Archive for September 2, 2017


White Guilt is not a Black Burden

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Recently, I got an email and this is what it said:

Hi there,

I would like to learn how to better support minority Pagans, both in my local communities and on a broader scale. Could you recommend any reading material, or other resources that might help me learn about the perspectives of minority Pagans? Would you be willing to chat with me about your own experiences, and perhaps share some things that were challenging or helpful for you, or things you wish you’d had or wish you hadn’t had to deal with? I’d like to be part of a solution, but that means listening to what minority Pagans want and need, and not imposing the solutions I think would work. I’m not quite sure how to find out what those wants and needs are, though.

Thanks for any insight you can offer,

Thista

Yeah, I wasn’t really feeling this message, hence my response:

You’re kidding, right? Like, why did you just basically ask me “Hey, teach me everything about treating other Pagans like people, especially if they’re not White. I never learned that one.” How did you figure out how not to murder or discriminate gay people on sight? How about people from religions that aren’t Paganism or Christianity? This is actually an insulting question because, frankly, the info is everywhere. Even on my own freaking site. That spans years. This isn’t some mysterious book floating about in space. You just don’t want to research and rather take the ultra lazy way out – bothering someone else as if there’s an utter lack of info everywhere else.

Why are you even bothering anyone now? Trump? Charlotteville? Look, you probably have a Resist sticker, voted Sanders and think using AAVE is hilarious (because systemic racism via linguistics is funny somehow). Maybe you should read a book. Or read something on a website. What did you expect me to say: “Oh man, I really always wanted to unload on a White person to help them better themselves because my favorite racist tropes are the Mammy trope and the White Savior trope. Because, while this literally does not help me at all and even forces me to think up really terrible traumas I experienced as a Black person, some dumb White kid gets to benefit 1000% and that means everything.” Please be serious. You don’t care, you’re just looking for a token to help you feel better.

– Black W.

They still felt that they were owed a history lesson that somehow even Tumblr couldn’t give them and responded this:

Hi Black W.

I asked for suggested resources by which I can educate myself. It’s not your responsibility to educate me. I can do that work. However, our world is full of different opinions, articles, books, and more, many of which conflict with one another. I have been reading your blog and your posts on afropunk, and they inspired me. You seemed like someone who could point me towards better quality resources, which is why I asked. 

I also asked for your specific stories, *if* you’re willing to share them, because I don’t want to treat all people of any group like one homogeneous mob. Of course it’s perfectly fine for you to say no. It’s not really a question if there is only one acceptable answer. I apologize for prying where my interest was unwelcome.

I don’t have any stickers, bumper or otherwise. I voted Clinton. I think language is more complicated than right or wrong, and that colloquialisms and other dialectical features are important cultural elements that deserve respect. 

Why did I ask? Because I was terrified to ask. Because it would be easy for me to sit here with my books and my internet and do all my research in a vacuum and pretend that I have all the solutions, but can I really help people that I am afraid to talk to? I was afraid that I would do or say the wrong thing and make you angry, and I did. I want to understand how my inquiry was offensive so that I can change my behavior and not offend anyone else in the future… but how do I do that? If asking is the wrong thing to do, then where do I find the answer? Do I really just turn back to books and articles? Because that seems to ignore the real people having real experiences, which is theoretically what this is all about… but if I can’t accept that as the answer, then I’m as hypocritical as you suggest.

I apologize for insulting you. I was genuinely seeking information, and I can see that I did so in an insulting way. Even if I don’t understand it, I can accept that, take responsibility for it, and apologize. I am sorry to have bothered you.

Thista

My retort:

You asked and I answered: stop pretending to be dumb and go to Tumblr already. I write for Black Pagans primarily. If a White person of any religion seems still confused, that’s their problem, not mine. It’s like being an English speaker reading a Japanese newspaper to better boost their language skill… and then writing to the newspaper to explain and translate some of their words since they “don’t get it”.  That’s not the newspaper’s job – to teach Japanese – it’s to report the news to those who already have the language down pat. I haven’t had any Black Pagans complain that they would like to better understand race so I’m not budging on that front. Because they’re my main audience. I never said that Black Witch was for White people to unlearn their ingrained prejudices, it was to be a blog for Black Pagans since they didn’t have any medium for them circa 2010. Due to White people whitewashing as much as they can about Paganism and because the vast majority of them are super racist. Most vote blue but are just as prejudiced as their red-voting counterparts.

