Category: Race


Race-Blinders

Ah, a group I was in had kittens over a complaint I had about lack of diversity. They simply booted me out without known warning. I didn’t think the response would be that bad but then, again, this is what happens pretty common in White dominated spaces, especially the ones that try to present themselves as “forward-thinking”.

They go “we don’t tolerate prejudice. We don’t like racism, sexism, etc etc” It’s usually a hint to what they will accept if it can be subtle. And not even super subtle, just simply omit the usual words that make it brash and they’re fine. In White dominated spaces, this is super true about racism. Saying the “n-word” is (sorta) not okay (I say “sorta” because it doesn’t stop them from trying) but using AAVE/ebonics and doing verbal Blackface is consider fine despite them being forms of racism. White dominated groups think they’re fine if they just avoid the usual slurs and that the Black person noting that it is not is a “troublemaker”.

When I brought up the whole “hey, this place has a diversity problem”, one person brought up that the subject of racism is a trigger for them (it’s a space for people with trauma disorders so the term “trigger” is appropriately used here) but here’s the thing, well, two things: a) the talk of racism is a trigger but acting it out is not? b) I’m usually okay with people having odd triggers because the traumatized brain works very, very odd (I explained this in a previous post) but a White person saying racism is their trigger is like Warren Buffett saying investing and money is his trigger. In a way, it is a bit odd because how could a White person be more troubled about racism than a Black person to the point it’s a psychological trauma trigger? They’re not killed as a result of it, they have far better opportunities in life from the existence of it, it really helps them out immensely. Not to mention, if anyone should have a trigger about racism, it should probably be the Black person. They’re the one that has to worry if the police officer on their street will turn into a cold-blooded murderer. They have to worry if a White person won’t try to mow a group of their peers down in a car or air out their business, place of worship or school because they feel entitled to do so. They have to watch videos and pictures of ice-cold murders or acts of prejudice of people who look exactly like them be circulated on the internet like trading cards. That is traumatizing. That could easily create a trigger for a Black person because it is a repeated enough trauma to very much count. To say that simply the subject of it is triggering but to engage in it all the same? That sounds less like an actual trigger and more like a “this makes me uncomfy as a White person”, especially since I hear this from other White people who also engage in racism and don’t have trauma disorders. They just don’t call it “triggers”, they just say something equally stupid like, “this causes bad vibes” or “ we don’t tolerate racism, you’re just blowing it out of proportion”. I know this because this is what I commonly run in to in White-dominated groups.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle, the trauma disorder group I was in usually has people in the chat all day long just going “I’m so gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay/traaaaaaaaaaaaans/queeeeeeeeeeeeer/etc.” Being happy in who you are in the face of adversary is fine but then there is this overdoing it to the point it practically seems like they’re not and they’re joking like cis straight people. That and given their uncomfiness with racism, I think if someone came in there and said “I have so much melanin! My skin is loooooovely. I’m so Blaaaaaaaaaaack,” it would probably make people act shifty. Like, the White folks in the group can chat about their family history heritage but it’s not as accepted to joke about how family history for a Black person is way more murky (I think I only know who’s who in my family up to my great grandparents and relatives on my mom’s side. Up to my grandparents on my dad’s side). It makes White people “uncomfortable” the realities of historical racism and institutionalized racism. Here’s the thing: it happened and it’s not that lava hot a subject unless it’s made to be. Not every time a Black person talks about their lived experience is a construct to induce White Guilt (which is a pathetic and selfish concept in and of itself). We don’t exist as walking life lessons to a White person. We are people also.

It’s really annoying that I can’t participate in the groups I want because if I bring up that there are any issues, it gets iced out as “she’s causing problems for our happy group!” but they also want to say “we don’t have problems and prejudice here and if we do, we root them out”. They don’t, they just root out the person that says, “hey, here is a problem.”

And this is usually a big problem in White dominated spaces. Even official ones. I remember being in a hospital for my disorders and was told that the idea of being afraid of police is an act of paranoia because police officers are here to help and be trusted. If you’re White, this is absolutely true, you get Officer Friendly, here to protect and serve. If you’re Black, you get Officer Jigsaw, here to maim and sever. It’s not irrational for a Black person to see a cop come near them and think, “Great, I’m about to die.” Then there’s the fact that you can’t talk about racism as a trauma because the doctors (who are usually White) get really, really defensive about that, especially if you note that they don’t have diverse doctors at all. Like, if you try, they say you’re getting aggressive, even if you’re calm about it. And if they think you’re aggressive, congrats, you risk getting snowed with pills (unless you’re good at knowing your patient rights) all because you brought up that prejudice does indeed exist and can indeed cause psychological damage to a person.

Having blinders on is acutely annoying, to say the least. Especially since a White person in the group made an all call saying, “Hey, we should have more diverse youtubers about trauma disorders” and it’s accepted politely but I mention, “Hey, we need more diverse voices because hearing White people use AAVE is annoying”, I am booted. Granted a person could say, “your version was harsh” but I don’t think there really is a nice way to say it. And the way said is already “nice” enough. It’s a problem, not a compliment, the basis of the statement isn’t “nice” in and of itself.

Frankly, what is it with White people and they wanting to appear forward-thinking and good but really don’t want to put in any effort to do so? Especially when it comes on the ground of racism? They want a trophy and ceremony for being non-prejudiced buuuuuuut when it is brought to their attention, they have a conniption about it at the person who said it is an issue, especially if they themselves are not White. If this is how groups keep their spaces “drama-free” or “problem-free”, it just builds an echo chamber that deludes itself in thinking that it is forward-thinking because they got rid of all dissenters instead of tackling the problem.

