An Underground Walk with Ancestors
December 31, 2018!! This year has been one filled with many challenges, blessings and many lessons for me. I can sincerely say that 2018 was the year that I was stretched, challenged and held to task by all that walk with me, for this I am grateful because I have grown in ways that I cannot begin to articulate. I am grateful for the fuel that has been given to me from the realm of the ancestors and heaven!
Any who, there has been a recent controversy in the online and physical spheres of life, another outcry about appropriation has reared its head and has yet again, pulled the scab off of the racial divide within various groups in spiritual communities. Many people are weighing in, some with actual inside knowledge, others with knee-jerk “I read it online, so it must be true” responses to what has been exposed. I will leave the debating to those better suited and/or who like to get involved in the latest hot topic being shared.
After spending two hours of my life that I cannot get back, reading posts, comments and the like, I had to take a step back and look at the debate as well as the larger issues that have been brought to light by the publishing of a book.
The first issue I have seen (which I will not address here or anywhere else for that matter) is POC and Pantheacon. There seems to be a long standing issue that needs to be addressed by those that attend and those run this event. Every year there is yet another out cry by POC that have attended and based off of what I have seen year after year, I’m wondering why do POC even bother to attend PCon if this is the case, but I digress.
The second issue that has me saying hmmm, WTH and ain’t that some shit, is the subject of ancestral knowledge appropriation and who gets to tell the narrative of Africans in America, Indigenous Tribes and the those who supported the enslaved, oppressed, etc.. I cannot support culture vultures, appropriators and the sort. No matter what the excuse or reasoning is behind a person laying claim to the knowledge of people from outside of their ancestral paradigm is, I will not endorse them. When I think of how Mother Zora Neale Hurston’s work and the real life spiritual workings from slaves, etc. has been carefully crafted into a Hoodoo Course or how in academic circles works about Mother Moses, for the most part, goes through one person who is not a POC and Black authors rarely have their works about our ancestors and traditions published by major publishing firms I feel some kind of way about it all. When thinking about what the historical landscape will look like in 100 years, knowing that people like the Lucky grand dame of appropriation in California will be thought of as some sort of benchmark for what rootwork was, just makes me want to scream. Knowing that behind the scenes people work overtime to delegitimize authentic works by credible practitioners who have the support of the families, academia, and POC in their communities makes me rage. Many of the people online who scream about appropriation have not dared to come out swinging against the likes of the appropriators that make millions a year off of ancestral knowledge that is not theirs. Those of us who have called out a bitch, bastard and their 3 legged dog out for their cultural thievery have been slandered, lively hoods attacked to the point of being destroyed and isolated for daring to call blatant dishonor and theft out. Many who know the truth about cultural thieves go silently into the night and talk in private circles about what they know and that brings my rage back with a vengeance. When the rare moment comes along and someone, whether a POC or not, publishes something that goes against the status quo, the internet is set on fire and no one addresses the 800 lb. gorilla and the pink elephant in the room, racism, how it drives the spiritual economy and who stands to gain the most when people bandwagon jump to slay the pitbull instead of killing the monster standing plainly in their midst.
By the time I am knee deep in the second issue, the ancestors tap me on my shoulder to remind me of what is most important. Preserving ancestral knowledge and factual history and, passing on both to future generations. Each day there is a new person that hops online looking for spiritual enlightenment. These people are hardwired with beliefs that lead them to follow this one or that one. These very same folks most times end up following the big names in the online spiritual community, names that have taken from others without proper credit or compensation to their descendants. Then there are the folks that are fueled by ego who honestly believe that Africans in America have not been major players and are not the backbone of rootwork and/or did not carry on their spiritual beliefs brought over by their ancestors in bondage. This and several other factors are helping to perpetuate false narratives, cement appropriators place in history as the knowledge keepers and insure that our future generations lose important lessons because others are out here creating their own version of spiritual paradise that retells and/or excludes the originators of what they have stolen.
I am hoping that in 2019, more people READ and RESEARCH, instead of getting angered up by the latest shares. I am hoping that people take the time to verify that the authors they support or decry, are who they say they are and not believe a social media share. If a person can show and prove that they have the backing of the descendants of an historical figure, are legitimately initiated, have factual information and are wiling to have the hard conversations, then lets work towards building bridges and preserving our ancestral traditions. Let’s deconstruct or bet yet, shutdown those businesses, institutions that block authors of color from publishing, rewrite history to fit their ulterior motives and who love our green dollars but not our colorful hues. Imagine what our collective ancestral work would look like if we take on those who block our ability to tell our narratives, hold our events or own the rights to our families stories. Our spiritual and ancestral beliefs are worth fighting for, our right to be safe in any and all spaces are worth fighting for and the need to teach our future generations where and who they come from are worth fighting for.
With this rant being done, I wish everyone a 2019 that is filled with blessings from THEIR ancestors and if you are at the dinner table of another cultures ancestors, be respectful, be an honest ally and remember that you are a guest.