Tag Archive: race and racism


Is That So?

Y’know, I was going to write about Black representation in media regarding supernatural theme shows, then I thought, “Nahhhhhhh, I’ll write about Black culture and its relationship (or lack thereof) with mental illness.” Newp. Instead, I’m going to write about erasure of identity, thanks to a conversation I had online.

One of the worst things you can say to anyone who lacks privilege is “we’re all human”. Okay, not worst but it practically heads the top ten list of most annoying. Its sibling saying is, “yeah but that was in the past, it’s different now.”

No. No it isn’t.

While it is true that we all bleed red, some of us have bled far more than others. And not only have we bled, we’re told to just up and get over it, it’s only a flesh wound. It is very important to not neglect the fact that injustices happened to historically marginalized groups, ever, because it is disrespectful to our history. And when the privileged suffer some sort of injustice, regardless however small in comparison to the bigger picture, they want parades, holidays and commemorative plaques to bear the incident in memory. (See: Occupy Wall St., discussions of 9/11)

What started all this was a friend of mine (and reader of this blog) was told by an elderly White woman that she, a Black girl, would have loved living in the ‘50s. Friend said it was awkward because, well, the ‘50s may have been cute and dandy for Whites, it sure wasn’t for everyone else. Of course, pretty much everyone agreed until a random White girl appeared and tried to say that why were we giving the ‘50s a bad rap? The elderly lady was talking about fashion and such, why bring up the start-up of what we know now as the Civil Rights Movement? People tried explaining to her that the ‘50s was a much different time for Blacks than it was for Whites. It was a much less happier time that also had sharp fashion but also lynchings, bombings and other things that I and any other sensible Negro kinda personally wouldn’t want to experience just for some poodle skirts and victory rolls. She, of course, didn’t get it because she continued with saying we’re being oppressive towards an old White lady because we thought she should have said either nothing at all or a basic “you look nice”.

Oppressive.

She legit used the word “oppressive”.

Us saying (after the fact) that the lady made a White privilege-induced brain fart is on key with bombing a church, using intimidation tactics to prevent people from exercising their right to vote (or live for that matter. Y’know “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and all that jazz), stringing people from trees and using police force as well as psych campaigns when those dang colored folk started demanding rights. Y’know, like they actually were the primary reason the country they reside in is a super power nation.*

Oh really now?

Ok, I have mostly a Black Pagan readership (which I’m proud of because it means I’m attracting the right people, the target audience) but for the random White reader (which makes me wonder: why are you here? Unless one you happen to be Jane Elliot. You rawk. \m/,), lemme give you a lil’ briefer on history, minorities and crimes against humanity:

Don’t ever say we should forget or call us angry or upset as if it’s irrational. If the subject matter makes you feel bad, that’s good, it should make you feel bad because it was absolutely atrocious. Very bad. Absolutely horrible. It just means your humanity is kicking in and your natural sense of right and wrong is calibrated correctly. You have got to remember that it wasn’t all hopscotch and happy days for everyone back in the past. Don’t ignore other perspectives because they make you feel weird when brought to light. You don’t have the right to make that call. You’ve barely the right to get moody about it, let alone try to tell people that it was the past and how we’re past that now. No. No we’re not. A teen was shot in Florida because he wore something that made a random, emotionally unstable bigot go into first-person shooter mode. That was 2012. It’s 2013. And that’s just one case, there are many, many cases and incidents that don’t get the same coverage. Racism is alive and well. People still lob slurs at minorities, check out a Youtube comment section if you don’t believe me. Check out Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance (which was mere months ago) if you don’t believe me. Stop deluding yourself because you’re not directly impacted by the problem but benefit from it, no need to get upset when folks point that out.

Think of racism as the bedbug of society. You wouldn’t tell a friend who’s got bedbugs to ignore it and maybe the little critters will move on to another house. Instead you’d most likely help them figure out how to eradicate the problem. Ignoring the fact racism exists doesn’t help anyone except those who benefit from Whiteness and this is running on the assumption that ignoring is possible because it’s pretty hard to ignore when laws are passed in the name of bigotry, when you’re not picked for jobs because they’d prefer a White person instead, when people treat you differently (read: worse) because of your skin. And don’t bother trying to tell me or any minority what your perfect world is if our identities have to be erased in favor for the idea of Whiteness in that world. If that’s the case, it’s not perfect, it’s a hellhole. White-centered utopic thinking is a terrible idea. Occupy Wall St. were really big offenders of this thinking and they wondered aloud why minorities weren’t rushing to their sides, all the while pushing ideas that mainly were built on the spectrum of Whiteness, regardless of intersection.

Getting back to center, this girl wasn’t Pagan as far as I know but this isn’t a very far jump from how mainstream Paganism thinks, especially since the face and culture of modern Paganism is fairly White. I’ve heard the same in Pagan circles: “just forget about it”, “racism is dead”, “I was/am oppressed too because I’m [Irish/Woman/Pagan/Gay]”, the gambit. Firstly, because we gotta get this out of the way: ignoring intersections doesn’t help you out. You may be gay but you’re still White and gay. The intersection of Black and gay is still more tumultuous because of the twofold combination of racism and homophobia. The intersection between Black and Pagan and female is also just as tumultuous because of the threefold combination of racism, sexism and religious bigotry. As said prior, if minorities bringing up racism makes you feel bad, the fault doesn’t lie with the minority for being really honest with how their life is, the fault is with the society thinking that the minority is a liar and thus continue performing acts of racism, be it subtle or overt.

