Black lives matter!
In witchcraft and paganism black lives matter!
During this time of protests and riots I am doing my best to educate other white people to confront our racism as a white culture. It’s not easy to say, “Wow, I didn’t realize I still have these racists thoughts and patterns.” One of the important things I try to remember about working on my own racism is that I don’t have to be perfect, but I do have to be willing to confront my own racism and be willing to change behavior patterns. This is the time for all white people to listen to black people and really hear what they have to say. I think that for way too long we have swept the problems of racism under the rug. It’s time to take the rug out and clean up our dust. It’s time to really address the problem. I am very happy that many people I know are going to protests and addressing their own racism. That being said, there is a shadow to the good things that are happening with the protests. With the fight for racial equality, there have been many voices that are trying to stop this progression and are advocating for more racism.
I think I was naive when it came to racism in witchcraft and paganism. In fact, I was naive up until a few years ago. I just assumed that all witches and pagans were accepting to all people no matter their gender, race, or sexual orientation. Witches were persecuted for hundreds of years and even recently, people could lose their jobs, their children, or their home for being a witch. So, I just assumed anyone who had to deal with such persecution would not be racist. Well, I have never been so wrong in my life!
I first started to hear about white supremacy groups in Heathenism. These people would spew this nonsense about keeping the tradition pure blood. First and foremost, Heathens of the past never felt this way. In fact, the Vikings would often bring back things from other cultures and share in their wisdom. This whole “pure blood” thing is a new thing that was invented by white supremicist, so please, don’t be fooled into thinking this idea is “traditional” because it definitely is not. I, myself, practice Heathen Witchcraft, it’s something I have been doing for 20 years. Never in my teachings with my teachers did this ever come up. I think what shocked me the most was when Heathen authors I respected started saying things like this. To me, an author is a teacher, and I hold teachers to high standards. When it comes to racism, I hold everyone to a high standard, but to see authors say racist things was too much for me. I remember seeing one Heathen author who didn’t say racist things on their facebook page but would allow others to say racist comments without question. To me, they were equally as guilty! Heathenism is far from the only pagan or magical group who I have seen say racist things. I have seen many other people from other traditions say racists things as well. Now, let me be clear, for the most part, it is not the group themselves that believe this racist rhetoric, it is a few obnoxiously loud voices who feel emboldened (because of their white privilege) to speak up.
In the last few weeks I have deleted probably 100 or more people from my facebook page for racist comments. I’ve seen racism comments from pagans and witches from many traditions. It’s shocking actually. I expect “spiritual” people to do better. Actually, I expect all people to do better, but to call yourself spiritual and have racist beliefs is simply mind boggling. I have seen racist memes, jokes, and outright hate. I say enough!!! I’m noticing racist people are coming out of the woodwork on social media. I have been hearing many people say that social media is giving racist a platform. That is very true. However, I have also noticed that there are many keyboard warriors out there. Being behind a computer screen has made them feel embolden enough to show us their racist side. I think many of these same racists would never say their racist garbage in front of people face to face but they feel they can say anything they want on social media. By them “outing” themselves as racists it is showing us what kind of person they really are. This makes it easier for us to call them out.
As a community of witches and pagans it is our job to call these people out. I have had some people say, “Maybe you shouldn’t rock the boat because you are an author and spiritual leader and all…” As a leader in the community I think it is important for white people to call other white people out. It is NOT the responsibility of POC to educate us! It is our responsibility to call other white people out on their racism and educate them. Another thing I think we need to call out is “All lives matter”. All lives do matter, but right now we are talking about the needs of the black community. Yes everyone is important and everyone has a voice, but the voices of white people have been heard while the voices of the black community have not. In fact, white voices have often stifled black voices and tried to silence them. Again, all voices are important, but it’s time for us white folk to sit down and listen to the voices of black folk.
So, what should we do? As white people, we cannot and should not sit on the sidelines. If we are to call ourselves witches then we cannot allow racists to continue to harm the black community. It is not enough to be non-racists, we have to be anti-racists. Remember, one of the most important aspects of witchcraft and magick is to give the people hope and help us rise up against oppression and tyranny. That is what magick is for, to make our lives better for everyone, especially the oppressed.
I think that spiritual leaders should step up to the plate to call out racism. As leaders, we need to make sure that our circles, groves, temples, and churches are free from racists. It saddens me that since the protests many racists have spoken out against POC, but this helps us find out who is a racist in our groups. How each leader handles the situation is up to them and the guidelines of their organization. I also think as leaders we need to make our feelings known about racism publically. We are role models and our behavior will be modeled by others. It is also my hope that people who honor our spiritual guidance will take a good look at their own racists behaviors and hopefully make changes.
Angela Y. Davis said, “In a racists society it’s not enough to be non-racists, we must be anti-racists”. This quote is very important. We have allowed racist witches and pagans and other magical people to have a voice in many of our groups. White pagans and witches need to continue to take action against all acts of racism, hate, bigotry, and repression. We must not only educate ourselves but educate the white community. We must also stand up against racism in whatever way we can. We can no longer stay silent on the sidelines thinking this will pass or it is someone else’s job to educate white people. As white people, it is our job. No one else’s. As magical practitioners we can perform acts of magick for healing and justice against racism. We can heal ourselves and others as well. We can send magick to strengthen those who need our magick to continue the fight and to heal our society. Racism will not end unless we take the steps to end it.