An open letter to the witch community
Witchcraft has always been an act of resistance. Now more than ever, we need to crush racism not only in our world but within our own communities, practices, organizations, religions, and sacred spaces.
For many generations, the rituals and traditions of Historically Black & ATR worldwide have been condemned, appropriated, and diminished simply because we’re BLACK. Today, I see so many people from all walks benefiting from the traditions of African and Indigenous people but I’ve also seen black witchcraft and shamanic practitioners from all walks being excluded from circles, covens, retreats, workshops, rituals, places of worship and other social groups both online and off because prejudice does exist in the magick community both individually and structurally.
As we’re seeing the call for social change in today’s world. Now more then ever is the time to take a look at ourselves and examine how we can lead change in all areas of our practice.
I ask that you look deeper at how your day-to-day practice, your background, your traditions, and behaviors regard not just PoC but BLACK PEOPLE.
Ask yourself does your tradition historically condemn black people as evil, cursed, or somehow inferior?
How has that informed your beliefs today?
Are your public rituals inclusive to people of color? Do you allow others in your circle to say things that are negative or prejudice? Are there active racist in your spiritual community and how are you supporting them or challenging that behavior?
Holding ourselves accountable to how we are currently perpetuating racism always starts inward.
As we fight to end racism think of ways that you need to challenge some beliefs that may be ingrained. Start by educating yourself about the BLM movement and use some of the tips below to go the distance by finding ways to support and stand with black witches both now and beyond.
Here is a not-at-all complete list of ways that you can participate and make lasting changes to help bring an end to racism in your magical practice and community. I’ve made a list below, check out the included links to read more also read Michael J.A Davis recent post on 20 actions White people & non-Black POC’s in Corporate (and otherwise) can take to show up for Black People right now.
- Educate yourself, your family, community, and elders about the injustice and social inequalities that Black people face. Learn what is happening in the movement and why this is so important to us.
- Examine your own inner bias, think of all that you have learned about how Black witches are portrayed on TV. How do you see African rituals portrayed? Very similar to how the public misconception of witchcraft or other counter-culture beliefs there is a lot of misinformation. You know better about your own practice now work to crush your own silly beliefs about what Black witches do behind closed doors or in cemeteries.
- Use this knowledge to defend Black people when uninformed, ignorant opinions and oppressive, anti-Black ideas are voiced by members of your inner circle, your social & magic groups, and within your family.
- Do not appropriate! Many(ATR)African Traditional Religions and indigenous ritual practices make members and initiated folks go through allot to acquire knowledge. Many go through rites of passage that are recognized only within their community. Many more spend years learning divination practices taught by elders. Respect that craft, learn about it, patron their work, but do not appropriate that practice. Unless you have done the work to be recognized by that community and or trained to heal, leave teaching other practices to those who have earned the right to do it. My view from a spiritual standpoint is that you can do whatever you want to yourself in the privacy of your own home, but in the practice of healing or treating others, you should seek to be qualified if you’re practicing a method that originates from someplace other then your own linage. Do work with elders in these communities that interest you, seek to learn and to help by supporting their work and families, work on collaborations together, or simply refer their services to others. Give visibility and be willing to let the experts speak on what they know.
- Create Space: Do you have an event space that you can share for a PoC to hold a gathering, Do you have space in your store to carry products from a Black herbalist or artist? Sometimes one of the most giving things you can do as an owner is to help a minority small business owner promote their goods.
- Understand the need for PoC only events. Black witches do exist and sometimes we need space where we can be ourselves and heal as a community. Sometimes we spend so much time emotionally and mentally preparing to defend, explain ourselves and our practices that it gets in the way of us being able to fully be present in the event. We need spaces where we can be free of marginalization or mainstream stereotyping where we can breathe and simply be. This is a place where we don’t have to explain our differences – where our race won’t be a topic we have to defend so that we can focus on our magic or talk about issues that deeply affect us and can only be understood by others who are experiencing the same without judgment. There are times and places where all people of all backgrounds are included. “Valuing and protecting spaces for people of color (PoC) is not just a kind thing that white people can do to help us feel better; supporting these spaces is crucial to the resistance of oppression. When people of color are together, there can be healing. We can reclaim parts of ourselves that have been repressed. We can redefine ourselves and support one another in embracing who we are”- Kelsy Blackwell
- Pay fairly. Whether buying goods, services or providing employment be transparent about your bottom line. If you’re paying a White healer pay the same to a Black healer for the same quality and quantity of work too.
- Practice Radical Inclusiveness: Reach out to people of color, include them in the dialogue, encourage new perspectives. Realize that one of the reasons some PoC don’t attend retreats or events that you hold may be due to affordability or financial hardship. If Black people are paid less then whites, to begin with, or are struggling to find work because employers don’t want to deal with diversity in the workplace…think about how that trickles down to a Black person who may really be in need of your service or retreat but can’t afford it. Also, know that some larger organizations actually price their services at higher price point simply because they want a “certain caliber of clientele”, knowing it wouldn’t be affordable for Black people to attend in the first place? Think about what you can do to help close the gap, consider sliding scale pricing, advocate for diversity at your workplace, welcome products and services made by PoC at your events to have more diversity, and be the one to reach out and don’t easily dismiss those who do reach out.
- *Don’t conflate the needs of other communities with those of Black People. Understand that it is a misnomer that all boats will rise simultaneously. Yes, we can parallel-path our respective agendas, but there’s no trickle-down effect like that of Black progress for other marginalized communities. Said another way, no matter what progress is made on behalf of sexual and gender minorities, Latinx, Asian Americans, or religious communities respectively, how truly free are we if America never recompenses for its original sin: the ongoing, simultaneous colonization, enslavement, and genocide of Black and indigenous bodies.”
Lastly, for those witches out there that are marching with us for justice, who are out there Hexing the system and standing with us to end excessive policing, doing healing work and donating to the causes. We see you. For those hiding in the shadows, we also see you.
Support Black Lives Matter and bring an end to inequality.
Stand with us. Fight with us.