Archive for the Social Justice Category

For all the non-black Vodouisants

Posted in Social Justice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2014 by cheshirecatman

I almost didn’t post this but then a link on an acquaintance’s Facebook page clearly indicated this needed to be said. The link was to one of those articles about a white person being killed by police with the remark that apparently white lives don’t matter (as in white lives don’t deserve media coverage, protests, etc). The implied comparison to the events in Ferguson is problematic to begin with, but I was really dismayed that it was posted by someone in the Vodou/Voodoo/Hoodoo community.

If you are reading this, then presumably you are a Vodouisant or have an interest in Vodou. Good. It’s a beautiful, amazing religion and I’ve never regretted walking down this path. I believe the Lwa call to people throughout the world. As my mama says, “Vodou includes, not excludes.”

However. HOWEVER.

I don’t believe in freebies—in taking without giving back. To do so is selfish and is cultural appropriation at its worst.

So, if you are not Haitian, have little to no African blood and are a Vodouisant–or even if you “just” take elements of Vodou into your own eclectic practice–then you owe a debt. If you live in the US of A then you are in a position to pay this debt at a very critical time in our history.

Surely you are aware of what’s been going on in Ferguson, the death of young Michael Brown and the fact that his killer has thus far gotten away scot-free, in spite of some glaring big holes in the case. If you don’t care, or spend more time criticizing people for protesting and rioting than you do thinking about how we arrived at the point where it’s okay for “law” enforcement to gun down unarmed teenagers, then now would be a good time for you to either  turn away from Vodou or start doing your homework. Peaceful protest is a nice idea, but in this case it’s proven wholly ineffective. I would ask you if you really believe that Haiti would be an independent nation if the slaves peacefully protested against their oppressors? The idea is laughable.

I am going to say this very bluntly, if you are a Vodouisant and don’t care about how black people are treated—how they are oppressed, misrepresented, targeted and killed—then you have NO business being involved in any faith that has African origins. And if you do care, then DO something. It’s easy to think it’s not your problem if you aren’t black but, trust me, if things continue in this vein the violence and the oppression will end up on all of our doorsteps.

As to WHAT you should be doing? At the very least, you should be educating yourself and others about black history (and be sure to include resources created by black people themselves), voting for candidates who are pro-active about civil rights issues, and supporting black people in whatever way you can (listening to their experiences without inserting your own; giving time, support or money to organizations supporting black lives; and, if you are white, learning to recognize your own privilege and how to use that privilege to promote equality). Let us not waste this opportunity, born of tragedy, to break this toxic pattern that results in the loss of young black lives.

Also try to be less sensitive when black people vent their frustrations at white people (resist the clichéd cry “But not all white people are like that!”). Your hurt feelings cannot compare with the grief of parents who have lost their children to racial violence. Attempting to replace “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter” may seem like a good thing to you, but to black folks and other POCs (people of color) it looks like an attempt to shift the focus away from the deadly profiling of black people. White lives have always mattered more than POC lives in this nation, and there is no history of Jim Crow laws against white people. So seriously, STOP SAYING THAT. At best, it’s disrespectful and reveals an appalling ignorance of history. At worst, you’re going to be seen as racist. Yes, racist.

May you find peace, Michael Brown, with the ancestors in Ginen.

Highly recommended reading:
What Have YOU Done for Black People Today?