.

Guess why they were letting me go…

Because, apparently, I was under the longstanding suspicion (remember, I was just there for three months) of stealing other employees lunches.

I’m not kidding, check out latter half of second paragraph:

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By the by, I actually had my lunch stolen while working there (which had never happened to me before in any of the 4-5 other libraries I’ve worked at). And I combatted it with having Ramen Bbokki (my favorite instant ramen cup) – a package with Korean written all over it – shipped to me from New York…which they got from Korea. I had figured whoever took my food was probably not going to touch it if they didn’t know what it read, especially since they yinked my Lunchables but left my Citron tea and Korean rice cakes alone, both written in Korean.

I love food, that’s no lie, and academic libraries are great for me because they have a far greater amount of free food events. Emphasis on the “free”. My stomach is too picky for me to steal food from other people anyways, I can’t even have too much okonomiyaki or pizza before my stomach goes, “Uhhh, I was feeling this…but now I’m not. Commence cramping!” and those are my favorite foods! I am a label reader, folks. Simply some things I can’t eat, even if I ate them before.

And if I was stealing foods…why didn’t anyone tell me I was under suspicion? I didn’t even know I was even being pegged for thievery until my therapist read my dismissal letter and said “You know they’re accusing you of stealing, right?” Even during the dismissal meeting, it didn’t come up. And suspicion isn’t the same as proof or indictment. Anyone can have a suspicion about anybody over anything. You can have the suspicion the president is a lizard person but, idealistically, it’s totally moot until you can satisfy what is known as the “burden of proof”. Burden of Proof simply means you’re free to suspect something but you need an example or some verifiable proof such as pictures, videos, detailed accounts, witnesses, documents, etc etc, to give that suspicion some standing. If you saw the president eyes blink sideways, have scales (beyond reason of “eh, he’s got a rash/ezcema/dry skin”) or blurt out a reptilian language when he slams his foot, and recorded it somehow or dragged another person to see, that can satisfy the minimum of burden of proof.

Also, suspicion can go both ways. For example, Hopkins has a pretty far reaching history of racial issues in Baltimore City. Hopkins is the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant/Montgomery Burns of Baltimore. They provide some good things but they also are good at maintaining harmful social structures. There’s a reason why many Black Baltimoreans (basically “Baltimoreans”, period) will say “If I ever get sick, don’t take me to Hopkins or Bon Secours.” Bon Secours because they’re nicknamed “Bon Se-Killers” due to crap care and Hopkins because no one wants to be a lab rat . For native Baltimoreans, JHU is a rich and big juggernaut that has very Ivy League perspectives on race, culture and other social structures. That can easily rouse suspicion of institutional and structural racism.

Speaking of which, I got tossed out for the “suspicion of stealing lunches” without even knowing (the other reason, I’ll touch on below) buuuuuut a co-worker can don an afro wig and do a near-minstrel act of pretending to be a lost street walker in the middle of the department during the afternoon but it’s waved off as just a thing that person does. Totes harmless, bro. Other workers thought it was a hoot – even took pictures! – and it doesn’t help that I was the only mobile Black person on the team at that point (there’s another who is stationary, mans the computers and keeps things running). If a Black student had sauntered in, it would have been on Instagram by now.

And it’s a little interesting that this isn’t even the first time I’ve been accused of stealing in my life. I’ve been followed in stores, I’ve even nearly had a cop pull a gun on me at university because he thought I was “robbing a warehouse” when I was just sitting on its very well-lit dock…because I was waiting for the bus and the bus stop at my school had no place to sit or shelter from the elements. I was dressed in casual cyber goth and with a chunky, huge bookbag but still had to show the officer my state and school id. And still, the dude felt that due to his suspicion, he had to pull up on me, blinding me with lights and stand behind his open car door with his arm akimbo on his gun while aggressively questioning a really confused and blinded English major. Did this officer think I was going to slam through a reinforced steel door with Saul Williams and Ben Jonson works? The funny part is that I’ve been in the warehouse before when it was open, it’s for the transit buses and has a soda machine that took my money many times. There’s your thief, the Pepsi machine in there that doesn’t understand the basics of legal tender and its role in the economic exchange of goods. But I’m the one harassed. What is with this anti-Blackness thinking that Black people are natural thieves? Even with zero proof? This accusation towards me is super trumped up and petty, not to mention fictitious.

