Archive for June, 2020


Good afternoon. I am meeting with my spiritual family tomorrow to discuss racism among the pagan community and how we can make Wicca more inclusive for POC. Therefore, if I wanted to start making Wicca more inclusive for POC today, what could I do? The only ideas I can come up with seem like they would veer dangerously close to cultural appropriation, such as incorporating deities of other ethnic groups into worship in order to avoid the over emphasis on Greek and Celtic deities. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Blessed be.

-Jamie

This is literally no different than the guy from last month who asked “Is this racist? I’m making a character for my personal project”. It’s bad enough this person thinks I’m Wiccan when really I’m non-denominational Pagan/general Pagan.

As much as White culture likes to assume Black people are illiterate and lazy and like to rip on us about it – even if we have degrees in literature and we work endlessly (we’ve built nations, including the United States of America, while suffering terror and torture) – they sure dislike doing actual reading when it pertains to being less racist. Doesn’t matter how easy or accessible the info. They must be personally slow-walked by a random Black person, because that’s what they think Black folks exist for, as their assistants. I have 10 years of writings and a freaking Race category. How can a group of people be so stupid it’s almost groundbreaking? You’re on the internet, none of this is hard to figure out on your own, especially on my site.

White Pagans already are iron-dedicated to keeping Paganism, which is remarkably diverse, as White as possible. If they want to make things better for people that don’t look like them, they need to stop being lazy layabouts and do the leg work themselves.

Advice? Stop being so lazy and do the f*cking work – yourselves. If you can figure out occultism, which involves dead languages, missing documents and wide chasms of historical and cultural gaps due to time and war, anti-racism should be levels easier.

 

Is there such thing as body swap spell?

– Richard Lowe

Wow, that there is living proof the coronavirus is not killing the right people. I have said countless times how much I dislike body-swap spell askers. (inb4 “he was just asking!” – it usually starts there and then they show their trash selves afterwards) They’re just disgusting fetishists, usually. I already tracked one down and reported him to police because he mentioned a real person he wanted to “swap” with. This person is no different.

Hi there!

This is Melika and I am a qualified photographer.

I was puzzled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without my permission, you must be aware that you could be sued by the copyright holder.

It’s against law to use stolen images and it’s so filthy!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at thisblackwitch.com and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my legal copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

[redacted link]

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

– Mel

This is spam meant to spread a computer virus. Let’s go into this.

I do not regularly post photos on the blog, and usually they are reaction type pictures I found scattered across the world wide web or related to The Arts! features. I tend to veer from personal-looking photos because they’re not what I like to use. I never have gotten a “take this down” request before so of course, this caught my eye. If I get a request, I take them seriously. But it’s a fake one, in the end.

This person doesn’t know copyright law well

Here’s the thing: you can only be successfully sued by copyright holder for a picture if a) the person used the image without credit and for financial/personal gain – aka, passed the photo off for their own and used it to make money/obtain something and b) you can prove the photo is yours, preferably with a legit copyright certificate from the Copyright Office, and there was no standing contract or anything else a person could use as an excuse to slip out of responsibility.

Otherwise, it’s an empty threat. And note I said “successfully”. Copyright lawsuits happen all the time. Not all are successful. Visual artists contend with their works being stolen all the time, it is a frustrating experience.

I’m a little lucky that I formerly worked in the Library of Congress (which houses the Copyright Office) and that one of my friends works in the Copyright Office. That and, as a creative, I have read up on copyright law the best I can.

You can do letters to a hosting provider but they do not make it super easy and again, it cannot be done blindly. WordPress runs over 20-30% of the internet. If you have no proof, you have no case.

The emo in this writing

Here’s the thing: This is a very emotion-rife letter. It’s mean to cause alarm and “this is how upset I am!!11!!!!!!1!!1”. Folks like these lean on emotion because they don’t want you to use logic. They want me to click the link, not actively debate – which is what I did anyways, because if you don’t show me the image, I will ask about it. A lot.

I could get why this could scare a newbie blogger or someone who is not so secure, lawyer-wise. I get it very easily, no one wants their site taken down because of a simple skirmish. Unfortunately, I have three different lawyers (story of my life: prejudiced people never clean up their act until feds and lawyers get involved – and even then, they are remarkably slow learners. But quick criers). So a “I’ll sue you!” is not too scary to me.

