Tag Archive: race


Erasure

Missed the Ustream on Samhain? Check it out here.

Earlier this week, I was going through my twitter and come to find out the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which was created by @Karnythia to take a pointed jab at how feminism in general is not really for all women but mainly framed for White women and their problems, thus thoroughly ignoring the intersection of race and gender and the issues those intersections create. Of course, when the hashtag had hit mainstream media, mainly White women were asked to talk about the hashtag and to talk for minority women, as if they had any clue. And not once was Karnythia ever asked to attend these major media events. If anything, she’s consistently silenced. The most recent (and definitely not surprising) offender is Feministing.

This is wildly problematic.

I remarked on Twitter about this but I’ll say it again: Whitewashing is a very common problem in activist communities and parades under the notion of being colorblind. Maintaining Whiteness and equality activism does not mix. At all.

Let’s start with the whole “But I’m colorblind!” bit since that’s what this form of erasure moves under most commonly.

Calling yourself colorblind is a bad idea because it is usually used to cover up or diminish the extensive and longstanding pain of historically marginalized groups (I like this term a lot better than “people of color”) because the default person in Western culture is White. To say you’re colorblind means you don’t see me nor my history and to you, it doesn’t really matter. One should not claim to be colorblind as a way to say “I don’t judge based on race” because to be honest, if you’re White, you most likely do, even without even knowing it, because that’s just how our culture is structured. To be colorblind is to fall back on the default of Whiteness because the notion of Whiteness isn’t being challenged at all and it’s a terrible attempt to run away from all the generational horrors the notion of Whiteness has caused. Besides, who said I didn’t want you to see my Blackness? My Black identity is very important to me (it’s half this blog’s name for a reason), the problem is when you think my Blackness is a reason to treat me poorly or to think that my opinions are invalid somehow.

Whitewashing is a form of colorblindness. It’s the Janelle Monae Covergirl ads that will praise Monae for being a brilliant, Black woman….but will lighten her skin, not showcase a shade for brown women and forever use White models around her to pimp their wares. Note below:

Notice where Covergirl could have casted two Black dancers behind Monae, they pulled a “colorblind classic” and got two White girls instead. Y’know, to offset the one Black girl that’s front and center. Because it isn’t diversity unless you squeeze random White people in there somewhere, huh? Some White feminist could say “This is feminism!” but it really it isn’t because you’re still marginalizing the impact Janelle Monae could have on others via tokenizing her. Namely, the others being Black girls, who are consistently forgotten or disregarded in makeup advertisement. Even Covergirl, despite saying they have a diverse pick of women to represent them, seem to really just want to continually push the image of White or White-passing girls. They may say their color blind but it’s clear they show that they’re moreso snowblind because it’s not a mistake that they keep lightening their browner models in advertisements, do not make extensive products for darker women, do not keep darker girls ads running as long as their lighter counterparts and do not continually pick darker minorities to put at the forefront. Almost as if they’re still trying to maintain the status quo of Whiteness but try to throw out a bone to everyone else now and again.

This is just one example of many. How about the meme’s that even White Feminists had tout: “I’m a strong, independent Black woman that don’t need no man!” Or how about the movie The Help, which pretty much was White Savorism just in the gender of girl. Or the fact that White feminists were okay with someone holding up a quote from wife beater singer John Lennon saying “Woman is the n****r of the world” at a Slutwalk a couple years ago. They were not only okay with it, some went as far as to defend it, completely forgetting that Black folks can be women too.

Instead of pretending a terrible history did not happen at the hands of forcing the ideal of Whiteness, try to acknowledge and offset it. That means being aware of the fact that minorities are forever running into institutionalized racism and bigotry, which is what the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen is about. The hashtag was to highlight how minority women, even in the throes of Feminism, are constantly forgotten, erased or told to pipe down. Back when White women were trying to prove that they could handle having a job and that they weren’t dainty princesses needing to be coddled and protected, Black women were forced as day workers, mammies, to have jobs taking care of White women because being stuck at home was not an option. Especially since Black women weren’t even seen as human on the same level as White women…which still occurs today. Think this is all recent chatter? Nah, Sojourner Truth talked about this, here’s a clickable excerpt below:

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

This is from the 1851, everyone. It’s currently 2013, going onto 2014. Talk about outdated and overdue.

