After my initial post in response to the Asatru Folk Assembly, I wanted to follow up to share some other pagan voices that have been raised against racism. Since the link-and-quote dump format of Honoring Lilith Part 3 was so successful, I thought I’d do that again here.
First and foremost, it was my friend Lupa‘s facebook post which initially brought the AFA fuckery to my attention. Like me, she promptly wrote up her response in the post #notinmypaganism. Her response is eloquent and to the point in highlighting the variety of ways in which the AFA’s recent facebook post is at odds not only with the history of Scandinavia but also with the mythology of the Vikings itself:
There is nothing wrong with wanting to practice the religion of your pre-Christian ancestors. But “white people” are not an endangered species in need of protection, nor should European paganisms be closed off from people of non-European heritage. Considering the amount of travel and trade the Norse and other Europeans did with other communities for centuries, there was plenty of intermarriage with non-European people anyway, so there goes your notion of historical “racial purity”. And given that a lot of heathens practice ancestor veneration, racial purity is a pretty big insult to those non-white ancestors and the people who loved/married/etc. them and considered them family. As to the insistence on men being men and women being women in a heteronormative framework, the All-Father Odin practiced the women’s art seidr, Loki became a mare and gave birth to a colt, and women were often trained to fight alongside men. Even among the Norse things were not always that cut and dried when it came to gender roles.
I did a bit of a search on WordPress, to see who else I could find speaking out against racism in the pagan sphere, and was able to find the following:
Paganism is for love
Paganism is for the earth
Paganism is for everyone period.
I have stood in all-white Pagan gatherings and despaired that no one else seems to notice the lack of representation of people of colour, nor seems to care that their nativist ideologies are keeping away Pagans of colour. I have sighed as the Pagan message board where I post has been inundated with people saying that they believe they can only worship the ‘Celtic’ gods because their ancestors were ‘mostly Irish and Welsh’ a very long time ago. I have screamed internally as people said ‘Africans’ should worship ‘their own gods’ and should not come to druid gatherings. I have walked out of meetings where a speaker talks about ‘Celtic values’ like being physically perfect (and probably white) and the importance of this to ‘the gods’.
Here is a lovely breakdown of both the gender issues and the racial issues in the AFA’s statement:
Let’s talk history for just a second. We know that in some heathen cultures homosexuality was a thing that happened and wasn’t grounds for ostracization. We know that men and women performed roles and duties that were outside of the culturally normal gender roles. Hell, we even know that the “traditional” family in ancient heathendom didn’t look like the modern “traditional” family. So what exactly are they regurgitating here? It isn’t based on a reconstructionist method of Heathenry, that much is clear. Simply put, this is the same song and dance that has been a part of the Christian dominated paradigm since at least the Victorian Era.
The AFA: It’s that time again. by Josh, who also wrote the lovely post How White is Homegenizing Heathenry, dismantling the idea that whiteness or European-ness are even ethnic identities, let alone at-risk ones.
The following looks at the racialized history of Asatru and Heathenism:
Today Asatru is one of the most divided areas of the new pagan groundswell that is happening world wide. This is not simply because of its origins, or the warrior ethic present in its primary source materials, the Eddas and Sagas. It is the clear association between Heathenry and an openly racialist subculture, one that has taken on Norse myth and symbols as a primary form of identification.
Lastly, this eloquent and moving piece isn’t directly about racism but deals with trans issues in the pagan community, something I find particularly relevant considering the gender bullshit the AFA is peddling alongside its racism.
This extra layer of sexualization brings an extra layer of gendered violence. A majority of trans women have been raped and/or sexually abused, and anti-trans violence gets overwhelmingly committed by men who sleep with us. (Throw in race and occupation to the mix, and you’ll find that not only are most anti-LGBT hate murder victims trans women, but a large majority of those women are Black and/or Latina, with a substantial number of sex workers in the mix. When bigotry kills LGBT people, that bigotry is usually racism plus sexism plus transphobia.)
It’s All About Sex: Feminism, Paganism, and Trans Exclusion by Sophia Burns
Witches & Pagans also posted a list of a couple of responses to the AFA statement, titled Celebrating Diversity and Decrying Hate which I was delighted to be included in alongside Lupa.
Even more importantly, Daughters of Eve is a wonderful space ran by pagan women of color which I think we should all check out and support in the wake of this nonsense.
If you, dear reader, are aware of any other well-written and well-argued blogs or articles written by pagans rejecting hate and embracing diversity, please leave a link in the comments. I would love to check it out. If you know of any other blogs or journals dedicated specifically to pagan people of color, leave a link to that, too, so I get my readership on there as well.