Woo, late but still here! I have been recently getting a bit of an uptick of people writing me for my personal input into their papers. It’s a little unusual for me since usually the kind of people in academia that contact me for my input are usually writing books. Granted, I don’t usually mind either except … I basically kind of get the same kind of rabbit food questions for the papers and sometimes it can appear really, well, lazy.

Here’s a disclaimer before I go into this:

A) I’m hard on students because, oh look, I work in research as a librarian as a trade so I tend to expect a certain degree of academic consistency. I’m old, I know, but *cracks out cane* back in my day, there were way less resources – especially free ones – available to people and still you could get decent research out of them. I’m a research librarian that has worked at the Library of Congress, not Twitter personified so, for future folks, please be warned that I’m going to act and react like a research librarian that has worked in the Library of Congress. I know I derp around quite a lot on these here internets but I do expect any informative inquiries to be that – well thought out and informative.

B ) Read A until you understand. In other words: I’m the person your teachers warn you about :3

I’m just going to smatter these inquiries together (including my responses) because they’re basically all the same. Then I’m going to do my usual breakdown because if I get more of these, I’m might as well slow-walk future academic askers how to actually ask in one post. By the way, these are all college students, I’m a little easier on high schoolers and a lot easier on middle schoolers (because they’re still learning the skill. It should be near iron by the time you hit college).

The names of the askers are redacted because this is such a common issue. It’s not “boooooo, this person in particular sucks!” It’s “boooooo, this method in particular sucks!” So let’s get to it:

Hi Black Witch, 
I found your page through the article you did for Afropunk back in 2012 and have since been going over your blog and reading lots of your posts. It’s so fascinating! I’m a senior at UCLA and am taking a Gender Studies class about race and space. For my thesis paper I want to investigate how the online Wicca community is racially coded and, perhaps, inequitable. As a White woman, I definitely fit into the Etsy-mom-selflove image we often see of witches, but I think it’s so much more important in and outside of this paper to prioritize the voices of black and brown folx in the community. I would love to interview if you have the time or would appreciate any insight you can give me.
Thank you,

Thank you for reaching out. Firstly, I’m Pagan, not Wiccan. I appreciate that you read my posts but it appears you didn’t pay attention to that obvious detail. Wicca falls under Paganism the same way Catholics, Baptists, etc. falls under Christianity but not the other way around.
I’m going to decline interview but you are free to cite my writing since I have talked about this topic at length throughout my blog. Please cite well and thank you :3

– Black Witch

I get a lot of people confusing me for Wiccan – despite the fact I literally never pass up an opportunity to bring up that I’m not Wiccan. I’m Pagan, there is a difference. Whenever I am approached by anyone who says “Wiccan” instead of Pagan it shows me they didn’t read. This is why I had the reply I did. Remember, I prefer academics who research to ask me questions. Figuring out whether I’m Wiccan or Pagan is not a very difficult discovery at all, it’s laziness otherwise. And again, it’s rabbit food questions, hence why I told her to use what I already wrote as a primary source – because I have already talked about this exact topic ad nauseam. Shouldn’t have to be said but here it goes: please do your homework before requesting an interview from anyone, especially for cultural pieces. They may have already answered the question 8098754657877655768908765 times already.

Hi there!

My name is [redacted] and I’m a student at New York University.  I’m an anthropology major and I was wondering if you would be interested in helping me with my final paper? I wanted to write about the witchcraft community and the types of people who practice.  I would appreciate your thoughts on the subject as you seem like someone who is very knowledgeable.  As well as I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the community as a POC.  I would just need you to answer some of my questions over email.  Nothing would be published everything would simply be between my professor and I and I can also keep you anonymous if you prefer.  Thank you so much for your consideration and I hope you can help me out.  I totally understand if you are not comfortable or able to and I appreciate it regardless.  Thank you again!



Sure, what are your questions?

– Black Witch


Thank you so much for your response! If you are uncomfortable with any of the questions please let me know and don’t feel obligated to answer them.  Traditionally this is done in an interview so forgive me if my train of thought seems to jump all over the place or if I am rude.  You may feel that some of these questions are subjective but please answer them according to your views.

