Archive for September, 2018


Burning Cross of Thorns

I got a comment earlier this week, in response to my post Blackthorn Teas: Whose Culture Is it Anyways?, and it was a long litany from a All Lives Matter type. I spent so much time writing a response to it, I figured it warranted a post of its own for all to see very visibly. And so I can include the Racist Bingo board. That board is my buddy. Oh! And a new board: The White Privlege Board because this comment is soaked in it.

 

” Hoodoo is neither a religion, nor a denomination of a religion—it is a form of folk magic that originated in West Africa and is mainly practiced today in the Southern United States.

The Whole Bushel-
Hoodoo, known as “Ggbo” in West Africa, is African-American folk magic. It consists mainly of African folkloric practices and beliefs with a significant blend of American Indian botanical knowledge and European folklore. It is in no way linked to any particular form of theology, and it can be adapted into numerous forms of outward religious worship. Although it is not a religion, there are elements of African and European religions at the core of hoodoo beliefs. Teachings and rituals are passed down from one practitioner to another—there are no designated priests or priestesses and there are no divisions between initiates and laity. Rituals vary depending on the individual performing them; there is no strict approach that one must adhere to. Today, hoodoo is mainly practiced in the Southern United States, and most people who practice hoodoo are Protestant Christians.

Hoodoo tradition emphasizes personal magical power invoked by the use of certain tools, spells, formulas, methods, and techniques. It ascribes magical properties to herbs, roots, minerals, animal parts, and personal possessions. Some spells even make use of bodily effluvia and detritus (menstrual blood, semen, urine, spit, tears, nail clippings, hair…you get the picture). Hoodoo spells are typically carried out with accompanying Biblical text, usually from The Book of Psalms, but they are generally not performed in Jesus’s name. The intention behind hoodoo practice is to allow people to harness supernatural forces in order to improve their daily lives.”

Isn’t what you’re doing as far as saying Blackthorn can’t/shouldn’t be using the word Hoodoo very similar to the days of “Whites Only” restrooms and drinking fountains? Should anyone be able to practice Christianity, or call ourselves Christian, seeing as how Christ was an Isrealite? Take anything that uses a name or technique that originated from a different race or culture. Should someone not of the originating culture be allowed to use that name or technique?
Go back and re-read the first half of the second paragraph of the pasted section about herbs, roots and minerals. I think, by definition, Blackthorn’s teas are exactly what that paragraph says.
I cannot speak to the way she handled your criticism. But, I can say that what you are saying about her using the word Hoodoo is every bit as racist as you claim she is being by using the name.
We are all human and we all bleed red. Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.

 

Before I begin my breakdown, let’s bring out the Racist Bingo Board!

So close to Bingo!

And because there was absolutely monumental fail, let’s crack out the White Privilege bingo, just for this!

First ever debut on Black Witch! W00t!

Now, my response. Anything I add that wasn’t in the original comment block will be in a different color:

Oh, look! A racist appeared!

That’s a nifty quote but I’m an actual Black person who works in libraries and research! And knows about Hoodoo and Voodoo from both a research and cultural perspective.

Let’s breakdown the bull because there is so much fail here in this comment.

“Hoodoo is neither a religion, nor a denomination of a religion—it is a form of folk magic that originated in West Africa and is mainly practiced today in the Southern United States”

It’s is a cultural practice. Some practicioners actually see Hoodoo as a form of spirituality and religion given that there are deities and spirits they do work with. Hoodoo was born from the extremely restrictive terror that slavery produced as a resistance to the psychological mind-breaking tactics commonly applied, such as ripping culture and history from someone. It has some Christian components to fly under the radar of slavers and overseers but held on to many different West African components (that varied because there were different tribes in West Africa) so they could retain their history while dealing with torture conditions. Either way, it doesn’t reduce the importance it has to a culture. Dia de los Muertos is not religion based but it is definitely Mexican culture and nothing else – and should be respected as such. Ditto with Hoodoo.

Addition: Speaking of Dia de los Muertos! Disney thought the exact. same. thing. The Latin community considered it quite loco and were loud about it. Academic expert in Latin representation in media William Nericcio said it best: “[Hollywood’s] attitude towards culture is like a pelt hunter from the 19th century. They need the skin that people recognize and value in order to sell a project that will yield predictable profits.” Blackthorn is doing the exact same thing. And it isn’t “value” in a good way, it’s just something to snatch up and profit off of while still holding damaging beliefs of the group you took from. Like Black slang and dances. 