Speaking of “parts”, let’s move on to the other reason I got such an unceremonious boot: I apparently said I clearly couldn’t drive a van (it’s a pretty major thing so books can get shipped back and forth from and to off-site containment) because I mentioned I had a condition when I first started. Now, why did I mention I had a disorder at the start when I should have kept my trap shut? Would you believe it’s because the department already had two very visibly neurodivergent people on the team and I stupidly thought “Oh, hey, this is a safe space. I don’t have to hide my disorder, which means I don’t have to worry about my work being impeded because I’m too busy guessing Schrodeinger’s Bigot. How great, I can be responsible about my condition since I receive regular treatment on it.”

Newp. I should have kept in mind that I’m Black and with mental illness, that’s two strikes against me. Basically, it doesn’t matter that I worked at the Library of Congress, it doesn’t matter that I have a degree or that I have an extensive background in books, conservation, literature, library science and book upkeep. Apparently, to do well at the job, I really should have just lied about my condition, went back to perms and started buying skin lightener. Because somehow that matters in my skills more than what’s on my resume.

Despite the fact that I very recently bought a car (to further stabilize my condition) and moved as well (again, to further stabilize my condition) while being super broke (did I mention you can donate? Because you can donate). This really blew a hole in me, not just financially (I had no prep so I had little money stored away…because no one even hinted I was losing my job), but emotionally because of how I basically got sideswiped with no warning or notification. I checked in with my supervisor, I tried to adjust to the environment, so on and so forth. I actually thought I was doing well, I was nearly out of my probationary period. Early Jan is when I would have been a regular Hopkins employee, off of probation instead of a noob.

I’m sure, at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Time to lawyer up!” Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaah, not that easy. Now, the whole firing is being investigated by the Office of Institutional Equity. I’ve no real clue when it will be over. I would really like for it to be over so I can get back to my job and return to earning wages like a normal person. As for lawyers, the convo tends to go like this:

Me: Hi, would like your help in a discrimination case. I was wrongfully fired based on fictitious and trumped up accusations based on racial and disability discrimination.
Lawyer/Law grunt: Sure! We cover labor laws and discrimination. What was your position and where did you work?
Me: I was a Library Assistant and I worked at Hopkins University
Lawyer/Law grunt:
Lawyer/Law grunt: … uh, can we check if we can take your case?
Me: Sure!
:: A minute or two later or a call back ::
Lawyer/Law grunt: Uhhhhhhh, we can’t take your case. We’re sorry.

Remember, Hopkins is seen as quite a juggernaut here in Baltimore, most lawyers are pretty mortified to take on such an institution and understandably so. They’re daunting.

If anyone is flailing at the screen, saying “Go to the ACLU! NAACP! They exist! EEOC!!!!!” I juuuuust tried that. I didn’t run to them first because firstly, I had never gone through anything like this before. I was absolutely stunned and devastated. Secondly, they can be more greater-than-life than needed. Visited ACLU, they practically went “take a number”, called NAACP (who I have fleeting faith in, thanks to their interactions with Rachael Dolezal and Don Sterling) and they told me “Tell EEOC first”. Called EEOC, I got a computer voice that told me that I would be on hold for 54 minutes. I get that these organizations are not millions massive and they have a lot of work to do but I feel like it’s doing nothing. I can fill out their sheets and leave messages but what good would that be?

So, right now. Being so suddenly cut off, it really stings that what took my prestigious university library job from me isn’t me, it’s basic bigotry. I can’t help the fact that I’m Black, it’s not even a big deal. I can’t help the fact I have mental illnesses, I didn’t ask to have trauma disorders. Being Black shouldn’t have any bearing on my employment status. Having a diagnosed illness shouldn’t have any bearing on my employment status, especially since I was going above and beyond to try to stabilize the illness and try to explain things in a simplistic “I’m not a psycho” way so they could best understand.

I have no idea how long this investigation will be. It could be 2-3 months, it could be sooner, I don’t know. Please feel free to donate so I can keep everything up and going. They left me pretty much crapped out with rent, car payments, etc etc. There’s no limit to what money will be raised but I will set it to $3000 so there’s a goal. As per usual, feel free to donate. Since this is all such an emergency time, that means I’ll be posting about this pretty often. I won’t give any play-by-play updates but I will mention in the future if I do or don’t get the job back.

