Pagan Pride Day 2009

So today I went to Pagan Pride Day in NYC, which happens every year. This year it was on September 26th, in Battery Park as usual.

And as I did last year, I raided Cucina Aurora’s dip and mix (it’s extremely delicious, I suggest you buy some at her site.) Hopefully she can forgive me for single handedly devouring half of her supply.

I also got a tarot reading done by a young man, much appreciation for what he’s said.

And then I went to Lilith Dorsey’s workshop on Voodoo. It was highly informative, but it posed one problem for me. A statement she made.

Unless you’re related to somebody black or very close to somebody black, you shouldn’t be practicing an Afro-Caribbean religion.

Perhaps I am alone, but this statement upset me to a large degree. My matron is Yemaya, you see, so a statement like this was easy for me to take to heart.

While I agree with her that it’s important to know and understand the Afro-Caribbean traditions, to limit belief based on race seems… close-minded.

We are all beautiful, we are all human, we share this wonderful earth with each other. Faith transcends color. Life transcends color. Why should we allow the tone of our flesh to determine what we can and cannot do?

This fear all comes down to the fear of cultural appropriation. You’d think people would see the acceptance of other cultures into their own as a positive thing. But many people feel this is “theft”. Well, if you’re reading English and you’re not from England, you’re technically stealing, too. You know that anime you watch or manga you read? Cultural appropriation as well. That Italian food you eat? That also.

Instead of seeing things as cultural theft, why not see it as cultural acceptance? I wouldn’t eat your food if I didn’t think it tasty, I wouldn’t learn your language if I didn’t think it interesting, I wouldn’t play your sports if I didn’t think it fun, I wouldn’t read your stories if I didn’t think them wonderful, I wouldn’t collect your artwork if I didn’t think it beautiful.

Would she demand those who collect Afro-Caribbean artwork to return it all simply because they are not of African descent? It makes no sense to me.

What’s the harm in learning and loving and trying to become one with another culture? Yes, you will never truly be a part of that culture. But you will have the closeness to it, and benefit from it, as much as the people indigenous to it.

So what if a White or Asian person wants to practice Voodoo or Santeria or any other Afro-Caribbean religion? They shouldn’t get any flak for it. They share this great planet with the everyone else, we all share this great planet together, we should all love each other and share our wisdom, our art with one another. Yes…

… we should even share our religion with one another.

Instead of condemning the interested, they should be greeted with wide-open arms and have everything explained to them. If everything is explained to them, if they are allowed to ask questions, they won’t have any misconceptions about anything.

This is just my opinion though. Take it for what you will.

My fiance and I didn’t stay for the circle unfortunately, because we had strict time restrictions, but we got to enjoy everything else to the fullest.

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3 Responses to Pagan Pride Day 2009

  1. Luinbariel says:

    I liked this post quite a bit, because I think that is a very valid question, and something that a lot of people who believe as this person did tend to forget. So many things in our lives come from other cultures and we tend to easily forget this… I think also that there is no reason we can’t learn from other cultures as you say. I probably would have been quite upset as well if I’d heard someone say that, whether I had a personal interest or no. Thanks for posing this question, though, in a manner that easily pointed out what so many of us often forget.

  2. Herumetem says:

    This is a difficult subject. On one hand, the oppression of African people is part of the faith and culture, especially in the Caribbean religions. However, the majority of Caribbean peoples practice some form of Christianity. But they aren’t from Israel! How dare they?!
    Seriously, how close-minded can people get?
    Another issue that is obvious to me here is confusing race and skin color with culture. Firstly, she is making a divide between people BASED ON THEIR SKIN. Racism, pure and simple. Secondly, if I were adopted as an infant into an African family practicing the Yoruba religion and was brought up in that faith, wouldn’t I have just as much of a right to practice as them, though my ancestry is European?
    It’s statements like these that make me furious. Paganism is supposed to be a faith that seeks to eliminate ignorance and intolerance. I hope someone opens that woman’s eyes.
    Assessu Yamaya~

  3. mercydoll says:

    I was raised in a Vodou religion. I am Haitian and mixed. Funny thing is that the Deities who came to me/work with/have different types of relationships are not from the Vodoun pantheon. 2 are Middle Eastern, 1 is Norse and 1 is Roman. With that, I shifted into Paganism because in the Vodou religion, one of the beliefs is that you are supposed to believe in one God and I don’t want to make the religion into something that is not. But that was my personal decision. But my Deities do not want me completely leave that religion, so I serve the Lwa with my family and will still be with the Lwa.

    In my opinion, the Lwa doesn’t give a hoot where you come from or your skin tone. If you’re interested and this is for you, then nobody can tell you otherwise. It’s not up to the people, It’s up to the Lwa. If this is meant for you then the Lwa will find a way for you. My family is mixed from different cultures but the Lwa don’t see color, They see potential. Within some Pagan circles they tend to not choose those who don’t have European linage. But that didn’t stop me from finding my path. So what was being said shouldn’t stop anyone else. She doesn’t speak for the Lwa or the religion.

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