Here’s the thing, every bigot that thinks it’s their privilege to ask. Regardless of if they use “if”, “must” or “Hey, I’m gonna badger you a lot because society told me my ignorance means more than your comfort”. There’s pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenty of people who have written about their experiences of dealing with racism. Some even won literary awards. And, here’s the thing: You’re gonna ask questions, it’s not gonna be a “I tell you and you go away”. Nah, I’m most likely gonna hear “Wow, that’s interesting. I had no idea White people could be terrible. Are you sure it was prejudice since I somehow can’t read readily published books on this subject? Just so I can really understand since I don’t even know who to find, even on Tumblr.” That’s being racist and I really couldn’t care less if you wanted to change or not. It’s probably something for you to do until the next Orange is the New Black season comes out, whatever White liberals do to pass the time. Steal other cultures foods and homes, like what happened with Kale and Brooklyn? White Guilt is not a Black person’s burden.

No bumper stickers or anything but funny you didn’t say you didn’t use Black slang jokingly. Lolz, not surprised.

You’re terrified to ask? That’s a load of bull if I heard it. You’re White, what’s gonna happen to you? You’re gonna lose your job? You’re going to see a burning cross on your lawn? Are you gonna get lynched? Are you gonna get ran over? Is a cop going to beat you? Will an officer raid you? Are you going to be blacklisted from finding work? Is it going to cost you a promotion? Are folks gonna march with torches about it or something? “Oh nooooooooes, racism is so scary because I benefit from it so muuuuuuuch!” Get real.

You can do this without badgering people and expecting that they’re going to kowtow to you. That’s being bigoted and this is the nicest I get to a bigot.

– Black W.

Now, I’m sure some will wonder why I was being really harsh and not simply telling this person everything that exists about racism and how it works, how it feels to be on the business end of it and all sort of stuff that you can pretty much figure out through a copy of Hidden Figures and Selma. Here’s the thing: I’m 30. I have dealt with this for yeaaaaaaaars. I think around high school, I would have probably have tried to help this person out, thinking that somehow I can reach them because I’m really good at teaching and informing. I’m still good at those things, it’s just there’s lack of access, and then there’s laziness. Usually prejudiced folks don’t really want to learn, this is just to feel better about themselves. There’s even a bingo board about this, Derailment Bingo! Actually let me break out the board:

The Derailment Bingo Board! Fantastic for pointing out bullsh*ttery anywhere, regardless of form of bigotry. Can be applicable for racism, ageism, religious bigotry, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and more!

Here’s the thing: This person doesn’t have to ask about my experiences with racism. Outside of my Race category, and even my Race and Racism tag on Tumblr, there are a super amount of books and info on this alone. Again, you could watch Selma and get caught up pretty quickly. Or actually read actual accounts of people who also have dealt with racism and even post about it. Or write about it. Or make movies about it. Or youtube videos about it. Given my personal experience of being on the receiving end of this type of question for nearly my entire life, I can say with some safety that this person wasn’t actually interested in learning, they just wanted someone not White to say “you’re not racist, you’re a good White. You is smart. You is beautiful.” And thus they will move on about their lives, still being insanely prejudiced until they meet someone who isn’t big on the Mammy stereotype. And a bonus for those that seriously refuse to get it: Black stereotypes and their related histories, including the Mammy.

I found their emails insulting for a variety of reasons. One was because, while I was fielding these emails, I already was dealing with a pretty racist experience from a business in my hometown of Baltimore City called Fisher’s Pet Care. My landlord was out of town and they sent a cat sitter over, which is fine. Except one cat sitter barged into my apartment early in the morning while I was asleep, waking me up and when asked why the heck are they in my apartment, they blurted, “Oh, are you the live-in maid? I can’t get the back kitchen door open to take out the trash.” I had to respond, “I’m not a maid, I’m a librarian“, the person still didn’t seem to get it and I had to tell them to get out. When telling the owner of the business, Matt, they tried to defend such statements with the gem of “the cat sitter didn’t know what race you were.”

Yep. While they did try to say “This sucks that it happened and I don’t understand why they did it”, it really did not help their argument to backpedal with “she was not completely aware of the race you were.” It was dim but it wasn’t pitch black. As I replied in a later email, she could tell for fact I wasn’t White. I was thinking of using their services but since I don’t like racists feeding my cat and definitely not in my home, I’ll be continuing to ask friends to do it and finishing up the code for my automatic cat feeder.