Before getting started, please note! There is going to be an FB livestream chat for the 8th Black Witch anniversary on June 9 at 2 PM EST. In the Black Witch Shoppe, there is free shipping from today to June 10. Huzzah, get 3D printed things, Black superhero icons and hand stitched journals.

Moving on to our regularly scheduled program:

Ahh, I know a problem is a big problem in music when it is from a genre I don’t really listen to and it still floats to me. I am couched firmly in the world of Rock, living my life. When something from a different music world floats its way to me, it’s notable.

Earlier this week, rapper Pusha T had shown a photo of rapper Drake in Blackface during a beef. It caused discord. I wanna talk about it because it seems this is pretty superficial and ridiculous, even when discussing Blackface.

Where to begin, where to begin.

Well, here is the picture in question:

It is Drake here in his younger years wearing classic Blackface while wearing a Jim Crow shirt from Too Black Guys. It’s from a line called “Jim Crow Couture”.

It’s actually a dual picture:

We will unpack this later. But first, let’s consider the source, Pusha T – a rapper that honestly could easily hit on all pins of stereotype without the burnt cork. But we’ll unpack that as we go along as well also.

Actually, we shouldn’t first consider the source (though it is very, very important), we should first talk about what and who Jim Crow is and the same about Blackface. And how you don’t have to smear grease paint on your face to emulate what it is trying to portray, unfortunately.

Alrightie, before beginning, I gotta say this post is going to be depressing so expect kitties.

Let’s get this started, with the assistance of the digital Jim Crow Museum of Ferris State University A great go-to for understanding anti-Blackness in all it’s depressing, humanity-crushing, non-glory!

The Start of Jim Crow, From Character to De Facto & De Jure Laws

Jim Crow was a character created by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice. At the start, he was a struggling sort-of actor – he only did solo skits between play scenes at Park Theatre in New York, nothing big. He happened upon a Black person singing a song:

“Come listen all you galls and boys,
I’m going to sing a little song,
My name is Jim Crow.
Weel about and turn about and do jis so,
Eb’ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow.”

“Inspired” by this, Rice decided to darken his skin with burnt cork and hop on stage in 1828 as “Jim Crow”. His act was a hit with crowds that he started traveling all over the United States and even in the United Kingdom and Ireland. By 1832, Jim Crow was a stock character in minstrel shows, as well as the counterparts Jim Dandy and Zip Coon. He would act like a simple fool, spoke with a very exaggerated and distorted crude imitation of African American Vernacular English (look at SNL or youtubers like Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star or Lily Singh if you want to hear the modern version of it). Rice sang “Negro ditties” such as “Jump Jim Crow” and the character became a very popular one to mimic among White comedians.

The reason the show was such a smash was because White audiences were really receptive to the portrayal of Black people as singing, dancing, grinning fools, regardless what they’re doing. Just like now. This is part of why psychological horror movie Get Out was considered a comedy (and nominated as such!) by White audiences. Which was extremely horrifying to Black people.

By 1838, the shows helped “Jim Crow” became more of a household word as a slur but that was only roughly half a century. By the end of the 19th century, it was less used as a term to describe Black people and more of a term to describe laws and customs specifically designed to oppress and harm Black people.

This section on the museum website puts this part well:

“Rice and his imitators, by their stereotypical depictions of blacks, helped to popularize the belief that blacks were lazy, stupid, inherently less human, and unworthy of integration. During the years that blacks were being victimized by lynch mobs, they were also victimized by the racist caricatures propagated through novels, sheet music, theatrical plays, and minstrel shows. Ironically, years later when blacks replaced white minstrels, the blacks also “blackened” their faces, thereby pretending to be whites pretending to be blacks. They, too, performed the Coon Shows which dehumanized blacks and helped establish the desirability of racial segregation.”

History website, Black-Face, expresses a similar sentiment:

“White America’s conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy’s mocking caricatures and for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both white and black performers in blackface.”

Now, I’m sure someone read the fact that Black folks did Blackface, think about Drake and want to screech “Pusha was riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!” I’mma need you to pump your brakes. And put on the Emergency Brake because it is not that simple. We got a lot more to go through. Note that we are still on the first kitty picture.

It didn’t turn out all shiny for Rice. He did become rich and famous because of his minstrelsy but because of his avarice, he died a poor man in New York, 1860.

And nooow, the kitty picture

Drake, His Point, and the Problem of Blackface in Media

The picture was explained by Drake:

He actually has a point. Explained by Black-Face: “White audiences in the 19th Century wouldn’t accept real black entertainers on stage unless they performed in blackface makeup.” It’s like that, even today. They don’t have to have the makeup on, but they certainly have to play the stereotype. Ask Kenan Thompson of SNL. When he was younger and on All That, he had more, varied roles to play that weren’t captured in stereotype such as Pierre Escargot and SuperDude. There was even the show “Kenan and Kel”. Once he got on SNL, they weren’t exactly big on doing the same, which was strongly emphasized in practically all of their “Black Panther” skits. Why, SNL actually had used Blackface on Fred Armisen when they would lampoon Obama in the president’s early years. Their justification? They didn’t have enough or the “right” Black actors to do the job. By the way, this was 2008, not 1888. That was ten years ago.

Black-Face mentions that one of the first Black people to perform in Blackface for White audiences was the man who invented tap dancing, William Henry Lane, also known as Master Juba. He was born a free Black man and a talented and intelligent performer but he was deeply restricted to depicting Blackness the only way his audience wanted: a Jim Crow. A dumb Black person happy to be foolish, enslaved and inferior. Charles Dickens wrote about his experience of seeing one of Lane’s shows:

“…Marshalled by a lively young negro, who is the wit of the assembly, and the greatest dancer known. …In what walk of life, or dance of life, does man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders about him, when, having danced his partner off her feet, and himself too, he finishes by leaping gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for something to drink, with the chuckle of a million of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one inimitable sound!”