In addition, what frustrates/angers me further is that Hopkins just recently put out a program called Hopkins Local where the basic kit and kaboodle of it is that Hopkins is trying to “help” the neighborhoods affected by the riots by saying they’ll hire people from those neighborhoods, determined by zip code. Basically, Sandtown-Winchester would obviously fall into this because that’s where the riots originated and is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods.

I’m originally from Sandtown.

It doesn’t take a genius psychologist to find that I’m pretty sensitive about my original neighborhood being basically used for yuppie points/White Saviorism. The difference between me and the average person coming from Sandtown is that I already know I have a condition as a result of the traumatic environment I was raised in. I know I have chronic disorders, this is why I can talk about my illnesses at length. Most people in Sandtown are pretty ripped up mentally and have no clue that they have PTSD, DID, BPD, etc etc because of the absolute lack of sufficient mental health resources in those areas.

Let me tell you, when you have no clue you have a condition or a disorder, you’re more chaotic. You’re more chaotic and, frankly, you don’t know why. You simply have a short fuse, you lose time, that you’re hyper aggressive over the littlest thing, can’t trust anyone, etc etc and you have no idea why. At least I had the audacity and knowledge to be upfront and say “Hey, here’s what I have” because I got duped into being honest and believing that my workplace was a safe place because I saw other neurodivergent people. What is Hopkins going to do with the other folks who don’t know they have a trauma disorder but are asking for a job to have a change and a better life? Make more phony crap up to fire them as well before probation is over? If this is how Hopkins truly feels, why try to have things like Hopkins Local, so it can look like a PR ruse?

All I wanted to do was work in a library, now I got the book thrown at me for no reason.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I changed the dismissal letter with a better pic, one that includes Hopkins’ letterhead if case of disbelievers

Huzzah, it is Ask Black Witch, where you ask me questions and I answer ‘em! Basic rule is “good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated”. Since I was gone for a super long time, that means a lot of questions piled up. I’m going to start with the most recent and work my way back. That way, I keep up with questions. These questions are mainly coming from Tumblr and the Ask Black Witch submission box.

Also, it’s the holidays, I really am probably gonna derp on a few questions.

Do you have any suggested reading material?

– MartianKid

Recently and for the metaphysics? No. To be honest, I’ve been scoping out books and materials but in physical form, it’s really, really lacking. Either it’s basically the same info regurgitated over and over with a new shiny book cover or it’s some lame 101 book that’s clearly directed either toward White teens or their housewife moms. Or a combo. And usually with some cultural appropriation (chakras, smudging, voodoo) thrown in for good measure.

Honestly, it would be best to look at the more academic books about these subjects because Pagan writers simply are lacking. Although, academic writers are not perfect either, there’s a lot of biased information in academic writing due to the field and the publishing houses that function in it pretty much holding the same gatekeeping standards as the Ku Klux Klan – White gaze, Male gaze, Western standards always at the center somehow and everyone else goes under a microscope to be coldly examined into bits. This would take a lot of study to make sure you’re getting an objective learning that benefits you versus just learning a lot of academeized prejudices displayed as inarguable fact.

The issue is, because these fields have next to no diversity in voice and perspective (5 White, male writers on the subject of Native American smudging is not diversity & tokenization is not diversity, either) due to how they constructed themselves, there’s a lot of research that will be needed on your part. I know, I know, for a field that claims to be overflowing with smarties, eggheads and geniuses, they’re pretty freaking stupid about getting tripped up over basic and small things like race and gender. Make sure the books you read have diverse authors as well.

I already have books I have referenced a few times in the past in the Resources and Information category. They’re very decent, especially for spell work and the groundwork of such. Academic books are really sucky about that, obviously.

I’m a teen interested in Wicca, especially Dianic Wicca. What god or goddess do we worship and I’m afraid to tell my parents that I’m interested in Wicca since they’re Christians.

– Nicole M.

First thing first, it wouldn’t be “we”, it would be “they” because I’m neither Dianic or Wiccan. The Dianic Wiccans pray to, well, Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon, childbirth and the hunt.

It would be best to gauge your parents’ reactions. I didn’t really tell my parents for a long time and, frankly, I got outed (after I moved out, but still, got outed). If they are severely “Anyone who doesn’t believe what I believe is going straight to Hell”, I wouldn’t expect they would have a sudden turnaround when their own child needs them to.