I just do not feel that anyone who is an activist can do so while trying to uphold Whiteness because the both can’t coexist. You can’t fight for equality between genders but then display a passive form of racism through erasure to those that are supposed to be in your own ranks. Or a more active form of racism and crash into someone else’s space to claim as your own, which is what happened to the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. It’s important for minority women to have their own spaces to talk about their issues, injecting White opinions won’t help anyone because nothing gets fixed and the idea of Whiteness is still left unchecked. This shows that we’re not even allowed even the smallest, most minute-appearing spaces (such as a Twitter tag) because, just like the appearance of Janelle Monae’s visage in a commercial for a brand that notoriously does not pitch to minority women fairly, it is somehow perceived as a threat to Whiteness and in an act of maintaining “colorblindedness”, is to be watered down as much as possible until it’s practically all White with a slight hint of “other”.

To say “Let’s be colorblind” can seem like saying “let’s forget alllllllllll about all the things oppression has done and let’s start fresh. Let’s keep it all White, but throw in a couple tokens. Worked for SNL.” It’s not taking a look at history, it’s not dismantling anything, it’s just saying, “Let’s move on because it makes me, the privileged party, feel uncomfortable.”

But hey, I guess one can still be an activist and still maintain Whiteness. I mean, the Tea Party and the Ku Klux Klan showcase that pretty effectively. No one is going to see you as progressive but hey, you’ll be fighting for something. Just not equality.

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

Medicine and Potions

What I have noticed as a constant in the Black Pagan community is a strong favor towards homeopathy over modern medicine such as vaccines. Always they would talk about their illnesses and ask what herbs or stones to get, what deities to pray to and such. It’s really troubling when they want to use this for their children’s primary care as well. I find that to be intensely problematic.

To have absolute distrust of vaccines is like raising a fuss over the water having fluoride in it, it’s very alarmist. It does more harm than good to opt out of “childhood vaccines” (e.g. Mumps, measles, polio, etc). Now, I personally have my reservations with shots such as flu and tetanus for my own reasons but it is not a bad idea overall to get the childhood vaccines because they prevent extremely fatal and preventable illnesses such as the whooping cough. It is okay to use potions and other forms homeopathy  but to rely on them totally while having incredible distrust of its more modern form, medicine, can still cause major health problems. I make potions myself to help when I get sick but I still go to a doctor when things get bad.

While it is a little foolish to be super skeptic of all vaccines, it is perfectly fine to be concerned about institutionalized racism in medicine because there is a long, very steady streak in that reaches into modern times such as now. Given that the face of medicine and science in the West is White, that can definitely cause suspicions to any minority that is concerned about their health because any minority that is aware of their history knows, usually when it comes to something vital, racism can really cause quite a body count through stereotyping, misinformation and forcing destructive privilege. When racism clearly will stop otherwise intelligent doctors and scientists from accepting perfectly good doctors and scientists from even entering medical schools or to simply help people thanks to their extremely illogical, unbelievably shortsighted and incredibly irrational ideas of those who can’t pass the paper bag test, it makes perfect sense to distrust that same system when it asks you to give them your arm so they can inject something into it.

History is riiiiiiiiiiife with medicine not boding well if you’re not White. Tuskegee, anyone? How about Eugenics? Even Bayer tested on victims of the Holocaust (and before someone screeches, “They were White! Racism affects us too!” there were more than Whites being detained. There were Blacks and Asians too, please get your facts straight).  There are countless, countless documents about racism in medicine and immunization – sadly science won’t fit in the scope of this post but, man, is there a lot of bigotry there too – that warps how minorities look at medicine and the system that provides it. Granted, in some of the writings I link to, the bigotry is pretty well outlined: “At least three patient factors affect ethnic and racial disparities in immunization rates: patient preferences, distrust of ‘the system,’ and lack of knowledge. For example, certain racial or ethnic groups may be more likely to call on religious or lay healers or to seek informal help through social networks rather than seeking care from physicians. Further, members of racial/ethnic minority groups often express a preference for providers from their own background, and such providers may not be available. Only 9%of physicians and 12.3% of nurses are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.” (p. 657, Larson) It already reeks a little of “They’re so irrational to be trusting these non-sciencey people we never vetted because of some silly conspiracy theory of ‘the system’ like we’re planning this.” How rude. At least the lay healers and social networks are less racist than the folks wearing lab coats on average. Unless you’re White, not sharing the same opinions as George Zimmerman is kinda a big deal because that creates the difference between being a sick person and a dead person. And, remember, this is a document that is actually talking about racism in medicine, thus recognizing it, and they’re still applying prejudice on the sly. That’s how pervasive that problematic (and potentially deadly) thinking is.

