Category: Resources & Information


Editor’s Note: This was written before the Buffalo mass shooting, which was an anti-Black hate crime. Also, there is a guide from Berkley on how to self-remove bias & biased thinking.

Time for a comment post-mortem, because it needs one. This was posted under the previous posted, titled “Dump Paula Langley, UMBC – the Continuation of the Problems at UMBC Library”, written by a person named “Anon Witch”:

“If someone is being offensive, I’d like to know more of the details of the offensiveness. The dyslexic is just a rediculous example and part of cancel culture. I’m personally not offended when people have mindsets other than myself and I definitely don’t believe in cancel culture if someone doesnt share my beliefs, etc. I feel these days people are just offended by “everything”. I am a free speech advocate, however if someone is working for an establishment, they should also adhere to its rules. Being rude to customers is unacceptable.”

Before I get into why this is all sorts of derp, let me show my reply to this comment:

Read the articles linked, and you’ll see some of the worse stuff. You should have done that prior, free speech also includes reading, I would imagine.

Now, two things: 1) Cancel culture has been around for *centuries*, this is just the new name. Also, that’s covered under free speech. As a “free speech advocate”, that should dawn on you. When I worked in the Library of Congress, we would say “‘Freedom of Speech’ does not mean ‘Freedom from Consequences’.” I have noticed the part that people who are squeamish about “cancel culture” is exactly the “consequence” part. Yes, being judged by your behavior sucks but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

2) Just because something doesn’t personally hurt *your* feelings, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hurtful. Yes, it sucks to learn that the world does not personally revolve around you but it’s a fact. I’m not dyslexic either but that doesn’t change the fact that “be dyslexic” is still ableist, plain and simple.

In other words, it doesn’t matter what *you* personally feel. No one should be violating the rights of others or harassing them for simply existing. And the old world you’re thinking of isn’t much better – White people literally would freak out if a Black person used a “White Only” fountain and men freaked out when women said “we have rights, just like you”, and straight & cis people still get their panties in a bunch over the existence of queer and trans people. Now *that* was “easily offended”. Now people who historically had to put up with such behavior can instead make those folks face the actual consequence of their behaviors.

People are still free to do what they want, but there are consequences. Basic “cause meets effect”. Paula was free to use her speech, and now the people she affected, me included, are using our freedoms of speech to newspapers, the internet, UMBC HR and Civil Rights investigators. And, if Paula has the brains for it, she’s free to use her freedom of speech to get herself out of this mess.

The DoJ doesn’t visit because someone has hurt fee-fees, they’re visiting because Paula’s behaviors are Civil Rights violations. Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean Freedom of Hate Speech nor Freedom to Violate Other People’s 1st Amendment Rights.

Also, libraries don’t have “customers” they have “patrons”, libraries are free to the public.

Now, to get into the daft nonsense that was Anon Witch’s comment.

Since I’ve already covered a lot in my original comment, let’s start with this fun comic from xkcd:

Click through to see the comic on xkcd’s site

Remember everyone, “freedom of speech” is not “freedom of consequences”. If you put your foot in your mouth, people have the right to say you put your foot in your mouth. Even at the consequence of losing a job, social respect, etc. If you don’t want people to get on your case for the screwed up things you say, then put all the screwed up things you want to say in a physical diary, not on the internet. Orrrrr just take accountability for the things you say, good or bad. Can’t please everyone, fact of life.

Let’s crack out the bingo board! Because it’s been a while before we have seen a bingo board.

Here’s what this comment hit and why:

You’re overly sensitive – It’s basically the entire comment, from the first word to the last. They don’t even personally know the people involved in the case but wants to cape for the bad guy because “I don’t like Cancel Culture … and I’m somehow a free speech advocate at the same time”. Ok, so Anon Witch wants to back a person that literally badgered a transwoman to suicide, has an establish record of being ableist – to the point of firing people – and has never gone a single year at UMBC without a civil rights investigation, be it university, state or federal. That’s fine for them to say and do, just like it’s fine for me to point this nonsense out as clearly as possible. It doesn’t bother them, a random person on the internet that literally went anon, therefore the DoJ and everyone else should totally back off. The case only has one dead person involved, Anon Witch’s personal number of deaths or level of harassment hasn’t been hit whatsoever (which they failed to say what that level or number of deaths is). As for “they should adhere to the rules”, maybe Anon Witch should route themself to read up on civil rights, free speech and discrimination. You can’t harass people or discriminate people at work, especially based on any historical marginalization they have. Nice half-baked save with the “however[,] if someone is working for an establishment, they should also adhere to its rules” but too bad it’s super flimsy due to the “if”. Apply the “if” part, then it begs the question of “why say all the nonsense above the ‘if’ statement?” The establishment is a university and the rules are broken severely, the end.

Your experience is not representative of everyone – “I’d like to know more of the details of the offensiveness.” “I’m personally not offended when people have mindsets other than myself” Ok, so Anon Witch is a mega fan of mirrors, it appears. Again, while it does suck to know this, I’ll say it again: The world doesn’t revolve around Anon Witch. Or anyone, for that matter. Me included. Something can be a very prejudicial act, even if the affected group is not there. It’s not a case of “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Yes, if someone told me something anti-Semitic, and there were zero Jewish people around – it’s still anti-Semitic. Even though I’m Pagan, not Jewish. Even though speaker is not. Still prejudiced. Now, if the speaker is Jewish, there’s always a case of internalized anti-Semitism … meaning what they say can still be anti-Semitic. If it can harm the group as a whole, not simply an individual, then yep, it can still be considered prejudiced.

Oh, and maybe if Anon Witch read the actual articles, they would have more details. The reason I’m not doing my usual treasure trove level exposure is because all those files are before the Dept of Justice investigators and reporters, who are the people who need to see it most. Not a random self-absorbed person on the internet.

 Can you prove your experience is widespread – “If someone is being offensive, I’d like to know more of the details of the offensiveness. The dyslexic is just a [ridiculous] example and part of cancel culture.” Read above for details.