This means you may have to warm them up to the idea of the fact that different religions exist and are still just as valid as theirs. However, if you still live with them underneath their roof, you’re going to have to be very cautious because the last you need is to be kicked out and forced homeless as a result of your parents showing “Christian love and mercy”. Remember, religious privilege, like any privilege, is very good at making people bend logic and go Pompeii over little things. This means you can still test the waters but be safe about it such as talk about people with different faiths (not all the time or they’ll pick up) and hear how they feel. If they think Christianity is the only way or that Pagans are just crazy White people just being crazy, that means you may have to practice in secret until you move out.

If you don’t live with them, you can still warm it up to them with time. The upshot is that you don’t have to worry about homelessness, just people being potentially upset. Remind them that A) this is not a dig at your family history or heritage, you still appreciate it B) it’s not a phase no more than them being Christian is a phase C) This doesn’t mean you hate Christians now, the religion simply didn’t work for you because of your own individual feelings and beliefs and D) they can either have you or their bigotry, but they can’t have both, so choose. (And bigotry won’t take care of them when they’re old and decrepit. Nor send them family pictures. Nor help them carve the turkey during the holidays). Without the risks of your livelihood and safety being diminished, it’s up to you on how to warm up your folks to Dianic Wicca but don’t expect any overnight changes. I would suggest easing them into it with passive mentions to it (“I’m going to be doing something for Yule, I hope it doesn’t snow badly this year like last time”) and bringing them back to center calmly if they start to be dismissive of the religion.

Even if they want to put in work to get to know and understand your religious faith, still don’t expect any overnight changes. Learning takes time. They’re going to be super uncomfortable that so many changes are happening all at once, it may take a while that you changing religions is not a person diss against them as parents and that you’re not an evil person now that you left Christianity. Actually, if they do believe that non-Christian=evil, feel free to present a picture of Donald Trump, the Ku Klux Klan, Adolf Hitler, the US Congress and the Bush Administration as proof that you can be wicked in any religion.

I’m looking to start practicing again but I don’t know to any circles or covens around me. It been such a long time since I practiced, and so much has changed since then. I’m not sure where to start.

– Vivian K.

This can be a really hard thing to do because not only do you want a circle or coven that meets your spiritual needs but also your mundane needs as well, such as, “Will I get along with them?” I would best recommend to see via google or local Pagan groups on Facebook to see what is available and go from there. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier to find circles and covens but thanks to the internet, it can sometimes be harder because people worry of being found.

You can look on WitchVox, that also would be a really good place to start.

Is it possible to be A Christian and A witch?

– Albert M.

Short answer: Yes.

Drawn out answer: Yes, there is “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” but actually, that’s not in the original writings of the Bible, which was “Thou shalt not suffer a poisoner” to live. The word “witch” as we all know and understand it in modern day context actually was not in existence then. The closest back then would have been “doctor” not “poisoner” given witches – also can be considered witch doctors – were giving out remedies and helping the community, not hurting it. The “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” bit mainly came to be around the King James Version and was moreso a result from the witch hunts and panics of the times.

Christian witches very much are a thing, they simply use the Holy Trinity as replacement for the god/dess figure that is prominent in Paganism, tend to study angel magick and mainly Christian or Abrahamic occultic works. Basically, Christianity is the focus of their practice and magick, that’s it. They still go to church, they still follow Christian doctrine, they’re still Christian, they just add metaphysical practice with their faith.

Hi! From what I’ve read, it seems like the practice of using graveyard dirt in spells, etc. originated exclusively from Hoodoo. Do you know if this is accurate, and if so, as a white witch should I avoid this practice?

– Alice

Graveyard dirt is mainly a feature in Hoodoo (and Voodun, I believe?) The best writing I have seen on this side of the world wide web is Amethjera’s writing titled “Graveyard Dirt – History, Purchase and Uses”, which smartly broaches the topic and confirms that, yep, you’re right, graveyard dirt has origins in Hoodoo.

Now, if you mean “white witch” as in “person who practices ‘good’ magic”, I would say that Hoodoo is not inherently evil – neither is Voodoo – and that magick like electricity: neither inherently good or bad, it’s all in how you use it.

