Red, Yellow and Green Lights: Discerning Racism
I took a break from reading/writing Pagan blogs for a while and came back to this news of a white nationalist band being kicked off of Philadelphia’s Pagan Pride and a response by Ryan Smith of Heathens United Against Racism- Ending Silence to End the Bigotry. There’s been some debate over whether this band was actually racist, or just had some racist fans and used some imagery associated with Nazis. It seems like there is enough damning evidence against Norsewind, however I do understand that sometimes it is tricky to draw a line between truly racist bands and Pagan/Heathen groups when they use similar terms, symbols and rhetoric. Over time, from observing various patterns in code words, framing and phrasing on websites of European (or Euro- diasporan) cultural and religious organizations, conservative political groups, and even having run-ins with individuals on Facebook and other places who set off my alarm bells. I’m working on getting my driver’s license, so the analogy of red, yellow and green lights came to mind. Green means you’re in friendly territory, yellow is caution- warning signs that may signal a problematic group, or may not– if you find many yellow light signs from one individual or group, this may add up to be a red light. I’m probably being more generous with the yellow lights than some would be- frankly as a person with white privilege I can afford to be. I understand from my own personal experience than un-learning racism is a life-long journey, so I don’t claim to have a huge moral superiority over my peers. From an activist viewpoint- the folks with the yellow “caution” signs are people you may be able to dialogue with, and help them see other views, while the red means stop people I would recommend confronting only to kick out of events, online groups or organizations. Trying to “convert” them to a different way of thinking is a noble intent, but it’s pretty much a waste of time and possibly a risk to your mental and physical health. For safety reasons, to a person of color (or person with a multi-racial family) interested in Heathenry and European culture, I would recommend viewing yellows with two stars** as reds.** Edit: I have now moved beyond traffic light colors and made those orange. I may need an entire rainbow!
Green Light: Explicit statement about anti-racist stance, inclusion of people of color. Hopefully also: people with disabilities, people of different classes and income levels and inclusion of sexual and gender diversity. Involvement in community activities that support these values.
*The phrase “indigenous European” is sometimes used by New Right/white nationalist groups
*the term European-American, or Euro-American is used by both right-wing and left-wing groups. I mean, I use it.
*Indo-European studies- of course, being an ADF-er I don’t have a problem with IE Studies by itself. However sometimes people with creepy agendas use Indo-European studies to support their views- usually for a “Aryan origin for all religions!” metanarrative.
*Facebook friends/fans- remember a fan page is different- you can be a fan of a group without their acknowledgement, a friendship request requires a person to respond. Should we expect band members to check potential friends’ facebook pages for signs of racist views? This is why I think fan pages are a better idea for bands. Frankly, I have individuals who follow my blog that have expressed anti-Semitic, homophobic and other not cool things on their blogs. Don’t know why they follow me, but I just don’t follow them back.
*Neo-folk and black metal genres of music- bands who play these genres- or any other genre may or may not be racist
*Use of symbols/imagery that were (mis)used by Nazis, KKK or other groups- Black sun, Celtic Cross, certain runes, swastikas
**Individuals/Groups that express concern over (non-white) immigration, complaints that affirmative action policies are “reverse racism”, paranoia of the growth or influence of Islam in Europe or the U.S., Christianity, feminism, Big Government, pop culture or some other sinister influence as making “our sons” effeminate, homosexual, weak pacifists and we need to go back Ye Olde Macho Warrior Traditions!
**Playing a gig for a racist group without realizing it was racist (this claim can be a stretch at times- people don’t see what they don’t want to see- however there are groups that are sneaky, and the politically unsavvy may be taken in)
*Explicit exclusion of people with the “wrong” ancestry (usually just by making assumptions based on their appearance)
*Repeatedly playing gigs for racist groups (while claiming to be “a-political”) Repeatedly co-hosting events with racist Heathen/Pagan groups in the name of “frith” or “harmony”.
*White genocide- Oh No! white people are a minority in “their own country” (whose country?) This is not the same as genocide! No one is systemically being killed. Little hint: Pale-skinned people have *always* been a global minority!
*Metagenetics or other pseudo-scientific theories about how culture (and religion) is genetic. While we’re at it, let’s throw in phrenology just for fun!
*discussion of whites as a minority group whose “interests” need defending like other minority groups
*It’s all a big Jewish/gay/feminist/cultural Marxist/Wiccan/Universalist/New World Order/black helicopters Conspiracy! Extra points if conspiracy that involves different factions that openly despise each other in reality, but somehow are secretly collaborating.
Conclusion Furthering the traffic metaphor- even when you have a green light, you need to be careful. Someone can still make a right turn, and you have to watch out for them. Someone also may run a red light! Likewise, even when an explicit anti-racist stance is taken, there may still be problems with subtle forms of prejudice, micro-aggressions, assumptions and de facto discrimination. People may be good about Individuals and groups also may change their views and policies over time, and we will all have to decide for ourselves if these changes are genuine, if apologies are sincere, and if we truly feel comfortable associating with individuals or groups that are supposedly reformed. I’ll be discussing dealing with examples of more everyday, “kinder gentler, more liberal” racism in other posts. I also recommend- if you want to give examples of racist groups, rather than directly link to them and boost their web ratings, use DoNotLink.com, it will link via the website so you visit it without helping the website get more publicity. Please comment if you have any suggestions to add to my list of warning signs.
Entry filed under: Pagan Communities, Race/Ethnicity. Tags: anti-racism, folkish Heathens, Heathens United Against Racism, indo-european, pagan pride, racism, racism in Heathenry, racism in Paganism, white nationalism, white supremacists, Wild Hunt Blog.