Now, Disney withdrew the trademark and rightfully should, given their long, long, loooooooooooooong history of portraying racism throughout their many films. Even the “diverse” shows on the Disney channel have racist and colorist underpinnings (Name me three Disney shows with dark-skinned lead characters in the last ten years. Extra points if they’re girls). Blackthorn should do the same. And the film that Disney was making? It was Coco. They would have done super okay without the legal colonizing, the film did well by itself. Dia de los Muertos isn’t just a fancy backdrop for an animation film, there is history and culture there and those need to be respected. 

“Isn’t what you’re doing as far as saying Blackthorn can’t/shouldn’t be using the word Hoodoo very similar to the days of “Whites Only” restrooms and drinking fountains?”

NOPE! It isn’t. Blackthorn is hijacking a word that is not from her direct culture and history. She’s White, she comes from a group of people that made it so that Hoodoo hadto exist. It’s just another form of colonization, she’s taking something that isn’t hers and was created specifically because of prejudiced people like her. She would have been fine-ish if she was engaged with any part of the Black community, (I know her and met her, she’s definitely not) but instead, she’s hijacking. She doesn’t even practice hoodoo.

It’s not the same as “Whites Only”. Jim Crow rules like that primarily existed to benefit White people and uphold supremacist thinking through de jure laws. I’m not trying to uphold supremacy of any sort, I’m telling White supremacy to get it’s hands off of snatching other things. She isn’t part of the group, she’s just using the name baldly for money making purposes. It’s racist to do so.

“Should anyone be able to practice Christianity, or call ourselves Christian, seeing as how Christ was an Isrealite?”

“Ourselves”? What is with the “Our?” I’m not Christian and neither is the core audience of this blog. Christianity – especially Western Christianity – has a looooooooooong history of imperialism and forcing others to practice Christianity for hundreds of years. It’s actually part of why Islam and Judiasm has a bad rap in Western nations, because Christian influenced media depicts them poorly. This means the point you just raised is super moot. You can’t say “should people practice Christianity” when it’s been forced down so many throats – it’s even how Hoodoo, Voodoo and even good chunks of Santeria came about. Because Christians don’t know how to leave other people alone.

“Take anything that uses a name or technique that originated from a different race or culture. Should someone not of the originating culture be allowed to use that name or technique?”

Not if they absolutely plan to hijack it as if it’s just a nonsense word like “Pepsi” or “Swiffer”. Or use it to evoke stereotypical beliefs already established (Hoodoo has a lot of stereotypes due to White culture and beliefs creating those stereotypes.) Then no, they need to keep their hands off of it. She could have named it Blackthorn Celtic Teas (which is more of what she actually practices) and the name could have been just fine. If you can’t be respectful as an outsider, then don’t bother at all. Especially when all they’re using it for is to make money. Which is what Blackthorn is doing.

“Go back and re-read the first half of the second paragraph of the pasted section about herbs, roots and minerals. I think, by definition, Blackthorn’s teas are exactly what that paragraph says.
I cannot speak to the way she handled your criticism.”

A) We’re not in a college class
B) You are not a professor
C) You really want to be mindful of your words here, this is my spot, not yours. Don’t sit here and be abrupt with “Go back and read…” as if I’m too stupid to comprehend what I read in the first place.

I know aplenty about roots, herbs and minerals. I also know that different roots, differnt herbs and different minerals have different and respected meanings that varies throughout many different cultures because of their varied histories. Anyone practicing magick for longer than a few months would know that. Blackthorn showed no care or concern for that and a vast majority of the teas she had were not exclusive to Hoodoo roots and herbs. I’ve seen green teas (That’s Asia), for example. “Hoodoo” in her brand name is strictly that, a name. No connection to the actual product in a way that makes sense.

It doesn’t matter what you think about how she handled her criticism. She did that to herself, that was her own choice. She wants to be racist and defend it, that’s on her 100%. I have no sympathy for that.

“But, I can say that what you are saying about her using the word Hoodoo is every bit as racist as you claim she is being by using the name.”

How is it racist to say, “You’re hijacking a word from a marginalized community you’re not apart of and it is not right. Especially since you are from the community that does the marginalization”? Racism doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You’re just being stupid by saying that. It’s not racism to defend your culture from racism. It’s plain and simple defending from further colonization and prejudice. She wanted to make that simple-minded choice for herself, that’s what she did. She should have known it was going to cause a problem – unless she thought her buyers were going to stay White. White folks tend to be actively blind to prejudice that thoroughly benefits them, just like what you are doing now.

“We are all human and we all bleed red. Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.”