Despite the progressive looking lip service, mainstream Paganism tends to fight against acknowledgements of racism in the community and like to sweep non-beneficial parts of history under the rug. Try to hijack Voudon for all its rootwork? Oh sure. Thieve from Native American culture for cleansing techniques? Go right ahead. Ransack Eastern beliefs for meditation methods and ways of thinking? O hai, y not? Bring up slavery and colonialism? Dude! Why so harsh? It’s really problematic because it’s erasure, which is part of Whitewashing. The original culture does not benefit from the promotion of these now horribly-divorced parts of their culture. If anything, they’re continually degraded and treated like they’ve never created a thing or that thing wasn’t worth anything until White culture got ahold of it.

All in all, it’s important that history is not revamped to be more White-centric, and thus erasing the experience of everyone else. It helps no one when my culture’s history is ignored because it jars White culture’s depiction of it. It’s more important to see the whole picture instead of the more privilege-friendly snapshots. Erasing identities doesn’t solve racism. Ignoring past and current crimes against humanity doesn’t solve racism. Performing micro-aggressions and micro-invalidations doesn’t solve racism. Opting for a more White-centric perspective definitely doesn’t solve racism (if anything, it continues it). Don’t like the fact that people constantly bring up marginalization when the past is brought up? Deal with it because it happens and the effects are still strongly felt today.

And that’s the first column for today. Coming up in the next few hours: The Arts!: Samhain Edition

Remember, I’m still accepting entries for Samhain Pickers Giveaway. The prize is a divination reading from me and only three winners are chosen at total random.

Here’s how you submit an entry:

Send in an email to thisblackwitch[at]Hotmail.com with “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line. In the message of the email, please write:

– Name

– Email

– Type of Divination (Cartomancy, Tarot, Natal Chart, Dream Interpretation)

Also, next week is Ask Black Witch so if you have any questions, send them in! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

* We are. Crack open a history book if you don’t believe me.

Getting Under My Skin

Now, I always like reading and responding to readers. Makes me feel like there is dialogue and that I’m accessible. However, do not come here like this:

Dislike

Wanna get me viper fast? Come in here promoting something so offensive to my race and skin color. I don’t stand for racism so I definitely don’t care for its little brat sibling, colorism/shadism, and can’t stand those who promote it. I don’t care if this is spam or not, I don’t like it.

I’m Black, been Black, gonna be Black and forever gonna stay Black. I’m not gonna act like my skin tone and my racial make-up is the worst part of me because it is not. But my reciprocal vindictiveness is and this stuff definitely brings those traits out in full effect. Don’t like it? Drink skin lightener.

Skin lightener is disgusting and the mindset that greenlights it is highly disturbed. It’s internalized racism because you are actively believing the bullsh*t our Eurocentric culture pushes to the point you’re willing to put caustic chemicals on your skin to achieve it as if it’s gonna buy you a ticket out of the woes of the Negro. It won’t and never will.

Lemm’ tell you a story ’bout a Black girl I met who was ashamed to be Black. She wasn’t light enough to pass but definitely enough to get confused for another ethnicity like Greek by folks who are too dumb to tell the difference. She just didn’t like who she was because she didn’t see positive Black representations and already felt to be a fish out of water because she didn’t like activities and behaviors that are constantly aligned with “Blackness”. If anything, she liked Eastern alternative culture and was a J-Fashion enthusiast. She just wanted to be someone else and preferably not Black because she felt her Blackness, from her features to what she saw in her community, was holding her back. If anything, she wanted to be White because she believed the ads on tv, in the magazines, in the movies, on the internet, that if she was White, she would be easier loved, easier desired, clothes would fit her better, her whole life would be better. She internalized the subtle “White is Right” thinking that so pervades our culture from literature to moving media to the digital world.

I never was angry at her for thinking the way she did, she was a nice person. She wouldn’t hate on others for being Black or being darker, she just wanted to be White because she felt she couldn’t be pretty otherwise. If anything, I tried to help her figure out that being Black doesn’t mean you are ugly or stupid or have to like crappy hip hop (or hip hop at all, for that matter). She told me about how people in alternative fashions would pass over her because of her skin, she wouldn’t be respected as much as her White counterparts and that she would be so much better off if she was lighter, not Black, skinner, all these things that she just internalized. She told me a White lolita had thrown coffee on her dress because of her weight and race. She told me about how she just wanted life to be easier because being Black was weighing heavy on her self-esteem.

See, even though the girl didn’t irritate me, the thinking sure did because it is really common for Black kids in alternative culture. I never felt like being White was going to make my life better (Glad too, I like the fact I don’t peel like an onion when exposed to sunlight for longer than an hour), but I do understand the aching feeling of displacement from Black culture and the idea of Blackness. Commonly, Black kids who break the mold start to feel like they’re the broken rejects of their culture because they didn’t follow along the usual narrative somehow. They don’t fit in with the alternative kids always because they’re Black and they don’t fit in with the other Black kids because they’re alternative. This is how the girl I knew felt, but with the added idea that if she were White, people would like her more and respect her more. That’s not good. At all.

That’s why I don’t like people like the commenter up there because they capitalize on such a painful and unhealthy thinking. And then on top of that, they come to a site that is painfully pro-Blackness trying to peddle that crap. What? Did they expect I would just think, “Eh, that’s just who they are. They simply asked a harmless name even though their website is problematic”? Yah, no. That earns nothing but disrespect from me and rightfully so. If their site was about the physical and psychological dangers of skin lightening, I’d be fine because we could definitely use sites like that around. It’s absolutely disrespectful to me that someone would think I would be okay with it. I’m not going to see it as someone’s different life choice. I’m not going to respect it as a “different folks, different strokes” kind of thing. It is just trying to aspire to Whiteness, regardless of whether that is done for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons.