First and foremost I would like to know how you got into witchcraft in the first place and what type of witchcraft you practice or what deities you follow? How many types of witchcraft are there? Are there any that are better than others? Which types are most common and why? Could you explain to me how your practices have changed, if at all, since you’ve started practicing and how long you’ve been practicing? Could you give me an example of what some types of, excuse me I hope this is the right terminology, spells or rituals you perform and why and or what their purpose is? Do you believe that anyone can be a witch or is there some type of pre-requisite that you need to fulfill? Are there things that can prevent you from being a witch? What are the characteristics of a real witch/ what makes a real witch? Can you tell when people are actually practicing witches or if they are simply pretending? Are there any stereotypes that bother you about witches or witchcraft? Are there any that are true? What are your thoughts on the types of people who practice? Is there a hierarchy within the community whether it be by how long you’ve been practicing or how devoted you are to the lifestyle or anything else?  What are your thoughts on the community as a whole? Do you find them to be gatekeepers? Do you think that being a POC has changed how others within the community treat you or how you are perceived within the community? Do you think the community has changed with the presence of social media? Please feel free to add any anecdotes you think might be interesting, as well as anything else you think it might be important for me to know so I can write about the community in the most respectful and comprehensive way possible including the proper terminology and things of that nature. And please correct me if I’ve said or asked anything incorrect, inappropriate, or rude.

Thank you again for answering all of my questions, I know there is a lot.  Would you prefer to be kept anonymous or is okay if I quote you directly? (Again I want to remind you that no one except for my professor and myself will be seeing this paper but you are under no obligation to let me use your real name.)   And what are your preferred pronouns? If I have more is it alright to reach out to you again? If not I completely understand and regardless I am grateful for your help with this assignment.



I reviewed the questions. Given the sheer amount, I would best suggest to use my posts to answer as many of the questions down there (pretty much any question on race and bias I have answered several times over since I am asked everywhere) and whatever questions are not answered or sufficiently answered, I can answer personally. 

– Black Witch

I don’t mind being asked to help on a paper or be asked for input. However, the sheer multitude of questions is towering, usually they’re about 3-5 questions, definitely less than ten. Plus some of the questions are really easy to research, no need to ask anyone anything. I think about at least 60% of the questions asked could be answered with some general research and reading. By the time you get to wanting to interview a person for any academic purpose, the questions should be very sharp and thought provoking. It isn’t the student’s intention, I know, but it all just eventually started to smack of “can you do the work for me?” given how simplistic and many the questions are. And while I appreciate the person going “please let me know if I am being rude or inappropriate”, thorough research should make it so such a statement doesn’t even have to be said since they should theoretically know by the time they are asking a person the general right and wrong things to ask based off of their research. There are always going to be flubs, even in the best of times, but be more confident in your research and the concern that they’ll pop up will reduce dramatically.

Good-evening! My name is [Redacted] and I am a journalism student in the Communication department at Southeastern Louisiana University.I was emailing you regarding Hoodoo and voodoo. I’m writing a feature article on those topics for my Comm class.I had some questions & a quote (s)you would love to use as well if you would like to answer.I would love to do an interview. It would be a Interview over email or message(whatever you prefer). Please let me know if it would be possible to set this up by March 25,2021. I will send you the questions. If you know anybody else who knows information that’s willing to give me info.  Please let me know!

Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing from you.

Why is hoodoo/voodoo not black magic?
What does voodoo and hoodoo mean?
What do people consider to be more practice, hoodoo or voodoo?
Why do people consider hoodoo and voodoo “the religions no one talks about”?
Are they consider witchcraft or spirituality?
Why should more African Americans know more about Hoodoo?
Who is Madame Marie Laveau?
Why use Tarot cards?
Tell me anything I should know that’s interesting

Before I post my reply, everyone, I just want to bring up that the date I received this inquiry was actually March 25, 2021. In the late afternoon of March 25, 2021, at that. So I didn’t even get a day or two to mull over whether or not I want to participate or figure out if I can squeeze this in my schedule, I get simply mere hours. Even the Huffington Post, a site that I strongly dislike because they have pulled egregious things with me in the past – including super short turn arounds without even asking if I wanted to participate while asking super fluffy, filler questions about race and Paganism – has given me at most 24-48 hours. Given my experience of knowing that students are given days, usually at least a week, for papers and articles (I have taken a journalism course, too. Quite a few of them – I was an English major), this shows very poor planning and an indirect insult to the person requested. Yes, news can have a short turn-around time, I know this deeply, but back then, good news places still expressed respect for the time of the person that they were asking. Nothing is wrong with a bit of pre-planning for time and asking “I’m [such and such] from [so and so] university writing a news article about [hopefully worthwhile topic], may I ask you a few questions?” Note I didn’t throw in a deadline. In the words of my Journalism teacher: “Your timeline doesn’t matter to them. If it is important to them, they will reply. If it isn’t, they won’t and you write ‘No Comment’.” (paraphrasing here, by the way, I had a few Journalism teachers.) Moral of the story: give people enough lead time and don’t assume they’re going to be as up and thrilled as you are for your story to just be shot a bunch of questions from a random person (That’s you. You are the random person). Ok, back to the thread at hand!