The point is to click the link

It was a google Drive link, which is also reportable for nefarious use, such as trying to spread a virus. If it is a legit take-down request, I should not have to download anything. They should have had the time, date, etc of the photo (which, at this point, is safe to say doesn’t exist) in question in the text of their email. It is not in the text, it looks sketchy.

 

Oh! And I never got a reply ever when I asked for clarification. If this person was serious, I would have gotten a quick reply.

I have gotten a lot of stupid White folks writing in because White guilt always creates lack of intelligence. You can probably guess how:

“Can you eeeeeeeeeeducate me? I can most likely recite Shakespeare and Asimov but Dr. King is too commmplicaaaaaated.”

White folks regularly like to paint themselves at super smart, better than anyone even remotely darker (and if they do think another group is smarter – they gotta be weird, odd robots (Hi, Asian America)). They have the books, the colleges, all the smarties – White folks love cementing the idea “White = Smart. No exceptions. We will literally mod and edit history books to uphold this and viciously dismiss/murder all who disagree, no exceptions.” The picture of a genius is a White person, according to them.

Except when it comes to race. All of a sudden, it is next to impossible to understand and they need someone affected to literally slow-walk them through what they need to do and the very concept that a human is still a human, even if that human does not look like them. Because they’re too dumb to get it. Countless books, blogs, movies, documentaries, etc etc, on the subject but still Does Not Compute.

It’s not “Listening to Black people”, it’s the usual, stereotypical “I’m White and I don’t want to do any work, I’ll make someone else do it and benefit/take all the credit” bs that is at an all fever pitch right around now, but with a heavy sprinkle of White Guilt, chased with a gulp of White Saviorism.

For example, there is a 14 hour docuseries called “Eyes on the Prize”. Free to stream in all its entirety. I grew up with this series, it’s really well made. I remember it would play regularly on PBS – but, oh wow, technology! You can now see it whenever you want, as many times you want and for free, been that way for years. It follows the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s to the 1980s. It came out in 1987, the year I was born, so doesn’t cover the Rodney King Beating/LA riots back in 1992 (There is a Sublime song about that, “April 29 1992”), or the Texan hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr in 1998, who was snatched and dragged three miles behind a pick up truck by three White guys (all Klans members). It was considered “Lynching by Dragging”. Or the discovery of Black people hanging from trees in the past month (Robert Fuller. Malcolm Harsch), and the fact that’s been on a visible uptick in the past three years or so.

There is also this forum talk (wear headphones, it’s pretty quiet) where the makers talk about things that has happened between 1987 to 2016, when this forum happened.

 

All these facts, all this very accessible data. Not hard to find.

Before I go into this post proper, I would like to remind everyone (read: Americans) that we are still in a viral plague. Especially America. Here is a funny and lighthearted joke video about it called “Gas Gas Gas”:

Wear masks and maintain social distancing. Not that hard. Unless you are an essential worker, do not be out and about. If you are an essential worker (grocery store, food runner, warehouse worker), please try to stay safe – and learn your worker rights. Doctors and nurses are paid a lot but not the person stuck doing warehouse work at FedEx with zero hazard pay.

Alrightie then, on to the current fare.

There is a lot of attemptive co-opting and gentrifying of Black Lives Matter by, you guessed it, White folks. Basically, it’s the current go-to to hopefully look less like a horrible person because the mere fact it took the graphic and brutal death of some random guy they most likely did not know played in 4k by a racist officer to go “Wait, Black people … are, like, people? Like, human?” doesn’t make anyone look like a literal ice cold, sociopath already. Especially since I’m pretty sure they have ran into Black people in their personal lives, worked beside them, lived next/near them, so on and so forth and none of those lived experiences most likely shared by said Black people moved the needle in their brain. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m sure that if anyone needs a metric load of graphic deaths of particular groups of people to just to feel baseline human empathy towards them, that is a big problem. Especially when people like that want to “help”. And here, it is with the usual “White Man’s Burden/White Saviorism” zest. Because it is never actual help. Ever.