Though a freed man, he had to take on a stage name that implied bondage. “Juba” was a popular name for Blacks in enslavement, a life Lane never knew. But it was a life he had to emulate if he wanted any popularity and stage time. While later in Lane’s career could he perform in his own skin, no blackface needed, it was short lived – Lane died at the age of 27 in 1852. He worked himself to death, literally. He worked night and day, his diet consisted mainly of fried eels and ale, hardly took breaks, it pretty much broke him. This was the norm for Black performers, just to depict themselves. But for White performers such as Rice, they could live in the lap of luxury. (Remember, it was living an over-extravagant life to the point he spent himself poor that killed Rice. And he lived far longer than Lane, who basically died from overexertion.) It still is quite a bit of the norm for Black actors. Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled explores that deeply. Oh, if you’re going to watch the film, just gear up Black Panther behind it. You’re goooooonna need to. Also, Kitten Break!

Things are a teensy bit better but not by much. And it can always slide back.

Let’s talk about the clothes Drake wore, created by Too Black Guys

The picture was not taken for Too Black Guys lookbook but it did feature one of their shirts. It was from the Jim Crow Couture line.

The line started in 2008 and there was a photo shoot featured in HypeBeast about it when it was first released. The current picture on TBG for the line is just Yasin Bey/Mos Def (he’s just wearing the Jim Crow hat, no blackface).

The line was created [reason of why line was created, prolly in HypeBeast] because Too Black Guys wanted to make a statement. Thing is, while these images are hurtful, they are part of the Black identity (more like “brutally attached” but you get my point). They’re Black, they can tackle the concept of minstrelsy and Blackness because it is something that affects them and the Black people around them deeply.

The shirt served a good purpose and focal point in Drake’s picture because that’s pretty much how Hollywood wants to exactly see Black performers. Over-saturated with Whiteness, Hollywood, and theatre in general, doesn’t want dynamic Black actors, they want more, modernized Master Jubas. You could study at Julliard and still, the casting director will try to fit you for a stereotypical, feeble-minded role.

The Problem of Pusha T or “You Are What You Eat”

Ahhhhh, Pusha T. A person who probably never heard of the phrase “he who lives in a glass house should never throw stones”. Because he loaded a ball machine, selected “a million fungoes” and blasted away.

Pusha T being a rapper is not the inherent problem here. Being a rapper doesn’t make you minstrel automatically. Not at all. To assume such would be – you guessed it – racist because of origins of Hip Hop and Rap.

The problem lives in how he depicts himself and his lyrics. Drake was in Blackface for one picture and for artistic commentary about how you have to be stereotypical to be considered if you’re Black in acting (hence the Blackface). Pusha T turned the concept into a career and his reputation. Black-Face puts it best:

“Blackface is more than just burnt cork applied as makeup. It is a style of entertainment based on racist Black stereotypes that began in minstrel shows and continues today.”

This is why I said at the start “consider the source”. Blackface is a whole lot more than having distasteful grease paint on your face. It’s a concept and an entertainment style based on a prejudiced belief about a group of people. Drake is getting static for a picture. But the person saying it, not the same but basically espouses the same thing, just in a more, long form way.

This isn’t to say that Drake is a mindful, rhyming Malcolm X. That dude has miles to go to be even remotely declared as such. But the picture he took shouldn’t be that shocking to Pusha’s general audience – it is a snapshot of the kind of exact media they are used to consuming from Pusha, but the literal Blackface created a knee-jerk response in them. I guess it should have been a tad bit more subvert.

Here’s the thing about Black media, especially media that wades super deep in profiting and continually displaying Black stereotypes: I’m sure if someone brought this up to Pusha T, that he also engages in modern minstrel, he would say, “Hey, I’m just talking about my life. This is real life in the streets.” Because we all know that the hood is where literally everyone is destined to be a dealer, gang banger, thug, or some other type criminal that lives a bleak and gritty life as they harm and/or poison the very community they claim they “care” about.

Believe it or not, it’s not 100% Pusha T’s fault to as why he thinks this way (more like 73%). Black-Face expresses:

“The American minstrel show was effectively dead by WW1, yet some old-timers continued to peddle the same blackface stereotypes later in vaudeville, films and television. It’s one of the interesting twists of history that in the first half of the twentieth century, the main purveyors of the old-fashioned blackface minstrel tradition were Black performers, who’d began in show business wearing the blackface mask — either literally or figuratively — and were reluctant to give it up.

But they also had little choice in the roles they were offered. Until well into the 1950s, Black male actors were limited to stereotypical roles: Coons,… and Toms….Likewise, the only film roles for Black women were maids and mammys….”

It wasn’t because these performers internalized effectively that Black people were the identities they performed on stage, it was because they knew the crowd they were working with and to change and try to be dynamic may very well ice them out of jobs. All they had were the walking stereotype roles. It may not have been fun to do but it was better than doing nothing. Minstrelsy was dead but the racist ideas, audience, and desires that fueled them were definitely still around.

The problem with this is that it also inadvertently created a dunk chamber for future Black generations to come. Because this was the media they saw of themselves, it subconsciously steered them into thinking, “This is Blackness, this is a reflection of the Black identity”. Internalized racism is very much a thing. Think about how many things that are believed to be “Black”/”Not Black” are based in these media depictions. The idea that Black people don’t swim or surf is a good one.