It took me a long time, as well as with the help of other Black lolitas, for this girl to actually be okay with being Black and learn that there’s nothing wrong with being Black and different from the crowd, it doesn’t affect your Blackness. She’s actually starting to like herself. She not walking about letting out her inner Janelle Monae but she’s getting there. Getting a little more confident everyday. Feeling more comfortable with who she is everyday. She is getting better and her life seems to be positively improving slowly but surely. That’s what being comfortable with who you are gets. She wasn’t going to find that kind of happiness nor get better at taking care of herself by trying to be something that she’ll never be nor should strive to be. I made sure she tried to understand that being Black is not the worst part of who she was and that anyone who tried to make her think that way was not a friend of hers nor worthy of respecting. I also explained to her the history, psychology and sociology of what she was feeling so she didn’t feel terrible but just understood how she and others got that way because it’s important for her to understand the mechanics of the society she was participating in and how those bad feelings occurred.

So, please, do not come to my website pushing that carcinogenic crap and asking me for tips on how to improve your site. There’s no reason for me to treat you with an iota of respect nor civility. If you were just about any other subject on the ‘net, you would have fared so much better than right now. Just keep your wonders of unnecessary skin scorching treatment to yourself, that’s what you should do.

Alright. Next week is The Arts!

– The Roper
– Electronic Purgatory
– Children

Storytime! So one day I was at my local metaphysical shop and I saw a goddess statue for sale among many on the wall behind the register and mentioned, “Hey, that’s a nice Brigid you have.” It had a white dress on, pale skin, flowing hair, I figured it was a Celtic goddess. Then the shop assistant, who I have known for years, snorted a laughter and said, “That’s Yemaya.”

What?

I immediately responded, “You lyin’, she’s White,” and as solid proof, she took down the figurine and there it was beneath the pale feet was “Yemaya” stamped on the name plate.

Lemme throw up a picture here so y’all can see what I saw, sans the nameplate:

Yep, apparently she's the only African Goddess with consistent sunburn

Yep, apparently she’s the only African Goddess with consistent sunburn

The shop assistant was just as baffled as me, “I don’t know why we have it, Yemaya is not White, she looks like she was dropped in bleach.” I told her, “Yemaya is whitewashed, why is she so light? Y’all should just chip out the ‘Yemaya’, chisel in a ‘Ceres’ or something and leave it there. Does anyone buy this? Has anyone noticed?”

“Nope, our supplier sent it to us and no one has noticed because her name plate is so small at a distance. I don’t know why we have her, the boss thought it would be fine, we do have Latin customers,” the shop assistant tried to reason through muffled laughter because the boss was in the back and the boss has had some testy problems with the community over race. In our hands was one of them.

“Nah, she could make Beyonce look like Wesley Snipes, y’all may have some Latin customers but apparently none with identity issues so strong this figurine is gonna make it off the wall. Would Yemaya even come if someone summoned her using this? If I were Her, I would stare at the statue and the witch asking for me and go, ‘Newp, whatever your problem is, it’s not as big as mine with that powder light statue. You’re on your own, laters,’” I couldn’t help but to joke.

Many laughs were had because of how ridiculously light this statue was. It reminded me of when I was at a now-defunct metaphysical shop out in the boonies and they had an Isis with a ski-slope nose and light enough to pass – nah, she was lighter than light enough to never be tested in the first place. I knew it was a White owned metaphysical shop with a clearly White consumer base there because I was the only one geeking on the racefail. All the Isis statues I have ever seen for the most part were Black. Black and very beautiful. A White Isis? Uh no. D’accord, this had made some folks at the meta shop uneasy because they knew I was right bringing up the inaccuracy but c’mon, if you’re gonna have deities from Africa, let them be from Africa, not Europe. Isis didn’t need a nose job and some skin lightener.

See, that’s things I don’t like, especially in Paganism. Do not whitewash anything, do not perform cultural swagger jacking of any type. It’s disrespectful beyond belief and if called out on it, do not cover it up. That’s like me stealing someone’s watch and when asked, “Is that my watch?” I respond, “Nah, man, I’ve always had this. Gift from my best friend, dude,” even when it’s clear the watch has a “Love, from mom and dad” inscribed on the side. Thieving is wrong, no matter what.

The part that kills me, though? Is when people try to make up for it with a million and ten excuses. This did not happen at my local meta shop clearly but definitely did at the now-defunct one. The main bullsh*t excuse? “Isis comes in all forms. Even Jesus has been portrayed as Black.” That makes me wanna strike with the fury of the Furies. Wanna know why Jesus was portrayed Black (even tho that’s not entirely accurate either because Middle Eastern setting)? Because Jesus definitely was not vanilla White with L’Oreal straight, flowing hair and a perfect goatee. And Jesus only looks that way thanks to an Italian painter that didn’t want to do his research.

Look, Paganism is really, really diverse. Diverse background, faiths, myths, the whole kit and kaboodle. I don’t want that diversity to become All White Everything and anybody who tries to justify that makes me wanna turn their eyes All Black Everything.