Throughout the thread, I already tried explaining to Matt why what their worker said was prejudiced. Dude did a canned “I’m so upset…that I’m not even going to punish the person who did it” response. Guess what? That took time and diligence and the most that came from it was a “wow, I’m sorry you feel this way. That sucks”. I’m not too interested in doing that for everyone.

This is why I don’t try to be a guiding light for White folks who “want to be better” because that’s not my job – nor the purpose of this site, either. At all. The primary audience is Black Pagans. And that alone. Not Black Christians. Not White Pagans. Black Pagans. That’s my targeted core audience. Everyone else is fine to come along for the ride but this is primarily a site for Black Pagans. If my core audience has complaints, I listen. If folks who are not that exact intersection have complaints that aren’t legit issues (i.e, “Your facebook link is acting odd”) but instead boil down to “Why isn’t this all about me?”, I give them responses similar to the above and they can take it or leave it. I know Black Witch won’t make everyone happy, hence why I keep in mind a target audience. This chick is not in the core audience, especially demonstrated by her questioning and the fact she seemed to think that Black Witch exists for White Pagans to sorta-not-really unlearn racism. You know a token site to say “I’m not prejudiced, I watch/read/listen to [non-White]!”I don’t strive for that.

I get that some may go “well, you have the ‘Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee‘ thing at the start of nearly every post now. Should have simply directed her to that.” What she was asking wasn’t that and even if she were, clicking the link would have sufficed. I have that digital tip jar because Black Witch takes time and work that I do for free. And just telling someone “How to support minority Pagans: pay me” is super short sighted and doesn’t really make the person go away. It just sounds like a money grab and I’ll still hear the “Waiiiiiit, but if I give you money, that certifies me as ‘Not Racist Ever’ right?” that generally follows.

There are ways to unlearn prejudice and figure out how to support PoC/minority Pagans that doesn’t involve bothering one like they owe you a history lesson. This definitely isn’t it.

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Sorry for the late post but here is the Ask Black Witch for August! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Lets get started.

I got a couple question from people who don’t seem to really like reading or researching my pretty general stance on spell help, doing spells for others and love spells, especially unethical ones. Here’s a quick rundown:

Spell help: Unless you know what you’re doing, I’m not gonna help. I have a “No assisting dabblers” rule. And the two generally stand out: the practiced person generally knows what they’re doing, they just need someone to bounce ideas off of. The dabbler wants to be spoon-fed and babied and waste another person’s time. Or just have someone else do it for them. Preferably that.

Doing spells for others: I don’t do pay-for-pray (paid spellwork). Never have, never will. If I don’t do paid spellwork for others, I certainly don’t do free spellwork for others either. If a screw-up occurs, it’s because you did it. I tend to make people do their own legwork. It keeps my workload light and way, way less people bother me about fixing their – not mine – problems. Which I like. I may suggest simple stuff like “Maybe you should get bay leaves” but if you don’t know how to use them, that’s your issue, unfortunately. This is why I prefer to field questions from practiced practitioners and am harsh to dabblers. I prefer people to research for themselves, especially since occult and metaphysics is 93% reading, reading and more reading – actual info, not new-agey nonsense. Now if only I got questions from practiced practitioners and not dabblers.

Love Spells: I don’t do them, not even the general “hey, universe, I would like a date” because they’re not really my thing. Those spells are fine and dandy, still in the world of “good ethics”. They don’t control a particular person, they’re super open-ended. The universe might give you a guy, they might give you a bike (because the universe likes to troll people). But it’s open ended. However, I still don’t do them.

Unethical love spells: I don’t support abusive acts or tactics so, yeah, I’m going to make fun of you for trying to control someone else and you wind up dejected. Because I’m talking to an abusive person, which is in the top 5 of my list of “people who justify my belief and support of the Death Penalty”. Love hurts and love sucks. For everyone. If you have to control someone, you don’t love them. At all. It’s not about love, it’s about controlling someone who you believe is weaker than you or is easy to control for whatever reason. Regardless how you do it: magickally, financially, physically, emotionally – it’s wrong and you deserve whatever happens to you, simple as that.

Hello my name is Yesenia, I had someone I know cast a love spell for me but nothing work actually things just got worse for me. This person send me a picture of the candles she turn on for me and I would like to know the real meaning to the color candles she used.

