I have to start this blog post with several disclaimers. Never before have I felt the need to preface something I have written with so many caveats. But this subject is so laden with landmines of emotion and pitfalls of shameful history that I feel I must give a preface.
The written word has never been as strong a talent in my life as the spoken word. If my voice was not cracked and ragged from the flu/cold that I have been fighting for three weeks, I would certainly record a podcast segment on this topic. But the issue has grabbed ahold of my mind and will not let me rest until I address it.
I hesitated for a moment before writing this. But the day I become too cowardly to try to address something this important is the day I should be mocked, belittled and hounded to my grave.
I really like Sarenth Odinson. I have met him at various pagan events on several occasions and I like him on a personal level. I also like the podcast (The Jaguar and The Owl) that he co-hosts with James Stovall. I am not an intimate friend, but he is one of those people I liked as soon as I met him.
I agree with 99% of everything he wrote in his blog post. His history is spot on and his points are excellent. I highly recommend you give it a read by clicking here.
I join him in refuting the concept of ANY SORT of racial purity requirements in magick…or frankly any other endeavor in life. I do not believe the Gods and Goddesses give two damns about anyone’s racial makeup outside of possibly favoring a very few humans who are their direct descendants. And you can’t sell me on the idea that any God or Goddess wouldn’t seduce any human because of their racial hue. They wouldn’t be the Gods and Goddesses I know if they didn’t sample the sexual bounty of all varieties of humans. Some of those direct descendants are likely from all points of the globe and every possible skin hue.
Some really offensive organizations (I am looking at you Stormfront and the KKK) have attempted to make a somewhat similar point that I will be arguing here. Unfortunately these organizations cannot escape their hatred long enough to make a good argument outside of spitting bile and indelibly staining the topic as code for racial hatred.
Whew. That’s for starters.
So if I like the post so much and agree with 99% of what is written there, what has gotten sand in my britches?
“Calls to being proud of ‘whiteness’ are engaging in racism.”
It’s not a point that hasn’t been stated by many occultist or pagans before. And that is probably why I feel the need to address it. When so many people I agree with so often strike such a dissonant chord in my mind it actually hurts a bit. So I hope you understand I am addressing the opinion, not the person who expressed the opinion.
Given the type of people who usually call for someone to be proud of their ‘white’ heritage it’s not surprising that many people feel this way. So let’s took a good hard look at this.
Let’s make the assumption that this statement is true: “Calls to being proud of ‘whiteness’ are engaging in racism.”
If we follow the path of logic, it must then follow that: “Calls to being proud of ‘blackness’ are engaging in racism.”
Also we can make the assumption that: “Calls to being proud of being Asian are engaging in racism.”
I can hear people’s blood starting to heat up already. Give me a moment to make this point before you turn up the fires.
I quite purposefully crossed the line from making a statement about skin hue to making a statement about what is commonly referred to as a particular race of humans.
And that is where the trouble starts. The practice of defining race.
To quote Sarenth, “Are my eyes German? Are my legs Dutch? Is my left ring finger French? Are my teeth American?”
It all gets sticky quickly, doesn’t it?
To start talking about ‘whiteness’ is not culturally equivalent to talking about ‘blackness’ or any other hue.
Why? Because of humanities ugly past and present of oppressing or enslaving people based on how black, yellow, white, red, brown or purple their skin color is. I don’t have to quote history on that. It’s too damn obvious to anyone who takes two minutes to look at it.
So there is an immediate confusion and a messy lumping together of who is ‘white’ with particular ethnicities. This mess is particular to a person’s history and experiences in life.
My own ancestory is pretty pale. One look at my pasty skin and dishwater hair leads one to the obvious assumption of European extraction. My Ancestors (according to admitted family history) are mostly German and Irish. A mix of English, French and a few other European cultures is mixed in as well. A few whispers of possible African and Native American Ancestors have reached my ears over the years also.
So it follows that to some people I am ‘white’. To others I am ‘german’. To others I am a ‘mick’. To others I am a ‘racial mutt’ who deserves to be put down due ‘racial impurity’. To a select few extremists I am ‘black’ simply because my curly hair points to possible gene links to Africa.
I have never had a DNA test to analyze my origins, so let’s utilize my family lore to identify the largest chunk of my genetic code. Looking through family history I am identified as being mostly ‘german’. German is about as ‘white’ as it gets for most people.
Should I be proud of my German Ancestory? Should I be proud of my Ancestor’s accomplishments or ashamed of their atrocities? Should I take pride in my German heritage of discovery of things like the mathematical Set Theory or being the first to isolate morphine? Should I bear the shame of my German heritage of the Holocaust or starting two World Wars?
The answer for me is BOTH.
And since you can easily swap the word ‘white’ for ‘german’ in the zeitgeist of our modern world (I am aware I am switching capitalization) that means that I am both proud and ashamed of being white.
So in my mind, claiming that a call to be proud of my ‘whiteness’ is racist is to tell me I am only allowed to be ashamed of my Ancestors and never to be proud of them.
I know that is not the intention of the statement, but THAT IS WHAT FOLLOWS LOGICALLY in my mind.
And I will proclaim a hearty, “Fuck You”, to anyone who tells me to be ashamed of my Ancestors. My Ancestors have done terrible and beautiful things. And so have yours, no matter your ‘race’ or ‘color’.
To pretend otherwise is not only an oversimplification, it prevents us from learning the lessons of history.
I am aware that Sarenth makes a distinction in his blog post between ‘whiteness’ and someone’s heritage. I believe the two are inseparable in people’s minds.
The problem comes down to something pretty basic. The only people using the term of being proud of being ‘white’ are presently a bunch of racist dickweeds. Therefore anyone who even broaches the topic is immediately labeled as racist due to previous mental associations with organized racism.
If you wish to label me racist, it’s your decision. I have been called much worse and I am not afraid of being labeled by confused, misinformed or mentally lazy people.
Am I proud of my ‘white’ Ancestors? Darn tootin’.
Am I blind to my ‘white’ Ancestors atrocities? Not at all.
But don’t ever tell me to be more ashamed of my Ancestors than anyone else.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.