Vodou Killings, and Haiti One Year Later

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 12, 2011 — 38 Comments

CNN posted a special report yesterday on the anti-Vodou cholera murders, interviewing Haitian Vodou leader Max Beauvoir in the process. While this isn’t a new story for CNN, it’s important that Haitian Vodou voices are being heard one year after the initial quake almost completely destroyed the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killing over 200,000 people.

For more video from Haiti, check out “Haiti: One Day, One Destiny” from the National Black Programming Consortium. The section dealing with Vodou, “Vodou and Haiti’s Recovery,” can be seen at The Root.

“Haitian-American filmmaker Michele Stephenson traveled to Haiti on behalf of the National Black Programming Consortium to capture the struggles of Haitians a year after the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. This clip, from a documentary by Stephenson, is one of several that will run on The Root this week in collaboration with the NBPC. The multimedia project, entitled Haiti: One Day, One Destiny, will include other documentaries, blogs and several live Web discussions. You can reach the NBPC site at blackpublicmedia.com.”

Tensions are high, with Vodou still being blamed for outbreaks of cholera. Though there are bright spots one year later, the political landscape is still in chaos, and the future uncertain. Whatever the future holds, Haiti’s Vodou practitioners and heritage must be protected, and not allowed to become a convenient scapegoat for pundits and unscrupulous Christian NGOs.

For more on my coverage of Haiti and Vodou from this past year, please check out my Top Stories of 2010 for a round-up of relevant links and analysis.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • sarenth

    My heart goes out to Josef and those who've lost their loved ones to the mob madness sweeping their country. I pray that it stops, that these people are left alone to practice their ways.

  • Peter

    Thank You Jason, the more this gets discussed the better.

    May the Goddess bring healing to Haiti.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Yo! lynn. I've always counted myself fortunate that in my earliest baby-Pagan wanderings (in my mid-40s…) I found myself in a racially integrated eclectic circle, learning the nuts & bolts but also getting exposed to a lot of multi-cultural education for a white boy.

    • lynn

      Kewl. I wish there was something like that around here. But I live in the boonies and the trade-off for being minutes from the mountains as well as having a nice piece of property with lots of wild things around, is that I've had to get used to being in a very homogeneous environment. Which for a native NY gal like me who grew up around all types of people has been quite an adjustment. I do attend some of the local pagan gatherings open to the public but mostly I am solitary. I am just not comfortable having to always be the one black person hanging around a bunch of white people. It's okay once in awhile though. I do attend a full moon circle with a bunch of hippies and I really enjoy that. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667952307 Jennifer Parsons

    lynn has a great point here. I also appreciate the solidarity shown by Jason and The Wild Hunt's readers to other traditions such as Voudou, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other groups of people who don't neatly fall into the "Neopagan" stereotype.

    More generally, I'm actually impressed with both of those video clips– CNN's depictions aren't too sensationalistic (come on, people, there's dancing and chanting in most religious practices). "Voudou and Haiti's Recovery" was particularly lovely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000390176778 Jacquie Minerva Georges

    Thank you, Jason for this piece and your continued dedication and compassion for my motherland [well, the land of my parents: I’m 1st generation American]! I am hoping that individuals who worships, practices, observes, and/or recognize African based religion, spirituality, and/or way of life can openly worship as they please and not fear of retaliation and/or judgment.

    It is one of those “things we shall not speak of” when immigrants and their children speak openly about Vodou or any African based religion on “other land” It is one thing to be in Haiti and openly say, “Yes! Vodou is my religion” and another being in the United States and say, “Vodou is my religion!” Honestly, for me it is a way of life—in my very blood/DNA. For many it feels like they still most practice in secret in the United States. I hope your posting will give those followers a little push to be out and proud.

  • druideric

    have the allegations that this violence has been initiated by christian elements in haitian society been verified or not?

    • Bookhousegal

      Within and from without, (ie, missionaries swooping in and trying to capitalize on the disaster to make converts and vilify non-Christians.) yeah, this very blog covered a lot of the instigations before things even got to this point.

      Who else?

