When I first started practicing Rootwork and Vodou, I was very “we are the world.” I’d never been one to make sweeping generalizations about race. (One example is, Don’t Believe the Hoodoo Hype written back in December 2014)
Time and experience have changed my mindset in many ways. Where I once believed that there was hope in changing the minds of hearts of ignorant people, I now see that the vast majority of ignorance cannot be changed.
Often, I see it in whites who try to join African practices/traditions/religions, and often I see it in Black folks who have been brainwashed by the extreme religious right or Black militant thought processes that are damaging to the very people they are trying to help (especially damaging to Black women). Most of these people, Black and white, cannot change, nor do they want to.
What I find to be incredulous, however, is that many white people fail to understand that our practices were used to this country, and others that were part of the transatlantic slave trade, for us to SURVIVE. Our magic, and our religions, are STILL required for our survival today.
Judika llles, a white practitioner who I also call a friend, wrote that “magic levels the playing field.” I believe that is the case, but I often wonder when in the history of EVER have white people needed African magic, African spirits, and African gods to level anything? Please don’t open your mouths to say otherwise because that shows you have no concept of white privilege.
Our practices were taken from us by white people so that when they were finished working us to death we would not be able to survive. Removing our spiritual practices from us was part of the bigger plan for the genocide of our people once they thought we were no longer needed. Our culture is not a joke, nor is it a fad.
So this is why white people don’t need to be initiated into our practices. This is why it is even a bigger offense when they take it and use it out of context/incorrectly because they didn’t take the time to respectfully learn with somebody who actually knows what they were talking about. Most of them do not care. They like it because it is “Black and Spooky.” It is exotic to them, and often it feeds their need of conquest of something that was not theirs to have in the first place.
What white people need to understand is when they go and try to get initiations into the ATRs they are getting NOTHING. I’ve been around, and received information from, enough white initiates to know that they did not receive real initiations into ATRs. They need to know that their money was taken, and they were simply LIED TO.
This is not to say that you don’t have whites who have Folk Magic practices of their own. I have tremendous respect for those workers who work out of their own cultural context and within their ancestry.
There are people out there who are legitimate, but this proliferation of white practitioners who take an online course, and now want to tell us what to do and what not to do in our magical practices is too much.
I also do not care for whites who have no education, and cultural experience, whatsoever in these practices who want to mix and mash incompatible traditions/systems and then want to clutch their pearls when someone tells them, “hey you’re doing it wrong.” Why do people try to become part of an ancestral practice where they have no ancestors in said practice? What do you gain from this?
If you are white and you are not from people (e.g., Appalachian people, etc.) who practiced some form of folk magic, what ancestors are you working with anyway?!?!? Where is the power in your work? What emotional, cultural, and bloodline connections do you have?
Please remember that a hit dog will holler. If you are not a person of color, you are practicing these traditions with respect, and you stay in your lane, this really is not for you. Don’t get all in your feelings about what I’m trying to convey here. I shouldn’t have to tell you this because if you knew how to stay in your lane, you would not be feeling some kind way and want to tell me where I need to go with my assertions.
But I still have no idea why you wanted to do it in the first place.
The purpose of white people taking our magic from us in the first place was to render of powerless. When they could not do that, they tried to learn it to render us powerless.
The problem with white people is they don’t want to be told no. They don’t want to be told that they can’t do something. Especially if it’s something that belongs to a marginalized group.
While there is Root/Herb magic that spans many traditions, you will do a practice an injustice by insisting that they are the same. I don’t mind teaching root magic to people from all races, but it is up to the individual to weave that into their ancestry. Otherwise the practices you are dabbling in, based on ancestor veneration for their power, are worthless and a waste of your time and money.
But what I ain’t gonna do is encourage anyone to initiate into an ATR that is not part of their cultural birthright that is often abused by people who are guests to that tradition and descendants of oppressed ancestors. I would do my ancestors a disservice in doing so.
I know this is going to ruffle feathers and piss people off. That is not my concern. Often the person who tells the truth has very few friends.