It isn’t rocket science to keep things as they are, and if the Pagan doesn’t want to come out as racist, welp, they might as well. Racism can affect anyone but when it comes to White Pagans, they have an affliction which has dated back centuries, even before the existence of Paganism as we know it now. Don’t try to cover it up, just say, “I just want to rob your culture. I like it but I don’t like you, the end.” It would move things along a lot quicker. I learned a variety of culture growing up and also in Paganism and I never tried to turn everything I touched Black because that would be inaccurate of culture. Though, I’m sure if I did, White Pagans would crap a brick because they may be okay with heavy applications of White-Out, they’re pissed to see anything colored in. It’s not hard to include minorities for anything, I can ensure you. Y’know, as long as you’re not racist or do racist things, be it overt or micro-aggressive.

Thing is, Paganism isn’t all White. It’s not the White Pride club, that would be the Klan, Tea Party and GOP you’re thinking of. Africa is the home of the first human, China is the home of the longest standing civilization, how on earth does everyone wind up looking like they came from Milian? Even Gardiner, who created Wicca, took things from his (orientalized) Egyptian learning and from the Hindus as well (don’t that 3x thing sound a lot like karma? And how about reincarnation?) It may have a lot of European parts in it but check closer, there are few “Product of India/China/Egypt/native America” stickers on there. Paganism, again for the slow ones in the back, is not and never was White. Anyone who thinks that is a bigoted idiot, simple as that. It doesn’t matter how ones dresses it, they are exactly that. They are bigoted because they refuse to acknowledge that the world is not White. If anything, the world is mostly other than White so it is rude to ignore that. They are an idiot because clearly they do not know about Paganism from the Paleolithic era to now and very understudied in all the cultures of the world which are part of Paganism and a much bigger part at that. Again, for the really slow ones anywhere, Paganism is not a White Pride club, join the Klan for that or whatever White supremacy hate group is in your area.

If anything, I’m for accuracy and if we’re gonna be inaccurate, let’s color everything in. I want to be reflected and I will. Otherwise, there is hell to pay. I actually remembered some random dude made a dvd about “realistic Pagans” from “diverse backgrounds” and tried to tell me about so I could promote it here on BW. Ha, no. Unless he was talking hair color, there was no diversity, it was a bunch of White kids convening in the woods. I told the dude exactly that and plus some. When he has an 80-100% minority cast, then we can talk. Until then, go bother someone else or go back to the drawing board. I don’t prefer to support any Pagan ventures that won’t reflect me at all. If they feel folks that look like me should be absent from their works, then they should be absent from mine too. And it has to be an honest effort, not a “We have a token! Happy now?” Shivian of Oh My Gods! did that, thoroughly was not appreciated because the character was a clear afterthought. I liked the comics but he should have spent more brain cells on that choice.

What to leave with this? That there’s a world out there and it doesn’t look like how folks depict it on the tv, the movies or even the news. Please acknowledge it or find a new religion. Or just be Atheist and keep the whitewashing out of religion as a whole.

Now, that’s done. The BWshoppe has been really poppin! The marimos are my biggest sellers, I can barely keep them in stock with all the demands. W00t! I was going to introduce a new marimo, a lux marimo but I’mma have to save that for later for I have hit some snags. Nothing bad but definitely don’t want to jump the gun on anything.

Next week on The Arts! is what was what it should have been last month before I fell sick:

– Red Oak Wands/ Merlin’s Realm
– Smooth E
– Nikki Lynette
– What Are You Doing Here? (Laina Dawes) Black Women in Heavy Metal

Tomorrow is the Afro-Punk Festival! Huzzah! I haz excite!

Janelle Monae

Who I am most excited to see is of course Janelle Monae. I love her music, I can hang with my friends Kellindo and Nastassia, all is spiffy all around. And did you know she recently became the new spokesmodel for CoverGirl? Here’s the video for that:

Ain’t it neat? She is very adorbs! Also she is coming out with a new album called “Electric Lady”  Annnnd here is a performance of “Electric Lady”

Straight Line Stitch

Aw man, I automatically liked them because there’s a Black lead vocalist and they’re metal so it’s ultra rare. Their music is great! Alexis, the lead vocalist, is super nice and so is the rest of the band when I had the opportunity to interview them for Afro-Punk. This time I shall not be as derpy as all get out.

I really like their music video “Conversion”

“Black Veil” is ridiculously outstanding, and has been the best use of braids for headbanging, ever.

Erykah Badu

Dude. Dooooooooooooooooood. Everybody grew up to Badu on the radio. She a Black music staple and a legend. This is the first time in my life I’m really seeing her and it’s not through a medium such as the radio or a magazine cover. I still remember hearing the song “Tyrone” back in middle school.

Lupe Fiasco

Now, that’s outta the way I’mma feature Lupe Fiasco’s newest video, “B*tch Bad”.

Now, I have words about this. This vid is probably why Lupe will possibly be the only well-known emcee I actually like. Look at the site for the video! I’m very happy with the video, absolutely ecstatic. It’s no secret that Black Witch leans heavy towards womanism/feminism. I wouldn’t feature some of the works I have such as Busty Girl Comics or writing the piece I did about sexuality if I didn’t strongly feel that gender equality is important. I mean, Ida B. Wells is my hero, much more than Susan B. Anthony ever will – dude, Wells stunted heavy on Anthony when it came to race and women’s rights. To hear a rapper – a Black, well-known, male rapper who was raised in the hood – to speak actual womanism*, to actually go, “Eeeh, there’s something very wrong with this picture. Lemme illustrate,” and do a good job at that is exceedingly rare. Nas has tried but even he has dropped the ball through the floor a few times and occasionally left it there whereas Lupe has been rocking it like nothing at all. Lupe did show me that not all rappers are interested in being the 21st century Mantan after all with just his first album Food and Liquor (oh, and F&L II is due out in September) so I knew that this was going to be good. And it was.