– Yesenia M.

My original response:

Was it to influence someone else or general “find a date”? I mean love spells come with chance of risk. That’s why they’re suggested against so much.

Their response:

I found out that my boyfriend or should I say ex boyfriend is in prison and I found out he was writing and talking to some other female. 

Oh joy, internalized misogyny. So on top of being a control freak in relationships, they have serious internalized misogyny. If not a scientist talking strictly about biological lifeforms, avoid using “female”. It’s “woman”.

This is also why I don’t do paid spellwork. Note the “I had someone…cast a love spell for me but nothing work[ed].” Like, I’m basically being used as IT Support for another person’s handiwork. Which is not why this blog exists. And why I don’t work with dabblers. They put themselves in a bind and they want someone else to get them out of it. No way.

Here are some additional information that looks into the motivation:

I just want her to fix my relationship with him and keep away the other female he was talking to.

We have two kids together that’s not what I wanted but whatever I guess he found love even if it’s not with me

These are the motivations. The top one is not very good, the bottom one means she really, really needed to focus less on the dude she was losing and more on the kids she has.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle about the top one: if the person found out her dude is talking to another woman, instead of running to a spellworker to make it stop, she should have told the dude that a) he’s been found out and b) what are the options she will give him: be faithful or be gone. If this dude has a tendency to romp about, then he’s not worth keeping nor doing any spellwork for. This seems less of a relationship of love and mutual understanding and more of two folks who sort of earned each other. You have the philanderous guy stuck in the clink and the girlfriend who doesn’t seem to understand that forcing a relationship to work doesn’t make relationships work.

The second bit: This is why I’m so pro-choice and pro-“note all red flags, even the pink ones”. Kids are involved. They need two parents, not one. Two kids are a handful. And most importantly, they need a mom who has their head screwed on straight. Here it sounds like a lady who is desperately trying to keep a family together but in all the wrong ways. If a relationship has to go south, it’s better things like that happen before kids get thrown in the mix because then it’s not a tale of two possible fools, it’s kids that are going to get mixed up and possibly messed up. Yes, life is messy but it seems this dude might have been trouble from start (I have a feeling he’s not in jail for snatching a confederate flag or socking a neo-nazi).

The new game plan for this chick is to work on being a mom instead. Once she works out that “likes to control others” thing, maybe she’ll find someone new and can be a suitable boyfriend-to-husband and father to her kids. Until that happens, she needs to focus on the kids and stop trying to control everything.

Hi, I would like to ask something about a black candle. Because I’ve searched about it and it signifies negativities in life, is it right?

I wanna if, it is okay to use black candle for love spell? Cause I asked an old woman (who does witchcraft) to put a love spell to the one I love (my ex bf), after she does it by tuesday, he came back to me. We came back to being sweet and having a strong relationship. But the old woman uses black candle, is it okay?

And one last thing. I’m just afraid because, it’s not true love.. Or is it? 

Thanks in advance.
– Rose B.

Again, being the IT Support for someone else’s handiwork because a dabbler didn’t want to fix their problem themselves.

Anybody who has been in spellwork for at least three months would get down the very basics of candle magick and color magick. Black is a simple one, depending on how it is used. It can make things go away. It can make things happen, it depends on how it is used…and that can vary with practitioner.

About true love: not only is it oneism (a word yinked from Dr. Nerdlove), where you think that there is only one, singular person for you – it is definitely not here. True love stays on its own, you don’t need spellwork to tack your true love down and make them stay.

If the ex-boyfriend (I kind of am seeing why he left) is gone, he’s probably not true love. Yes, he could come back but it would be more of an expression of true love if he came back on his own. To force him back via spellwork is no different than if you went to his house with a gun and said “We’re gonna be together – forever. I promise you.” It’s not true love, it’s scary. And would you want someone to do either of those things to you?

I remember responding to this and saying the relationship is going to eventually crash and burn, like it did for the first asker. I still stand by that. It may be great and amazing now but that trip is going to end pretty soon, especially when the usual bumps and scrapes of relationships (having disagreements, tiffs) happen. Restrict free will and you’re going to get problems. They always happen. Especially if the guy finds out that you don’t really love him, you’re just putting a fix on him simply because you don’t like being lonely. Because that’s seems to be the actual motivation, – not because he’s a genuine, amazing person. It beats spending Friday nights by yourself, which is lame.

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