    • Jonathan

      Which independent court of opinion could ever possibly confirm or deny such an allegation? What authority do we turn to in order convince ourselves that trash incinerators, for example, are partially responsible for higher rates of asthma in a host neighborhood?

      If we're waiting for some "objective" party to unveil the truth to us, then we'll be waiting forever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DixieThorn Laine Thornton

    Healing energy and prayers asking for understanding and an end to the persecution, being sent towards all there.

  • Bookhousegal

    Well, Lynn, it can be a little more complicated than that, at least in that a lot of African diasporic and Native American religious groups don't necessarily *want* to be tagged with the label 'Pagan,' (especially if they're syncretized with Christianity) and often see us as New Agers out to appropriate their trappings, etc, etc. (Also, quite frankly, a lot of white Pagans have come to expect *that* treatment, thus many stay away, and It seems most of our contacts there tend to be on a personal basis, rather than as groups. )

    No one says it's racist of African-based traditions to be demographically mostly non-whites, and I've seen a lot of perfectly-friendly (even diverse) groups get tagged with that label just cause no one fitting that label happens to be in the room. (Or even when a black priestess is standing *right there,* on one occasion. )

    The fact is, Pagans don't go proselytizing, so we don't go out and pick who turns up and takes an interest, and many of the African-based traditions are pretty insular for the same sorts of reasons a lot of Pagans aren't openly out in a lot of communities.

    I think we're in a position where things have to go both ways: it doesn't help to have people saying "Pagans are racist, cause there aren't a lot of black people around," …cause that can be just demographically-self-fulfilling.

    There are a few real factors that affect things like this: in many communities, the diasporic traditions are more established than European-based ones: the simple fact is that people who defame both those traditions and European-based ones actually like to mash trappings together and say it's all the same scary 'Occult witchcraft:' In some ways, Pagans get a lot of misapplied 'Voodoo' stigma, and Voudouisants get a lot of the 'Heathens' stigma, and there certainly is a dynamic in European-based Paganism where we're trying to reclaim and rebuild our own heritages, and don't want to undercut anyone else's cause we have a real sense of loss about some people having done just that to our own heritages.

    I think it's a real reason for common cause, ….to my experience, how much self-segregation is there in Circle tends to reflect how much there is in the broader community. It's not helpful to actually amplify it with blanket claims when people might actually be totally friendly.

    To be quite honest, there's often not a great deal of respect going the other way: there's a pretty common notion out there that 'white people don't have magic/know what they're doing' …and for their part, a lot of white people actually buy into that mystique, too. Respect, certainly, takes time: saying it's directly about race kind of misses out on the fact that 'white Pagans' ' identification tends to be a lot looser and more 'ethnic' than anything.

    Of course, society at large has a tendency to tell a lot of black folks to identify as African-American based on skin color even if their actual lineage may be more than half European, so there's a certain disconnect there about 'honor your ancestors' if one's identified by one side or another of a construct of 'race,' (Or often, ethnicity) (I don't think it's always so easy for *anyone* to embrace both sets of ancestors when there's a history between those peoples of not treating each other right/being in conflict,)

    The point there being that just cause there's a lot of Europeans in a lot of European Pagan groups doesn't mean it's by some design or animus. Maybe there won't *be* so many if people broadcast assumptions to the contrary all the time.

    You've got to be a little fair, here: there's not much Pagan groups can do if no one shows *up,* or they've got a chip on their shoulder cause no one has before, or even, in the case of including African diaspora traditions, because there's actually some differences between how to properly respect the lwa and Orisha, compared to modern Pagan and other views. (And those differences *appear* even wider than they really are on some levels, but they're there.)

    I think that Pagan groups interacting as allies with diasporic traditions is a really important way to defuse some of those perceptions. Some interfaith understanding would go a long way, and it'd both tend to challenge any racism that appears, and keep the perception of such from actually reinforcing itself.