You’re just looking for something to be offended by – “I’m personally not offended when people have mindsets other than myself and I definitely don’t believe in cancel culture if someone [doesn’t] share my beliefs, etc. I feel these days people are just offended by “everything”. I am a free speech advocate…” Too bad harassing and discriminating people in the workplace is not only offensive but also super illegal (and rights violating: Human rights, Civil rights and Constitutional Rights).

You’re seeing problems where none exist – “I’m personally not offended when people have mindsets other than myself and I definitely don’t believe in cancel culture if someone [doesn’t] share my beliefs, etc. I feel these days people are just offended by “everything”. I am a free speech advocate…” Yep, that statement hit multiple bingo blocks

I don’t find this offensive – “I’d like to know more of the details of the offensiveness. The dyslexic is just a [ridiculous] example and part of cancel culture. I’m personally not offended when people have mindsets other than myself and I definitely don’t believe in cancel culture if someone [doesn’t] share my beliefs, etc. I feel these days people are just offended by “everything”. I am a free speech advocate…” Like I said, multiple blocks.

I already talked about this above but in case anyone needs a revisit: While “Cancel Culture” is not fun to be on the business end of, it is part of free speech. Not the erosion of it. You’re free to say what’s on your mind and others are free to react to it. That includes screen-capping it and slapping it everywhere that there will be eyes and ears. To say, “I should be allowed to be a jerk but you can’t punish me for it [you’re free to praise and agree with me, though]” is a violation of free speech because why should one side get to say whatever they want, regardless who it hurts, and no one else can react to it? Especially if that reaction is negative.

Personally, I’m not really into obsessing about “Cancel Culture”. It’s simply a thing that exists. If someone says or does something prejudiced and it’s out for the world to see, then whatever happens happens. I only have concern if there are ulterior motives (such as railing on a Muslim person saying something homophobic … but the crowd is awful silent when a Christian person also says something homophobic – that shows Islamophobia at play) or something was genuinely fabricated – as in the person never said or did the act at all, not “I said I didn’t like Black people but that was taken out of context!” (Still an anti-Black statement, that’s why.)

I certainly don’t get how non-famous people, like Anon Witch, can get so hepped up on what’s known as “cancel culture”. If you’re not on the cover of any major publications and you have less than 1500 followers collectively across your social media (definitely if you can’t hit above 1000 on any of your social media accounts), the less you have to worry about. The less known you are, the less concerned you should be about “getting canceled” for yourself and definitely for others.

I have ran Black Witch for almost 12 years now and I haven’t had to worry about this. Cancel Culture is an unnecessary thing to fret over to me. Then again, I actually do try to not say or do screwed up things that harms other historically marginalized people, right down to who I feature for The Arts! on this blog. The easiest way to stay out of hot water is to never put yourself in it. And if you screw up, own up, and accept what happens. Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean “people have to like or be quiet about what you say”. Learning takes time, as does unlearning, but you have to do the work. Good thing there are countless resources online that allows people to learn.

I’ve gotten hate websites shut down before, mind you. Hate speech is technically protected by the 1st amendment under “freedom of speech” (assuming it doesn’t turn into a hate crime (which includes hate speech, trolololo)) buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut! a lot of websites, if not nearly every website, has a Terms of Service (ToS) which says you’re not allowed to say discriminatory things nor provoke discriminatory things. That’s not the government shutting down the hate sites, it’s the website & online hosts (Twitch, Lycos, WordPress, Discord, GoDaddy, etc) because the people who created these sites are in no mood to being interviewed by the New York Times or answer questions from a congressional committee should a person go from just being all talk behind the keyboard to making those feelings very known in the physical world. (UPDATE: Twitch and Discord are now feeling this because of the Buffalo mass shooting, both are getting investigated and countless news articles bear their names. They’re not happy.)

Heck, I can personally choose what comments I allow on my blog. I don’t mind differing comments because I wouldn’t want to run a blog where it’s just a big echo chamber – but that doesn’t mean I have to let the folks run riot with their opinions, completely unopposed. I’m not always right, true facts, but neither are they. Plus, having an opinion, even an opposite opinion, doesn’t give anyone license to be a jerk or douche, either. I make it a point to respond to everyone the best I can – sometimes in a way they would wish I never saw what they wrote at all. Why? Because it’s my blog. Engaging with comments made on my blog is not the same as me trawling the internet to bother other people on their spaces.

As for the “people are too easily offended nowadays” – uhhhhhhhh, no. Historically marginalized people are tired of getting insulted/harassed/harmed (UPDATE: Or brutally murdered on livestream) for literally existing as the historically marginalized. Now, the tables can be turned on folks who act like trash. “Oh noes! People want their human rights respected! Life was so much better when we could just treat the historically marginalized horribly and they could hardly do anything about it! It sucks that I now can face real consequences for my behavior!” Life’s like that. Get over it.

It’s fine that Anon Witch can excuse ableism, and cape for a transphobic, prejudiced person. Anon Witch is all the way in California just typing away on their phone (I do ip location checks on comments like these since the Aussie Who Should’ve Kept Her Mouth Shut), so I guess they felt distant enough to pretend to be a “Free Speech Advocate” while musing that talking about someone’s bad behavior is, well, bad.

Maybe they should build a bridge and get over it. If someone doesn’t want to be in hot water, they should probably work to stay out of hot water. Land in it anyways? If you screw up, own up and then clean up. (UPDATE: And don’t murder people for simply existing.)

I’m back. For how long, I’ve no clue because I really have had my fingers in a lot of pies. Yes, I’m still doing my June 9th, 12th anniversary livestream on my FB fan page and perhaps on my Insta, 12 PM EST. Now, on to the life updates:

– We’re still in a pandemic and I’m still considered a front-line worker because woo, being a librarian for national health library (I’ve talked about this in posts pasts)

– My cat, Madison, passed after 19/20 years of being with me. She was a stray kitten picked up off the street and lived through four presidencies. She passed of old age. She passed in late March at home, I’m glad I was there and was able to provide end-of-life care but I’m still intensely saddened about the passing of my cat.