Thank you for writing but I feel a good chunk of the questions can be answered with regular book research (such as “Who is Marie Laveau?” and “what does voodoo and hoodoo means?”). I am not a Voudoun or hoodoo practitioner, just a general denomination Pagan with an in depth background on both subjects.
Basically, if you send me better questions, sure. Otherwise, I would recommend just searching my blog for my writings on the subjects. 

– Black Witch

Thank you! 
How is hoodoo  cultural appropriation in witchcraft and keeping the African American slave folk magic alive?

In the era of slavery, questions of security  in African American experience were very large, so they turned to Hoodoo for help. How did Hoodoo help  the African American experience?

Most African Americans are not as open to talk bout Hoodoo facts or culture due to information that is greatly twisted. Why are African Americans not open to sharing certain information?
Why did you get into Hoodoo? What made you get involved with it?
Do you think  Hoodoo would help African Americans know their roots and their past ancestors?

I don’t practice hoodoo actually. I’m afraid these are not good enough questions. I recommend using my site to answer these questions as well as other books and critical resources to best help your papers.

– Black Witch

Um okay Thank you for your time.

Okiee dokie do, time for a post mortem!

Remember everyone, I’m pretty old school when it comes to education (unless it comes to the structural prejudices and inherent prejudices of Western education, then I’m just plain anarchist to a defining degree) but remember, it is important to respect the time of the person asked for the article. That means no “umm” (that’s unprofessional and unacademic), that means using proper punctuation (Where are the commas and periods and proper capitalizations? This came from someone at an accredited university, right?), that means reading the already provided material the person you are asking has already provided, if any, to justify and hone your questions and make the most of your time to ask them whatever it is that you want to ask them. It appeared more and more that the student thought I practiced Hoodoo and/or Voudon, despite the fact that, just like Wicca, I always express that I am not a practitioner of Afro-centric religions. I am Pagan, yep. I am a Black person, yep. Does not mean that I automatically practice culturally indigenous faiths? Nope. No more than a White person would automatically be practicing Nordic or Roman faiths over, say a particular Middle Eastern faith (*cough*Christianity*cough*). This is why it is important to read and research. Otherwise, the student could be potentially wasting their time barking up the wrong tree. That’s never fun.

The questions had potential but still was in the “why didn’t you research this yourself?” category. It is way better to ask fruitful questions and also, if pursuing journalism, do not ask leading or loaded questions. “Why do people consider hoodoo and voodoo ‘the religions no one talks about’?” is both leading and loaded, for example. Who are the “people” and who considers hoodoo and voodoo “‘the religions no one talks about'”? That shows a journalist usually does not want an honest answer but one that is kind of on an angle. Usually a sign that yellow journalism is afoot when left unchecked. At least this person isn’t a student and hopefully is not already in the field working for an actual news outlet.

For those who don’t know what a leading question is or a loaded question, quote time!

Loaded Question, as explained by Effectiviology

loaded question is a trick question, which presupposes at least one unverified assumption that the person being questioned is likely to disagree with. For example, the question “have you stopped mistreating your pet?” is a loaded question, because it presupposes that you have been mistreating your pet.

Leading Question, as explained by FormPlus

A leading question is a type of question that prompts a respondent towards providing an already-determined answer. This type of question is suggestive as it is framed in such a way that it implies or points to its answer(s). 

A leading question typically leans towards established biases and assumptions and it is made up of specific information which the individual or organization (interrogator) wishes to confirm.

Yeah, not a great thing to use when learning journalism. But! Hopefully their teacher is doing something about that. There are already enough sucky journalists in the world.

And that was all that I have received in the past month or so! Time for super Saiyan post mortem!

Now if a middle schooler asked me all these questions, I would answer them pretty easy peasy. I am not going to expect someone who is roughly in the 10-13 age range to just do the research themselves, they’re just getting introduced to the skill. Plus, I would expect these kinds of questions from a middle schooler, they’re just starting to learn complex subjects such as social studies/current events. A high schooler, I would still answer as is but include tips and tricks that would be helpful such as “here is how to make the questions better to get an even meatier answer/better interview” and more because, again, they are still honing the skill. They shouldn’t be brand new (that’s middle school) to it all but they are still a work in progress. It takes years to build the skills and there are way more resources now than ever to better acquire it. Free resources at that. No expensive, heavy encyclopedias. No restrictive paywalls. Lots of info, all at the ready.