I call all that I see now, the posting of black squares on social media, the manicured “we stand with BLM” statements from companies and individuals alike, attending the marches, signing up to Black Witch *cough, cough, I definitely see this*: “Pulling a Weinstein”.

Named after big-name movie giant and serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, because this is one of his many go-to tactics: Show ’em that you care! He has donated to countless charities and causes focused on gender issues such as Planned Parenthood, supported feminist notables such as Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. He even tried to donate a scholarship fund to University of Southern California for female filmmakers but that was rejected because USC didn’t want to be in the headlines for that – otherwise they would have taken the money easily, academia isn’t that big on progress, just image.

This method is to serve as a counter-argument to every time someone called Weinstein a rapist. Which happened – a lot. It was no hidden secret that this was how Weinstein was and everyone around him pretty much okay’d it because the choice was either moral standards or paycheck and, well, electric companies and landlords don’t accept “moral standards” as a method of payment. Just make the actress he attacked feel confused and more like the perp than the victim, tell everyone she’s “difficult to work with”, donate to some big organization for women and call it a day. Remember, no guy ever had to wonder if Weinstein was going to ask him for a blow job in exchange for a role. Every time someone called Weinstein a rapist, out came the “He’s donated to xyz, he vociferously supports women, and all those girls are liars. Would a rapist donate to things that uplift women?”

If it kept him out of the legal hotseat – which it did for decades – then, yup. He would.

It’s a smart move, in a way: Look like a wonderful guy in the public eye, everyone gives you a pass to be a monster in private. Lawyers love this move, especially because donating to such venerable causes shows “character”. Even if it is about as phony as a styrofoam boat pretending to be a cruise liner. Everybody loves virtue signaling.

Annnnnnnd here we see it again. I expect years from now, I’m going to hear, “I marched with Black Lives Matters” when White people will be called out on their racism and prejudice. Their parents and grandparents already have worn out their version: “I marched with Dr. King”. Being there doesn’t give anyone non-Black a pass for being a horrible person. But, wow, will it be used that way.

Because all these acts now, they’re just “Weinstein Acts” – these acts look really nice and heart warming and sweet (they painted streets yellow! Awwwwww!) But it means literally nothing in all honesty (Instead of yellow lettered streets, how about work on red lining, liquor lining, block busting and gerrymandering?). The donations, the yellow letter streets, the black squares, the mass joining of Black influencers and creators on the internet, it’s all cute – but empty, pointless and absurd in the long run. Just White people in general, from individuals to corporations, pulling a Weinstein. Hey, it worked for Harvey Weinstein for literal decades, why not? Yeah, he fell and fell far but even the take-down was near herculean. And look at how many women who’s careers he affected and even killed during that very, very long time. It’s not like they’re all going to immediately bounce back like a spring. Some damage is simply irreversible. Time lost, opportunities lost, livelihoods lost. Weinstein donated loads of money and time to feminist causes. He didn’t do it because it was the right thing to do, he did it because he needed someone to tote out as a human credibility shield should people pick up on his heinous deeds. No different than what is happening now.

Here are four blocks of allyship, I found them floating about on social media. Made by Seerutkchawla:

Right now, I see a hefty amount of “Performative Allyship”. A loooooooooooot of it. This is why I say, “They don’t care, this is all for show.” Following Black influencers and creators (I got a payload of new subscribers for this blog, a staggering amount of them White – despite the glaring fact that this is a Black blog, for a Black Pagan readership), painting streets, so on and so forth, it’s for show. It’s to show off to other White people (“I’m better than you, nyah nyah”) and to be a credibility shield when called out by literally everyone else (“I’m not racist, I marched with BLM/read a single Black blog/follow Black people on social media.”). Even right now, on the personal level, Black folks are getting inundated by random White friends and acquaintances “checking in.” Because no other time mattered, whatsoever, including “Out of total friendship/genuine caring”. I know I can suck at keeping up with my friends but at least I don’t have to be prompted by a random brutal murder driven by prejudice to do it.