– One of the pies I have had my finger in is my creative writing. As MultiMind (I explain there why I have different monikers (Spoiler alert: it’s to keep things organized on the back end. There’s Black Witch, MultiMind and Everything Else (i.e. regular life)). I recently came out with a dark fantasy/horror novella called Dreamer.

– Have you read the article in UMBC’s newspaper, The Retriever, about the super transphobic, queerphobic, ableist, ageist UMBC Library Circulation Manager Paula Langley? I don’t know why I somehow keep getting super prejudiced people who work in libraries that I have to air the dirty laundry of (check the Wayback Machine, 2016 for the first go around) but welp – people should know better. It’s 2022, educate yourselves. I talked about her here as well. By the way, there will be a suicide mention in the article and my post. Langley did bully a trans-person, my former supervisor, to literal death, after all. And the university knew the entire time, from when Paula started her behavior, to the death itself. They just decided to cover it up. Oh, and I was banned from the UMBC campus a day after. The Retriever came out on the Apr 27 and I also talked to the Dept of Justice, who was doing an on campus visit largely because of Paula Langley, on that same day. It was a permaban but it’s now down to only the end of the year after I appealed it. Reason? I slid a copy of the Retriever under Paula’s office door. It’s about her, I figured she’d want to see it. This is what the paper looked like, by the way

Hey, reading is fundamental, after all.

Nice to know the university really prefers to stand by Paula, even to the point of a DoJ revisit. Oh, and for UMBC, in case I’m told to “make the post go away”, it’s the internet. This post & blog will be long archived before you know it. Should’ve handled the problem better.

– There’s also the pressure I have been starting to put on Temple University library (yep, another university. For institutions that pride themselves on smarts – they pump out & protect a lot of dumb people) because of their treatment of another friend of mine who also was a librarian, Latanya Jenkins. She was battling cancer and the university didn’t really care too much about that, especially her manager. Wherever Latanya went, university-wise, to get care and accommodations for her job as a Reference librarian for Temple University, they made sure she wouldn’t want to use it – basically forcing her to choose between her cancer treatment or her job. Her manager tried to make Latanya look inept because of the illness, among other prejudiced reasons. HR only intervened lackadaisically and mainly on the side of the manager. I even talked with a library higher up and they told me that there’s some inaccuracies in Latanya’s tale … that they somehow do not want to share or correct (which means, as far as I’m concerned, there aren’t any inaccuracies at all). I’m still pressing the best I can on them but so are other librarians and publications.

– Mr. Black Witch, CTL17, is out. I want to talk about that a bit because I’ve had relationships go south (almost everyone has a relationship that simply fails) but this really took the cake. From fatphobia to anti-Blackness (A. News Flash: do not be surprised if you date a Black person and you find out that … they’re a Black person. B. I am literally one of the worst person on this planet if you have hang-ups in that department and I do personally see to it that I stay that way). He thought I was “too attached to my culture”. Though he apologized, after I basically ripped on him for saying that but still, that should have never been said in the first place, he’s a grown adult with a functional brain. There’s other doozies also. Yes, pobody’s nerfect but then there’s saying trash like that. I know he’s got an odd phobia about “Cancel Culture” (I personally don’t care much about Cancel Culture) but he sure would say a lot that could easily get him caught up in that.

I should have kinda guessed something was off when he thought Asian Americans were doing amazing in 2020/2021 simply because “they’re not being treated as bad as how it was in the 1800s”. (By the way, everyone, #StopAsianHate kicked off in 2021 because of the ramping up of anti-Asian sentiment from 2019 to … now. No, it’s not like the 1800s but there are a lot of things that still need to be done.) When it came to cultural issues (that didn’t support Whiteness), it just seemed like he adopted the Whitest approach he could think of, and if that failed (which it did, a lot) there went the “oh, it’s Asian culture stuff” route, which I guess he thought he could throw on and off like a coat when really convenient. Though I do try to be well read, I know I’m not a scholar on the Asian diasporic consciousness … but I do know accountability-ducking bullsh*t when I hear it. Going “oh, I was basically raised White – wait, now I’m Asian – wait, now I’m ‘raised White’…” when you’re told about your problematic behavior is not a great idea. Borrowed White Fragility is a bad idea, to say the least. When you screw up, own up and then clean up. Plain and simple.

I found him a therapist (he refused to do even that much himself even though he noted that he could use one himself. I noticed he really didn’t like doing any leg work, kind of like an adult child, if not an over-grown teenager). He and I both agreed therapy was beneficial to him, and it really was for the relationship for a little while, but he basically sawed things off when he learned that he had to respect my cultural identity and that my cultural identity is part of me. That somewhat started a while back when he didn’t understand why a game he’s a fan of, Genshin Impact, was accused of colorism. There were several things Genshin was thundered against but the colorism claim was dead-on correct … but he said he preferred not to see “colored characters” (yep, he said “colored”, as if it were the 1950s) because he would feel “pent up and worried”. Apparently, he kind of liked living in a dreamland where he didn’t know that colorism was real and no one would ever point it out to him – and Whiteness is the focus, I suppose? I mean, he already thought Asian Americans being set on fire and mass murdered (two things that happened in 2020/2021) is eons better than facing the Chinese Exclusion Act so I really should not have been surprised that he was that much ejected from living in the real world. I don’t expect everyone to be a scholar in these topics because they can get dense … but he could make Nella Larsen’s Passing sound like The Autobiography of Malcom X.

But what put the nail in the coffin for him was that he got upset that I wanted him to refrain from speaking AAVE. My reasons were because a) he spoke it poorly, it was basically Imagined Black English b) he’s not Black, nor was raised around Black people. To be honest, I dislike non-Black anyone speaking AAVE, especially if they’re middle class on up (where AAVE is spoken way less due to racial/class intersection reasons) because it usually is Imagined Black English (IBE), not actual African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

For example, my spoken Chinese isn’t the greatest but I didn’t have a meltdown when he told me to not speak it because he thought I was making fun of the culture – I started to bone up on my Chinese pronunciation on my own time instead … because I never wanted to come off as “making fun of your identity”. So, if my speaking is that level bad (knowing 5+ languages isn’t easy, especially when not immersed in those languages – my reading is usually best, then listening, then speaking) but I acquiesced instead of double down on my wrongness, I thought he would do the same. He didn’t. He instead melted down in a form of Borrow White Fragility and wanted to be personally slow walked about why being disrespectful of the Black identity is bad. Readers of this blog know that I’m not the slow walking type when it comes to racial issues. I guess he was also upset that I wasn’t a self-hating oreo, I suppose, to match his internalized racism. He seemed a little too happy to crack “grape flavor” jokes – which I immediately would shut him down about, because it’s not funny, it’s harmful. He would apologize and not do it again … but he should have known by now how those jokes are harmful, especially with his degree & age. And remember, everyone, I showed him this blog before we were official – I do that with every guy. Some people should come with a warning label, this blog is probably a warning booklet. Complete with a search engine and categories listed.