Lupe is very much on the right track with this video because mainstream hip hop has this thing about women that is pretty degrading, which does in turn speak on itself. The video displays what can be easily described internalized racism that are traced from pretty bigoted theories that date back to the 1800s – wait, no further than that, 1600s – that does affect the freedom of sexuality and self perception that Black Women still don’t really have today. I mean, the video vixen is just the late 20th/21st century reboot of the Jezebel/Jungle Bunny stereotype.  Slave masters used that stereotype to justify raping their female slaves: that they’re already hypersexual creatures so it doesn’t count as rape and since they’re not really people, it’s not really cheating on the wife, who is going to unleash her own special hell on the Black female slave for being a “threat” even though she isn’t really a threat, more like a captive victim in a very jacked up situation. Colonizers did the same, believing it would render what they’re doing as having harmless fun. Internalized racism means that the Black woman is seen through a hypersexualized lens, regardless if she is Mrs. Obama, Gabby Douglas, the random lady walking down the street going to the market, etc etc. The assumption is that that the Black woman or girl in question is overly kinky, not really a person and her buxom body isn’t that way because of genetics but because she’s a natural slut (and if she doesn’t have one, just imagine it or say she’s not “Black enough”), she’s got to have it and she won’t be vanilla about it. This idea is mega amplified in mainstream hip hop through the video vixen, the woman who is supposed to represent a female body but objectified. She can be a teacher, doctor, nurse, politician, anything but operates on “rap music video logic” in that she’s somehow always horny and it’s usually due to the rapper, or simply because men exist period, even if the woman was gay (which is another trope, the lesbianism trope). According to this logic as well, a mini skirt or booty shorts means the woman is an avid kinkster and she’s giving automatic sexual consent – y’know, like how Travyon totally showed automatic racial consent to Zimmerman about being stalked and murdered through his hoodie.

The hypersexualizedtrope is problematic because of the basic saying, “You can’t be it if you don’t see it” and if your image and self-perception is related to your sexuality constantly and not within your control at all (the Jezebel stereotype wasn’t created by Black women), it forces Black men and women who simply just wanted to watch media that featured them and not White people for once to consume and believe these hateful and minstrel stereotypes. And trust me, they are minstrelsy at their finest, hence why Lupe Fiasco put it in the video.

Ah, the minstrel show. White readers, this is one of the reasons why minorities get rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when your folks think slathering tanning lotion or motor oil on their face and a curly wig on their head is a good idea. Everyone else, this is why we ought to be rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when Whites think Brown/Black/Yellow/Redface is a good idea, especially for movies. The Spike Lee movie Bamboozled is about minstrelsy and how the effects still live on today, it’s similar to “B*tch Bad” so if Lupe got you scratching your head, I highly recommend that movie.  For those who are familiar with the minstrel show, you can see it soooooooooooo vividly in mainstream rap. Good god, it’s so vivid. Even Nas pointed that out in a parody rap video starring rap duo Shuck and Jive.

So, you could see it coming heavy in “B*tch Bad”. Why, the chain the rapper is wearing, if you look closely, is a minstrel blackface character. It’s all so similar to how the mainstream rapper and the women around it are depicted. How they pose is similar, act is similar, dress (in accordance to the times) is similar, everything is so similar, you sometimes wonder if a Klansman is running all this. At least see a little “Paid by Mitt Romney for President” stamped on there somewhere. I mean, geez. And this is for a genre of music that is so strongly defined as “Black Music”, like rock is supposed to be “White music” though Blacks created that genre too.  You could google “Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers” – man, just trace the history of Rock back and you’re going to run into us. This also shows the racial alignment of musical genre is problematic in itself.

Music is a pretty big deal because you can learn about different cultures and perspectives that way. Hip hop was supposed to be the verbal newspaper of the people, so to speak. It was the only way to talk about what was actually going on in the hood because our voices are so heavily marginalized in media. We’re not all fatherless gang bangers on the fast track to the jailhouse because we don’t know no better due to not listening to White folk. Nope, that’s not the case at all, I can attest that from personal experience and so can Lupe. We’re living proof, if anything. Hip hop gave us a voice, theeeeeeeen record execs got to the genre. Rough on their White cultured ears, they figured they could package all that Black rage, shine it up pretty , insert Black stereotypical plots so it can be “crossover friendly” like drug wars and broken homes and all they have to do is sit back, collect checks. Granted, that’s pretty different from what usually happens, which is when Black folks create a genre of music, White folks like it but know they’d like it better without the negroes in it, apply White-Out and out comes a genre that looks removed from its roots. Examples: Rock, blues, jazz, pretty much whatever we get our hands on and sounds good. With hip hop, it’s too strongly Black. Very hard to White-Out, the Blackness would still bleed through. Since kids in the hood are already looking like the bad kids that America was so busy telling everyone about, why not just make them stereotypical so it would be easier to sell to the wider (and Whiter) audience? White kids don’t want to hear about how they’re oppressing and ruining lives of children in the hood through their privilege, nah, they want something like The Arabian Nights where in some off distant place is the Hood, where there’s fast money, fast women, fast living. To feel so “gangsta” though having zero idea what that means and that it’s not a very cheery thing to experience while growing up. At all. And this is hip hop, which rap is a part of, displaying a fragment of Black culture and that fragment wrought through every super racist idea that the Western world has about us and then displayed as if this is all the culture is and has to offer, not just hip hop itself. In turn, this is consumed by everyone, Black, White, Latin, Asian, everyone, and creates a cycle where people, namely Blacks, become what they see because it’s almost they only thing they can see which stars them and thus consume it. The cycle for everyone else is that it fuels their culturally-induced belief that this is actually how Black people are and thus justifies their racism and fear. So here you have a race acting out because someone who looked like them for once was doing it and all these other races who are believing they are not at all wayward in their thinking because look! They really are like that! Wow, what porch monkeys, the other races think and express.