This was depicted in media that Black people are water-adverse (because of our hair, we don’t know how to swim (pulls from the “stupid negro” trope), etc) However, the reality is that Black people were banned a lot from pools out of Jim Crow laws (ahhh, he shows up again). There were even instances of acid being poured on them for being in the pool. But it’s a lot neater to display in White media that Black people don’t swim or surf because they just don’t like water. Instead of “they don’t like water we constantly put acid in so they won’t swim.” The former sounds more “normal” to a White audience, the latter sounds like you’re trying to accuse them of racism, which would be dead accurate.

Kitten Break!

Applying this to Pusha T, he is a product of that dunk chamber. He raps about stereotypical subjects, doing stereotypical things, so on and so forth. Since the targeted listener of modern day hip hop is not Black people but White people, preferably suburbanites, Pusha has a ready audience. He’s not really deriving from what is expected of him, socially, so there’s money there. He can project an effective image of the “Other” in Arabian Nights fashion (To the White suburban listener, Pusha T depicts a tale of an oft-distant land of fast living, fast women and lawlessness with the right amount of griminess.) It honestly would not be a very hard argument at all to say he’s performing modern minstrelsy.

This is why I said earlier to “consider the source”. Yes, the visual display of Blackface is jarring. (I had to see a crap ton of it just to write this post) However, if only the visual display of Blackface is the problem but the performed depiction of it is fine then that’s a major problem in and of itself. It’s a knee-jerk response that thoroughly misses the point. Especially since the use of visual Blackface was an artistic expression of the severe limitations Black people have in entertainment. Blackface, whether presented or performed, is problematic no matter what. It shouldn’t take an application of black grease paint to be the dividing line because it’s far too past where that line should be if the media-displayed denigration of Black people is hurtful or a problem.

Black Identity and Paganism

It seems pan-Africanism is getting a revival of sorts in Western Black culture. Not a full revival but a sort of revival. There’s the natural hair movement, the extended (but sometimes very lop-sided) discussion of history and faiths that fall outside of Abrahamic beliefs and more media that reflects Blackness a bit more than usual (movies such as Black Panther (The superhero, not the political party) come to mind.) This is great for a host of reasons but also could potentially be another as identity movements such as these come and go in hills and valleys.

Pan-Africanism refers to all things Black: the history, the people, the culture. When done well, it’s very self-confidence boosting and creates solid ground to build a stable identity upon, inclusive of all Black people, not just a thin slice of an intersection (which is usually male, usually straight, usually cis, usually Western and usually 1D in ideas and beliefs). It decenters Whiteness, which is both inaccurately used and determined as the yardstick of “what is a human? What is human?” and allows people, Black people, to simply be themselves. When done poorly, it just subtly supports White supremacist thinking, theories and ideologies, creates discord and only benefits one thin slice of an intersection (which, again, is usually male, usually straight, usually cis, usually Western and usually 1D in ideas and beliefs). Then there’s the middle where things just swing between the two because Blackness is understood and expressed differently by different Black people and people, in general, are pretty complex. What bothers someone from Zimbabwe is probably not going to bother someone from America, which may or may not irk someone from Germany. All Black but all different for a myriad of reasons.

And with Paganism, this is no different. It’s been said many times already, Paganism – particularly Western Paganism – has a severe and vastly ignored issue (there’s lip service but still usually ignored at the end of the day) of painting itself as overly White. Paganism encompasses all indigenous faiths throughout the world but is usually streamlined to Euro-centric practices, with some token practices that get commonly Whitewashed, such as yoga, chakras, feng shui, Voodun and, as a whole, Buddhism.

Black people in the West seem to want to get more back in their cultures but it’s difficult because there are many more things in play besides just race alone. For one, there’s the different Black cultures. What someone from Nairobi feels is important to them is going to be different from someone from Atlanta because the differences of where they come from, which sometimes is commonly forgotten when Black people, particularly Westerners, want to have a cultural revival and reconnection but may still adopt Western imperialist attitudes about those who are not similar to them, even if they look like them. Rave about being from the “motherland” but shame those who are still there simply because of difference of opinion or complete misunderstanding. I saw this a lot from those who were happy to see Black Panther because of its Black representation (which did indeed pain Marvel at the start, which not just a Marvel problem but a Whiteness-in-comics general problem) but would still make light or underhanded jabs about the state of various African places. Or still referred to Africa as a country and not a continent. Or about the manner of traditional African dress and style referenced or featured in Black Panther.

With other ideas and practices, such as natural hair and the modernized concept of being “woke” (aware of institutional injustices that is primarily driven by White supremacist & imperialism-focused racism but strongly targets with a vein of anti-Blackness (but can also get kicked into selfish and blind overdrive that ignores intersectionalism when not balanced)), it helps Black folks relate to their histories and look more into whatever scraps of their family tree and past they may find but it still is difficult. From the Black cultural side, there’s a lot of misinformation because most Western books on Black culture and identity were generally written or gatekept by White editors and writers and explorers so what facts and info is more widely available is pretty much poisoned with “those subhuman savages with bones in their noses” beliefs from National Geographic to a good sum of academic books. That can further poison more minds and reinforce Western imperialist ideas (“Life sucks as an American but at least I don’t live in a mud hut”) as well as confuse in Black minds.

From the Pagan cultural side, it works pretty hard to keep Paganism, and all its diverse practices, very White. Either on purpose or through subconscious accident. Many Black folks just looking at the Pagan side of their pan-cultural history already have problems of encountering expressions of identity that should be for them being Whitewashed and torn apart. Or they run into the same gatekeeping of Whiteness that is already common just about everywhere else.  What is discovered is that modern Pagan practice tends to choke out diverse perspectives in favor of tokenized ones that preferably has price tags attached to them.

