No, Really

The topic of racism is apparently a hot one in pagan and polytheist circles. Again. Somebody posted something nasty enough that I can't read it, and somebody else posted in opposition, and then a bunch of people posted more things, some of them racist and some of them anti-racist and some of them decrying mixing politics and religion, and I gave up reading. Not because it's unimportant, but because it's the umpty-umpth go-round and nothing has changed since the last time, and I just can't. All out of can. Even the cans the can came in are gone. However, I am apparently incapable of allowing the entire stinking festering mess to go without comment, so really I'm just going to second Δ, who was all succinct and stuff. Racism isn't about politics, it's about dehumanizing people, setting them as less-than the racist. Anti-racism isn't about politics, it's about raising people up and treating them as equals, and recognizing oppression of them, both past and present. That's all there is to it....

Political Body as Magical Body

It occurred to me recently that people who are othered -- women, PoC, queer people, trans people, fat people, disabled people, and all the rest of us who are not the "default" in some way -- have what I am calling Political Bodies. This is a magical body that is not created by the othered person, but by the society that others them. Let's look at Mike Brown (may he rest in power). Mike was a big guy, yes, but not actually significantly larger than his killer. He was, by all reports, pretty chill. And yet Darren Wilson (may he never know peace, may the Eumenides follow him all his days and whip him with the scorpion flails of his own guilt) definitely perceived him as much larger, as very threatening, as a "hulk" and a "demon". This is not an image that Wilson conjured up (literally) on his own. It is a magical construct built out of and fueled by the racism and racists of our society. Any Black man or boy has the same political body thrust upon him: that he is violent, that he is a criminal, that he is a threat, that he is armed, that he is on drugs, that he is much larger and angrier than he is. Black women have similar political bodies thrust on them that are modified by misogyny and misogynoir. I'm fat. It's one of the first things people notice about me when we meet. I am definitely and distinctly fat. That fatness carries a political body, too. Laziness, lack of discipline, physical weakness, never exercises, couch potato, bad eating habits, stupid, at fault for everything bad in my life. My queerness has its own political body, both as a bi woman and as a woman married to a woman, each of which carries a different political bodies. Being a woman carries another political body with it. So does having a mental illness. And all of these bodies, together, form the political body of me. These political bodies are not just invisible assumptions. They actually change the way we are seen -- Darren Wilson (may he understand what he has done, and may it haunt him forever) quite literally saw that magical construct instead of Mike Brown's physical body. And yet, these political bodies are intimately connected with us. What might witches and magicians and workers in the subtle arts do with these bodies, if we claimed them as ours, named them and tamed them to our hands? How could we reshape not only our own political bodies, but by contagion, all political bodies that are like ours? What magic can we work to change the landscape of fear and bigotry in which we live through such avenues?...

Scandal Amongst the Pagans: Pantheacon fuckery and SMOWs

I've been very distracted the past couple of weeks, putting together my application for a developers' academy, getting it as right as I could. It's done now, and I'm trying to turn my mind back to writing other things. Apparently, while I was busy, Scandals, Alarums, and Excursions have been brewing in the pagan community. It seems like almost every year, some massive fuckery happens at Pantheacon. A couple years ago it was Z Budapest's transmisogyny, and apparently this year it was racism. Not just your mainstream everyday aversive-racism-plus-microaggressions, or even people muttering nastiness under their breath. No. We're talking about white people standing there shouting at people of color that daring to have space for themselves was racist, white people bursting into the POC Hospitality Suite to try to stage some kind of confrontation, and pagans of color feeling that they needed to buddy up just to walk from panel to panel. The worst of it, though, was friendly fire. And friendly fire isn't. A satirical bit of writing called PantyCon is apparently a tradition at PantheaCon, a schedule of nonexistent events that means to skewer both some of the minor foibles of the community and event, and some of its major foulnesses. They slammed that Z Budapest ritual pretty hard, I'm told. This time, though, they missed their mark, and hit the very people they were trying to stand up for. Ignoring Racism: A Workshop for White Pagans Large Umbrella Pagan Group Isn’t all this talk of social justice and racism just tiring? Don’t you wish you could just ignore it and put out meaningless statements of pure pablum? We’ll discuss how to ignore requests for consideration by pagans of color, cover up racist actions of high-ranking members, and pretend that you don’t understand the resulting outrage. Remember, #AllLivesMatter, except when it’s uncomfortabe or inconvenient. Large Umbrella Pagan Group has been around for long enough that they think they can get away with this stuff. This, to those in the know, obviously pokes at the Covenant of the Goddess for their shitty response to #BlackLivesMatter. But the danger of even the best satire is that sometimes backfires. I doubt that most of the pagans of color who were hurt by that were unaware of COG's white-moderate-all-lives-matter racism, but that turned out to be the problem. This was too close too real, too much of a Poe. And indeed, there were white pagans at the event who were eager to go to such a panel. Oooops. Now, this is just exactly what people mean when they say intent isn't magic. Because meaning well didn't keep people from being hurt, and badly so. Good intentions didn't stop racists from taking it seriously. Wanting to take a swing at the bad guys didn't change the fact that this heightened tensions and encouraged bigots to go harass people at the POC consuite. Intent is essential in magic, but intent is not itself magic. Meaning no harm is not the same as doing no harm. Fer fuck's sake. At any rate, the PantyCon awfulness prompted the event runners to set aside a safe space for people to speak about how this affected them. People in charge specifically repudiated PantyCon and, per the harassment policy, threatened to eject the person or people who wrote it. There was a long period of sharing, and apparently only one white man had to be asked to shut up. There was a follow-up ritual in which pagans of color gathered in the center of the circle, ringed by white allies, and did some primal screaming. (Remember, I wasn't there, all of this is from other people's accounts.) Post-con, a lot of people are blogging about this. Many white pagans are shocked, shocked I tell you, that there is racism in this religious community. Many white pagans are not. Many pagans of color are saying things along the lines of See, this is what we've been trying to tell you, look, look right here. Jonathan Korman wrote an open letter calling on the author or authors of PantyCon to stand up, identify themselves, and apologize. At least some of the authors showed up and apologized, a proper apology that owned up and said they were wrong and gave an explanation but didn't try to excuse it. They did not identify themselves, but did say that they were a diverse group and that a POC had originally suggested the panel description. They still said they were wrong and fucked up. So that was a nice change of pace from the usual Waaaah, how dare you say I did something racist, I'm a good person, I meant well, you're the racist really bullshit. More complete stuff by people who were actually there can be found here,...