Yeah, you can see how problematic that is. I mean, a 17 year old armed with only snack foods is dead because of this cycle. Zimmerman was fed all his life through media and his experience that Black is evil so even a harmless kid with snack foods seemed like a King Kong threat. And that’s ignoring the fact Trayvon also consumed some of the same media and thus showed that while he was alive. No ,Trayvon wasn’t thinking of being a thug but I can bet that he has acted out some of what he has seen simply because that’s the media he watched, no conscious thinking. So both have experienced pretty racist media painted as general entertainment, consumed it roughly the same but interpreted it differently because of their racial and cultural backgrounds and boom, one is dead and the other is awaiting trial after a chance meeting.

Also, it’s problematic because “Black” music seem so limited in subject matter where as “White” music seems to be about as broad as the ocean when you judge what plays on the radio. “Black” music/mainstream radio stations just talks about guns, drugs, phony oppression and misogyny whereas “White” music/mainstream radio stations seem to be able to talk about that too but among other subjects and is looked on pretty favorably. That pushes the stereotype that Blacks are sub-humans that don’t know anything except how to rape/have sex with everything in sight, how to only be violent about base matters and not have significant thought forms whereas Whites are simply well-rounded and fully developed human beings perfectly capable of complex thought and theory.

Lupe Fiasco’s video “B*tch Bad” is a video very sorely needed because honestly, this kind of nonsense needs to stop. I left hip hop a long time ago because of it, it’s simply offensive when it says it’s the voice of the Black people when really it’s just the voice of straight Black misogynists. Misogyny, and hypermasculinity as a whole, is bad for everyone all around because how can there be solidarity if I can’t even be respected as a human being? It makes the concept of Black solidarity seem incredibly fake and an absolute joke. I mean, it sounds like a good idea, can’t wait to see it applied but it never will if Black women aren’t seen as equals and if we keep practicing the same tropes just to save media execs money on the burnt cork.

 

Next week is Ask Black Witch! If you have questions, please send them in!

Ask Black Witch Submission Form

There are various ways to ask a question besides the submission form, just send them before next Friday. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. See you at the Festival!

*Womanism is feminism with the more realistic intersections of race and class included.

Blacked Out Blind

Alright. I’m Black. It’s the reason why this column/blog is called Black Witch. My ma is Black, my dad is Black (from Jamaica, actually), my nana is Black, grandpappy is Black, we’re a pretty Black family. Even my cat has black spots on her (dark-greyish? Close enough). Grandpops on my dad side was friends with Bob Marley, my grandma on my dad side knew Colin Powell when they were teens. My family on my mom side up to now pretty much took part in history via fighting in wars from WWII to the Korean War and ‘Nam to Afghanistan. I’m born on Thurgood Marshall’s birthday. I’ve gotten a Walking While Black at my college when I was leaving to go home. I’m gonna be at the Afro-Punk festival in a couple weeks, most likely fangirling horribly over Janelle Monae. As far as having a regular, Black experience goes, it’s pretty much there.

Despite all this, for overzealous Afro-centrists – we’ll call them Afriboos* – it’s never good enough. Being Black and Pagan, these folks are on par with fluffy bunnies and increase the more Black folks you have in your area. These folks are beyond the quarterback pushback from the centuries of racism that has been forced on the race and simply are All Black Everything gone all awry. They reject anything remotely White, they believe that Africa has the first human (which is true) and believe that they hence are above and beyond all races. They don’t like how racist White people can get but may feel perfectly free to practice it towards other races (they reject Whites calling them the N-word but calling Asians and Latins their respective slurs? “Eh, they’re cool with it; they never had it like us.”). Usually frothing at the mouth about conspiracies, their favorite being how the Illuminati is funding Jay-Z’s career and Nicki Minaj is possibly a confused woman wishing to be White or a symbol of all that is wrong with Black America. (If you heard the sound of a car crash, that was the logic in the previous sentence.) Or the conspiracy that the White House is trying to kill them, Obama is in on the Kill-All-Negroes plan and Blacks have had it the worst of all races, hands down, no contest. Usually, they know everything there is to know about Egypt and think if the world enforced African culture instead of Western culture, the whole world would clean up its problems from Global Warming to economic meltdown and Black people would be rich and all the problems of Black America would fade away in a flash. Perms are evil and anyone who has one clearly want to be White. Modern medicine is to be distrusted in favor of strictly natural medicine. Their opinions on homosexuality and gender equality sound like a blast from the past, circa White Americans in the 50’s. They preach that woman is the goddess and other fluffy fluff but these folks slut-shame like there is no tomorrow if the woman doesn’t dress like she came from a Kwanzaa card. These guys can be pretty militant (which isn’t always a bad thing but militancy + misinformed = problems very, very fast) and more suspicious and paranoid of Whites than is considered regular for the average Black person.** Oh! And they wanna return to the Motherland as soon as possible.