‘Ey, before I get any deeper, maybe we should familiarize ourselves with how vaccines are made and how they work. So here’s How Are Vaccines Made and there’s even a fun, interactive game called History of Vaccine which will take you through the times about health, sickness and preventative care from the 1600s to now.

Vaccines, in and of themselves, are not bad. To be honest, it’s better to be vaccinated overall because it reduces the chances of infection and fatal illnesses that are very preventable. There’s a reason why Americans do not have severe outbreaks of measles or polio. Right now, there is work on the HIV/AIDS virus and last I checked there has been amazing strides towards the cure and vaccine. Yes, there is the argument of mandatory vaccines and autism but even that has been proven not to be connected. In their purest form, vaccines are to be just that, a serum to prevent illness.

When it comes to medicine, potions are the starting point of it all. Whether science likes it or not, it has a lot of starts in witchcraft and medicine is included. What used to be regarded as folk herbs and folk medicine has been studied, bottled up and distributed in the form of pills, shots and syrups. There are various types of potions such as teas, tinctures, poultices and wraps. Some that I use are to help my throat when it’s sore, when my muscles are achy/inflamed/swollen, cramps, etc etc. I use potion work with modern medicine so I reduce visits to the doctor and stay healthy. I’m a little lucky that I have so many doctors and health professionals in my family (pretty much all my aunts and both of my grandmothers) so medicine knowledge trickles down but it’s information anyone who pretty much stayed awake in biology or biochem should know since medicine is merely knowing how the body works and how different substances interact with the body.

Anyone who is thinking of getting into herbalism and potion work should pick up a few books on how the body works, botany and things of that nature because without proper knowledge, potion work can become very, very harmful. Do not relax on the idea that because it came from nature, it’s harmless. There are plenty of plants, creatures and occurrences that come from nature and the earth and are plenty dangerous. To assume Mother Nature is some kind and benevolent being clearly is not a very realistic person. Possibly a fluffy bunny that should stay very far away from potions so they don’t mistakenly kill someone.

Aside from the natural function of the body’s immune system and things that can be used to strengthen them, I don’t believe there is a potion version of the vaccine besides vaccines themselves since they use actual parts of germs and viruses and, welp, there was nothing like that back in the heyday of potion making. Potions were taking things from nature and using those to make remedies for illnesses. This doesn’t mean that making teas and tinctures are phony and useless, it means that everyone has a territory for their own. Potion work isn’t perfect and neither is modern medicine but combined, they can create a pretty healthy person.

So! Get at least your childhood vaccinations? Yes. Be aware that the instruction of medicine can be super prejudiced to the point it could kill you if you’re a minority? Yep. Are potions worthwhile to do? Sure are, just know what you’re doing. Is it smart to distrust vaccines and go with homeopathy instead? Nah, not really, get at least the basic shots and know how vaccines are made. Don’t slough off potions for modern medicine? Sure, modern medicine had to start somewhere. Don’t slough off modern medicine for potions? Please don’t, modern medicine isn’t a total cock up, just some of the people who study it and all of the institution that administers it. Is fluoride bad for you? Newp, it strengthens your teeth with the amount that is in drinking water.

Stay healthy!

Next week is The Arts! Who is being featured:

– Lupe Fiasco x KRS-One Christmas Battle
– Rolling Jubilee
– EddsWorld

After that is Ask Black Witch, the last of 2012! Send in your questions! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

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