    • Bookhousegal

      (continued)

      There's enough factors out there that tend to isolate, before anyone even gets to a Pagan event, so maybe interfaith work's the way. Certainly we're all in the same boat when it comes to politics and society, and because of that very thing, a lot of Pagans tend to be fairly wary of newcomers without race even crossing their minds. (And if it does, if we're approached by some black folks where that's not too common, often the first thought is, 'Here comes the Christian majority,' :) )

      Sorry for the length, there, but it's complicated. I do think we need more interfaith work, maybe even *not* with a focus on the media, but communities. There is after all, the media's capacity to take the scariest/weirdest-looking bits of *all* our traditions and trying to make a scary-occultey-weirdie stew of sensationalism. The resulting mess just makes it harder for everyone. But standing together as allies, also shows that we're different groups as well, not a sensationalist and chaotic mishmash that makes us all seem the more chaotic and scary. Especially as something approaching a 'Pagan identity' is only now starting to really gel.

      I think we should focus on *helping* each other rather than treating our religions as some kind of 'A white people institution that needs to integrate' etc. I guarantee that if we're interacting as allies with other traditions, we'll invariably be swapping and cross-training people. That's when you start seeing people interacting, circling up together, dating, intermarrying, etc, and all of a sudden things don't seem so whitebread.

      I know that as an LGBT person, even in a very progressive area, I had the impression that there was a lot more homophobia in the Pagan community than I really had to worry about. Half the game is showing up. :)

    • kauko

      You said everything that I wanted to say here. It's not fair for the segregation that may appear in modern pagan groups to be compared to that in Christian churches. As Christianity is a universalist religion and all of those people are Christians, that fact that they segregate themselves into different churches is a sign of deep racial divide. For Pagans, though, as you mention, it is so often a matter of reclaiming traditions that are bound up with ethnicity to varying degrees so it's not surprising that a Pagan tradition will be overwhelmingly of people of a single ethnicity. Hell, would anyone go to a Hindu temple and be surprised (or outraged) to find everyone there is Indian?

    • Jonathan

      Bookhousegal, your reply seems misplaced.

      This post is about the systemic inequality of Haiti's recovery efforts. It's about the racist scapegoating of an indigenous religion by national religious and political leaders. No one said anything about "cultural appropriation" or the lack of integration initiatives among white pagan groups. That's not the topic being discussed here.

      I am just as upset as you are about the way already marginalized beliefs are further degraded through the false application of defamatory labels such as "cultural appropriation". But the fact of the matter is, racism has not gone away, no matter how "enlightened" we may think we are. A prime example is the skewed coverage offered in many pagan blogs and media. The story of Haiti's indigenous religion, in the wake of both natural and human disasters, is one of the most pertinent stories when it comes to pagan political news. Yet it is so often ignored. We need to thank Jason for his consistent commitment to covering this story, and recognize that he is breaking the mold when it comes to white pagan bloggers.

      You've raised some important points, but you ignore the fundamental injustice that is revealed by this post.
      Your argument goes so far that it seems to deny that racism even exists in our community. While I might agree with some individual points you raise, I have to say that honestly, your unprovoked rantings only confirm the notion that white pagans are no different from the big three when it comes to racism.

      I'd also like to see a broader, interfaith discussion of race, paganism, and diasporic religions, as well as cultural relativity vs. univeralism. But this is not the place for it. We should create a separate forum.

      I'm gay too and I acknowledge that that has nothing to do with this situation.

      • kauko

        I thought that bookhousegal's comments were entirely relevant to the comment which it was a reply to.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        While I differ on some of Bookhousegal's points, I would certainly not label them "unprovoked rantings" nor would I suggest — in view of the way threads mutate on this board — that she's failing to stick to the subject. Nor do I see any need for us to exclude discussions of ethnicity and cultural dynamics from this space.

        Bookhousegal, in my years of trying to grapple with justice claims of people of color I've come up with a few rules of thumb. One of them is not to hop into denial mode when a person of color says something is about race and I haven't seen it as such. One of my hidden privileges as a white person is that I don't have to think about race all the time, and thus I may occlude things that are clear to people who have to. So that's my cue to talk less and listen more.

        Another thing I don't do is flip the situation racially and say, "Well, no one would object if it were blacks doing X" **as though that were the last word.** Being able to flip the situation mentally is a good thing, but it's not always dispository.