I have seen very, very little of “Authentic Allyship”. Because it is hard, there are no laurels to get and the only pedestal you’re probably going to be hoisted on is so people can throw rocks at you. You don’t get on the cover of any news brief or magazine, there’s zero limelight – if any at all (how many people know about John Brown or Jane Elliot?), it is a lot of private work and longstanding private work at that. It’s difficult and hard, but at least its the right thing. And its for anything in regards to working with groups that have suffered historical oppression. For example, how many times have I touted “LOVE GAY AND TRANS PEOPLE AND LGBT IS FOR ME. HATE DOESN’T LIVE HERE!!! I LOVE GAY AND TRANS PPL!!1!1!!11111!!!!!!” on this blog or any of my social media? I’m not gay or trans (I’m actually ace/demi but still, cis and not gay all the same). I definitely have gay and trans friends, as well as friends all across the LGBTQIA spectrum, but when Pulse happened, I didn’t flap them around for credibility, I didn’t become hyper-focused on LGBT issues during the time as if I was trying to replace OutLoud, and I certainly did not pester my LGBTQIA friends who were nowhere near Pulse when the mass shooting happened. I read their social media vent posts and listened when I could … but that’s what I generally do, literally to the point of annoyance, mass murder or no mass murder. Black Witch regularly features LGBT content to the point it’s regularly littered about on the blog, especially in The Arts! features. It’s not glitzy but Authentic Allyship is not supposed to be.

It is remarkably important for real change to occur because it is quite necessary. Weinstein donated a lot of money to good causes, but only because he was also the cause of the problems they’re fighting against. It was completely performative, he never cared to start with. He just wanted a cover so he could keep up his bad behavior, virtually unchecked. And it worked, for a very long time. It’s no different here. Performative is nice but only for the person doing the performance. For everyone else, it usually causes trouble down the line. But the performative ally generally does not care at all, because they hardly ever do. It’s all about them and, to them, that’s all that matters.

Black Witch is 10 years old today.

This blog has lasted a lot longer than I thought. I managed to keep up with this blog at some regular-ish interval.

Astonishingly, I don’t have a whole lot to say, really.  I’m sure I will before the month is out, I think part of it is that it doesn’t feel like it hit 10 years, it just feels like yet another year at BW.

Either way, I rescheduled my FB Live on my fan page to today at 6PM EST

 

 

Tomorrow is the tenth year of Black Witch. Every anniversary, I do a live stream on my FB fan page. It will be at 6 PM (EST). Instagram (@thisblackwitch) is a new addition so I’ll be doing a Live there at 12 PM EST.

 

Due to recent events, I have been getting people – usually White folks – coming out the rafters with all these questions about race, prejudice and other things that exists in reading, audio-visual form on the internet for free and easy to find. PBS exists, documentaries exists (free ones), online museums exists (especially now, in the middle of a pandemic), Spike Lee exists, Ava DuVernay exists, countless pieces of media and creators.

Here’s a letter I got:

Hi, I hope you’re well with all the horrible stuff going on. I have a question as a white author trying to write a ‘black’ character. The character starts out as white, gets blessed by the fire goddess, and her skin turns black with orange crackles like lava, her hair like ash, her eyes orange. Shes the main character, conquers the world and kills dragons, has a happy love story, and her arc is all about coming to terms with your inner strength. She is a bit shunned after her transformation, but as a whole she becomes very positively seen. My question is, is it offensive to have her change skin color? Is it reminiscent of people who die their skin to try and pretend to be black? I’ve tried speaking to fellow authors, but I’d really appreciate your input as well. Thank you very much.

 

I replied with a pretty scathing response but let’s go into detail about why I went the caustic route instead of the “Hey, I am sooooooooooooooo glad you literally want to make sure you’re not being racist in your works, Random White Person” that this person probably was expecting.

Read the Air

I’m a creative writer myself and some of my works require a bit of digging. For example, I have a VR game about the Berlin Blitz (1943 Berlin Blitz), a regular video game about WWII Czechoslovakia that uses first hand accounts from the actual survivors (Attentat 1942), links to the US Holocaust museum and regular Jewish history that does not circulate around them being very, very dead or under severe threat of being very, very dead. And this is not the bulk of my research work, just a narrow pie slice because I have a very broad spread of research – another example, Japanese-Korean history. Which stretches centuries, from when they started as nations to now. And it is not a pretty history. But I know it! And I didn’t bother a single Japanese or Korean person about it.