It’s nice that there’s a new wave of Black identity where now we’re more in control than prior but still there are walls present. If it isn’t self-perception of pan-African cultural identity, it’s outer forces that could reinforce negative self-perception of pan-African cultural identity.

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Before I start with this post, there’s gonna be a teeny-weeny change here! Black Witch will be using Venmo for instead of Ko-Fi, now. For a few weeks, I have began posts with “Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee” as a way for readers to donate via Ko-Fi but it’s getting switched to Venmo. This will be it’s own post but for now, let’s continue with below.

Alters
This is a trailer for a short film about having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Constant readers will know that I talk about DID pretty extensively, especially if there is any good media about it. While this is simply a trailer, the video looks great, just like the website.

Does not center Whiteness
Just about every storied retelling of DID I have come across has a White person at the center. Sybil: White. Split: White. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: White. United States of Tara: White. Even when I look at documentaries about DID, they feature White people, always. Besides K-Dramas Heal Me/Kill Me and Hyde Jekyll, Me, everything stays very blanche neige. Even only super recently did I find a Black youtuber who talked about having DID, axolotls-in-a-trenchcoat.

In Alters, the lead is not White, but Latina. The alters don’t appear White. This is really great because not every person with DID is a White person. For example: I’m not White and I have DID. Severe and extensive long-term childhood trauma happens to way more than just to White people. Way, way more.

Well Researched/Well Done
The trailer doesn’t appear that they will rely on DID tropes but be more honest in its retelling. Basically, the creators did their homework, it seems. Usually, stories about DID sound very absurd and always forget that every person with DID all started out the same: with extensive childhood trauma. It appears the lead will be moreso humanized than anything – a person with DID who is simply just trying to get through life just like everyone else.

The website even has a fact sheet about DID. Also the writer for the script has DID herself so it really showed for great accuracy from a primary person’s perspective.

Why this trailer appears promising
Reminds me of another, creatively accurate telling of DID, short film called “Inside”, which I have also featured here. DID is not a hard disorder to display if you have enough actors on one hand (and a smart researcher in the other). Those with DID constantly say that their alters (short for “alternate identities” – not to be confused with “alter ego”, which is generally used by entertainers, not those with DID) are like separate people, complete with their own ideas, looks, thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. While this short film plays on the mental asylum trope (dark and spooky), the depiction of what it is like to have DID is pretty dead-on.

I really look forward to seeing the full film, which also will be featured here.

Abdullah X
To say that this is a constantly changing world is putting it lightly. In America, there are constant mass shootings, a numbnut in the White House (that’s working on getting himself impeached because a) he’s a numbnut and b) don’t take help from Russia to become an American president, we’ve got a long history together and it isn’t a fun one, so much going on. And super hard to keep the faith. Or at least keep the faith from getting twisted. America has a very, very long history in both Christian extremism (Timothy McVeigh, Ku Klux Klan) and the more displayed in media, Islamic extremism (Daesh/ISIS).

Religion extremism happens from a bevy of reasons – xenophobia, nationalism – but it basically is a power grab thinly veiled as “God told me to do this”. In pretty much every case of religious extremism, it’s usually a group of guys – or one guy – who thinks God wants them to murder everyone but deep down, that’s more of a phony front than anything. The Klan believes the bible doesn’t want Black people to exist (really, they just want to murder Black folks wantonly because they’re incurable terrorists fueled by racism). Daesh/ISIS wants the West to back off and spread Islam everywhere (really, they just want to do a power grab in an unstable political environment because they’ve murdered other Muslims by the payload, too). Sticking with both Christianity and Islam, there is nothing in either of these religious texts that say “murder everyone who disagrees with you”. Tons of stuff about accepting others, especially those who help others like doctors and teachers, but nothing about mass murder being a great PR move.

Zeroing in on young Muslims trying to navigate the world around them, it can be very tough. Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist. You start to become paranoid that FBI will eventually wiretap or even swarm your mosque. All this negative exposure, it leaves open the chance to be radicalized because fear makes people act in very surprising ways. This is literally how street gangs work and recruit: join us and get protection from them – or, better yet, make them pay.

This is bad news bears for so many reasons but Abdullah X breaks down radicalization for young Muslims and even tries to prevent it.

The video is really well animated and greatly done. I like how he takes the subject, it is definitely directed for young Muslim viewers. He doesn’t make his points boring, he gets to the point and is engaging. The videos serve as very good counterweight against radicalization. There also is a comic that you can download in the Apple store.

A while ago, I tried a particular tea brand that was part of a Pagan subscription box I reviewed, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends. I remember saying the tea was pretty okay but the name – particular the “Hoodoo” part. To recap:

  • Amy Blackthorn, creator of Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, is not from the pan-African diaspora – meaning she’s not a Black person. At all.
  • Blackthorn does not practice Hoodoo, she is more Celtic/Druidry, if I’m not mistaken. Even if she did practice Hoodoo, it wouldn’t instantly fix anything.

Hoodoo, like Voodoo, is an African diaspora-based spirituality borne from coping with slavery and being forced to abandon their original faiths and identities by vindictive and malicious captors, the slave owners and slave traffickers. Also, like Voodoo, it gets a bad rap, usually borne from racism.

I brought this up to Blackthorn. My interaction with Blackthorn was been none too charming. When mentioning this up with her, she had a very sour, “mind your business and let me make my money” response, which I wrote about. It was titled: Blackthorn Teas: Whose Culture is it Anyways?

