Racism and Paganism

 

From Starhawk in response to the “all lives matter” comments on her post about the victims of the recent shooting July 7, 2016:

“Someone more clever than me said, at some point, that when we say Save the Whales it doesn’t mean “and to hell with everything else.” We say it because the whales are particularly at risk. And the same with saying “Black Lives Matter”. We say it because it needs to be said, because clearly, so often to the police and the authorities, they don’t. Saying “All Lives Matter” obscures the painful reality of what’s happening. Of course all lives matter, but until police quit killing black people and people of color in disproportionate numbers, I’ll keep saying Black Lives Matter!”

My instinct is to find a Pagan or Witch Person of Color because they are the ones whose voices need to be heard, they are the ones crying out for help, and I will include links, but my understanding right now is that our brothers and sisters are exhausted. Their voices are raw and sore, their eyes are bloodshot from the tears, their legs are trembling. They’re asking for help, looking for someone to tap in, to take care of the constant educating, the constant debates, who can take care of the Frequently Asked Questions after another black American is shot so that they can grieve, they can be scared, they can be angry, for just a minute.

So here I am. And I’m hurt by some of the responses by Pagans and Witches, who are a minority, who have had to come out of the broom closet and defend your beliefs, who might know what is is like for people to see you coming down the street in full witch regalia and walk the other way, except that you (arguably) got to choose your beliefs. You choose to do a year and a day of study, to honor gods and goddesses, to be a Pagan and/or Witch, but our black brothers and sisters don’t choose to be black.  Well, they are. And that should not be a bad thing, it should be cause for celebration of their beauty, and value just as human beings no different than any other race (which anthropologically isn’t even a real thing, it’s just another made up thing to divide us as humans).

But America has a long history of racism and it has been embedded in our culture. The only people other than our black Americans who has seen this to the extreme extent that it is are historians and the racists that don’t just exist in the deep South. Thanks to cell phones and the Internet we can watch these tragedies occur, be made aware of them, and fight to end them. These atrocities are not new, social media is.

Here’s why all lives matter damages the people in need of help:

Black Lives Matter has an assumed “, too” at the end. Black Lives Matter, too. The Black Lives Matter movement is about how our black brothers and sisters are the victims of systematic and institutionalized racism. They are vulnerable and  afraid for their lives so Black Lives Matter is born out of that. Saying all lives matter, is true and no one is arguing that, but it is like gagging someone who is screaming for help. Thus, it is racist to say in the face of these tragedies. Silencing someone who is being oppressed because of their skin color is racist. Black lives matter draws the attention and focus to a group who is saying, “Do you see us? Do you see our bloodshed? Please, help!”Another way to think about it is that Feminism is not about women being superior to men, but that women are worthy of equality.Black Americans are worthy of equality, and that is why Black Lives Matter.

These cries for help, that are met with “hush up, everyone matters!” result in repression. They are being repressed, they are being trapped, and it is only going to escalade. It makes complete sense for a people who are being hurt so deeply, and feel so helpless, to find new ways to get attention, because they are fighting not just for themselves but their families. I know I would do the same if my 12 year old was playing in a park with a toy gun and was shot, or my sweet, funny little 14 year old playfully whistled at a woman and was kidnapped and tortured before being thrown in a river at no consequence to the monsters who took him. This is not something new. This is is a kettle that someone has been trying to silence for centuries, but guess what. It’s going boil over.

Now, I am not a fluffy white, male Raymond Buckland type. I am a firm believer in hex craft because I am a daughter of Hekate and I am daughter of Kali and I believe in the power of love for myself and that means protecting myself in whatever means necessary. As Pagans and Witches, we should be looking at these attacks with the utmost empathy and anger. It’s just another form of the Burning Times–something that happened centuries ago and yet we can’t help ourselves from feeling angry and hurt that we were ever persecuted. We should be hearing the cries of our brothers and sisters and calling to Hekate for justice and revenge, calling to Kali for destruction of this vicious racist cycle, and marching with our brothers and sisters for justice like what we would have wanted to happen for us when we were being burned at the stake.

Pagans and Witches are not exempt from being racists, homophobes, or sexist. Consider whether your words and actions are reflective of inclusion or exclusion.

What happened to the police in Dallas is tragic, heartbreaking, and unfortunately, representative of the repression, the silencing. My heart is heavy with the loss of the officers who were there to witness and observe the protest, which was going peacefully. That does not just change the police officers who are guilty of committing murder, but it does beg for compassion and kindness to those officers who have been seen playing basketball, or football with children and who are committed to community-building.

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About the shootings:

Alton Sterling:
http://theadvocate.com/news/16311988-77/report-one-baton-rouge-police-officer-involved-in-fatal-shooting-of-suspect-on-north-foster-drive

Philando Castille
http://hiphopdx.com/news/id.39528/title.philando-castile-video-falcon-heights-police-shooting-facebook-live

Dallas
http://abcnews.go.com/US/mother-injured-dallas-shooting-shielded-son-bullets/story?id=40427684

 

For more reading on Paganism and Social Awareness:

Embracing the Darkness: White Fear and Grief http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daughtersofeve/2016/01/embracing-the-darkness-white-fear-and-grief/

Top Ten Pagans Working As Change Agents For Social Justice In 2015 http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daughtersofeve/2015/12/my-top-ten-pagans-working-as-change-agents-for-social-justice-in-2015/

Avoiding Appropriation And The Perpetuation of Privilege http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daughtersofeve/2015/09/avoiding-appropriation-and-the-perpetuation-of-privilege/

Black Lives Matter for the Interfaith
http://www.patheos.com/Topics/BlackLivesMatter

#blacklivesmatter

Image 1 courtesy of  http://www.haggadot.com/content/tzedek-seder-blacklivesmatter (w/o permission)

Image 2 Google search

***This post will be updated, with links added, unfortunately at the time of this post going live I cannot add all the things I would like but I needed to get something out there to answer the questions being asked of my brothers and sisters, as a High Priestess, and as a human being with a heart full of sorrow, anger, and love. ***

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