Pagan Cultural Diversity … because I am a Goddess too.

Pagan Cultural Diversity … because I am a Goddess too.

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Posted22 September 2011, by Crystal Blanton, Daughters of Eve, patheos.com/community/daughtersofeve/

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I recently read a post in The Wild Hunt about the AFA (Asatru Folk Assembly) members that were “outed” by a reporter at the National Policy Institute National Conference. While there is plenty of information currently on the internet giving details about this particular incident, I don’t think there is anyone speaking directly about how these types of occurrences translate to those of us minorities reading the comments of others inside of our community. If you want the particulars, I say read the Wild Hunt blog for direction on where to find them. That is not my focus….

I was directed to this particular post yesterday. In reading through this post I initially had to take a moment to center myself and then think again about what this means to me. It means a lot and nothing at all, simultaneously.

I have no judgment about the Asatru path and do not think that a few people of any organization can represent the whole of the organization. My judgments started to appear when I began reading the post of people who were responding to the information that The Wild Hunt provided. I read comments that ranged from comparing the AFA to native Americans, references about Blacks having the “high crime rates” and even references to superior race. One comment in particular referenced the deconstruction of the white race and “doing it for our little black, brown and yellow brothers and sisters!”.

I think it is important for any story to outline the back story before proceeding and that is my intention here. Regardless of whether or not the AFA has a leaning towards white pride tactics or not, the harm done to the Pagan community and our minority Pagans is clear with these statements.

Let’s be really clear; I am a Black Woman who is a Wiccan High Priestess. I am no ones “little black, brown or yellow sister”. Regardless of your thoughts on race, have some respect or at least pretend to. We walk a spiritual walk on this land and take for granted the very power that we have and the power that we borrow from others. How often people forget that we are all traced back to East Africa where the Mitochondrial Eve originated. Migration and genetic mutations helped to create races of people that we can now use to separate from one another.

I do not understand how we arrived at the concept that European Heritage meant Caucasion or White instead of those who are from a particular geographic area. Technically I have European Ancestry inside of me that connects to the “nettlers” in Europe… and thus my maiden name. I probably have numerous ancestors that are “whiter” than those who are pushing a white separatist agenda; that would probably be pretty upsetting to reveal. Can I not worship my family traditions with those of my ancestry, even with my Black face? Are we playing the “who was here first” game of spirituality? How could we possibly decipher who’s connections to a piece of land are more valid than the others?

My heritage cannot be defined by the labels that people would like to put on me. The walk of a Black person is far more complex than any set of characteristics or a geographic area. I know that I have been a Priestess all my life, through space and time, all the way back to the originator of all women. I know that my Black face is a reflection of hers and it is unsettling to see people disrespect that so freely, without a real understanding of how they are also disrespecting themselves and their own lineage. In Luisah Teish’s poem Multicolored Mama it says “I will not wear your narrow racial jackets, As the blood of many Nations runs sweetly through my veins”.

You don’t have to call me a Nigger to be a racist. You don’t have to be exclusive to practice prejudice. You can make statement that promote a tone of non-acceptance, elude to privileges or superiority, hide behind statements of “pride” and it is still racism. It is painful, hurtful and causes harm to all of those around. You can devalue other races and act as if it is not racist, but it is. You can act as if racism is not prevalent in society today or that it is not a factor, but it is.

It is exhausting hearing statements that refer to the “unfairness” of Blacks and Hispanics celebrating their pride, as if this is not addressing the social and societal disparity that exists. One of the comments on the blog so elegantly stated, “Every day is European heritage day. In fact, tons of people are proud of being varying types of European all the time, taking great pride in it without any fear. A huge part of our cultural knowledge and educational curriculum is Europe-centric by default, even if it’s increasingly in the past.”

As the Pagan community continues to have an influx of people practicing the ways of the Gods, we will continue to see more diversity in the faces around the circle. Everyone has the right to be prideful and I actually encourage that but let’s not pretend that it is the same thing. Pride does not separate you from others and is not intended to rate importance. Pride is a true understanding of those parts of yourself that you acknowledge, value, honor and respect. Pride allows you to show that same respect to other people regardless of the texture of their hair or the hue of their skin. Pride equals self love and in turn, the ability to extend love to others. Hate is just hate and is not directly related.

Moments like this are revealing in many ways. They show why minority Pagans are less apt to come to the forefront and join community, why there is so much fear and why venues like Daughters of Eve are so damn important. We show a balance, a face of Paganism that looks different and yet looks exactly the same… all at the same time.

I hate reading hate, especially internally within the Pagan community, but I know that this reality is something that we must face in order to heal and open the doors to understanding.

Multicolored Momma
Originally printed in Jambalaya by Luisha Teish

My sweet coffee skin
Hold secrets in its shade,
Whispers silent warning
To a black and white world

Do not box me in
In your narrow racial jackets,
Too tight to move in,
Too thin to wear.

My brown pores bleed
With the sweat of many nations,
Generations of colors
Ooze down my arm.

My Bantu behind
Plays the drums of dancing griots,
Telling stories with my sway
Singing songs with each step.

My high Choctaw cheekbones
Love the Mississippi Delta.
Remembers Running Cloud’s daughter
And the Red Man gone.

My breast angle ‘round
Like the dark gypsy wenches.
Crescent moons touch my belly
Silver slithers on my throat.

My almond eyes sparkle
To the sound of Eastern jingles
Glass chimes dress my eyelids
Tinkling bells kiss my brow.

My dirty red hair
Speaks of crazy Cajun cousins,
Talks of faire Creole ladies
And their dark Spanish men.

My Tibetan thighs open
And the Red Sea splits.
My soft lips part
Between Dahomey and Brazil.

My sweet coffee skin
Holds secrets in its shade,
Whispers silent warnings
To a black and white world.

I will not wear
Your narrow racial jackets
As the blood of many nations
Runs sweetly thru my veins.

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http://www.patheos.com/community/daughtersofeve/2011/09/22/pagan-cultural-diversity-because-i-am-a-goddess-too/

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