It wasn’t that “he didn’t have the knowledgeable resources” – he has a Ph.D in Philosophy … he knows how to think and research, in other words. Plus, he had access to my site, which he could have literally looked at and read in earnest. I’m not bell hooks … but I’m still cited by academic texts on race, gender, and connected social issues. When he didn’t have his head up his derriere about things he should have known before dating me, he was nice. He did say he was raised sheltered when we first met, he just should have added “I really wanted to stay that way”.  He even wanted me to make him a playlist – with perimeters! (Ex: “Can’t be visual, I should be able to only listen to it as I game”) – instead of just, I don’t know … look it up himself. Heck, he could have started with an audiobook of The Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble and went from there. I named the playlist “Spoon-food Express“. He did listen to it, which is nice … and would have been better if he did the procuring himself.

If anyone is going “but it seems he learns after you point out these problems”, here’s the thing: He’s 30+ with a Ph.D. I don’t have a Ph.D in anything and I knew this stuff far better. And when I don’t know? I look it up myself. He’s old enough and educated enough to learn this by himself years ago. At least to know that saying “colored” is super outdated, among a bunch of other things.

If he was better about the cultural issues (bare minimum: not have a White-adjacent meltdown, take it upon himself to learn things as well as unlearn harmful ideas) and was more mature (at least learn how to do for himself, not have others do it as if still a kid), he would have been a brilliant bf because he had redeeming traits … but he decided that he didn’t want to do that. Yeah, there’s the therapy he’s doing, and the therapist has been very helpful, but, to be frank, I don’t date anyone to fix them. I try to fix the relationship, even if that includes getting the partner help, sure, but I dislike the whole “women are men’s emotional rehab” thinking that’s really common, which is why I found him a therapist. He had other issues that were outside these antics, which will not be talked about here because it’s 1000% not appropriate and those issues are not what has me burnt. For me, those issues were really manageable but the prejudice stuff is not. It would have been better if he found the therapist himself but nope, that’s not what happened. And he should have known how to better navigate social issues like this instead of falling back on his deeply rooted internalized racism. That’s something anyone and everyone (including PoC) can do without the help of a therapist. If someone is above the age of 5, they can learn how to unlearn this stuff. I mean, I had to learn what prejudice was when I was far younger and through experience, not soft-hearted explanation, so anyone of practically any age can learn how to not do it. Especially a 30+ adult with a Ph.D.

Like I said, I have had relationships fail – because every relationship fails until one doesn’t – but this was a doozy of an experience. Any Asian diaspora readers here, please come collect your kin. And Happy Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! Everyone, please go read the longstanding blog Angry Asian Man. I came across it in college, been reading it since.

That’s basically it in the world of Black Witch. I have gotten questions and such so there will be an Ask Black Witch: While I Was Gone edition. I also will have stuff for The Arts because I came across neat art and such while I was gone.

Reminder everyone! Black Witch livestream will be on Samhain/Halloween at 3 PM EST on the FB fan page, there may be another showing shortly after on Instagram (@thisblackwitch).

Blackhaven

Blackhaven is an indie game available for free on Steam about history and preservation and censorship. The story follows young museum intern Kendra Turner as she works at Blackhaven museum, a fictional colonial historical landmark in Virginia, to earn her archeology trip to Greece. What she learns is that the museum has been trying to hide the landmark’s plantation past – and silence anyone who was a descendant of those forced to work on the plantation. Especially when that descendant has a right to the estate’s money.

Here’s the trailer!

I really, really liked this game. I even nicknamed it Library Simulator because I literally work in this field. And live in Maryland (they mention several Maryland places and Virginia is not far). And am Black. And female. And – are they sure they didn’t watch me work at several museums and libraries? If Kendra Turner tested the water fountains for coolness I would have have demanded a line in the small credits. (Weird thing I do, I keep a mental “Best of Best” list of water fountains from libraries & museums I work at. Library of Congress currently tops the list but only for one (1) location, a staff only spot in the Adams building. Well, two (2) – any Blue Core water fountain in Jefferson on the bottom floors.) What also makes me really attach to the game is how accurate the micro-aggressions are, from the “I’m watching you” email to the annoying phone calls. I sincerely should just show a let’s play to everyone who ever asks me “why do you have several lawyers?” You would think people surrounded by information would be, y’know, smart but I have met many who are the living embodiment of “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

You, the player, discover how the museum is hiding the fact the fictional founding father, James Blackhaven, was actually a terrible slave owner (oh, wait, I said “slave owner” twice – they were all terrible). How he made his money wasn’t from being shrewd with his finances and forward thinking, it was by enslaving innocent people and putting them through tortuous, horrific conditions to turn a buck. And his wife was definitely an Angel in the House – but only to White people.  On top of that, the Blackhaven estate also hides and silences anyone who is a descendant of the Black people they enslaved, telling them “no one in Blackhaven history has ever engaged with slavery. You should check your facts, we won’t let you explore our private collections”. Double so if that descendant is also an heir to Blackhaven itself and thus, the Blackhaven money.

That was so on point I was flabbergasted. Remember, I’m in Maryland and I literally work in this field, it is bananas how much these institutions will fall over themselves to hide the extremely true and glaring facts of how they came to be. If you want a real kicker, you only have to wait around for maybe fifteen minutes before the same people who will say “We are Good White People – Get lost before we call the cops” will then slander China for “oh they have censorship like mad over there – hey, some Black person wants to interview us about the slaves the founder had. Tell them that never happened and threaten them with a lawsuit if they keep pressing. Lies, I tell you. They always like making things up, from ‘Karens’ to ‘police brutality’.” Hoo, the cognitive dissonance is neck-breaking.

I appreciate how accurate they made the documents (most likely pulled from real resources, most of it), the storytelling, the feel, everything. Even the rinky dinky scanning station, the sly enabling of problematic employees, the purposeful “It’s not because you’re Black, it’s because … uh … work” exclusion, and over surveillance.

The visuals are factually accurate but there’s nothing torture-porn gory. In other words, they don’t go super White-Dev-Explores-Painful-Black-History about it. I don’t even remember if I saw the n-word. They’re being that sensitive and accurate and I am 10000000000000000000% here for it. I should know about how accurate the texts are, I literally transcribe 17th-19th century documents for a living. Wow, I wish other devs could be the same.

Blackhaven is also a bit of a taster game for the next game from Historiated: Cassius. Which explores more of Blackhaven’s history, during the thriving hey day of Blackhaven manor. Cassius is available in 2022.

Check them out:
Historiated Games

Q Planet/ Queer Archive/ Rainbow Foundation

I always love keeping up on history, even when it is in the making. Q Planet is a Korean youtube channel about LGBTQIA history, culture and identity in South Korea. I learned about it from following Eun Ha-Sun, a queer feminist who originally was on the Korean talk show “Candid Men and Women” (hard to find and translated versions don’t exist as far as I know but here is the series – have on at least two adblockers. The site is in English, the show is not). She’s now on Q-Planet (큐플래닛) with livestreams and such. From Q-Planet, I learned about the Rainbow Foundation and Queer Archive. Both are Korean sites but they have English versions.

Queer Archive is a treasure trove of Korean queer history, focused on the nation of South Korea. From books to cartoons to historical documents.

Let me gush about the font package, Gilbeot, developed by the Rainbow Foundation. It is provided free for anyone to spread queer cheer in the Latin and Korean alphabet.

Behold!

Look at all the pretty colors! Throw in the ace colors and it would be golden

As explained on the website:

Hangul wears the colours of pride.
The first complete full-colour Hangul typefaces
representing the pride of sexual minorities.

The Gilbeot Typeface project was born out of the idea
of creating a Korean Hangul version of the Gilbert Typeface
which was created to honour the memory of Gilbert Baker (1951-2017),
a gay human rights activist and creator of the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag.

The typeface name “Gilbeot” is a play on words with the name Gilbert,
but also signifies the word “journey” or “path” (gil) towards a society
that respects diversity that is shared with a “friend” or “companion” (beot).

By the way, installing fonts are not hard, just unzip, look for the font settings on your computer and drop them in the drop box. These are so colorful and wonderful. It is part of a visual arts project to promote queer visibility. Rainbow Foundation talks about it at length in English but there is also a video. It is currently untranslated so no English subtitles, sorry!

If you feel like giving them your money (and are in Korea), they have cute stuff. If you feel like giving them your money (and are not in Korea), they have a donate page.

TransLives.Net

TransLives is currently undergoing censorship (gotta love global queerphobia) so it is not currently active. The site reads (in Chinese): “Due to the Ministry of Public Security’s notification that the website contains illegal and harmful information, it has been temporarily closed and ordered to be rectified.” (“因公安部通报,网站存在违法有害信息,暂已关闭责令整改.”) It is a load of bull, obviously. Especially for a nation with a long and expansive queer history – there’s the ever astounding Emperor Ai (one of my favorite people in history, next to Jing Ke, Ida B. Wells, King Sejong, Benjamin Banneker – it’s a sort of long list but he’s there). Then there’s the fact that bisexuality was the norm in China (mainly before the White people showed up. Yay imperialism and their nonsense offshoots of queerphobia, severe racism/colorism, etc etc.) for a very, very very long time. Was it always Pride in China? More like “no one cared until sniffy people got sniffy” … orrrr “We don’t care who you sleep with – as long as it isn’t with the Emperor. And you’re not amassing power from it.” Things like “Queer Pride” wasn’t really needed because it wasn’t considered any shade of abnormal. And there were bigger fishes to fry – like war, famine, and trying to run a really, really, really big country.

There’s a lot of interesting history getting the king sharpie pen treatment, in other words. Before I continue, let’s point this one thing out – this mention of China censoring queer people & queer existence should not be taken as “Woo, America is better”. America is about as trash as China is when it comes to queer people being treated with any decency, and the decency super plummets when the queer person isn’t White. Is the US government currently censoring queer websites? Not currently to the level of China but whoo, is there a very not-great history of what it is to be Queer in America. For one, there’s the Pulse mass shooting. For two, literally pay attention to any PoC trans person ever for the quickest view. (Or watch Pose, which is a brilliant show filled with wonders – and painful accuracy) Or visit Texas. Or San Francisco, just don’t let the rainbow sidewalks fool you. In short, both countries are very trash when it comes to queer people being treated decent in general. China is getting fussed upon because TransLives.Net is a site for Chinese citizens in China to express and examine themselves and their identities. There are still some spots online, mainly in English, discussing queer existence in China. As well as pointing out the really not-awesome behavior of what is happening, which is striking mainly queer people and feminists in China.

Before the Beijing Ban Hammer dropped, this is what the site looked like, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. (Click to see full pic):

In Chinese

In English

It was a super informative site that, just like Queer Archive, was filled with info (that is thankfully still there due to the wayback machine) for people who are questioning their gender identity in China. The links can still be clicked on and the site traversed (with some lengthy maneuvering with the wayback machine) but it is currently censored, which is not great. However, I still think such a site should be noted! Hopefully it will be back up or the servers moved somewhere out of reach of political chicanery.

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,
[redacted]

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!

Best,

[Redacted]

Sure, what are your questions?

– Black Witch

Hi!

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.

Best,

[Redacted]

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.

Questions:
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! 
Okay 
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.