Turns out, it caught traction with an online magazine, Dear Darkling magazine. I got an email not too long ago from the editor-in-chief and this is what it said:

I’m the editor-in-chief of Dear Darkling magazine. We were recently contacted by Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, and asked whether we’d like to sample their tea for review purposes. Knowing only that this brand was popular among the pagan community, we agreed.
However, as our writer was doing research for the piece, she grew increasingly uncomfortable with their usage of the term “Hoodoo.” She reached out to me, and I did my own research, which was when I found your blog post about the company.
Dear Darkling does not support or condone any sort of bigoted or racist behavior, including cultural appropriation. The more we learned about Blackthorn, the more we knew we would not feature their brand in our magazine. Not now, not ever.
I just want to thank you for being public about your experience with Blackthorn. Beyond their clear appropriation, their behavior during your interaction was inexcusable. I’m so sorry you had that experience, but I’m glad you wrote your post about it. It proved to us that Blackthorn was not a company we wanted anything to do with.
Also, I want to thank you for the list of POC tea companies. We aim to support and amplify POC voices whenever possible, and with it being tea season, we’re happy to have some new companies to drool over.

Here are the Black-owned tea stores I referenced:
1. Wystone’s World Teas
2. SoRen Tea

I am very glad to see this kind of response. Blackthorn should be more mindful of her business actions, especially during times like these. If she named her teas pretty much anything, avoiding appropriation, all would be fine and good. No discovery of awful and racist attitude, no poison pen post, none of that. It was Blackthorn’s choice to use such an appropriating name, to react the way she did, everything. Hopefully, more will drop her brand in the future as well. She earned this by herself, no one else.

In other News! I will be teaching a Cartomancy workshop at the Dawtas of the Moon convention in Baltimore, MD on Oct 20. That’s tomorrow! Also, this is technically the first post for October (The Arts! and Ask Black Witch are for Sept). I’ve just been super busy with Dawtas and dentistry (getting extractions suck).

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All the questions for Ask Black Witch for September were all crappy so free space! And it’s a couple weeks late, boo. I will spend this time to talk about stuff I’ve been doing, up to Oct 1.

I was in a podcast recently, Feminist Killjoys, PhD. I talked about Paganism, mental health and more!

Update on my cat feeder project: Still working on the code so it won’t rapid-slap my cat and then go full on rebellion. The tech stuff is mainly done, I just have to code and then assemble the whole thing. The goal: Feed my cat a cup of food once a day…and my cat doesn’t destroy the machine. And the machine doesn’t rapid-slap me or my cat. This machine isn’t evil, just very rebellious. It wants to live with vigor. I need it to tone down the vigor.

For Oct 20-22, there will be the Dawtas of the Moon convention, in its second year. It’s hosted in Baltimore and I will be teaching a Cartomancy Workshop, teaching the ins and outs of cartomancy, playing card divination. Get your tickets!

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It’s that time of year again for the Black Witches convention, Dawtas of the Moon. It’s the second year for the convention, last year was pretty decent. So if you missed it, here is your second chance!

Let it be noted, this is an event for Women of Color (WoC) only. As best described on the event’s ticket site:

“This event is for WOMEN OF COLOR ONLY! If you are not a woman or a woman of color and you decide to purchase a ticket, understand that you will NOT GET A REFUND AND YOU WILL BE TURNED AWAY AT THE DOOR WITH A THANK YOU FOR THE DONATION.

If you’re not of this intersection, please be mindful. Last year was only WoC, no other.

There will be plenty of workshops available for participants, such as elemental magick, astrology, Voodun, and more! I will be teaching a workshop on the first day, October 20, on cartomancy called “Cartomancy, Playing Card Divination”. Last year, I did a workshop on how to research and being in metaphysics/witchcraft. This time, I will be teaching playing card divination, cartomancy.

On the ticket site, there is a rundown of events and times per session. My workshop time is 11:30 AM-12:30 PM and there are three workshops per session (to give con goers variety and choices).

The game plan is that I’ll work with a small group (I haven’t a clue what capacity will be so I’m expecting 15 people or so for my workshop) and showing how to do cartomancy and a super basic spread. Afterwards, I will be available to talk to and suches. I’ll most likely be floating around the venue, particularly around the food areas. I am not sure if I’ll be at the Black Witch Masquerade Ball, however, though.

Check out the tickets on the eventbrite, most ticket sales end on Oct 19.

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.

Menstruation and Misinformation

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I have noticed recently a wave of “guys telling women how to menstruate”. Basically, it’s a bunch of Hoteps (Black folks – usually guys – who are fake woke and real self-hateful) trying to tell Black women that, somehow, having a period is A) an eurocentric construct B) not natural and C) can be dispersed with removing “eurocentric” foods from diet. All three are incredibly wrong and actually quite harmful. That and I always wear this face when reading:

This is the closest capture to “accurate” I can provide

For example, one hotep vlogger named Yada pointed out how their daughter just got her first period and how it made him upset. Yes, periods are a bummer. They hurt, they make you sleepy, they make you irritable, nothing fun about it. But that’s part of having a uterus. However, they can be managed with Midol, Always pads, rest and access to competent women health laws.

Unfortunately, this is not how the Hotep responded to their daughter starting a period. He suggested cramps bark, which at first I balked but does relieve cramps. However, it is not declared safe for pregnant women to use. My rule of thumb about meds, especially natural meds: if it can not be used for pregnant women, it shouldn’t be used for children, which includes his daughter, who is around early middle school age. The reason why pregnant women shouldn’t use it: it could affect the child. Reason why breastfeeding women shouldn’t use it: it could affect the child. The dude was basically half right: yes, cramps bark can help alleviate cramps but for a young age, it could have adverse affects, especially if dosage is not monitored (and he’s probably not a whiz with that, given his lack o’ any medical knowledge). If anything, rose hip tea could be better. Not to mention, the initial reason why I thought cramp bark was inaccurate: black haw (Vibernum prunifolium) is also called “cramp bark”, but does not do the thing. This confusion could lead to complications. Rose hip tea is relatively safer, especially for young girls.

