Questions for myself

I recently read  “Mom, Why Don’t You Have Any Black Friends” by Michelle Silverthorn, who asks us to talk to our children about our whiteness before we talk to them about others’ blackness. 

Alia Ceniza Rasul, a Toronto writer and performer, wrote and  shared these questions for herself on Facebook: 

I also have questions for myself: 

When I buy products, who profits from them? Are their creators profiting from cultural appropriation? 

When I buy books, who profits from them? Do the authors and publishers profit from cultural appropriation?

When I consume social media, do those influencers benefit from cultural appropriation? What are their intentions versus what can be perceived of them? Do intentions matter? 

Do I look the other way when my teachers and coven members say inappropriate things?

When I teach, lead and/or influence others, do I say inappropriate things? Do I transfer and propagate inappropriate, unchallenged ideas I learned elsewhere? Do I actually believe them?

How can I encourage and contribute to  spaces where opinions can be challenged in a way that is fruitful?

How do I react when I am called out? 

How can I listen better? How can I react less, and respond better? Should I always respond?

How can I call out, and have better conversations with people who look like me, and the communities I participate in that aren’t diverse?

What are my opinions?

What are my opinions about cultural appropriation? Do I differentiate between cultural appreciation and appropriation? What does that differentiation mean, why is it important to people?

How do different pagans, neo-pagans, occultists, witchcraft practitioners approach race, culture and ethnicity? Are some traditions race/ethnicity/culture specific, and also exclusive? Is that racist?

Are some traditions inclusive, but generalize, are inspired by, or incorporate different customs from different cultures than their own ancestral background?  Is that racist? 

Do all current neo-pagan practices fall into one of those categories? Is neo-pagan practice inherently wrong?

Is a desire for personal spirituality without community inherently a product of white privilege? Is a desire for spiritual community always going to involve identity and power politics? What is the motivation? What is mine?

What are things that I consider OK for me to do, but not others?

Am I justifying myself?

Am I afraid of hurting people’s feelings, of what they’ll think of me and does that stop me from speaking up? 

How do people who look like me feel about my opinions?

How do people who don’t look like me feel about my opinions?

In sharing posts and social media content, and when speaking, who is benefiting? 

In being silent, am I doing harm?

In speaking, am I doing harm?

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