Truth & Joy: Confronting Racism in Religion

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PantheaCon 2015:

A gathering of 2500 practitioners of Pagan, polytheist and magical traditions in San Jose, California.

Monday morning, after a very full weekend, we packed up our hotel room and went to the cold, carpeted ballroom to set up chairs into two Vesicae Piscis, each holding the other in gentle arcs. A microphone was set up in the center of the room.

The Pagans of Color Caucus had taken the opportunity afforded by Pantheacon staff who suggested they use this space vacated by a canceled workshop to offer “Creating Brave Spaces for People of Color.” It was needed.

People trickled in, taking their seats. Some words of welcome and explanation were said. And then one of the most potent rituals I’ve ever had the privilege to be part of began.

It was the beginning of the Telling of Truth.

The sort of telling of truth that must occur before there can be any talk of reconciliation. I’ve said many times that before there can be peace, there must be justice. The corollary is this: before there can be reconciliation or healing, there must be truth.

People shouted. People raged. Some spoke so quietly it was hard to hear them. Many others wept. Most of us wept. Stories were told. Opinions offered. One person was angrily challenged in the midst of palpable grief. And after two hours, the Pagans of Color stood in the center as white allies circled around to hold and bear witness. The names of the dead were recited. Loud screams of sorrow and rage cut through the air. And then, more names were sobbed out. And these words, repeated over and over, from a raw and burning throat: “I see you. I hear you. I know you. I love you.” And to the white people bearing witness: “See us. Hear us. Know us. Love us.”

We see you. We hear you. We know you. We love you.

Then we sang.

This was a weekend filled with more instances of racism than I can even recount to you: white people’s swastikas defended, Jewish bankers decried by a workshops attendee, (1) a presenter saying, “it is good to learn Spanish for talking to workers,” a Pilipina told that “Paganism is European indigenous religion" and not for her, people walking by the Pagans of Color suite every hour or two, hissing “racists!”,white people drunkenly insisting they don’t need to understand privilege, a misguided attempt at satire being taken seriously enough that a few people actually wanted to take a workshop on how to avoid the topic of racism…(2)

These are but a handful of the incidents that occurred. I also saw many other forms of simple disrespect leveled at my sisters, brothers, and siblings by white people who should know better. By the time the Pagans of Color Caucus was meeting Sunday night, things had gotten so bad that a group of allies offered to stand outside the doors to make sure nothing interrupted the meeting. (3)

pic by Stephanie Del Kjer
Some Allies at Pcon 2015 pic by Stephanie Del Kjer

And in and around all of this, Con happened. I know that great workshops and rituals were had by many people. I feel amazingly privileged to have facilitated and participated in the panels that I did. The one workshop I was able to attend – Rhyd Wildermuth and Alley Valkyrie’s “Gods and Radicals” – was fantastic and needs several days of conversations for follow up. But I felt like I was in my own Con: a convention of confronting racism. Of sharing food and drink and building alliances with those who are most affected by injustice, and with those who pledge to actively stand against it.

I saw it this year. I really saw it: the things my Black and brown comrades face daily, but mostly don’t talk about because what white person would believe that things really are this bad?

Meanwhile, every 28 hours a person of color is killed by police or security forces in the US. In the US, every week so far this year, a trans woman of color has been murdered. So many people have been killed just since Mike Brown’s death that I have stopped keeping track. And those are just the ones that come through my feed from the people I organize with locally. I know there are more that never even surface in my awareness.

And yet some white people need more stories to hear just how crushing daily racism is to our Black and brown neighbors and co-religionists. Some white people want personal attention around how badly they feel when asked to confront their own privilege.

We need to start paying better attention.

We need to cultivate a vision of the world we want to build, and that has to include a deeper understanding of the one we all currently inhabit, not just our own small bubble within that world.

The weekend was intense – after the uprising began in Ferguson, and the further escalation of overt racism in the country began, I knew it would be. After statements and non-statements, and out and out silence on the subject of police terror and the slaughter of African Americans, after the relegating of this scourge as a “cause du jour” by some Pagan leaders despite the fact that some of us have been working on these issues for years, I knew what was coming. I had prepared for this, clearing my schedule of all but moderating and sitting on panels that dealt with necessary change: one on nurturing younger leaders, one on bringing race to the table, and one on cultural appropriation.