Sure.

Afriboos wouldn’t be such a trouble if they admired Africa for all that it is, how unique its 54 nations are and how those nations have provided for the world and feel rightfully outraged on how the continent has been pretty much robbed blind, carved up and still reeling from the effects of colonialism and internalized racism. Nah, like weaboos, Afriboos have a pretty narrow view of Africa fueled by all the Alex Haley, Black Panther Party memories and dime store books they could get their hands on. They have Erykah Badu’s discography memorized and it’s either Islam all day every day because that’s the “First religion of the Black people” or a full scale new-agey overload filled with feather earrings, stone jewelry, Egyptian musk and basing everything on vibrations. And if you’re natural, they come like flies, just like weaboos do to anyone who looks Japanese. Afriboos learned about Africa from either White culture-sanctioned/White washed information (National Geographic, History Channel perhaps some WorldStarHipHop) or poorly written and biased books on the Black condition from misguided Black authors who mean well but mentions poorly. And if it ain’t Black, it’s White.

The thing about Afriboos is that they police Blackness (and Black gender/heteronormativity) harder than anything. If you’re permed, you hate yourself. If you don’t know a single whole Miles Davis song, you’re misguided and don’t know your musical history. May the mercy of the God and Goddess be bestowed upon you if you listen to rock or do anything non-monolithic. Hell, you could be listening to Slash while wearing cyber goggles made by a Black crafter and reading a Black-written fan fic of Static Shock tag-teaming with Spiderman Miles Morales before lighting Deadpool up like a Christmas tree after Storm flung the assassin straight from Wakanda, and still your Black card has disappeared in the eyes of the Afriboos. If you’re gay, these folks are convinced you’ve been around White people for too long because homosexuality is “unnatural”. If you believe in Feminism/Womanism, off they will be preaching about how that’s White people stuff, that Feminism/Womanism is destructive of the “natural order of things” and in magical world of Africa, there are no problems like these except for whatever White folks cook up. If you live in the suburbs, you’re desperately ignoring your roots and don’t want to be Black at all. If you went to college, you drank the White man’s kool-aid even though the Afriboos believe that knowledge is power – but your Black self better not become an academic or scholar, that’s turning your back on the hood. The Blackness they police isn’t really Blackness but a lot of misguided stereotypes, wishful misinformation and frightened thinking.

When they do see a Black person doing something non-monolithic and aren’t frightened of it somehow like a bunny around loud noise, they treat this person like they are either the first Negro to ever do it oooooor go off into their slanted history knowledge and talk about how this Black person totally isn’t the first one to do it and the Afriboo has no idea what all the hubbub is about. An example:

Person: Gabby Douglas got two gold medals in gymnastics! Rockin! She’s really accomplished something!

Afriboos: Really? Ain’t nothing but White girls in there! Black people doing it for themselves! That’s new, ain’t ever seen that before. This gonna scare those White folks, watch them change the rules up now that she’s in. They don’t ever wanna give us a medal in anything, you know that, right? Especially not a gold medal.

or

Person: Gabby Douglas got two gold medals in gymnastics! Rockin! She’s really accomplished something!

Afriboos: Oh, please, Black people been in the Olympics! Don’t you know about how Jesse Owens made Hitler mad? We’re the first humans, of course we’re in the Olympics! Those Europeans don’t wanna give us our shine! You talkin’ about Gabby Douglas, like she the first Black girl with a gold medal. I mean, it’s something but she got Dominique Dawes to thank. And she probably had to be all around White people to know what she doin right now – why is she with a Chinese? What, she don’t think a Black coach ain’t good enough? And look at her hair, she ain’t natural! She ain’t really doing for us Africans***, who fought and died for her to be where she’s at right now. Hmph, she ain’t no different from Beyonce and her Black-hating self. How about that Usain Bolt boy? Runs like he’s straight from the Motherland. That’s us right there. He’s from Jamaica, you know they respect Africa. They Rasta. He probably Rasta, too.

Yeap. There’s nothing wrong in being proud of being Black or having your lineage trace back to Africa and there is certainly nothing wrong with acknowledging that prejudice is alive and well but it is a problem when there is a lot of misinformation fueling this info to the point it shoots blindly. The Afriboo simply fire their lasers at any and everything, pretty much like weaboos do. To weaboos, Japan is king and anything Japanese is royalty. If the Japanese don’t dominate in something, the game must’ve been rigged or people are just that racist. Weaboos have limited knowledge of the history and culture of Japan but apply it to everything and assume the rest of the world is inferior, just like Afriboos. Instead of it being a single nation, it’s a narrow, generalized knowledge of the history and culture of all of Africa, a whole, entire continent. Reality is, not Africa or the Africana diaspora move in lockstep. The cultures and history that we have is woven from our collective experiences and situations, just like the country of Japan doesn’t move in lockstep, its history and cultures became what it is today from various instances and individuals being what they are. That means there are perks but there are also flaws. Africa isn’t perfect, Japan isn’t perfect.