If you mean “white witch” as in, “white person who practices witchcraft”, then I would say just tread verrrrry carefully because it’s a short walk from just borrowing culture to outright stealing it. If anything, if you’re super interested in using it, I highly recommend doing some deep study on the history of Hoodoo, why it exists, why graveyard dirt is a thing and so on and so forth. Graveyard dirt can be really strong in magick and while no faith or cultural practice has a copyright on dirt sitting in a cemetery/burial ground, it is better to be aware and respectful of its background instead of going, “I have a jar a diiiiiirt and it’s miiiiine. I’m so original.”

Just don’t start using overtly Hoodoo things with the dirt such as prayers, deities and more, especially not without heavy and extensive research and understanding of the importance of Hoodoo and how it came about. That’s appropriating/stealing/being disrespectful. Using the dirt by itself – as just dirt that came from a burial ground, any burial ground -, that can be fine. Adding more cultural effects, then it starts to become an issue. But still, read up on the history before proceeding. That’s a must.

Right now I am at my lowest, I feel like there is something negative on me. being I am interested in becoming a witch. But I don’t know if I have to give up being a Christian.

 

– Sherri J.

This question came right at the very end of Aug so I don’t know if it still stands but ‘ey, I’ll give it a shot.

If you’re depressed, that does not mean that there is a fix on you, it could just mean you’re going through a lot of bad things right about now. If you think it is as a result of you starting to think about joining witchcraft, that’s merely confirmation bias and instilled Christian fear/guilt working as a tag team. Also, if you’re really depressed, make sure to talk to someone or keep a journal to get out your feelings.

Now, usually when people come to me and they say “I feel like crap, I’m part of [insert faith here] but it isn’t working out for me, maybe I should try [witchcraft/Paganism/Wicca/etc]”, I remind them that if the issue is belief-wise, maaaaaaaaaaaybe they should consider, but after a lot of introspection and research. But if it is life-wise (job is crappy, life is crappy because of life stuff, etc), then maybe they should be visiting their church/mosque/synagogue/ etc, more because this is where faith is tested the most. Not during the good times, during the bad times. I’m Pagan but I still have crappy days. I practice witchcraft, still have crappy days.

If you don’t want to give up on being Christian, don’t. Nothing says you have to. Only you know if being Christian is working out for you but know that there’s no religion you can go to, no spell that can be casted that is simply the silver bullet for all of life’s problems and woes. Faith isn’t easy, that’s certain.

Today I found a jar with urine and a picture inside of me, What can this mean? A love spell? it was an old picture of me inside and I’m sure it was 5 years or more back since the picture was old and it also had some type of things on the bottom of the jar. Is this any type of spell?

– Emily B.

(Today for this letter would be also the tail end of Aug.) I’m no pro on Hoodoo or Voodun (which is what this reminds me of but it can also be folk magick) buuuuuut one thing I do know is that any time body excrement such as feces or urine is used, it’s not for positive things usually. I simply cannot recall any love spell (not “non-controlling” ones, certainly) that involves what you describe.

If you found nails or anything at the bottom of the jar, this further would make me believe that this isn’t a love spell…it’s more like a fix, a jinx. I would think back to 4-5 years ago if you had any major hardships that seemed very hard to resolve and as if it came out the blue. I don’t believe I got another email describing what’s inside the jar but I can guess that this wasn’t a good thing to trip across. Empty, destroy and bury as soon as possible.

That’s all for today!

Firstly, sorry the blog was stagnant for two weeks, had to deal with real life stuff that also involves preparing to move. Annnnd the ads should be gone by now, usually I have a “no-ads” feature. Moving on with the rest of the column.

Recently, I was contacted by a person for a death spell. Basically, they wanted me to kill someone out the blue for literally no apparent reason. First of all: I don’t do spells for others. Second of all: I’m not a hitman, get a gun and do it yourself like practically everyone else does. Third of all: Please remember I have friends in the police, up to lieutenant rank. Fourth of all: Please just do your research so I don’t have to make fun of you and initially dismiss the severity of your situation.

After several emails of half information, basically what had happened was I got contacted by a teenager who decided to send nudes to a random person over Kik because person B said “here are poses/games to prove that you are bi” (which is a bs request, just saying) and now the teen is regretting this very decision a bit too late now that person B, also possibly a teen, is extorting for more explicit acts and so on and so forth. The thing here as well is that the teen is over around the Middle East/Fertile Crescent and Person B is in Illinois. This teen was really hard to help because, wow, they really wanted to be spoon-fed info (look, there’s “What’s the number to 911?” panicking and, “What will/does [FBI/Interpol/etc] do?” after being linked to info pages) so, here it is for everyone because I’m a firm believer in “Don’t put yourself in a situation you aren’t capable of getting out of” and “information is everything” (or I wouldn’t have a career in libraries and a high IQ).

Firstly: If you are a teenager, DO NOT send explicit pictures of yourself. If you are considered a minor in the eyes of the law (usually hovering around 18-ish, depending on national laws), it counts as child pornography automatically. The law is like your parents, they don’t care if you think you are an adult, you’re still a kid, comparatively. This is for your protection. Here’s a site with a fantastic rundown of sexting laws and punishments (for both sender and receiver) by state in the United States. For example, the person in Illinois, if they’re honest about being a teenager and receiving this stuff, they’ll get hit with being arrested and tried in juvie court where, if convicted, they have to do counselling, community service and be supervised by the court. If they lied and turns out they’re an adult they’re pretty much screwed because they will be prosecuted under the state pornography laws and, if convicted, required to register as a sex offender, as well as whatever else the court can happily pile on, which is 2 to 15 years, depending on the severity and how the judge feels. If the teen that contacted me was also in Illinois, they would have been punished as well for producing child pornography with the penalty of counselling, supervision and community service. Take a look at the site yourself, if isn’t worth it. Already, you can’t control what someone does with your picture (or if their phone gets hacked), risking the very serious penalties of producing child pornography as well as other charges because the courts haven’t fully caught up to the digital age? That small .02 second pic is seriously going to cost you. As in, it’ll be on your record for colleges and jobs to see and if you think trying to get work and get into school is hard enough, try having that mark on your record. Find other ways to bond with people that isn’t so risky.

Secondly: If someone is pressuring you to do it, they actually don’t care about you or love you or else they wouldn’t risk your safety and well-being. Period. Sending a nude is not a testament of how in control you are or how much you love them, and they actually know that – even when they’re saying otherwise. Don’t do it. And if they’re a stranger on the internet, just assume they have nefarious reasons to ask a young person they practically just met to send pornographic material of themselves. Good people don’t do that, only pedo, ephebophiles (pedos but targeting teens), and other very destructive, abusive people do that. I would say “hey, here is how to report” buuuuut honestly, most – if not all – social media sites mainly do lip service but nothing constructive to thwart this from happening and to resolve occurrences that actually have happened. Actually, I researched all the ways to report to FBI, Interpol*, and Kik but then looked a little deeper and saw that, for the people perpetrated against, they really aren’t anything but painted plywood fronts of security theatre unless the victim screencaps everything, is quick to alert authorities and the social sites and basically speak up for themselves.

Thirdly: If this already happened, tell your parents and the feds. Yeah, they’re going to freak out on you because they care and they’re perfectly in their right to go Pompeii about it at the start. The teen that talked to me said her dad didn’t care, just to ignore it. This means either she didn’t actually tell him because, wow, talk about tone deaf, or he seriously doesn’t care about his daughter at all. Most parents would be hitting the roof if they found out that a) their child has been sending nude pictures of themselves to strangers on the internet and b) the stranger they sent it to is extorting them for more.

Basically, practice safe texting, the repercussions aren’t worth it.

*How are things on the West coast? – I had to do it, I’m sorry XD

Man, this site has been non active for a while. Not on purpose, simply because here’s the run down of what happened:

– Got triggered waaaay too much due to douchebag neighbor

– Due to douchebag landlord, my mother got thrown out of her home of 17 years

– Same douchebag landlord tried to get rid of me, so I had to break the lease and move (just so I can move again 6 months from now)

– Started new gig, one of the benefits is having access to lawyers – very good lawyers – so I’m dealing with douchebag landlady and douchebag neighbor via the courts (yay, I’m only 28 and I already have to sue someone! Seriously?)

Basically this is what happened, it wasn’t on purpose that BW haven’t posted for a while. I have been keeping up with the BW emails and tumblr so there’s that. That means I still had the same old stupid questions, some good questions and moronic White folks who think that I want to write for their publications because I’m Black and from Baltimore. I said it once, I’ll say it again: not interested in giving an “inside view” simply because they see what’s happening in my old neighborhood of Sandtown and think it’s another season of The Wire since, somehow in their eyes, HBO spelled backwards is PBS. Not interested in helping yuppies get clicks and awards for doing absolutely, positively nothing but being invasive, rude, drama-seeking, White saviorist, pillaging and thieving.

It sucks that the month I was basically out on was October, which means no Samhain Pickers for this year. I can remedy the vchat but it still won’t be the same, now would it? I still want to do something different because, hey, I’ve been gone for a while. I may propose to do a Watch Together or something since I wanted to do that for a while. If so, we’re going with National Treasure because I worked at the Library of Congress. However, I have been making new writings, I just haven’t been posting them until now.

Meh. Either way, I’m going to be back. Also, as a reminder, you can always put funds in the Black Witch till to prevent posting hiatuses like these. Huzzah.

Stressed Vision

One of the hardest times to be clairvoyant* is when you’re going through stress. The bigger the stress (lost job, hostile work environment, disruptions at home or in family), the more it dulls the psionic senses. It can even feel like you’re losing your touch, readings are off or simply there’s nothing blipping up at all. You may usually read for yourself but you’re not interested in what the cards or tea leaves have to say anymore out of fear of getting more “Bad news coming” results because you simply are well past your eyebrows in problems and don’t want to know if more is boppling down the pipe. You feel stuck and out of sorts if not out of control.

There’s no point to say “Stress impacts the mind” because there’s countless documents backing that up, as well as lived experiences. Good stress, bad stress, too much of it and you’re ready to pull your hair out. Besides giving you a millimeter fuse of a temper and a more vulnerable immune system, being part of psionics or simply energy manipulation means signs of stress will show up there as well. Despite what branch you practice, it shows up roughly the same way: Way off predictions, no signal at all, even headaches or a cloudy-minded feeling during even small attempts. Being psionic is a mental workout so it should come at no surprise that when under stress, that workout gets more dogged and wearing.

When going through mass amounts of stress, try not to worry about not being as good at divination or prediction as usual because that can create a negative feedback loop that will just add to the stress, not alleviate it. It’s just dulled right now because your brain is more fixated on the current problem at hand, even when you think it is situated in the back of your mind. Instead, just try to alleviate the stress the best you can by making effective changes towards diet and lifestyle. Granted, it is not that easy because stress from towering bills and a shrinking paycheck will not magically go away completely because you decided to drink more water instead of coffee but it will help your brain process information better and not feel so wound up and fretful. That’s a step in the right direction, at the very least. Try to be more firm with boundaries, even if you’re not the type to say “No” because with boundaries, you can better dictate your load, especially if something bigger comes along unexpectedly. Even if they’re little things, they can still help towards and ultimate goal of successfully managing the stress in a healthy way to get back to normal.

It’s ok, even if you’re a diviner, to not be interested in readings or forecasts because you’re worried of what the future is going to hold. Also, it’s ok to not want to listen to yourself because you can’t tell the real future from what you’re worried (or hoping) is going to happen. Fear can cloud anything and easily look like reality. When stressed, it’s not hard at all to be stress about how things are this month, how it will bleed over to next month, and next month … and the month after that…and the month after that, until you’re stressed about things in December and it isn’t even halfway through July. Stress can trigger the brain into fight or flight or freeze mode, it’s not going to function like usual when all the red alerts are going off inside your head. It truly is ok to not want to predict the future because the present already looks unpredictable enough.

That, and you might not believe what is actually about to happen. If you’re so deeply convinced that things won’t get better but you suddenly get a reading or a psychic ping of some good news, you’re likely to go “Naaaaah. Can’t be real. That’s what I would like to happen but I know it’s not gonna. Just no way, because [insert reasons here]”. All the same if you get some bad news, you may go, “That can’t be. I did everything I was supposed to. Maybe I’m just dwelling on my current state right now because [insert reasons here].” When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see any clarity. Or to simply understand it.

As you deal with stress, the best way to handle it is to be as proactive as possible. It’s not easy to manage stress, it takes more than just doing pilates and having green smoothies. It takes a full effort to find where the stress is coming from and trying to alleviate it, even if it means making hard changes. But while being stressed, it’s okay if you can’t tell what’s going to happen next, just try to work on what is happening now and eventually, you’ll find out.

Next week is The Arts!, here’s what’s getting featured:

  • Kitty Underground Railroad
  • Helping Homeless Felines

*Clairsentient, clairaudient, there’s different types

Mail-Ordered Religion

I had recently come back from break and had to clean out my mailbox. In there was a strange letter basically blind pitching Christianity for reasons I don’t know. All pics taken in crappy fashion because I seriously did not care about this letter.

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It says in the address panel “to a friend”, I’ve no clue what “friend” would send this to me since I’m pretty sure all know that a) I’m Pagan and b) I’m not very appreciative of being steered out of it. They may be a friend but certainly not a good one. Because that’s not cool. So, I’m gonna assume this “friend” doesn’t exist.

Flip onto the back, it shows this:

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Really? Really? They’re basically trying to fence me something. This type of help is not one that I need in life, it doesn’t even make room for the fact I already have a religion. I doubt this is a sign from above. And what are the three most pressing needs?

Inside is a pretty thick pack of papers:

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First, the back said that I had three pressing needs, now the inside is trying to ask me what they are. And how will they help me? They coooould respect my different religion, for a start instead of trying to barge in with their own beliefs. And while 1951 is more than half a century ago (still can’t believe it, but it is), these folks are trying to paint it like the number was 1651. It’s actually not that old. How do I know? Wicca was made in 1957 and people use that as a way to discredit Wicca – by the way, I’m not Wiccan, I’m Pagan, which predates Christianity by at least 50,000 years. That’s actually old.

In the first sheet of paper, which turns out is not a sheet but a couple pages folded together in hope I get duped into the prayer rug shtick they have. Dude, I’m sure if I show this to my Muslim friends, they’d rightfully fuss for days. Especially because of this particular bit:

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It’s awfully…materialistic. You want people to ask divinity for a car? Money? It’s God, not Santa. Yes, a better car would help folks in their lives and so would a better job but it doesn’t seem to play towards that, just “ask God for stuff and you’ll get it”, nothing really holistic. And if they got a sign from above to send this letter to me, it should have included also, “Maaaaaybe take into consideration they’re not Christian and might not appreciate this”.

And the testimony section read cringe-worthy if you’re actually spiritual. Or, hopefully, a Christian that knows better.

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Dude, it sounds like I can ask the Christian god for a Lotus car, half a million and a mansion that could make the White house look measly. Thaaaaat don’t sound right.

I’m not going through every piece of paper (and accompanying empty envelope for me to send back) they sent to me because it’s so much but, goodness, this simply doesn’t sound right. The paper feels charged, that’s for fact, but still something doesn’t feel right because of how materialistic it is. It’s mainly about jobs, money, car – money, basically. Money and more money. It is good to know you can keep your bills paid, for certain, but the Christian deity is not just for that. Some of it just seemed to be a matter of excess such as asking for a bigger (not safer) house or a better (not more functional) car. It basically all boiled down to material goods, mainly.

Money, in and of itself, isn’t bad or evil (didn’t I just talk about a money spell not too long ago?) but when that’s all you got to pitch your deity to someone, that’s not good. And what about people who are currently doing well but want some guidance in life, also known as “something money can’t buy”? Since you can’t go down the “God’s gonna give you a car and some cheddar” route, what does the letter really have then? It doesn’t seem much. This, everyone, is basically trying to prey on people during their low periods. That’s not what religion should do because while that can bolster numbers, it’s a misuse of hope. People need hope, not some metaphysical quick fix. Religion shouldn’t be about boosting their numbers but helping people in all parts of life, not simply the physical parts because how will the people feel when things start to go wrong again? And I have the feeling this church would eventually ask for money with a “We helped you when no one else would so give us money, lots o’ it” slant, in opposed to the “we’re a church that tries to do great by the people but to keep that going, we have to maintain our house enable to serve others. We’ve given more than hope: we’ve given beds to the sleepy and homeless, food to the hungry, services to those in need” route.  It just doesn’t ring right at all and that’s bothersome. It just sounds like an over-promising blackhole preying on whoever is having a bad enough day or life.

And this is pretty glaring but here it is: I’ve only received media like this from churches, Christian organizations. No other religion goes this route, unless the whole religion wants to be seen as a cult because it won’t be that only faction named such.

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