This is such utter crock. I’m a Black human being. I have a history and a culture and an idenity that is unique from other histories and cultures and identities. I’m also female, do you think women shouldn’t have access to menstrual items because guys can’t use them? Here’s the thing, you may want to ignore it but we’re all different humans. Painting with a broad brush is a nonsense argument. We’re not judging people by blood type (though I feel like you don’t research how racism even impacts medicine – including how people give blood) people are being judged by their skin tones and the darker you are, the worse it gets – to the point that blood does get spilled and at a lot greater rate than their far lighter counterparts.

” Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.”

You should tell Blackthorn that, she needs to stop being divisive by being so racist. You, too. You’re not preaching to the Klan here, you’re on a Black person’s website.

Since my last post, AfroPunk’d, it appears I have had a flurry of reactions on not only my fan page, Black Witch, but also on my own personal page. Not only did I get in touch with my old Editor in Chief, Lou Constant-Desportes, I also manage to get in touch with original AfroPunk creator and documentary filmmaker, James Spooner. And this is what today’s post will be about.

Spooner has stated in the 10 years that he’s parted from AfroPunk and it was under Matthew’s care, not once was Spooner passed on any information in regards to screenings of the documentary, AfroPunk. He kinda wants to take his brand back again. Starting with the very beginning: the documentary.

This is an all-call for anyone who is Black and goth, punk, lolita, skater, otaku, – just plain Black and actually different – that would like to host a screening in their city. Please visit the website AfroPunkFilm.com and fill out this form.

This a pretty short post so here is a new music video from Payable on Death called “Rockin’ with the Best”, coming from their new upcoming album Circles. The album will be out November 16, 2018.

 

AfroPunk’d

A lot has happened recently for AfroPunk and they’re not too good. Ericka Hart got booted from VIP because Matthew, co founder and remaining head of AfroPunk, saw the “AfroPunk sold out for White Consumption” shirt her partner wore and wasn’t too happy about it. Then you have long time editor in chief Lou Constant-Desportes also departing because AfroPunk changed and not for the better. This is on top of other articles about AfroPunk pretty much absconding its roots for more corporate sights.

Black Witch got started on AfroPunk back in 2010. Lou was my head editor (and really nifty at it!) so this is noteworthy to me. I left AP back in 2012/2013 for these exact same reasons, seriously. 2012 was the beginning of the end to me, when the changes started to get putrid.

Here is a glimmer from that linked post:

So, this is the last Black Witch post on Afro-Punk. I first started there three years ago when there were regular columnist rotations such as Dorm Room Diaries and T.O.B.E. and even cartoonist Keith Knight was here. I think that Afro-Punk has indeed changed since then and rapidly at that and it feels a little out of place for me to stay here as a regular columnist. I’m sure it’s odd for some of the newcomers to see my columns pop up in the midst of the usual Afro-Punk postings because I hit a pretty particular niche (the Black and Pagan demographic).

I have met and hung out with Matthew at many AP events. I even still remember chatting with him on the forum boards. I’m not gonna dog pile with stories I don’t have. He’s definitely the persistence, go-getter type, which I thought was omega cool but sometimes he’d be dismissive about issues that were undercurrents to bigger problems. I just figured, “Eh, he’s got work to do, can’t fret over every little thing,” but it really snowballed. Then there was 2012 AP Fest, which went straight-up wtf. And the first sight of Afropunk today.

I went to AP Fest 2010 (when it was free) and 2012 (when it wasn’t, but I got in free as staff). I would have done 2011 but a hurricane happened. Like, I was really willing to go in a hurricane, I was even joking with Wondaland Arts Society about it. Former NYC mayor Bloomberg thought otherwise and shut the city down. Honestly, it’s like that hurricane created a gulf of time to separate Afropunk from who they were at the start to who they became now. I still wish I could have gone to 2011 in hopes it would have been like 2010.

In 2010, there was a kids table and the anti-smoking campaign Truth Truck (I still have pics of Cerebral Ballzy performing atop it, freeeeeeaking out the Truth Truck folks. We all told them “you’re at a punk show, chill!”). In 2012, it seemed like Afropunk was trying to outdo Coachella and Woodstock single-handedly. Some White teen even nearly od’d on some coke. Speaking of the White kids…I literally remember standing under the 2012 AP banner and had to check it several times because I kept going, “Where the hell did all these White people come from?” Talk about super sayan gentrified! And now old Nazi punks showed up to the 2018 AP Fest? Bro, at a punk show of any flavor, when a Nazi shows up, you duff ’em out like it’s 1945, no matter the age. The person should not have been allowed in, regardless of whether or not they paid.

In 2010, AfroPunk was Black and weird. Just like it should be. It was filled to the gills with punks, lolitas, weirdos the Black mainstream long rejected for bullsh*t reasons. There were tons of punk and metal bands. Black ones. Everyone was an outsider and that’s what brought us together. I still think my happiest moment with AP Fest 2010 is the fact I helped the drive to get P.O.S and K-oS to play the festival. There were no White people there. The EMTs were Black, the security was Black (one person even told me Nation of Islam helped with security. I still don’t know if it is true but they were stoic and tightly dressed enough for me to believe), the bands were Black, it was a Black festival! I still remember nearly getting ran over by pro BMX rider Nigel Sylvester. That was totally sick, man! I felt so happy! I made friends, I met co-columnists and everything. I still have the pictures. In 2012, it changed and drastically. I remember sitting with Alexis from Straight Line Stitch and she lamented, “We’re the only other metal band on the bill.” I didn’t believe her until she pointed everyone out on the line up and I was aghast. It was like Afropunk just stopped associating itself with the very people that built them. It was coming from a lot of my punk and metal friends. Dude, Afropunk even tag-teamed with BET. That’s like Trump and Obama tag-teaming, it’s just a heavy ‘f*ck no’.

Every AP Fest had police, welcome to holding a big event in NYC. But in 2010, they were super chill, even the White ones. They saw we were effectively policing ourselves and we were weird but chill. No drug problems, no violence problems, nothing major. Even the cops said they loved working AP Fest because “it’s like getting a vacation at work.”  In 2012, things got more hairy as things went south. The cops were aggressive and fearsome. I remember being a bit taken aback how they were super nice and you could talk to them for a while and when I expected the same in 2012, I got the direct opposite. On top of that, someone in the Afropunk camp even told me to guide the cops away from the drug use if they came backstage or near VIP – that was my final straw. I said I wouldn’t and that I wouldn’t stand for this. I remember nearly getting knocked over because some dosed up kid scaled the fence, got into backstage and nearly darted into Janelle Monae’s tent. I was with Wondaland at the time chatting and the kid shot right past us, as did a couple members of security. Jeez, that was terrifying. I still don’t know if she ever knew and ain’t gonna ask. I just remember we all nearly followed security to stop the kid. Security was over worked that weekend. Nothing like 2010.

In 2010, the crowd was unified because we were all roughly the same, Black and unusual. In 2012, I felt like an outsider in my own house because all the boho and normal Black folks that decided to crash since I guess having dibs on literally every Black festival ever wasn’t good enough. And then there was the seas of White people who just wanted to invade another space because, frankly, what else do they do with their time? I had paparazzi-feeling moments several times as I wore punk, kuro and gothic lolita. I definitely threatened to break a camera or two because they were not asking or complementing, just flickty-flick and dip. Not cool.

Then there’s the part where Afropunk had shut down the backstage area to everyone – staff, writers, other performers – because Solange swung by to visit. Everyone was pissed since our credentials were suddenly useless now that a member of the Knowles family swung by. Please note, this wasn’t ordered by Solange, she just wanted to pay Janelle Monae a visit, it was Afropunk higher ups. The rest of us eventually got in, after a lot of bickering and complaining with security.

And the corporate dudes! Afropunk used to tag with brands that resembled and worked with AfroPunk like BMX and Truth. Then Nike*, Coors and Red Bull came through. All of a sudden, it was corporate city backstage at a punk show. I I remember one of my friends and and I were there. Nike folks got pissed that we were sitting in their hallowed, glamp-looking seats. So we stole some of their towels. Still have mine, still soft as a cloud – the softest towel I still have ever touched.

And that was the festival, not the back happenings of the rest of year. My posts got staggered, the edits were annoying and eventually I was tossed off, it seemed. I remember being asked back because Afropunk was rebranding and asked if I wanted part. I said “No.” This was not the Afropunk I originally came for, this new Afropunk wasn’t even true to itself.

Afropunk just…they went so south, I’m tellin’ you. I know because I saw with my own eyes. And I said it to many people in my own circles. If anyone said they were going to AP Fest, I would strongly convince them out of it. I never really said anything out loud because I thought I was kinda by myself. Turns out, I wasn’t.

Any time Lou leaves, that is very much bad news bears for Afropunk; he was the old guard, one of the originals. I understood how Afropunk documentary creator and co-founder of AP, James Spooner, felt but now I really see how he feels. He built this, saw what a behemoth it turned into and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

I remember when Matthew would bemoan how expensive running a fest was on the boards, and it was totally justified – festivals are pricy (like, top-of-the line Telsas look super cheap pricy) and he was running it when it was free, which was forever running him into the red. I get that totally. I just wish AP stayed true to its roots all the while as he fixed that problem.

* Nike was at AP Fest 2010 as Nike SB but AP Fest 2012, it was a bigger, more corporate showing

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