Then there’s the desire to return to Africa. Yeah, here’s the thing: You can’t return to something you didn’t originate from. Yes, you’re Black, you have African genes in your bloodstream, there’s no denying that. I do too and it’s spiffy. However, no Black person raised in the Western or Eastern world is going to magically assimilate into Africa. You’ll be with your race but culturally, you’ll still be an American, a European, an Asian, a South American, etc etc etc. I could not be randomly dropped off in Africa and expect to get along fine just because I’ll be somewhere where most of the folks look like me. Newp. I couldn’t even be like that in Jamaica and half my whole bloodline is from there. My aunt is from Ghana, I remember her talks of how America and Ghana are different and how being a Black person in the Western world is different from being a Black person in the African world. Those conversations were refreshed in college by my African friends and Caribbean friends every time the subject of Blackness popped up and they felt the sincere need to set the record straight because Blackness in America is not Blackness everywhere you go. And it’s usually with such insight that usually stun Afriboos into silence…or balking that the friends who chimed in must not really be from Africa/the Caribbeans/been around White people too long. Now, there’s nothing wrong with visiting there or wanting to live there, just don’t expect to magically fit in like a missing puzzle piece.

When on the Pagan lean, these guys usually are the ones in the metaphysical shops waxing poetic, sharing psuedo-intellegent quips, expressing their super limited knowledge of Black history and when it comes to the esoteric, oh man. If you show even the slightest interest in the esoteric and are remotely familiar with things like Indigo children and Eastern Star, they latch on quickly. They treat you as if they have found their lost brethren and converse with you as if you both know some grand secret that the rest of the world is sleeping on. They talk to you as if they are going to teach you something and always mention, “I’m learning so much from you,” despite the conversation is usually pretty one-sided and shallower than a teardrop on a hot plate. Most of their “facts” come from biased sources that usually are based in Christian dogma and rhetoric. If you have to quote the Bible to prove an objective fact, there is a problem. And for some odd reason, they have this thing about Jews. I really don’t fully understand it but either they herald Jews as the all-knowing race/ethnicity/religion but kinda are disgusted by them all the same. They believe that any and everything esoteric has made its way through Judaism somewhere at some point in history. The notion is best displayed when they ask, “Ask a Jewish person what year it is,” expressing that the Jews know some great secret or knowledge, hence why everyone has tried to eradicate them from the earth. Anti-Semitism, how does that work?

And let’s not forget the vibrations and earthy stuff. They seem to experience everything in the wavelengths that they feel. Instead of saying, “Oh, I feel like I can trust you,” it’s “I can sense your aura tells me you’re a good person,” or “I’m not getting bad vibrations from you, you probably have good chi,” or, “You’re a Cancer, I know I can trust you with my things.” Good lord. There’s being clairsentient and then there’s being a New Age airhead. Usually when dealing with people who actually are psychic and are fairly well-grounded mentally, they don’t talk about vibrations as if everyone is emitting some sort of shimmer but just say something along the lines of “Oh, I feel like I can trust you.” And it seems Afriboos desire so strongly to be one with the earth short of actually burying themselves in it for good, they’ll wear more stones than you’ll find in a cave, enough cowrie shells to wonder if there is a factory pumping them out and so many ankhs they probably have a bigger collection than the ancient Egyptians all together as they chatter about being Nubian kings and queens. Organic seems to be what they crave and thus think if it came from the earth, it is automatically healthy and good for humans because Mother Nature would never hurt her little children. Ever. At all. Lolz.

Like weaboos, the weird infatuation Afriboos have with sex and sexuality is a bit unsettling. Sex and sexuality is natural and totally part of nature buuuuuut hear an Afriboo tell the story, you would think that sex was this magical, mystical thing that can cure everything from a bad mood to an unsavory personality trait to a cold to cancer itself – het sex only, tho. Bring up the various sexualities in their absolute normalcy such as homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, demisexuality, etc etc and watch the Afriboo turn into a 12 year old as they scan their brain for something to say, either something creeptastic or about how it’s unnatural – maybe a combo of the two. The kicker is that both weaboos and Afriboos usually claim that since they love/have knowledge of a “niche” subject (Japan/Africa), they are thus more open-minded than the average person.

Now, does this mean anyone who likes Africa, natural things, has interest in the continent and the pan-African culture is an Afriboo? Not at all. Just like simply liking Japan and its culture doesn’t make you an instant weaboo or even otaku. What makes you an Afriboo, just like what makes you a weaboo, is thinking that Africa and the race that stemmed from Africa is superior to all. To learn about Africa and the diaspora through poorly designed sites or books and ignore that Africa is not a singular country but a continent with a long history and thus not 100% perfect is intensely problematic. Learn about the history, learn about what makes the culture and what it means to you as a heritage is fine and completely healthy but to act as if you could stunt on both Sistah Soldier and Assata Shakur? Don’t bother. Afriboos, like weaboos, have their heart in the right place but their minds are miles elsewhere. There’s a whole world out there, it ain’t just black and white.

*Afriboos: I’m deriving this from the term “weaboos”, which are overzealous, and usually ignorant, admirers of Japan. Instead, Afriboos are simply over-infatuated/obsessed with the continent Africa instead of a single country and bear much of the same personal qualities as weebs. Another example of derivation: Koreaboos are those who are obsessed with Korea, usually South Korea.

**Apparently, I have White readers. Hiiiiiiiii. If you’re confused about that statement, please do a quick search on racial interactions (political, economical, cultural, societal, social interactions, pick one) between Blacks and Whites in the last 300-700 years. It’s the stuff they base horror movies on. Still confused? Submit something to Ask Black Witch for clarification.

***Afriboos consider anyone Black, regardless where they were born or raised, as an African and anyone who is White, regardless where they were born or raised, as a European. If you’re half Black/half White, you’re an “I don’t know” or occasionally considered a race traitor/tragic mulatto

%d bloggers like this: