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Author Topic: I hope this doesn't upset anybody  (Read 3593 times)

ComplicatedMe

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I hope this doesn't upset anybody
« on: September 10, 2011, 06:54:55 pm »
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.

KittyVel

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 06:59:04 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.

 
Unfortunately, prejudice is everywhere.  It's inescapable.  But I've never heard of people refusing to teach someone about a religion because of the color of their skin.  I also don't know of any faiths that are out of reach of minorities.  You definitely seem to have encountered some very closed minded and uneducated people.  I'm sorry you were told that.  You don't have to worry here.  :)  *hugs*
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chthonic-me

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2011, 07:04:54 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.


There are no racial limits on what you believe. If you believe in something, then you believe in it. As far as getting involved with a group or a teacher, there may be some issues there. I haven't experienced this personally, or even heard of such a thing, but I'm sure it's possible that somewhere there are people practicing some branch of Paganism that will exclude people based on race. It may be a heritage thing or something of that nature, or it may be, unfortunately, entirely a race issue. However, a situation of the latter sort is something that you would want to distance yourself from anyway, right?

Speaking as a black female, I have yet to have a problem with any group or individual accepting me and/or my beliefs because of my color. I've been fortunate that the Pagans I've encounter have been inviting and open minded to people of all backgrounds.

I hope that you can find the same.

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2011, 07:11:01 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963



There are a few possibilities for why someone would say this to you, none of them very smart, in my opinion.

One is that because you are black they feel you already have a heritage that should interest you more than paganism.  I run into this one myself and I call it the 'exotic other' argument.  I am part Ojibwe.  I wasn't raised in the culture, but I have cousins on the res and in the right company I look the part (I'm a bit of a chameleon physically - features that could belong to just about any race with maybe some changes in hairstyle and clothes).  Because FN spirituality goes through popular periods some people can't understand why I would prefer European paganism, almost as if I am betraying something by choosing it.

People who do this seem to me to be displaying a weird form of admiration that has nothing to do with who I am as a person.

The other thing I have run into, that I do not find so innocent or understandable, is that some people feel that paganism itself is a European 'thing'.  Sometimes, to these people, in spite of my three quarters European heritage, I don't really belong.  I can be Christian, because it's universal, I can be Ojibwe, because it's blood (and they don't seem to care how little blood it is) but I can't be pagan because I am not fully European descended.  Some even go so far as to specify Western or Northern European.

I haven't run into either attitude so much that it bothers me - I find it a little funny because I was raised in an English-Canadian home with tea and Victoriana and two Scottish and one English grandparents, but it is the differentness I am supposed to prize and indulge.  I do have a lot of the exotic other in my practices because it is what I learned first, but I've been enchanted with the European stuff since I first started learning it.

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Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2011, 07:13:59 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;18968
but I've been enchanted with the European stuff since I first started learning it.


Which I suppose makes that the exotic other for me.:)

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And I die for the truth in my secret life

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Midnight

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2011, 07:48:01 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.

 
Not true. I'm black and I'm pagan, and many pagans I've met who aren't black have been very open and nice to me. I even know some more black pagans. That was probably said because it's considered unusual for blacks to be anything but christian or muslim(or at least where I live it is -_-)

Jenett

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2011, 07:49:38 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;18968
There are a few possibilities for why someone would say this to you, none of them very smart, in my opinion.


Marilyn said awesome things.

I'd also add: I know folks of pretty much every ethnic background who are Pagan, many of whom are working in traditions that are not immediately linked by their apparent heritage. (One of the friends of my tradition is black, another tradmate is Filipina, for example - but I also know people, say, with strong Scandinavian heritage whose practices include things based in Africa or the pre-European settlement Americas).

Individuals, or specific groups, may have their own varied preferences - and just like anything else (smoking, preferred foods, what people like to talk about), going and finding likeminded people tends to work better than trying to force people to change their minds (when we're talking about small communities where emotional connection is a part of the picture.)
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catja6

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2011, 08:04:52 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
:

 
I agree with Marilyn, that it sounds like you're getting a bunch of ignorant crap from people who see you as an exotic "Other."  There's a very good piece in Johnston and Aloi's (otherwise uneven) essay collection, The New Generation Witches, written by a young black witch; she talks about feeling caught between exactly that kind of exoticizing/exclusion from the Pagan community on one side, and the mandatory Christianity of her particular community on the other.

ComplicatedMe

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2011, 08:20:56 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;18968
There are a few possibilities for why someone would say this to you, none of them very smart, in my opinion.

One is that because you are black they feel you already have a heritage that should interest you more than paganism.

The other thing I have run into, that I do not find so innocent or understandable, is that some people feel that paganism itself is a European 'thing'.

 
First thank you guys SOOO much for responding me and reassuring me that it was just unfortunately the ignorance and cruelty of people who were trying to discourage me. It's terrible that that was the case but I'm glad it wasn't try and I can find out more without having to worry about hitting road blocks due to my skin color.  

Marilyn those are the main two things I heard as well.  I mean I have a mainly black, Native American, and Creole genetics and people were trying to mainly tell me that since I wasn't of majority European descent or coming from a pagan/wiccan family background I wouldn't really be accepted or it would be hard for me. (Luckily I like a challenge anyway so it wouldn't have stopped me :) ) You guys have been tremendous help.  It's good to be reaffirmed that I shouldn't be ashamed of or afraid of clashes between my skin tone, my views, and other's judgement

@catja6- hmm I may have to look into reading that. I love reading and may definitely give some insight

hufflee

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2011, 08:35:53 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan.
That's ok. We have all manner of people here, including Agnostics, Atheists, Christians. We're a melting pot of religions, despite the name of the forum.

Quote
I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

 Excuse me, but I have one thing to say about this.....Hahaaaaaaaaahahahaha! (no offense meant to you)
You will find small minded people everywhere unfortunately, but be glad to know that when they come here they usually don't stay too long.

Welcome to TC, and I hope you find the answers you are looking for. This is definitely a good place to start anyway!  :)
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Jubes

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2011, 08:46:45 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18978
First thank you guys SOOO much for responding me and reassuring me that it was just unfortunately the ignorance and cruelty of people who were trying to discourage me. It's terrible that that was the case but I'm glad it wasn't try and I can find out more without having to worry about hitting road blocks due to my skin color.  


 

Even if you do hit a few  road  blocks  because  some  people are  cruel and  ignorant, don't  let that  stop your  from going around said road blocks and  following the path you  choose to follow. Sometimes  it amazes me the lengths  other people  will go to, to stop  someone  from  believing something  they  don't. :)
Armed with  common sense and worldly ways.......

RandallS

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2011, 11:15:12 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.

That's silly. I suspect you ran into some people who were either ignorant or prejudiced. Sadly, you will run into both in any religion. :(

Quote
I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.

There are some people who might not teach you because you are black, but there are a lot more who will not care. I don't think I'd worry too much about this -- unless you live in an area where skin color prejudice is still tolerated by local society. Even then you will probably find less prejudice among Pagans than among the general population.

Quote
Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority?

Certain tribal religions are closed to people who are not members of the tribe, but other than that (and a few small religious groups that are nothing but a cover for bigotry), I don't really know of any.
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Rahni

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 04:38:26 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.

 I'm not offended by your skin color or your race.
I did not know you were a particular skin color or race.
That really sucks that people were like that to you, just based on your skin type.
I don't think everyone is like that...

So what DO you believe?

BunnyMaz

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2011, 04:57:06 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.

 
First, I want to say I am sorry you've had to deal with arseholes refusing you on race grounds.  That sucks and it is not cool.

There are some folkish Pagan paths, and there are folkish Pagans of all sorts of other paths.  There is a belief amongst some that it is better to honour the gods of your ancestry than others, or at least to ask those gods and see if they are keen to have you before looking elsewhere.  A matter of courtesy to those gods, if you see what I mean.

Unfortunately some people use folkish traditions to justify their own racism.  (Note to folkish folk here, I am not saying that all folkish types are racist or even that many are, but we all know racists will use any tool to try and justify their stance; just look at the furore regarding the casting of a black actor as Heimdall in the recent Thor movie).

I hope you'll find that most of us are not like that, whether folkish or not, and hope you'll feel as welcome here as I have.

As to having the "correct" ancestry in order to be allowed to follow the path, just how far back are we allowed to go?  Isn't it said that something like one in eight Westerners have distant blood roots leading to Genghis Khan?  And what about people like me, who can't trace their family lines back any further than, at absolute best, the late 1800s?  Seems to me, if you feel like you want to explore a path, no one should get to tell you whether you should or not.

Livia Indica

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Re: I hope this doesn't upset anybody...
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2011, 05:51:55 pm »
Quote from: ComplicatedMe;18963
Okay short blurb. I'm not Pagan. I'm here because I want to find out and learn about the different beliefs, people, dynamics, ideas that fall under the term Pagan. I keep getting drawn into wanting more knowledge on it so I'm here to find out what info I can and get questions answered and my hopeful end result is finding what works for me and growing and getting into it... now that being said my first question/issue/concern or what have you....

I've had more than a few people tell me that I wasn't "allowed" to be Pagan or follow certain Pagan religions (it escapes my mind at the moment the exacts on what they said) but there reason for that was... I'm black.  

I was told that a lot of what I would meet is scorn and general dislike even so far as refusal to accept or teach me because I'm black.  I figured this just couldn't be the case.  But I have a VERY limited knowledge of the inner workings and feelings of the Pagan community so I figured here would be good place to find out are there any prejudices out there with race and Pagan religion? Are there certain religions or beliefs unavailable to minority? Was I just a victim of small minded or unlearned people? Is it just a stereotype?  

Please understand I am NOT trying to spark a huge racial debate or play the "black card" or anything like that. I'm just genuinely curious about if a racial dynamic plays a part in the Pagan community.  Sorry if any offense comes of this post or any to follow.

I don't want to be an alarmist but you should know that there are, unfortunately, some small segments of certain types of pagan that can sometimes be lumped with racists. I had the misfortune to know some Odinists who were seriously racist and they claimed, I stress they said this not me, that many Odinists and other Norse descended pagans felt the same way. I learned more about this researching tattoos. There are some actual hate groups out there that have Norse symbol tattoos, like Thor's Hammer, right next to their RAHOWA tats (racial holy war.) This is only a tiny segment of pagans but they are out there.

Here's a good article about racism amongst pagans from the Southern Poverty Law Center just to prove I'm not making this up. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2000/spring/pagans-and-prison

Again, don't want to be an alarmist but you should know all the same.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 05:58:34 pm by Livia Indica »

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