Alright, a little thing during my EEOC issue happened and while I was basically going through one of the worst experiences of my life, a post had happened across my personal FB timeline about Blackthorn Hoodoo Blend teas, created and made by Amy Blackthorn, a relatively big name in the Pagan community. If some of you all will remember, I reviewed the tea itself in an Open Box Review for Sabbat Box. I liked how it smelled and the tea tasted pretty decent but it’s that name. I really dislike the name.
Amy Blackthorn is White, Hoodoo is Afro-Caribbean (and so am I). Blackthorn doesn’t have any major background in Hoodoo culture or traditions to the point that it would be okay for her to use the name for part of her business moniker, which she is making money from. Also, the teas don’t have any connections to Hoodoo anything in culture, taste, type or anything, “hoodoo” is basically just a name. That’s cultural hijacking. She doesn’t donate or assist to Black communities, she doesn’t talk about race or anything that could possibly be seen as a saving grace. Nothing. It would have been better for her to simply name them “Blackthorn Celtic Blends” and that would have been at least a bit more accurate than “Hoodoo”.
I’m simply commenting as a normal person, not Black Witch, about the tea. Unfortunately, Blackthorn thought it would be smarter to block me than actually talk about her business choices head on because somehow being neglectful is a great business practice, even on the pages of their friends (Blackthorn and I have a mutual friend, that’s why we could interact, I was just commenting to my friend talking about the tea, I didn’t know Blackthorn would be about).
Blackthorn’s comment, as you could guess, was basically “Why don’t you like the name?” It was my responses that basically got me blocked from seeing future comments from Blackthorn. Apparently she must not like when being challenged about her business’ name. Which leads to wonder: “Why did she name it that if she didn’t want to deal with the package that comes with it?” I wasn’t even being snarky or nasty, just explaining my reasoning.
When I got blocked, I totally didn’t see it coming, I thought my FB was acting odd because I was on mobile:
Annnnnnnnd here comes a random person, out of nowhere but super predictably because Paganism is excruciatingly White, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. They’re defending the name choice. Remember, I’m Afro-Caribbean, they’re not. I don’t practice Hoodoo but it is more part of my culture than it is theirs, a White person. Also, it is because of Whiteness that Hoodoo is seen the way it is and with such the rep it has. There’s a whole cultural issue that is still very much ongoing because of this.
Here’s the thing…”Hoodoo” has everything to do with race. Part of how Hoodoo was born was literally from slavery because slave-owners did everything they could to rip and destroy cultural ties as a psychological tactic to mindbreak a mass group of people and turn into obedient and ever-fearing slaves. Same reason why slaves learning how to read and write was illegal, among other things, which still stretches quite a bit into modern times. Like education and jobs, for example. None of which I’ve ever seen Blackthorn remotely talk about. You want to have Hoodoo be considered worldly for all (read: White people) to use and do whatever with? Then get ready to talk about all the baggage that comes with it. The people lynched. The people oppressed. The people stolen. The people dehumanized into animals. The people brutally murdered. The people who rarely get to see justice. The people widely hated. Can’t approach that topic? Then maybe Hoodoo and Voodoo aren’t your bag. Try Wicca.
Hoodoo was mainly a clever way for Black people to retain and practice cultural beliefs and ideas cobbled together. Blackthorn has absolutely no idea what that is like or to have something of the sort in your cultural heritage, background or anything. Hoodoo, like Voodoo, is usually synonymous with “evil”, “dark”, “wicked”, “superstitious”, “dark people dancing in the night over feverish drums hexing innocent people they don’t like”. Stuff like that. Germanic, Roman and Celtic practices in Paganism are seen in a better, much more comforting light.
I try to explain to the person why the name is problematic.
Now, it’s more than just Blackthorn who blocked me, several supporters of hers did that, mainly the people you saw that I responded to. Everyone, this is a bad idea. Why? Because even if no one lobbed epithets at me or anything, blocking me in refusal to talk about a racial issue they caused, it’s still racist. It’s still racism to blatantly use a word in reference to a culture you’re not part of for business purposes and to silence any and every one that calls you out on it. It’s still racism to not want to listen to people from that cultural background trying to explain to you why it’s racist. Bigotry comes in many forms and not all of them are abrasive and overt. Sometimes it’s just making sure to turn a conversation about Black historical and cultural beliefs into a “Whites Only” forum.
Blackthorn, in trying to duck an actual, non-aggressive conversation about the name of her business because it is problematic, is being racist about the whole thing. Racism isn’t all burning crosses and voting for Trump, it can be as quiet and simple as simply saying, “This is mine and I won’t listen to anyone about it because I don’t care, I just wanna make money.” Geez, if she were richer and hated her own gender, she could match Trump in idea. How much you wanna bet she finds that guy abhorrent…despite thinking just like him?
Her tea bins may as well be air, what’s the point patronizing her business? Even if she posted “Black Lives Matter”, it’s pretty clear she doesn’t genuinely feel that way. And people think White liberals and White Pagans are progressive. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. But hey, what does she care? It’s just business.
Instead, here are some actual Black owned tea online stores:
Look at that vast selection! And the prices are really good! A basic skim of the site seems like the average price is $6.95, it’s pretty great! There’s even a tea blog to learn new teas and types.
This site looks really nice. The prices are greater but it’s moreso high-end. Try them out!
Update (April 1, 2016, 6:50 PM):
I posted this column to Twitter, including Blackthorn (@MorrigansWitch) in the tweet:
This is literally what I get less than a couple minutes later:
Seriously? How was I supposed to learn anything about her, her stance or anything? She blocked me the second she noticed I wasn’t a glowing review, not actually talked to me. It would be one thing if I had a convo with her, then posted this like nothing happened but newp, she basically blocked me from the get-go.
How I responded:
Of course, in prime business sense, she is ignoring me. She’ll probably whinge on later about how I still don’t know anything about her and made an assumption from a quick interaction…that she, herself, axed so there wouldn’t be any continual discussion of any sort.
Everyone, especially White Pagan business owners, this is a really bad way to handle a problem. If you don’t like dissent, tackling head on is probably your best bet… or avoiding the thing that would get you dissent, like not picking a name that becomes racist on its face. If she talked to me originally, something that was her fault she didn’t do, this could have been pretty different. It’s a number of reasons why I didn’t like how she responded, all of which I already mentioned. This is basic business sense. She can’t complain “OMGZ, U dun know meh!” when she literally made sure that I wouldn’t be able to. Because she blocked me before really chatting with me. Killing all chance I could talk to her, which is all I wanted to do.