All in all, it would have been fine and dandy if the dude just looked up some teas and pads for his daughter to have but newp, he had to go waaaaaaaaay beyond that. And into the stream of thought that is pretty harmful to women. And, of course, it’s part of a pretty worldwide idea that treats periods like mysterious sicknesses…usually thought up by guys who seriously could use a briefing in basic anatomy and physiology that isn’t bathroom jokes or smut. The general, usually male-created, consensus about periods is that they’re unclean, unnatural and burdensome. I mean there’s the old internet joke of “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for 3 days and doesn’t die”. It derives from serious misunderstanding and actively pursued ignorance about a pretty normal function in women bodies. And I say “Actively pursued ignorance” because you can google “how do periods work” and the first thing that will pop up is this really thorough article from womenshealth.gov (still accurate despite having a moron in the White House). There’s even a menstrual cycle video on youtube from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom as the second link. The third comes from pad brand, Always, who answer 10 common period questions. (I greatly suggest their Infinity Overnights line, so nice). Usually I’m skeevy about companies giving out medical info – because it basically becomes “Have problem? Solution: Our product, no matter what” – but Always’ page is very informative and geared to young girls.

This is simply googling “How do periods work”, no medical jargon or academic phrasing. Any dude looking up period info would have stumbled upon these sites. This includes Hoteps, members of Congress and any dude with a Reddit account.

If case anyone is still trying to understand or, worse, consistently going “menstruation is a curse from the White man and these sites primarily cater to White people so, of course, it’s still doesn’t apply to Black women”, let me break it down for you further. Let’s use the point I originally pointed out above:

A) periods are an eurocentric construct (False)
Yada, who seems to be leading the pack on “things I don’t get about women bodies: Black culture edition”, talks about “european doctrine” which primarily affects White women. Now, before I continue, I would like to say that he is talking in a video. And in this video, he’s wearing what I believe is a Gucci signature belt, which is a European brand (and a pricey one at that, at least $300 for a belt). For someone who is very anti-Eurocentrism, it doesn’t bleed over into how he spends. He could have gone with a regular belt buckle but I guess he wanted to jazz it up with name brand, particularly Italian. The least the dude could have done was go with Oscar de la Renta, who is Dominican. The very least. At most, look up Black-made fashion apparel and buy stuff there.

Moving away from fashion and back to what he’s saying, Yada is a very apt name person because frankly, all he does is “yadda yadda yadda”. He talks a lot but doesn’t really say anything. He states that our ancestors were “not running around, bleeding all over the place”. He’s partially right: the first anything resembling menstrual care was in Africa by using cloth and fibers and used similar to a tampon, if my memory serves me right. So our ancestors weren’t running around, bleeding on everything. Even though, guys then also thought the menstruating was full of teh evilllllllz (a part of that is thanks to Western imperialism). Because guys are pretty willfully ignorant about women’s health. Same reason why in the US, people have to march and petition to have contraception covered by healthcare but viagra, which is a cosmetic drug (not meant to cure any actual, life threatening or altering ailment), is covered just fine.

Yada’s belief for why Black women ancestors did not bleed is because they “ate natural foods”. I really want to see the science on this. Yes, food and diet can alter your period. Certain foods, like tofu, can make it come sooner. Some can make it come later. Drinking lots of water can alleviate cramps. Drinking lots of soda can make them worse. A very poor and hyper restricted diet can make periods not come at all (because the body is having a hard time sustaining itself well). Ditto with intense athleticism, because the body is getting so lean – under 18% body fat – it can’t sustain a period. You can be the most Vegan vegan person to ever vegan and still have a period. Because it’s natural. It’s natural for the female body to get periods, regardless of race. Regardless, whether the uterus belongs to a Black woman, a Native woman or an Asian woman, it’s gonna work the same, more or less. Natural foods can’t rid of periods, at all. Having a period is not a result of “not clean eating” because periods are not dirty or a result of being a dirty, unkempt person. And trust, this Yada person is trying to make the connection “natural eating = clean eating”. It’s good to have a healthy diet, filled with lots of natural foods like fruits, nuts and vegetables but you’re going to have a period, no matter what.

Ok, this dingbat also brings up that he’s a vegetarian (not Vegan, still eats eggs and cheese, just not animals themselves). Good for him. I almost expected him to say “I’m a vegetarian and I don’t have periods!” Which would have been chuckle worthy…up to the point I would remind myself that there are other guys who are still this level of stupid, and several of them are elected to office. Then it’s frightening. Long story short, periods exist because of biology, not because White men want to oppress others. Menstruation is not a human-created construct, like race, money and gender. It’s a nature-created construct for procreation, meaning it’s going to exist, regardless what one believes, like sunshine, gravitational pull and electricity.

B) Periods are not natural (False)
They suck to have but periods are natural to have. They’re the basics of procreation, especially for mammals. Did you know that animals like elephant shrews and some bats menstruate the same way human women do? Other mammal species perform “covert menstruation”, meaning that menstruation is still occuring it but it’s not visible or as clear. The BBC has a long, science laden article about this. It’s a good read. However, the kit and kaboodle of the article is that menstruating is happening because pregnancy isn’t. If you’re pregnant, you’re not menstruating and vice versa.

C) periods can be dispersed with removing “eurocentric” foods from diet (false)
As mentioned prior, diet can effect periods but it’s healthy for the body to have a period, not the absence of one and there’s no baby nor birth control. You could have an all Zimbabwe diet, an all Korean diet, an all Australian diet, and you’re still gonna have a period. Because that’s how the female body works. A balanced diet would help regulate your flow and lessen cramps, which is always nice but still means you’re going to have a period.

This subject of how Hoteps are pretty much affecting people has been discussed on Oxygen and even BET. It’s really agitating because in these modern times where there is access to information and knowledge, still, it is being ignored. Men simply aren’t good at talking about women health for the simple fact that they tend to center themselves somehow and still manage to ignore the perspective of women. Women are already minimized so this is more of that. Of all the Hotep nonsense I have seen, I am harder pressed to find women who believe the same. Now, they do exist, but they definitely don’t exist in the numbers that these guys do. Most, if not all, of these guys can’t even name women’s genitalia properly. (Hint: not everything is ‘vagina’.)  If anything, these dudes probably would probably sound like the “journalist’s guide to guns” macro from years ago.

This, but with the word “vagina”

There’s enough hounding the literal lives and experiences of folks who get periods. It would be nice to hear less nonsense. Because none of this is necessary and all it does is breed more self-animosity and internalized misogyny that any young girl would have about their body.

Cherry Picked Politics

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Recently went to a Pagan space in Baltimore for solstice and they had a new sign on the door: “Leave your politics in the car”. Also known as “how you know you’re surrounded by White people”. This is mainly why I don’t really engage with the rituals there. I just chill inside with the air conditioner and work on Black Witch stuff and listen through the window. That and because they sometimes film their rituals and I’m not showing up so some moron can point to me on film and say “see, we’re diverse!” They’re not. Not interested in being the token, I just have one favorite person there and that’s pretty much why I show up. And free food. Basically, come for the favorite person, stay for the free food.

Choosing politics is moreso a sign of privilege than not. Usually it’s not really all politics, because then people would be stuck with talking strictly about the weather – wait, no, global warming is considered political as well. Ok, so basically nothing – Either way! There are some politics that are very, very okay, just not the ones that tend to make those with privilege emo.

The thing about saying “leave your politics at the door” is that this is pretty coded. Since it is at a Pagan spot and it is a extraordinarily White place, it’s pretty obvious which politics are gonna fly and which aren’t. And what started this “politics-free zone” thinking was because they made some major missteps with their last rituals in regards to race and general politics. Stuff like summoning Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman to share the same space with slaver Thomas Jefferson at recent rituals, among other things.

Usually in White Pagan circles, they kind of work almost in the same vein of White feminism: it’s a problem when it directly affects them, and when it doesn’t, it’s a “distraction” and an act of “being divisive”. Doesn’t help that most of mainstream White Paganism is pretty much ran by and loaded to the gills with White women so it’s no surprise that it would have the same gaze as White feminism. This creates cherry picking politics.

It’s “cherry picking” because, frankly, everything can be seen as political. A trans person trying to go to the bathroom is seen as political because transphobia and gender politics. A Black person wearing their hair in its natural state is seen as political because of anti-blackness and race politics. These are really simple acts, using the bathroom and picking a hair style. However, enough people get up in arms about it, it gets framed as “political” because all politics is, is debating human-involved issues. From whether we should chop down all the forests in the world to if it’s wrong to have a fur coat, these are issues that involve humans somehow and thus can fall under the banner of “politics”. Doesn’t make it a bad thing, just simply what it is.

This means that talking about merely being Pagan is also political because religious freedom – something that isn’t considered taboo in the Pagan group…because it’s a Pagan group. They’re also okay with basic feminism because this is a group ran by primarily women, which is also politics – gender politics. They also don’t try to separate the trans people from the rest of the group because according to their politics, that’s not cool. So, they don’t mind politics, as long as it blends with their politics. This is not an act of “leaving politics at the door”, it’s simply agreeing to abide by an already established set of politics, regardless how lopsided or prejudiced they are. This is cherry picking the politics. Some are okay (“support basic feminism, don’t be a jerk to trans people”), some are not (“don’t bring up racism in a way White folks feel bad and non-saviorist, don’t acknowledge that the “feminism” they subscribe to is blanche neige White feminism”). All of this is bullsh*t.

Usually I hear the, “I don’t like politics” chant mainly from White folks who simply don’t like the fact that their privilege may not be seen in a good light and for really strong, deeply historically grounded reasons. They don’t mind whinging about Trump (despite voting for him), fussing about how they can’t believe prejudice still exists (despite constantly enforcing it in both de jure and de facto ways), and how they love different cultures (as long as the people attached to them are preferably silent and invisible). However, start bringing up where their thinking is wayward and, all of a sudden, they have declared this area a “politics free zone”. Because your politics may not match up with theirs and that might cause thinking, which will induce bad feelz. Won’t someone plz think of the White feelz?!

Thing is, if someone is bringing up why what another person or group did is prejudiced out of it affecting them personally, it’s not “politics” to that someone. That’s their life. If a Black person is saying “Hey, these police murders aren’t cool. Summoning abolitionists and indigenous explorers with exploitative slave traders is also not cool,” that’s because race and historical identity is not an armchair topic for them. It’s not a fun topic to chat about with others until their coffee is done, it’s their life. It’s a cop out to respond with “Well, I think you’re getting political about this, I don’t wanna talk about it. [Despite the fact I knew that race was political and did it anyway]” And expecting that person to abide by those lopsided rules is also an act of prejudice in and of itself because the person with the privilege in the situation is trying to determine the rules of engagement to spare their feelings over another person’s experience.

If things only got “political” when the topic stopped being “oppressor/privilege friendly”, then what the person doesn’t want is for things to stop being “political” suddenly – they just want a free pass to be as much of an ignorant jerk as much they want and with no one to argue with them. Which isn’t how the real world works, not even in modern Paganism. By trying to subtly cherry pick what is ok and what is not, it just shows a cranberry bog of problems.

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