Our whole Temple board had prepared for the weekend knowing that we would need to be strong and present for those who would need support, including one another.

The week before Con, someone quipped on Twitter: “It’s four days until Pantheacon and participants are already preparing to take umbrage at something.” Another dismissal. As though standing up for trans inclusion two years in a row was a trifle. And as if the issue of racism in Paganism wasn’t already quite clearly set to be one unstated theme of this year’s PantheaCon.

Several people asked why I wasn’t teaching classes or leading ritual as usual. They missed me on the schedule. I replied that my work this weekend was with the panels. After the very moving “Honoring or Appropriation” panel – which I hope you listen to when it is up on Elemental Castings – one of these people folded me into a deep hug. He said he now realized that this panel was as big a teaching as I have ever offered. He understood now why I wasn’t teaching my usual classes.

This too, is part of the Great Work.

Honoring or Appropriation pic by Stephanie Del Kjer
Honoring or Appropriation
pic by Stephanie Del Kjer

PantheaCon 2015 was filled with joy, laughter, camaraderie, community, and gratitude as well as physical pain from a minor injury I sustained mere days before. Mostly though? PantheaCon 2015 was underscored by my sense of anger. Anger so wide and deep that by the end, I was back to the states I inhabited so often in my youth: wishing to punch things while remaining perfectly still inside and out. Wishing to punch things, while finding my center and calling on my Gods. Wishing to punch things while offering calm explanations, a compassionate ear, or shoulders to cry upon. Wishing to weep, in the midst of great love.

I’m eternally grateful to those who are taking active leadership during these times of foment.

I'm taking steps to continue organizing with groups and individuals who are committed to building a culture based on love, equity, and justice. I hope that you will join us in this sacred task.

In the middle of the Honoring or Appropriation panel, I paused the hundreds sitting in the ballroom and asked us all to breathe and call upon Compassion and Anger.

I seem to be walking with them still.

And yet, there is also joy in my heart, and joy on the faces of my friends. So I leave you with a few pictures of that joy, taken at Pantheacon 2015.

The sharing of joy is as important as telling our truths to one another.

 

 


(1) Late Edit: This originally read "Jewish bankers decried in workshops" which could possibly be read as being done by a presenter. It was a workshop attendee who talked about Jews and the monetary system, and international conspiracy. That sort of speech is often shortened to being described as talk of "Jewish bankers."

(2) Late edit: The authors of the item posted a very thoughtful apology in the comments of the linked blog.

(3)Addendum for clarity: The Sunday evening Caucus was a meeting already on the Con schedule and was separate from the Monday morning meeting I speak of at the beginning of this piece, which was added to the schedule after various events on Saturday upset many Pagans of Color and white Pagans. At the Bringing Race to the Table panel Saturday, it was decided that people wanted more time to process. Con gave this to us all with the Monday slot.

Also, ConOps had offered security for the Sunday eve meeting, but knowing how busy they are, allies stepped up and offered to stand watch. ConOps checked in with us on this, and I believe there was a Con staffer on duty inside the door as well.


Crystal & Xochiquetzal  Pcon2015
Crystal Blanton & Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir pic by Stephanie Del Kjer

I want to thank those on Pantheacon staff and leadership – particularly Jaimie – who really stepped up around issues of race: making space, offering support and security, taking complaints, and making clear there is a zero tolerance policy for racist behavior at Con.

A small group of Pagans, including Solar Cross Temple, have launched Pagans Against Racism as a community resource. Please make us of it.

Pagans of Color Suite, Pcon 2015 Aine & friends pic by Xochiquetzal
Pagans of Color Suite, Pcon 2015 Aine & friends
pic by Xochiquetzal
Jae, Luna, & Matthew: PoC suite Pcon 2015 pic by Xochiquetzal
Jae, Luna, & Matthew: PoC suite Pcon 2015
pic by Xochiquetzal

The three panels I mentioned will all be up on  Elemental Castings within the month.

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Solar Cross Temple is starting a series of online community classes on leadership, restorative justice, psychology, and other topics in March. Not listed yet but in the works are also classes on unlearning racism and becoming better allies in the struggle for justice.

 

 

 

 

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I honor so many people: Aine, Xochiquetzal, Crystal, Ryan, Robert, Jonathan, Sophia, Jaimie, Elena, Brennos, Morpheus, Patrick...and all the others showing up to help build coalitions of support.

 

 

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Crystal Blanton & T. Thorn Coyle, Pcon 2015 pic by Stephanie Del Kjer
Crystal Blanton & T. Thorn Coyle, Pcon 2015
pic by Stephanie Del Kjer

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To those concerned about my walking with a cane during Con: I had a training injury – while exercising Monday before Con, I leapt over a giant tire, slightly missed, and landed with full weight on the top side of my foot – I'm healing rapidly and well. Thank you. 

55 Responses to “Truth & Joy: Confronting Racism in Religion”

  1. Ember Cooke

    Thank you. We need this SO much, and you are such a strong, visible leader in our community.

    I wish I’d had the energy to do more than the handful of rituals I promised. I heard about all these things, but got to see only a tiny few of them directly.

    -E-

    • admin

      We all do what we can, Ember! Con is a lot and as I said, I basically arranged my schedule to be on point around these issues. Which ended up being a good thing because of hurting my foot, as well! I don’t think I would have had the energy to help lead a big ritual, for example.

  2. Kevin Schieberl

    “One person was angrily challenged in the midst of palpable grief.” As one who squirmed in my seat as I witnessed it, you set a beautiful example of speaking truth with expansive compassion.

    • candy

      I felt the same way. Every part of my being wanted to scream out “Sit down, shut up, open your ears!” but I did not feel it was my place to do it. I was there to listen. Was that the right decision? I’ll never know, but damn did i clap when those whose voices I came to hear challenged him.

      • admin

        Some times it is hard to know what the correct thing is to do. It seems that many in the room felt torn.

  3. Liz

    Hi Thorn,
    The link for the Pagans Against Racism page seems to be broken.

    Thanks so much for writing about this year’s con experience from your perspective. It’s important work to cut through the bullshit and make sure justice happens.

  4. Juanita

    I am very sorry I could not attend. I am very, very happy that this difficult and much needed discussion has begun. It’s been a long time coming.

  5. Peter Dybing

    It has been a rough few weeks for those seeking social Justice in our collective communities. I can not count how many times Pagans have asked me why I am still posting issues surrounding #BlackLivesMatter and police violence. Some have even said it was all just another Pagan “Internet drama”. Selma was 50 years ago and yet here we are addressing these issues within our blessed community. It has been a hard lesson to learn that so many under the Pagan umbrella have little to no understanding of the experiences of People of Color in our society. In this we are not alone, after the HRC posted in support of Black Lives Matter the comments on their site made me want to throw up. Those who are made uncomfortable by this conversation are those most in need of hearing it. The collective “we” have a responsibility to continue, resist those who would sweep the subject under the rug, urge our community to listen to Pagans of Color and never allow the forces that seek to return the community to a place of comfort to have their way. Until my brothers and sisters are free of bigotry in our community there must always be a place at the Pagan table for these conversations.

    • admin

      “Those who are made uncomfortable by this conversation are those most in need of hearing it.”

      True words, Peter.

  6. Amy Hale

    I admit I am having, rather expectedly, a range of deep and complicated emotions around a lot of this. In fact, I’m kind of shocked, and as you know I have spent years working on some very extreme and ugly stuff. In a way, though, the extremism is easier to deal with. I have been watching as a ton of potentially teachable moments have gloriously backfired into wildly entrenched positions. What I fear is that some very intractable frameworks are coming into contact with one another, and that many of the rhetorical devices of social justice that people are using to try to make it better are failing because, honestly, I don’t think enough Pagans genuinely *experience* diversity in a way that will provide the most meaningful lessons of all, the genuine opportunity to see, listen and feel in lived community. I see strategies and good intentions failing, and I am pained. For me, there is no Greater Work than this.

    • admin

      Amy, I am in full agreement with you that it is lack of experiencing true diversity that is the main problem. That’s why I brought up the bubble.

      Before I moved to the East Bay from San Francisco, I wasn’t as closely connected with various communities of color, and could keep things more at a distance. I was concerned, of course, and saddened, and appalled, but I wasn’t *invested* yet.

      And it still takes effort on my part – my Twitter feed is mostly Black and brown artists and thinkers just for this purpose. Add in the work with local coalitions, and my view is much clearer than before.

      I think people not only don’t want to disturb their comfort levels, they also likely feel overwhelmed at “where to start?” I hope Pagans Against Racism is a good resource for this purpose.

      Thanks for your part of the work.

      (and yeah, I think ugly extremism is easier to deal with because we can say “not us.” All of this stuff? Clearly, it is us.)

      • Ember Cooke

        Lack of experience with true diversity…

        I find myself wondering what exactly that means, and how to cultivate it more effectively. I think it must mean something beyond making sure one has opportunities to communicate with token individuals from a wide variety of contexts, but to actually have more integration of such diverse populations… yes?

        Which is a round-about way of saying, “When you say that… what is it we’re missing?”

        -E-

  7. Medea

    It’s upsetting to think that a Pagans of Color caucus would need any kind of security at a place like Pantheacon 🙁

  8. candy

    Thank you so much for facilitating this conversation. From the moment my partner and I walked into pcon in the early evening of saturday, we could immediately feel something was off, different, wrong. It took us until the last day to figure out why everything seemed to out of place, and it was the events you spoke about that brought about that realization.

    I consider myself a rather open, involved social justice advocate and ally… but I had never heard anything like those screams of pain, and that ritual will stay with me and drive my path until the end of my days.

    • admin

      Unfortunately, I think these sorts of things happen at Pantheacon and other Pagan spaces far more often than white people realize. That said, I think that the responses to the recent #blacklivesmatter movement primed the Con for more escalation this year.

      When people feel their way of life threatened, they often act out.

    • admin

      That ritual on Monday was profound.

      I’m glad to hear that it will drive your path. That’s important.

  9. Sea Serpent

    All I can say is I wish I had known this was going on before I left, and I could afford to stay for Pantheacon Sunday night (unfortunately the lowest rates my hotel was charging that night were exorbitant) so I could join the allies and stand outside the door.

    • admin

      Sea Serpent, it is understandable, and we didn’t really know what would be needed until pretty late in the game.

  10. Elysia

    “Wishing to punch things while offering calm explanations, a compassionate ear, or shoulders to cry upon. Wishing to weep, in the midst of great love.” – yes, this! I was pretty overwhelmed by wanting to weep a good part of the weekend. Not so much in anger, but in gratitude that PantheaCon is finally becoming (still becoming) a space where people can talk about things honestly. Where people can learn and be enlightened and then bring that home to their own communities. Even as an ally, things hit closer to home in the midst of a supportive, exploring, honest group. I felt so grateful for our people and our community. And I am not normally a gratitude person – to me gratitude is too close to accepting the status quo instead of fighting against it, counting our blessings instead of asking for true justice, accepting “just enough” and stopping there. Yet this weekend I felt it.

    Thorn – I only got to say hi to you for one second this weekend and I didn’t use my time wisely. I said you looked well when I meant you looked fierce, I meant you are strong, I meant I am grateful to you for doing the work. Love you babe. Keep rocking. 🙂

    • admin

      Elysia, I also feel amazing gratitude at everyone who is stepping up and speaking their truths or doing the deep listening needed.

      I feel hope for what we can build together.

      (and thank you – wish we’d had some time to hang out, but such is Con)

  11. ladyP

    One addendum. At least 6 transwomen of color have been murdered in 2015. I’ve never heard of this con until now. Thank you for starting this conversation. Is there a “how to be a white ally” workshop?

    • admin

      LadyP, that’s about the count I stated, isn’t it? Around one for every week so far. Just terrible.

      Some of our associates are working on “how to be a better ally” workshop. Meanwhile, you may check out Catalyst Project: http://collectiveliberation.org/

      • Claudia

        Thorne thank you for your example, passion, and dedication to the pagan community. I know that many of us want to know how to do more. I look forward to this workshop! Before this PCon I had no idea that we needed a POC caucus. After Monday’s meeting I know we need education and need to act and speak out. Privileged whites are not the only ones who are blind. I am a POC and never knew until this PCon.

        • admin

          Thank you for this, Claudia.

          These are powerful times and I’m glad to see so many rising to this challenge.

      • admin

        I did know that, and thank you for bringing it to this conversation. It is a tragedy.

  12. Yvonne Aburrow

    Thank you Thorn for this excellent post. Thank you to the Pagans of Colour for your bravery, and for the wake-up call. Thank you to all who held the space open for Pagans of Colour.

  13. Crystal Blanton

    This is one of the best explorations of the events. There was something so important to me about reading when you said “I saw it this year. I really saw it: the things my Black and brown comrades face daily, but mostly don’t talk about because what white person would believe that things really are this bad?”

    These infractions happen so often that even I am numb to them sometimes. It is often the way we have to walk through the world, experiencing and processing these aggressions daily. It is so confirming to know that this situation helped to show others what that looks and feels like.

    Thank you for being present for me and for so many others. Thank you for putting your relationship with others and your desire for justice above a good time. Thank you for being genuine and loving and fierce and honest and stern. Thank you for taking the time to educate others about racism and privilege.

    I am more hopeful after this situation because of the true love and allyship we saw. I am hopeful that we might be able to grow a little more as a community. Even if just within the walls of Pcon.
    Much love.

  14. Erynn

    I really wish I could have been there. It’s things like this that I miss by being here in Italy. I don’t talk much online these days, but it doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.

  15. Jonathan Tapia

    While I appreciate the white allies, deepest appreciation, I have just decided that I will NEVER attend Pantheacon. It is not safe when guards have to be posted, when escorts have to be provided, when people feel empowered enough to challenge/bait a PoC to react negatively. PoC can and will and I am sure do stay away from the areas where racism is openly accepted. It is unacceptable for racists to bring the racism to any PoC.

    I am Hispanic, with enough Native American in me to be on my tribes census. The reporting of these events just makes me sad and disappointed.

    • admin

      Jonathan,

      I can understand your view. It makes sense you wouldn’t want to come to such an environment.

      That said, I feel hope this year because of the strong coalitions getting built. And PantheaCon itself is taking big steps to help make Con safer and more welcoming. The reality is – as you know – micro-agressions happen all day long, everywhere Black and brown people go where white people are present.

      Racism isn’t openly accepted at Pantheacon – we are just calling it out more when we see it, rather than sweeping it under the rug. Tensions were heightened this year because of the fact that there is a new Civil Rights Movement happening in the US and that brings more things to the surface. I think/hope that this escalation is temporary and that the community as a whole can change.

      Be well. And thanks for writing this comment.

    • Sea Serpent

      Jonathan, I don’t blame you either. There were people who felt unsafe at PantheaCon, and needed escorts? That is not good.

      • Ember

        Hmm. There may be a wire crossed here.

        The one time *I’m* aware of someone *requesting* an escort because they felt unsafe, it was because their prejudices had pissed off so many people that they thought they’d be attacked. They weren’t actually in any such danger, as the only protests were very pointedly peaceful. That was a few years ago.

        It’s possible that some folks felt unsafe enough to request escort this year, but I don’t *think* that’s what happened. I think escort was proactively *offered* in order to make it clear that PantheaCon as an organization actively supports, and if necessary helps to protect, our fellow Pagans of Color.

        That people of color feel unsafe in general right now is very understandable, considering what’s been going on. But it’s been pointed out to me repeatedly that it’s not so much new activity as it is new that we actually hear about it. :/

        -E-

        • admin

          Ember,

          At Monday’s event several POC said they would send text messages to one another so they weren’t walking solo through the halls. They didn’t want to face the crowds alone. That came as a shock to many of us there.

          • Ember

            Ahh, that I hadn’t heard. I’m not surprised, though.

            I’m still not clear on whether they’re expressing fear for their safety vs. a desire for moral support. Do you know?

            -E-

            • Ember

              I feel weird saying “they” as though I’m talking about strangers rather than my friends, acquaintances, and collegues. But it seems appropriative to say “we” in this context, since I don’t share the disadvantages and thus fears in question…

              Ahh well. :/
              -E-

        • Crystal Blanton

          It is not that anyone was asking for escorts from Con staff. We were all networking with one another prior to Pcon so that we could have support in the halls. This is not a new thing, it is just not something we often discuss.

          • Ember

            That makes sense, and is closer to what I was expecting. Thank you very much for clarifying.

            I don’t know that it will make Jonathan feel any better about it, but it is what it is. :/

            –Ember–

    • Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir

      Jonathan,

      I don’t know that there is an answer that will ever make you change your mind. And that breaks my heart. And fills me with a deep sadness. PantheaCon has introduced me to PoC who are some of my dearest friends and comrades.

      They are people I can call at 2:30AM and they will answer and listen. They are people who will walk the halls with me not just for our safety but for our mutual strength in what is recognized as an overwhelmingly white space and because of how whiteness permeates culture to the point of supremacy, in a generally HOSTILE environment for PoC.

      But, this same hostile environment invites allies to stand up from the crowd and walk WITH us. Stand outside the door for us, ask US if we need anything. Even if it’s just a moment to gather our thoughts. To have a sign at every panel reminding us that yes, black lives matter.

      The challenging and baiting of PoC has thankfully only ever happened to presenters and panelists; if it has happened to regular attendees, they have shared in confidence or not at all. The fact that it happens means that we are shaking up something very wrong in the hearts of conscious and unconscious racists and they reflexively lash out at us for the challenge we bring of acknowledging the space we inhabit. And so we continue to take up that space. We don’t fill a void and PantheaCon doesn’t “grant” us the space; we raised the money for it, we raised the money for food for it, we raise the funds every single year to do the things we do in that space. Things like feeding our people, feeding our souls with connection and community.

      But that doesn’t happen if we don’t show up. We can’t provide for our people if our butts aren’t in the seats. And I get it, as I say time and again, more and more PoC show up but don’t necessarily come to the suite and that’s okay. No one is forcing anyone to come into our suite. But we are saying time and again that it’s there, if they should EVER want to step into it. Because we are there. We will be there as long as we need to.

      If you change your mind about PantheaCon, you’ll know where to find me. 🙂 In the PoC Hospitality Suite. My first words will be, “Hi there! Have you eaten?” and a smile. Because you’re there, and to me, every shining face in that room is a victory against racism in our pagan community.

  16. Mariah/Caelesti

    I think a big problem here is that many people have not been discussing race before Ferguson & other issues arose. Not everyone sees social justice or political issues as part of their paganism (though excluding it is in my opinion something of a privilege!) I’m seeing this happen in other communities- like the Atheist/Skeptic/Humanist groups. I am working on a series on my blog educating white folks about racial issues, including economic class, educational status as factors. It is not Pagan specific, though I will have some Pagan/Heathen/polytheist related posts later on as well. Constructive criticism from people of color, and poor/working class, non-college educated and rural white people welcome and encouraged, as are questions in general.

    • admin

      Caeliesti,

      I think you are correct that many people have felt blindsided by recent discussions of race, and just want it to go away, so things can go back to “normal” and feel good to them again. This, as you point out, is a sign of living with privilege. I sometimes say that privilege is the ability to not have to look at oppression and injustice.

      Misogyny and racism and so much else are simply part of our society. We are often shocked to find that our “enlightened” or “progressive” group has the same proportion of those things as any other group. We are not as special as we like to think.

      It is excellent that you are building these resources. It sounds like they might be useful additions to the pagansagainstracism.org site.

  17. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for this, and for all you’ve been doing, Thorn. (And I hope your foot is doing much better, and is back to normal soon!)

    As for me, I’m still blind with rage, and both my blindness and my rage aren’t helping anyone at this point.

    While the daily struggles of People of Color in the U.S. and other groups that are deprived of privilege are not remotely the same, the congruence of the sorts of microaggressions that we each experience were brought home to me especially on Monday morning. In one breath, someone who was well-meaning (and white) congratulated me on contributing to Bringing Race to the Table, but then questioned how I “really knew” that the Memnon who is said to be Thor’s father is “really the same Memnon” that was king of Ethiopia and so forth. No, it can’t possibly be, that would be the worst thing EVAR if Thor was, in the opinion of one of the most “authoritative” (for what that’s worth!) medieval authors on Norse mythology said that Thor was half-Ethiopian. I’ve heard that same tone of voice, seen that same stance toward me, when I talk about gender diversity, or sexual orientation diversity, or disability, or anything else not-quite-mainstream, and I saw it deployed many times over during that Monday morning conversation when many People of Color spoke and, for example, explanations and definitions were demanded of them by white people, etc. The patterns are there to be read easily, and so it shocks me that more people aren’t (and it’s not that they “can’t”) or won’t. The empathy that Luna Pantera spoke of in her words at the end of the panel on Saturday (and thanks for posting that recording!) and its entire lack in so many people still floors and upsets me. No, no one treats me like I don’t know anything until I speak, and I can choose to speak or not to speak about any of the issues that are important to me and that impact me (or, at least, most of the time I am not singled out on appearance only), and People of Color don’t have that privilege, and it pisses me off to no end.

    In any case, I’m not writing any satires…just yet, anyway…but, I’ll be saying more on that in the near future, too. Thanks for offering your resources to those efforts, and for all else you’re doing and have done, Thorn! Maybe next PantheaCon we can have a nice cuppa tea, for a change? 😉

  18. Evan

    Just read this post and listened to the recording of the “Bringing Race to the Table” panel. So many thoughts. This has all inspired me to go to Pantheacon next year. Gods willing I’ll be there.

    Despite a real attempt at brevity in this response, I ended up writing way over 500 words *twice*. So I’m putting all that in a text file for later and saying this instead:

    I think it’s great that white people are confronting white privilege head-on, as well as the systemic racism that creates these mind-boggling situations like what you see in Ferguson or through the prison-industrial complex. I hope, however, that while focusing on all the things that divide us, people don’t actually begin to believe that we’re *actually* divided. Just about every spiritual doctrine teaches that we’re all one. We’re human. Whether we’re black, white, Democrat, Republican, or from a remote village in the Andes, when we look at a rose we’ll see most of the same things. Same thing goes for a potato.

    So we’re actually mostly the same, which is why it’s messed up that black and brown people get the short end of the stick so often.

    Personally, I hope the national response against systemic racism in places like St. Louis encourages more people within black and brown communities to look “in our own backyards,” so to speak, and start addressing some problems within our communities, such as the culture of violence, rampant sexism and homophobia, and colorism (the latter ties into white supremacy/white privilege)

    My experience with pagan groups in Atlanta was that they tended to be a bit more diverse than other places, though still much more white than the general area.

    Paganism is part of our general cultural consciousness now. Black and brown people take an interest in local pagan groups all the time, but if they don’t feel welcome they won’t stick around. By focusing actively on white privilege, more groups can appeal to non-white people who may be interested in paganism but not sure whether they’ll be welcome or not.

    • admin

      Thanks for writing Evan. I agree that we are all connected. This is a great time for coalition building.

      Thing is, we can like to think that our groups are immune to the ills of the rest of society. That just isn’t true. We have to do this work. We need to not only look at white-privilege but also actively work against the oppression of Black and brown people. These things go hand in hand.

      thanks again for your thoughts.

  19. Christine Berger

    I was not aware of this happening until after PCON. I sit here having read every word on this page with my heart split open and a mixture of deep grief and anger with great hope and gratitude. What is brought to consciousness can heal. My intent is to be certain that my awareness (to the degree I can carry it from a vantage point of white privilege) of how POC are affected by racism daily both within and without the pagan community does not disappear when it is not being “poked”.

    • admin

      Christine that last sentence is just perfect. That is what people need to be doing, IMO. And that is how we dismantle our own addictions to the bubble of privilege – by noticing more of what happens outside our bubble.

      thank you.

  20. Dee Romesburg

    Thank you and Bless You. All of those in the photos above are my Heroes.

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