        (continued)

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          (continued)

          I've heard of racism in white Circles in the form of a black newcomer being asked, "Wouldn't you be happier in a tradition of your own people?" I've never seen this happen, but I didn't become Pagan until 1987 and have spent much of my time around UU Pagans, so my experience may not be a good sample.

          I will take the risk of summarizing a lot of your posts as an argument that the whiteness of neoPagan Circles is not necessarily something to worry about. I would say that it's something to nonetheless be constantly aware of. As a white person who tries to be alert to racial issues, I do not think entering the Pagan world means I can shut that down.

          • Bookhousegal

            Well, certainly, I'm not denying racism could *possibly* exist in Pagan communities, or any Pagan's attitudes or habits. We're not an island, and we all know how pervasive it is in society.

            (I will deny, however, that a lot of groups which use trappings of Paganism around what is *primarily* a racialist agenda have anything to do with modern Paganism, despite the media's saddling of us with some kind of blame. They don't like us, we don't like them, never mind share much in the way of theology.)

            Frankly, the simple fact is that it's quite common for people to suggest to *any* seeker who wants to find out more about what 'All this Pagan stuff is about' to start with exploring their own ancestry, regardless of whatever 'race' that may be seen as affiliating with. Of course it can seem to be insensitive, (or *be* insensitive: thanks in large measure to the standards and identifications of the wider society, people forget that having more melanin doesn't mean someone's ancestry might be more Welsh, say, than the pale-skinned Cymry teacher's,) but really, the usual mode isn't of trying to make converts, particularly to a particular pantheon.

            It's indeed, too darn easy to forget that people exposed to so much prejudice out there may not see such helpful suggestions as actually *honoring* various ancestries, and quite often welcoming them, in eclectic groups.

            I do think it's over-portrayed on the Internet: cause I haven't seen too much of it, either. I *have* seen people expecting racism end up getting the wrong idea, at first, and promoting the idea that 'Pagans are racist,' really isn't helping matters, especially when trying to relate something like that to what's going on in Haiti.

            (Frankly, I've seen on occasion *white* people who don't know us thinking they're among some kind of fellow racists, making jaw-dropping racist remarks and leading me to wonder, myself, what kind of people I was meeting. I certainly challenged that, about as far as being a visitor would allow, before checking things out. Of course, it was the kind of archetypal 'ignorant cowan boyfriend showing he thinks his GF's religion really *is* some kind of Bacchanal in the woods for white people' …how's anyone meeting Pagans for the first time supposed to know how utterly unacceptable that is?

            The point is *definitely* not denial. It's not just about black people's very-justifiable sensitivities: it's about the fact that the more the portrayal of us as moral-less racists is believed, the more it both worsens the problem and targets the Pagan community for defamation from other quarters who just *love* to blame society's racism on some 'other,' … that 'othering' being applied to *us* as well as any other minority religious path.

            Some people out there we never even meet actually even believe those defamation and in one way or another believe them and *like* them, …and that accounts for a seeming lot of 'Pagans behaving badly' stories out there in the media.

            Not denial, no. We can't do that, either. But it won't make us seem any more welcoming if it's played *up* so much, either, as though it's some kind of feature of Pagan belief to be all racially-minded in that way. Actually, another thing not to be in denial of is that a lot of the insensitive things people end up saying really *aren't* based in anything but *naivete* about African-American experiences and how some things play.

            If one portrays the problem as some deep-seated racial animus, then certainly people who feel no such thing will just go along thinking someone *else* must be the problem.

          • Bookhousegal

            (continued: part one may take a while to go through.)

            It's again sort of like as a member of the LGBT community coming in decades ago. A lot of 'helpful,' 'You must not believe in polarity, you should find an LGBT circle.' (My response would be, 'Actually, I do, I'm just not personally that 'polarized' in some ways.' ) Actual *homophobia* was pretty much the anomaly, …*but assumptions* ran rife, and there were certainly plenty of traditional Wiccans who'd be scratching their heads going, 'You know, we haven't dealt with this enough, we might need you to figure it out and teach *us,* (Including in LGBT-centered groups, often to my mind rejecting the very notion of polarity rather than relating to it, I felt, at first.)

            How people would describe things on the Internet, when that got going, or the impression one would get when used to a lot of homophobia around, could of course, be another matter entirely.

            Not being in denial also means not making it a 'big evil problem, for someone else,' instead of a matter of extending some sensitivity ourselves.

            Actually, I *do* think that 'entering the Pagan world' can very *much* mean shutting a lot of those barriers and contentions down. Sometimes that's where the miscommunications lie: I think we very often *do* just that and forget what it may seem like to those coming in. And that's a matter of trust. People have sensitivities about things often for very good reasons, and may forget that.

            I mean, there aren't a whole lot of religious traditions out there to whom 'Hey, you might have different ancestors than me!' is like some kind of enthusiastic greeting. :)

            Being aware of other people's contexts is pretty important, but we do have our own. :)

            No denial. Just no making it appear worse than it actually is. That doesn't help, either.

        • Jonathan

          I am not seeking to exclude those discussions of race and ethnicity from this space.

          I am only saying we should have some basic respect for the people of Haiti and not treat this tragedy as an excuse to whine about "reverse racism" or something of that nature, just because someone astutely recognizes that The Wild Hunt is awesome for highlighting issues that are typically ignored by other white pagan blogs.

          • ES1966

            OT: Westboro Baptist Church to picket Arizona shooting victims funerals http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7864937

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I don't recall anyone invoking reverse racism. Please point me to the cite if I missed it.

            First "rantings," now "whine." You might find your experience on this board easier if you'd learn to treat with respect those utterances with which you disagree. Of course there are one or two regulars who notoriously don't do that, but do you think you're in their intellectual and scholarly league?

          • Jonathan

            I quote: "To be quite honest, there's often not a great deal of respect going the other way: there's a pretty common notion out there that 'white people don't have magic"

            Also, Bookhousegal urges us to be wary of the "perception" of racism, that we need to "keep the perception of such from actually reinforcing itself."

            Also, she complains aboout non-whites "treatment" of white Pagans, saying "a lot of white Pagans have come to expect *that* treatment, thus many stay away"

            These statements sure sound like cries of "reverse racism" to me.

            Maybe I'm the only one who thinks it's kind of insensitive to raise these concerns within the context of the deadly racism experienced everyday in Haiti. But it seems like Baruch is more concerned about my insensitive use of the word "whining".

            If I was looking for an easy experience, then I wouldn't tell the truth.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Johnathan, I got your reply by IntenseDebate email but don't find it on the blog itself; not the first time this has cropped up on The Wild Hunt.

            In any event, Bookhousegal did not use the term "reverse racism." You did, and attributed it to her. When I called you on it and asked for a citation, you ticked off three things she'd mentioned and then you proceeded them to *label* the "reverse racism."

            "Reverse racism" is an ugly term whereby bigotry claims bigotry in return. Bookhousegal was not doing that, and you impugn her by continuing to claim that she did.

          • Jonathan

            I'm saying that it was my perception that it was something similar to a "reverse racism" charge. I didn't think I was the only one with that perception….but I guess I was wrong.

            We have a lot further to go in combating racism in the Pagan community. Lynn's statement is proved by the hostile reaction it received.

          • kauko

            Seriously, the only hostility I've seen here is from you. And one of your comments not appearing does not mean they were deleted and you are being censored, it may well be a bug in the comment system so please refrain from jumping on the 'Help, help I'm being repressed' meme when you don't know why the comment didn't appear.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I have no problem with your first paragraph here, as you make it clear you own the "reverse racism" label you're applying.

            I would call the reaction to lynn's statement agitated, with a pinch of denial; not hostile. She introduced something that hasn't been addressed in this space (at least not since I found it) but is clearly within its universe of discourse by reason of the multi-ethnicity of Jason's coverage (which lynn prudently cited). One expects big ripples when a new, hefty stone drops into the pond.

          • Jonathan

            Please, if my comments are being deleted, that means I am not allowed to speak for myself in this forum. So don't speak for me.

          • Bookhousegal

            Or, it could mean that Intensedebate is just dropping posts again, and that if it can happen to you, maybe you're not hearing all of what others are saying, either?

          • Bookhousegal

            Actually, it appears that a whole lot *did* disappear. What I spent this morning writing to address your, err, concerns, included. Suffice it to say there's depth and complexity to all this.

            Maybe re-read what you labeled 'rantings' a little more carefully.

          • Jonathan

            My post gave undue concern to the legitimacy of the many points that you raised. I was initially very pursuaded that the topics you discussed were important.

            However, my main contention was that it was insensitive to use the spectre of racism in Haiti (and in the media's coverage of Haiti) as an opportunity to decry the "unfair" treatment of pagan whites by minorities. This contention has never been engaged by any of your responses.

            Because of your lack of concern for the real racism described by Lynn, and by this post, I must conclude that it was a waste of time for me to even engage this topic in the first place

            You have encouraged me to take a closer look at your post. I have. I wish I could tell you to do the same. But, remember my post isn't even here. You are all responding to something no one else has an oppurtunity to read.

            You've convinced me that a re-post would be a waste of time. You are prepared to say anything in order to defend your white privelage.

          • Bookhousegal

            Well, I *did* read some posts of yours that disappeared, and replied to them. And the replies disappeared.

            What are you trying to *prove?* 'White Pagans are racists, whatever they say, it's just 'defending white privilege?' (Cause of what, me saying, 'You know, if we work together on interfaith things, that's when these barriers come down, and it doesn't end up looking all so unwelcoming to some who are told 'White Pagans are just a bunch of racists cause I say so?')

            What effect do you expect that to have? Harmony? Interaction? Respect?

            Actually, it sounds like it's *you* who'll 'say anything.' Even to defend it when you've wronged someone. What are you trying to do, convince me I said things I didn't say and hate people I don't hate? To prove what? Is that about me, the situation, or *you?*

          • Bookhousegal

            I also really don't appreciate having what I did say characterized in that knee-jerk fashion. It wasn't *I* that related what some Christians are doing in Haiti to playing up some perceptions of 'Pagan groups are racist cause there aren't a lot of black people in them.'

            Much of this *is* a problem of perception: racism *itself* is a problem of perception. Inflating that perception doesn't make it *less* of a problem, it makes it *more* of a problem, cause you're not *dealing* with the actual problem, you're looking for the really big *monster* someone made of it, and not seeing the smaller things that sneak up and bite you. That's the point.

          • lynn

            Hi Bookhousegal, I appreciate your lengthy response to my post. I really don't have the wherewithal to reply to each of your points, but I do want to point out, that nowhere in my post did I say that "pagans are racist." You seemed to be responding to a phantom accusation in a somewhat defensive manner. With posts that could be blog entries. Has this been a sensitive topic for you? What I did was mention the "racial tribalism" of the neo-pagan community. There is a difference between the two.

            I also think it's apple and oranges to compare religions of people of color that developed during slavery to modern reconstructivist religions that have come about in a global era of mass communications and migration. One came about in a system of forced racial separation and oppression, the other, not at all. So if people want to separate themselves racially that is a conscious choice they are making and not the result of historical circumstances. As far as cultural appropriation, we all appropriate from each other and I personally am all for it. Jazz, the quintessential American music, is a product of European tonalities and African rhythms. If white folks have no problem playing blues music, doing yoga and practicing Buddhism they should have no problem with an Asian person, say at a Celtic ritual honoring Brigid. There should really be no problem with any body — if any race — borrowing from any tradition other than ostensibly their own.

            I say ostensibly because you never know people's influences. People may look at my dark skin and refer me to Voudon or some such, but the fact is, I am neither from New Orleans or Haiti and my ancestors were not Yoruba, so they did not worship the orisha pantheon that are the source of not only the Voudon but the Santeria tradition as well. In fact I have Irish on both sides of my family, have native American blood on my dad's side, so basically I see myself as an all-American mutt and approach my spirituality as such. And I don't care if anybody has a problem with it.