We are in our tenth month here in the US of Covid 19 lockdown and it has officially been a whole single year that the Coronavirus has been on this planet.

Can’t say that I’m thrilled.

The US is the worst stricken nation on the planet for Covid-19. (China is also quite possibly nasty-struck based on their ratchet human-rights & human welfare track record buuuuuut they cook the books too much to make that solid determination. Bad enough one can’t even search about the coronavirus online without heavy censorship over there). America is doing poorly for the same reason China didn’t kick off to an amazing start: Terrible government leadership, misinformed populace, and more terrible government failures that were and are due to being image-conscious instead of pandemic-conscious. No one cares about your reputation if everyone is dead all around you, including you. That and both nations seriously should not kid themselves over image: Both America and modern China have a solid reputation of being awful, from rampant human rights violations (from police black sites in America to concentration/death (read: organ harvesting) camps in China of Falun Gong and Uyghur (Xinjiang) people) to invasive technology (Project Prism, Homeland Security & the NSA in the USA and literally the entire Chinese tech infrastructure). Maybe it would be better to worry about reality and not fantasy.

Off that little soap box, there is an old phrase: “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”. Meaning: it is better to do a little to prevent a problem than need to do a lot to fix it once it strikes. I always prefer preventative measures over reactive measures for any and everything, simply because it is usually easier to prevent problems than it is to fix them. In this situation, it is much, much easier to prevent getting the coronavirus than actually dealing with it. At least the prevention measures won’t kill you. Covid can. 

Here is an overview from Osmosis about the current treatments of Covid-19:

These treatments are also, by the way, very potentially costly. Plus, you sincerely have no idea if you are getting “bed rest” covid or “death bed” covid. That is one wheel of fortune you do not want to spin. 

Also, even though I am a Pagan/witch blog, I’m not going to recommend any herbs, oils or spells – because absolutely none are necessary. Anyone who says different is trying to make you spend money and there are definitely a lot of nefarious opportunists who only care about “collecting their coin” and taking advantage of a scary situation. Those folks deserve to catch the coronavirus, no one needs greedy people in a pandemic and it isn’t like they deserve the air they breathe. If you contract the Coronavirus, you need actual doctors, not snake oil charlatans out trying to make a buck. 

Oh, and full disclaimer: I work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the library. Woo, information.

 

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Wear a Mask
  • Keep Your Hands Clean
  • Social Distance (6ft/2m, no closer)
  • Stay at Home, when/if possible

 

It is remarkably stupid that the idea of mask wearing in the US is “political” but hey, Americans tend to be stupid, why battle that stereotype now?

Wear a Mask – a cloth mask, a disposable mask (put in a trash can, not on the ground). Anything made of cotton weave or better. The reason masks were touted as “not necessary by the general public” at the start was because not a whole lot was known about Covid-19 in the beginning and our data was coming from a national government that literally edits out whole history-changing massacres that happened on live television if it doesn’t make them happy – even to the point of banning the candle emoji when the anniversary rolls around. So, that means a good chunk of the data was quite a bit misleading. That and the US was (and still is) quite unprepared for the virus, as it pertains to masks and proper equipment for actual doctors and nurses so public health officials wanted to prevent a bank run on masks that would leave medical professionals super S.O.L. – now medical professionals are just plain really S.O.L., which is not much better. Wear a mask, plain and simple. It won’t kill you but the coronavirus certainly can. Also, handle your masks by the loops, not the front. The front has what is called a “viral load”, meaning if you were exposed to the virus, it is on the mask and not in you. That is also why it is important to wash your masks regularly, so you don’t risk transferring the virus to yourself while handling your mask. 

Keep Your Hands Clean – Wash your hands with soap and water. Soap pops the lipid (fatty) defense layer of the coronavirus, killing it on contact. Thoroughly wash your hands, front and back and frequently. If you are somewhere where you genuinely can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60% or above. I personally never go under 70-75%, frankly. But wash your hands, first and foremost.

Stay at Home – Some can’t do this because they work essential jobs such as in grocery stores (who should be receiving hazard pay) or are at risk of losing their homes because of terrible American social care infrastructure that shouldn’t exist but if you can stay home – stay home. It is insidiously moronic to tell one another “stay safe” but not “stay home”. If people aren’t being social butterflies, Covid-19 can’t take flight in the communities. Do not booze up and especially stay away from drugs – you don’t need anything marring your judgement and chemically suppressing your immune system. Putting yourself at better risk of catching the Coronavirus isn’t going to help your situation much. If you live with others, try to wear a mask around them. 

Social Distance – Keep 6ft away from each other. This is to prevent the spread of droplets that come from your nose and mouth, especially if you are not wearing a mask (you should) or if your mask is not as protective as you thought it was. The Coronavirus spreads through the air, mainly through the nose and mouth. Stay away from each other. If you can’t (you should), at minimum wear a mask. But seriously, stay away from each other. If you have to go somewhere, use this handy dandy site to figure out what your risk is, Safer Covid – My Risk. And make sure you fill it all the way out. It covers everything from pumping gas to going to events. There is even a “custom” section for places and events not covered. 

 

Always a convenient reminder

And let’s crack out the Social Distance Bingo Board!

 

What I have gotten on mine:

 

 

Woo, fun for everyone. 

Dealing with the Coronavirus is tough but mainly because not everyone is doing their part. If people simply wore masks more, cases would drop almost overnight instead of spike to the moon. These measures certainly are not a violation of any human rights, civil rights or constitutional rights. Being told to stay home and wear a mask is lightyears away from being at Masanjia, Auschwitz or Manzanar. It is a major concern, public health-wise, that as many people should participate as much as possible. It is going to be a remarkable long time before a safe vaccine comes out and there is enough public trust to use it. There is already concerns of a “Trust Gap” from Black Americans, Latin Americans and other groups of Americans that were inhumanely treated like guinea pigs for the past two to four centuries by the American medical system and still face prejudice in medical care to this very day. Huh, it’s almost like treating whole groups of people like Jigsaw from the Saw series for several generations has a weird knock-on effect during times where trust is most crucial. Odd. 

Wear a mask and don’t simply “stay safe”, practice social distancing and clean your hands.

I have some free space for Ask Black Witch, I’ve gotten nothing but dumb questions recently. But as for current protests against the usual plague, anti-Blackness, some free tips:
No matter what, wear a mask.

A) Black Blocs are useful because the usual historical reasons

B ) There is still a viral plague outside, you don’t need the coronavirus on top of the usual plague. Not all racists wear badges, some wear scrubs and white coats.

C) Masks can be modified or specialized against tear gas, the internet is packed with tons of resources, as well as historical information

D) Don’t wear glaringly unique masks if possible. You’ll get targeted first.

Social distancing is still important

A) Again, you don’t want to catch a viral plague on top of dealing with the usual plague. Again, not all racists wear badges, some wear scrubs and white coats

B ) Bigger looking crowd, less dashing into each other when riot cops dart into the crowd, and harder to corral – you definitely want to stay out of holding cells and jails, especially during a viral plague

C) Easier to stay relatively safe when you have at minimum a 6 ft bubble to make quick decisions in, and see around you

Gloves are nice

A) You will be touching countless surfaces, not just your sign. Riot shields are probably not sanitized so in efforts of not getting binked by one, gloves are useful in case you have to grab or stop one

B) Better grip is always great

C) Easier to clean up and take off when need be. You can’t take off your skin but you can take off gloves

Alcohol in a med kit

I’m never going to suggest drinking – drinking is bad for you, especially in a plague (that one-two punch of suppressing your immune system and your sense of judgement is not a good idea). But it is useful for wounds and quick sanitation, among other historical protest uses.

For fellow Black folks, my core readership:

For everybody else:

Because you guys forget the most

If you are in the US, stay home.

I had a different post but it is indeed a pressing matter to discuss the fact the US is slowly opening up in the middle of a rampant plague.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle – actually, let’s start from the basics:

Right now, on American news, there are constant reports of “we will never get transmissions to zero, might as well try the best we can with what we got”. Basically, when it comes to “flattening the curve”, the word around is that it will never be an actual curve but a floating line with a hopeful bump in the middle.

Meanwhile, in S. Korea:

This was reported May 6, 2020. They have had several days of zero new cases by now, as of date of this post.

This is what their graph looks like, obtained by Google by simply searching “Coronavirus in S. Korea” (you can also do the same for every country and state).

Graph goes up to May 14, South Korea has had 17 new cases on May 17, yesterday. Please note that the number is spiraling back downward.

You can see S. Korea is over their curve and pretty speedily, too. They never had a lockdown and they were informed/got the virus on the exact same day as the US. They were aggressive about testing, contact tracing and social distancing. Still are, too. They only got a recent bump (which the US would have ignored completely if it were here) where it went from 2 cases to 12 overnight because a bunch of clubbing in Seoul district, Itaewon. That small spike caused all the local Korean governments to shut down their clubs in totality, because no one wanted to be the new hot spot after Daegu, the initial hot zone for Korea. The height of the bump was 39 cases in one day and it hasn’t reached that number since. Yesterday, May 17th, S. Korea has had 17 cases. Basically, Korea is currently experiencing their second bump and what a pebble of a bump it is! All because of doing all the right things: aggressive testing, contract tracing, effective social distancing, better healthcare system.

Inb4 “South Korea has less people than the USA!”

Insert China, who has 1.4 Billion people. The most populous country in the world, literally holds 1/5th of the world population. And ground zero for the virus, they have been battling the virus since November, where they started out by making every bad choice you could think of (not listen to the scientists, ignore facts, stoke fear/place blame on outside sources instead of focus on problem). Now, since partly removing head out of derriere, China has been experiencing low numbers, like Korea.

Added scribble to illustrate curve, graph goes up to May 14. China has had 7 new cases on May 17, yesterday. Please note the near flat line.

Inb4 “These are Asian countries. No one from the West.”

Firstly, because the West is filled with pretty disgusting people (man, do we like that word to describe other people and places, might as well apply it here), there is a reason the Black Plague shredded Europe despite starting in Mongolia. Ditto with the Spanish flu (fun fact, despite being called the “Spanish Flu” because it was believed to be from Spain in 1918 – the first known case was on a military base in Kansas, in the United States of America. Does the nation ring a bell?) But because I like stats, let’s continue with Germany, a Western nation.

 

Graph up to May 17

Germany is driving the struggle bus just a little bit but hey, that’s a curve. They got the virus a little later than other nations and still handling it well. Not as well as Korea but well.

And here comes the United States:

Graph goes up to May 14. USA had 19,731 cases on May 17th, yesterday. This is not improvement.

There is no curve. At all. We are not at the end of anything. Above are three different nations who have had the same virus and radically different graphs from the US but similar to each other: they all have visible curves. They also have better healthcare systems.

The US has been severely lagging behind testing because we A) don’t have enough and B ) think tacking a staggering medical bill to one is a great idea. This means that there are way more people with the virus than this graph shows – and that is very alarming.

Also note that we have a towering number of deaths. More than any nation. The number of dead people we have aligns with the number of Covid-infected people in all of China. A bigger nation than us in a variety of ways, especially in population numbers.

And that’s not even acknowledging the fact all the other nations have a pretty close gap between “Confirmed” and “Recovered”. Then there is the US, which has a gigantic gulf of space between “Confirmed” and “Recovered” This means people are not bouncing back from the virus. Especially not at a satisfactory rate.

 

The numbers don’t lie, news and politicians do. Here’s the thing: Summer is pretty much cancelled, no one should be going out and socializing or anything. We, the US, do not have the tests, the health infrastructure, the leadership, nothing. It’s not impossible to beat the virus, several nations are in the process of doing that. This is just garden variety American stupidity driving the wheel. Just stay home if you can, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and know that we are still in the middle of a plague.

Since I only just came back, I received no questions. Not even stupid ones, which is nice. Instead, I’m going to post a vid from Osmosis that talks about Coronavirus (covid-19) from a science-y, animated perspective. Basically, how it started (with bats, just like SARS – because it is related to SARS), how it spreads (droplets from the mouth), why we have the social distancing we do (droplets can go 3-6 feet, so everyone should stand 6 ft apart), and other really useful detail in easy-to-understand language.

 

And inb4 “A witch is talking about modern medicine? Lol”: Modern medicine started in potions and herbal work. And a virus is not a metaphysical entity, it is a physical entity. Also, just because I said medicine started in herbal work, please do not assume that the random internet herbalist who stock pile sage like mad but still have lay-man’s knowledge of general health (a dedicated and decent herbalist should have a background in: botany, biology, chemistry, bio-chemistry – and that’s the short list) is just as good as going to an actual doctor.

Yes, modern medicine has a horrific track record when it comes to race and medicine that more than effectively persuades people, especially in the Black community, to not want to come near a doctor or a hospital because you’re not sure if you’re getting someone with functioning capacity of empathy for random humans, even ones that do not come in shades of White, or a person who seems related to Jigsaw from the Saw movies, ethics-wise. And, chances are, you’re more likely to get Saw than kind-person. This alone can keep people out of the hands of doctors, but still, it is better at least try to find a facility – not necessarily a hospital, but even a drive-thru testing place (if one is available, the US is not Korea, after all) – than to put your health in the hands of someone who possibly doesn’t even know how viruses exist.

So stay home, try to get tested and wash your hands.

(I always think of “My Sharona” when I hear about the coronavirus)

So, you’re probably home right now, going stir crazy or catching up on your video games/movies/books/etc. I’m stuck home as well.

Yaaaaaay, three months into the new decade and we already have a literal plague. At the start of the last decade, it was a major terrorist attack (in the US). It seems the current millennium is very bad at starting decades on a good foot.

Since you most likely have nothing better to do, let’s talk about the coronavirus. Because, fun fact: I work at NIH, which stands for the National Institutes of Health. I’m not a doctor or health professional, just a preservationist technician that likes to skulk about them for their candy. (I did the same when I worked at the Library of Congress and NIST, smarties tend to have bountiful snacks). If you think you’re getting bombarded with coronavirus (also called COVID-19) updates, imagine what my NIH inbox looks like since they are one of the many health institutions at the epicenter of all this. I mainly trust what I see from NIH over the news because, well, NIH is supposed to be one of the sources the news are supposed to be getting their info from.

Let’s get started with a funny video by Wavetro that is the basic run-down of what you should and shouldn’t do. Caution, there is swearing.

 

Okies! The basic gist:

  • Please wash your hands – hand sanitizer is not as effective as you think against viruses (they are generally pitched as anti-bacterial, not anti-viral, yes, there is a difference) – and wash them thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your face the best you can, germs can easily be transmitted through the mouth, nose and eyes. The average adult touches their face 30 times in an hour
  • STOP HOARDING TOILET PAPER AND MASKS – it’s not dysentery and the masks keeps germs in not out. Wear them if you are sick, not as a replacement for washing your hands. Plus, if you are not used to wearing a mask, it will make you touch your face more. Health professionals and patients need them most!
  • Social distancing is to avoid transmission spikes, the less people spend time with each other, the better it is. 6 feet or more is optimal. Staying home is even better, especially since asymptomatic people seem to be spreading it more because they have zero idea they have it.
  • Do not panic-purchase and if you are a seller, do not price gouge (seriously! That’s super unethical and very against the law)
  • Wash your freaking hands
  • Sneeze/cough into your sleeve, not your hands

I always think of the scene from The Bernie Mac Show when it comes to germs transmission. It’s from the episode titled “Now you got it”, starts at 3:26:

 

 

It’s a great episode, I recommend watching it. Also, this is why everyone at NIH, the CDC and everywhere else sounds like this:

Complete with the shrill voice

 

So please, stay yourself in the house. Let’s stifle the spread of the virus and it’s not hordes of toilet paper you need, just wash your hands and sneeze or cough into your sleeve. Here is an actual poster I took a picture of at NIH:

I had gone to Dawtas of the Moon last month, it was a good experience. These are the vendors I saw. They are all Black Women-owned brands.

Kaleidadope

Created for Black diviners, these are tarot decks that have a very new and fresh feel for them. I have written in the long past that there are little to no decks made for Black practitioners and the one that stands out to me is Lo Scarabeo’s African-American Tarot deck, which sucks beyond comprehension. It’s full name should be “African American Tarot … as envisioned through the White gaze”. What garbage. It’s nice that now, there are decks for Black diviners made by Black diviners. This means decks that are culturally comprehensive and lovely to look at.

Their site shows all their wares, I really like the cd deck the most, it is extremely imaginative. They also sell candles and oils

 

PeaceCrownD

PeaceCrownD sells satin caps designed for big, natural hair and pretty pillows. Check out this Africa-shaped one!

The caps are designed with banded, rugged elastic not to slip off during sleep. The creator also does customs for those with bigger/longer hair, like dreads. They also do custom pillows!

 

 

Elementals/ Oceans and Rivers

Elementals are flower essence infusions meant for personal practice. It is similar to oil practice but also, some can be taken internally so read carefully and check with professionals on what you can and can’t do if you go the internal route.

There is more on the Oceans and Rivers site than there was at Dawtas, including programs to promote proper emotional and mental wellness in Black girls and women.

 

BrujaTarot

BrujaTarot is a diviner that does paid divination (before you go, read the ethics page: it is very fair and justified) and sells bath pours. They come in the variety of Cleansing, Prosperity, Protection and “Road Opener”. Check them out!

Also, her kitty graces the bottle.

I am a sucker for cats, what can I say?

 

Simplymade x Sope

SimplymadexSope sells infused waters for practice, such as rose water, Florida water, lavender water, etc. I really like her Florida water, it is wonderful and smells magnificent! They also carry oil blends, Simply Loved Oil and Simply Happy Oil.

Check out their line, I really recommend it.

 

9Energy Power

I got the resin I talked about in my previous post from her. She carries quite the selection in her store.

Not only but she also sells wooden wall art, which I find very awe-striking and ornate. I like the Oshun one most, the honeycomb effect is stunning.

In addition to resins and wall art, she sells bath pours and specialty candles that function well for spellwork.

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