Notice I never said, “I badger my Jewish and Korean friends about how they feel about the Holocaust and Japanese-Korean relations” or “I bother random Jewish people or Czech people about the Holocaust or random Japanese and Korean people about Japanese-Korean relations because I am interested in this, I ran out of silly shows on Netflix and my Instagram feed is dull – oh, I mean, because I lack deeeeeeeepth.” Because those are pretty painful points of history. I would imagine the random people would not be too nice because, dude, wtf? And the friends of mine would probably correct me to say “No, no, she means ‘former friends’ because, dude, wtf?” No one has that at the forefront of their mind, either. Not even scholars. Because it is depressing.

When it comes to painful parts of history, I can ensure you, dollars to donuts, that someone very well informed and eloquent has written about it, painted about it, made a movie about it, so on and so forth. No need to bother random strangers and go “Hey, you’re really bothered by the fact people who look like me still like killing people like you for sport, can you tell me if I’m being racist in a personal passion project of mine? It’s really important to me I get this right.” If you can’t somehow even remotely google “Blackface” (even on my site I have a search bar, I have talked about Blackface before. Try using it) and you’re not sure you’re “Doing it wrong”, then pick up another subject to write about. Everyone likes cats, go make literary art about that. Every time I came across a pretty rough portent of history, I researched it for myself. Watched documentaries, read articles, viewed interactive exhibits – y’know, work. I didn’t seek out the affected individuals and bother them because I neeeeeeed to know. If I need to know that badly, I will research it.

Learn to know when is the right time and wrong time to badger a random person on the internet about painful histories of their background. Don’t ask a queer person about if they agree or disagree with random people killing them after a horrendous death of a trans person hits the news. Don’t ask a Black person if something is racist or not when they’re busy dealing with strings of murders tied to racist people killing them simply for existing. If it is too hard to figure it out without a one-on-one 1st person account, just chalk up that you might be too stupid for the subject and pick something else to focus on. Like knitting.

Try Search Engines

When I was younger, back in the 90s and very late 80s, if you wanted to know something, you had to go to a physical encyclopedia. Hopefully it was up to date (you needed a new set yearly and they were expensive), a full collection (a set of encyclopedia could range the entire length of a classroom. Some sets, several times over), and written well (White academics really really suck at writing anything that had nothing to do with, well, White-focused history (Europe and the White part of America). And I mean, who-did-you-blow-to-get-your-degree awful. Fun fact: they still really, really suck at it). There were many ways information could slip through the cracks. Crappy libraries, racism-fueled poor research, closed down libraries, shoddy schools, bad and/or racist teachers and/or administrators – the possibilities of abysmal education are endless.

And then the internet happened. And then, of all the search engines to start out, Google climbed out on top.

I do have my snips about Google – oh, so many snips – but, for all intents and purposes, it works well for information procurement … assuming the person is not looking for biased info, because that’s confirmation bias and that’s exactly how you get people like Dylan Roof and the end result of nine innocent people very, very dead (Search it). All you need is the ability to have critical thinking skills. And the ability to take a wonderful, long and thoughtful sip from the Shut the F*ck cUp. That way, you can have all the feels you want to feel, good and bad, and you didn’t have to ruin someone else’s day about it. I have done this countless times, when learning about countless places and countless events in history. It is an arduous method but a very useful one.

No, Really Try Researching

There are blogs, twitter accounts, tumblrs, documentaries, encyclopedia entries, online museums, books. So many details and so many facts exist now. I bet if I dig hard enough, I will probably find a virtual reality game where I can sit and ask a hologram of Dr. King a bunch of questions in the middle of Alabama. They already have that for Holocaust survivors, where they sat in a seat, became digitized and answered literal hours of questions so to become a full, fleshed out hologram that can be asked the same questions again and again from scholars to regular curious people. Now, you don’t have to track down someone’s poor grandparent and badger them about why they have a weird arm tattoo and “was it as bad as they say? Because some random guy online that I follow said it didn’t even happen. I just want to be accurate.”

Again, all you need are critical thinking skills. And an ability to zip it.

If doing basic research is too hard, then maybe try a different hobby. Like paddleball. Simple and no intelligence required.

%d bloggers like this: