Ebonics, Entitlement, and the Embodiment of Racism

Ebonics, Entitlement, and the Embodiment of Racism March 12, 2017
KKK family portrait photo by Image Editor. Licensed under CC 2.0
KKK family portrait photo by Image Editor. Licensed under CC 2.0

Racism is running rampant in every segment in society today and it makes me sad… and angry. I do my best to be a vocal advocate for people of color in the pagan community. Over a year ago I published my video on Racism in the Pagan Community. You can see it here.

There is a lot I have to say on the subject, as you see. A few years ago I got the chance to participate in a fabulous project on racism – Bringing Race to the Table, edited by Crystal Blanton. Then there are the problems I still see today. Things are getting much worse, not better.

I feel lucky that it isn’t very often that I see something seriously racially troubling and elitist in my friends’ feed on social media. Recently however I have seen some things that disturb me. One was a rant about the use of proper English on social media,  and how ebonics was “stoopid.” I won’t call this person out by name, mainly because I think she is too far gone to understand. I will say she is a Voodoo priestess and author. Her statement comes from a place of entitlement and exclusion, and should not be part of the Voodoo community. People who defend these beliefs, while claiming to be spiritual leaders of the community, have risen to a new level of hypocrisy. Many, myself included, see ebonics as a way of resistance and coded communication. One of my favorite plays For Colored Girls … by Ntozake Shange uses ebonics and slang frequently, and it won a Tony award in the 1970s. Attacking someone because of how they speak or write is elitist and wrong. It is a dishonor to our ancestors and ourselves. What if someone who spoke this way came into this person’s Pagan store, or tried to attend their ritual? Would she tell them they were “stoopid” ? Would she take their money and continue to “whitesplain” Voodoo to them?

Billie Holiday, 1949. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Billie Holiday, 1949. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Many years ago Billie Holiday sang about Strange Fruit. While lynchings may be down the mindset behind them is stronger than ever. Part of the problem is people are hyper-focused on their selves. The trials and tribulations of our own lives make it difficult to see or even attempt to understand the plight of others. Racism and religious persecution is nothing new. Consider Shakespeare’s famous lines

“If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you
poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall
we not revenge?”

 

However as always I am not writing this blog just to point out problems, but also to provide some serious solutions. I could ask everyone to examine their actions in a wider context, and I hope you really do this. More than this is needed if we want real change. Almost a hundred years ago civil rights pioneer Marcus Garvey spoke the words “Billions of dollars have been lost to the Negro race within the last fifty years through disloyalty on the part of successful Negroes, who have preferred to give away their fortunes to members of other races, than to bequeath them to worthy institutions and movements of their own to help their own people.”

Obviously, I hope you support my work by going through the store tab at the top of this page, and by sharing this post. Fortunately the other day I was blessed enough to join a new group on Facebook The Black Craft Emporium. Please read the rules before joining, but it showcases “our many incredibly talented, magical individuals of color from all practices.” People of all races must take extra care to support and encourage knowledgeable black owned businesses that are trying to represent and promote their culture.

I would love to hear what you think in the comments below, feel free to write in ebonics if u like !


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