            As far as some religions being universalist and others not, my personal belief is that that's bunk. God, the gods, the goddess, whatever your name for the divine, does not care about the various physical differences our species evolved to in adapting to Mother Earth over the millenia, changes which have taken place in the 50,000 years since humanity's common ancestors first migrated out of Africa. The only reason we think of pre-Christian religions as ethnic-specific is because they started out that way due to historical realities in a world less global than ours. Anglos vs. Saxons vs. Picts vs. Norse and what have you. Their world was confined to a small region of the UK, and so were there gods. But today those different, and previous warring tribes are united as the British people who think of themselves as such (with slight regional differences). If humanity came from a common, East African root as is the scientific consensus backed up by archaeological and genetic evidence, than why is is so hard for people to see us all as one tribe, as members of all one family. After all, we evolved in Africa over approximately two million years before splitting off from each other geographically. But we choose to focus on the few thousands years we have been separate rather than the bulk of our existence as one people.

            I like your idea about a natural, ecumenic based interaction between the various alternative religions. I think that is a pretty inevitable.

            And you're right that racism is a problem of perception. When my son got jumped by a white kid last year and called 'nigger' he rightly perceived that this kid was acting in a racist manner. Ditto when my dad graduated from Dartmouth college summa cum laude in the 50s and was told by the NYC advertising firms he tried to interview with that "we don't hire colored gentleman." Yes some people do play the race card, but racism is still a very real phenomenon and probably will be as long as we exist as a species on this earth.

          • Bookhousegal

            Hi, Lynn. Yeah, some of this is actually in response to Jonathan, who sort of amped things up.

            I think it *is* important not to *overplay* perceptions of racism, (Not to say 'diminish what problems exist: if nothing else, people bring a lot *with* them from the wider society and may not even be aware of some of it, cause the general Pagan self-perception is as a pluralistic, tolerant, (if not downright over-eagerly xenophilic) …Oft-oppressed and maligned religious minority. )

            It's kind of important to deal with the realities rather than inflate the perceptions, simply because they tend to be self-reinforcing, and that's not a way to reduce any tensions and make people feel welcome.

            I think it's an *important* topic, true. (I don't know what you're implying by claiming 'Ooh, it must be 'sensitive.' Fact is, I care. I think a lot, I observe a lot, and I tend to be verbose. Ask anyone. :) ) I think the race-related issues (and other social-justice-related ones) are *important.* And it's important to *get it right,* (Why does everything even have to be so *magnified* even to be considered real or a valid thing to be concerned about? That actually seems to just detach 'issues' from actual *human interaction.* And we need the real stuff a lot more than one more wedge issue.

            Look how quickly the Internet can turn some posts about how to be more welcoming, and make it known, …into what Jonathan's saying about me at the bottom of this page.

            Irritating when an Internet poster does it: another matter entirely is how easy would it be for Fox News to start turning a few statements into a 'It's the Pagans who are the racists!' justification to hurt *all* of us?

            Quite frankly, I've seen some pieces of the worst in people already in my life, and how things get really out of hand.

            …I certainly feel a certain urgency about this sort of thing right at this point in history, cause in times like these, especially, we *really* can't afford them.

            And the forces that would divide us all aren't sleeping.

          • Bookhousegal

            Anyway, Lynn, by the way, I suppose my emphasis with all this really comes from the fact that I've come to have a lot of faith in the Pagan community to cope with any diversity-related issues quite well. I know from my own experiences.

            As such, well, on reflection, I'm actually far less concerned about someone being less, well 'correct' to all of each others' views of ethnicity and eclecticism and ancestry, than I am about *anyone* feeling shut out entirely because they got the wrong idea about 'White Pagans.'

            Speaking of what might be the challenges of the times we're entering, I'm not worried about us cheesing each other off on occasion. What keeps me up some nights is the thought of people, particularly *our* people, not knowing who our friends are.

            See?

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    On a related topic, a lot of conservative commenters are quite upset by the inclusion of a Native American prayer in yesterday's program in Arizona. I've posted some links over at my blog.

  • http://twitter.com/YearInWhite @YearInWhite

    I know it's bad, but when I first saw the screenshot for that video clip, the women in yellow shirts and the arches next to them made me think it was shot at a McDonalds.