My observations and experiences as a Pagan Woman of Color:
- On finding out I’m of black descent, people keep asking me who my Met Tet is. Who my Head Orisha is. Which Lwa am I bound to. And then saying “Why not? It’s your bloodline after all!”, when I tell them I don’t follow a African Diasporic Path.
- When I was serving Loki, I was spit on by a local (Caucasian) Asatru, who felt me claiming such a bond was an insult to his “warrior race” ancestors. I was later told by well-meaning others to never bring up my connection to Loki among other pagans. Not because of “Loki = Bad” spite, but because it will be assumed I’m fluffier than a bag of cotton balls because no black person would be accepted by the Aesir/Vanir.
- I was invited to a local Open Circle by a Caucasian friend. The Open Circle was held purposely for allowing those not grouped or covened to join in a seasonal festival and was open to the general public. After arriving and confirming my attendance, I was discreetly told that the ritual would “probably not be good for you and your energies because your kind of gods are so different from ours”. I repeated these words to the High Priestess, who looked every where but at me and then said, “She wasn’t supposed to say it like that, but yes.”. I asked her if she knew which gods I was beholden to, she said, “The Voodoo ones.”. My stone face corrected her. I did leave, but I took a red pen and hashmarked my name from the attendance sheet, then wrote beside it why I was leaving. “My race is not welcome.” My friend said it looked like I had left a blood mark on the paper. She later told me another person spoke up and said, “The nigger left? Oh good. Now we can have a proper ritual.”.
- Online, everyone assumes I am Caucasian because of my assumed name, and that I use runes for magic and tarot for divination. When I correct them, they usually drop the thread at once. On occasion, I have had my comments removed because “Only whites can understand the Goddess. Non-whites have males Gods as their patrons. This has been documented throughout history.”.
- The “Pagan Community” is as whitewashed as the British Colonial Empire. There are outstanding individuals and groups that stand against the tide. But for the majority, it’s either conform to the ‘standard’, or be exotically invisible.
It is for these reasons (and so many experiences like them), I find it hard to claim I am pagan at times. The connotation of the word has shifted from “country-dweller”, to “person not of a Abrahamic faith”, to “a person of European ancestry following a religion loosely based on Western European and/or Northern European religions”.
If I say I am pagan, it is assumed I am white. If I correct that, then I am accused of race-baiting, wanting to be a Special Snowflake, denying my ancestry, or wanting to be white. I am immediately considered a charlatan compared with infamous characters as Miss Cleo and Dionne Warwick. I’m obviously trying to lead young impressionable real pagans (read: white) away with my fake hoodoo mumbo jumbo.
If I remain silent, I am viewed as commiserating with the very people that would render me invisible.
If I speak up, I am viewed as spreading lies and assaulting white people everywhere in my quest to destroy the Caucasian race and self-worth.
I have nothing to add to the
arguments discussions being held back and forth. I’m just a Pagan Woman of Color, that has found refuge in her personal friends, but views the Pagan Community at large racially hostile towards People of Color and has had that view justified far too many times than not.