But college? As I tend to say to students “it’s college, not kindergarten”. Unless the issues you are facing are institutional/systemic (such as racism, sexism, etc, from micro-aggressions to overt, blatant displays of prejudice) and/or underlying (dealing with learning disabilities and/or mental illnesses, known or not) issues, then there should be few excuses and problems as it pertains to developing a half-way decent research and academic skill set. I get that these skills are super boring in procurement, as are the classes, and the teachers, and the books and all the other things these students signed up for. Though obscenely boring, these skills are quite useful. They may not get you millions of followers and subscribers but they will help you not look like a single dolt.

Some tips:

Reading is Fundamental

The main reason I’m not really staggered into an astonished quiet by these questions is because I always wonder Did they actually read my blog or just skim? I have never been that big a fan of skimming. Since in skimming, you miss things. Important things. Things that can help you not embarrass yourself or make the reader wonder if you ever knew the subject at all. I am a Black person, yep. Because that is a point many fixate on, I get a lot of questions about race – to the point that I can basically take a post I made five years ago, apply it and the answer will still appear seamless. This means I am going to treat the student like they already made the search and did all the appropriate reading. At this point, I kind of dislike questions on race because I already answered them before and I have a functional search bar on my site. I guarantee you basic, rudimentary, rabbit food-type questions will just get pointed to my search bar. Since that’s where the student should have gone to first. Direct questions to the creator should be saved for things the blog can’t answer, things that require genuine input.

Note that several of the questions above were not simply “rabbit food” level, they were outright lazy. Asking “What is [???]” should be answered by the student, not the person they are interviewing unless it is part of a ream of useful interview questions (“What is Blackness/Paganism/Womanism/etc to you?”, not plain “What is Blackness?”). Questions like those basically smack of “I want an easy A but I don’t want to work for it, can you basically write my paper for me?”

For example, if you ask me “How do you feel about Black Lives Matter?”, the student should be able to make a fairly educated guess based on the posts I already have penned about race in general and BLM itself. It literally would not be hard and would thus be declared “rabbit food questions” because it takes zero brain cells for me to dredge up an answer – therefore annoying. If the question was “How do you feel Black Lives Matter parallels or contrasts with other Black social movements in the past such as the Civil Rights Movement or even the Abolitionism movement?” I would be happy to answer that question since it actually requires me to use more than three brain cells to muse and mull on a good answer. It is not a question that can easily be searched or gleaned from my writings and is thus not a certified waste of my time. Better question? “How do you feel about Modern’s paganism changes over the years, if any? How about media’s depiction of Paganism in general?” (Note the lack of race questions. I appreciate these, because it means my opinion matters in general on the subject, not simply as “The Negro’s Perspective, Now Back To The White People – I Mean ‘The General Topic’s Automatic Experts’.”). Sometimes, it’s ok to not automatically go with bias. Sometimes, it’s ok to work with logic. Try logic. Leave bias home. Abandon it at a bus station, preferably. Or out in the desert to die an excruciating death and picked away by buzzards and vultures.

Questions about Afrocentric religious practices are ok … as long as the student is fully aware that they are not asking someone who participates in those Afrocentric religious practices. I don’t practice Santeria (gotta love that song, though), Hoodoo, Voodoo, Ifa, etc. I have a deep understanding of them as a Black American Pagan person who sat down and sought to learn about these practices but I am not an actual practitioner. I mean, hey, I have a very in-depth understanding about Christianity and I haven’t needed that knowledge personally for roughly twenty years. Knowing a thing or two about your subject helps both people in the long run. Otherwise, it’s like asking an automotive mechanic how they feel about the changes in airplane mechanics over time. Yes, the person asked is a mechanic and yes, they are familiar with the existence of airplanes but no, a person that works on cars can not talk about their non-existent experience with fixing airplanes. Opine their life away, sure, but that still would not make them a decent person to ask at all.

Good Questions Can Lead to Great Answers

Basically part of what I was mentioning above but a well thought out questions can lead to some really great answers. Avoid leading and loaded questions like how one should theoretically avoid the plague (by the way, still wear a mask, wash hands and maintain social distancing, even if you have a vaccine. We’re still in a pandemic). My favorite interview is Good Company’s interview with rock band P.O.D.’s vocalist, Sonny Sandoval. There’s is some audio-visual mismatch but is still a good listen.

The great questions! The respectfulness! It almost sounds more like a conversation than an interview. It is obvious the asker, Scott Bowling, did his homework and thus, asked really good questions. He basically presented a question and let Sonny reply as is. No leading questions. No questions that have been asked five billion times prior (if you are a P.O.D. fan, you already know quite a few). Questions back by great research leads to awesome answers and an interview that benefits both people. It is always important to do genuine research, not just skim and ask a bunch of questions that implies you probably didn’t do your due diligence.

And that has been my recent experience with academic inquiries! I really would like for them to get better, honestly.