I have been reading all the various opinions of people who weighed in on the incident at Pantheacon during the Lilith ritual that was performed by the CAYA Amazon Priestesses and those of the transgendered community who felt that it was discrimination that they could not participate. I found that I have been thinking several different streams of thoughts around this topic of diversity and discrimination since being infiltrated with the various opinions on this debate. One of the most prominent thoughts I have been having revolves around how desensitized I am to discrimination as a whole. I do not personally feel that this case with CAYA is a matter of discrimination and feel comfortable in saying that but the reality is that I think discrimination is a part of life. Black people and other minorities have been dealing with discrimination for years and I don’t see a bunch of media attention happening when we are looked at funny during a ritual or made uncomfortable for being in a Celtic rite.
This thought led me to really start to look at how being Black has conditioned me to expecting, and often times accepting, discrimination from others. This is one reason that I think being Pagan is easy when speaking about a alternative or underground culture. Amazingly I think that diversity is a gift, even when it creates division, like in the most recent situation that is being discussed. If we are not noticing the differences among each other then we are just floating from one ritual room to another without paying any attention to the person next to us. It is when we use those differences to hurt each other that we are no longer serving our spiritual purpose. If we ignore the differences then we are just being ignorant to the power that each of us carries from our ancestry and history.
I know that being a Black woman and a Pagan makes me powerful; it is like a rare commodity. I am continuing to learn how to embrace that instead of allowing me to internalize my own differences as a barrier to my own power base. I am not implying that is what the transgendered are doing in the previous situation but i do think that all groups that have a history of being discriminated against are more likely to internalize these issues than others. While I use to feel so sensitive about my kinky hair and my thickness, my friends were mostly White, I have embraced my physicality and my culture more today but I also have a knowing-ness that not everyone will embrace me the way that I wish they could. History shows that acceptance is subjective and conditional, I personally think that is part of what is so upsetting when it happens.
So this is one of the reasons this blog is exciting to me. It is not just about the fact that I am Black and Pagan. It highlights the everyday life of people who skate through both worlds and live normal lives despite the circumstances. The more we have a voice among the collective voices within the Pagan community, the less strange it might look when someone like me is calling the Celtic Gods in a ritual.