Saturday, March 16, 2013

Well-Meaning Racist Religion


Have you ever, say, friended someone on Facebook, and then within a couple weeks realized you've made a dreadful mistake?  I friended somebody against my instincts because I like meeting new people.  I don't think I've ever seen the word "white" used that many times in status messages before, and I have a lot of openly anti-racist friends who use it a lot.  It didn't take too long before I realized there was no way I was going to be able to tolerate having somebody like that on my friends' list, no matter how many times they claimed they weren't racist for it.

Germanic Paganism is basically famous for this shit, which is interesting considering how non-reconstructionist the idea of whiteness as the end qualification for working with Germanic Gods is.  Not all participants in their ritual structure were descended from Germanic people.  Adoption was not unheard of, and when slaves (captured in travel, which Germanic people did a lot of) were freed they could also be adopted into the culture... regardless of race or ethnicity.  The idea that Germanic Gods will only interact with ethnically Germanic-descended people is racist fiction.  There is no evidence to support it.

But you know what?  This attitude has never come from a misled idea about what the reality was for ancient Germanic people anyway.  It has always been a case of justifying already-present racism, which is clear from the fact that they talk about whiteness so damned much.  If you can't carry on a piece of religious discourse about your faith without intentionally injecting your whiteness into your rationale for having that faith, you just might be (in other words, you probably are) a racist.

The standard cop-out is to claim that this has nothing to do with racism, that they're just "proud of being white."

Demand for a distinct, open celebration of whiteness in the name of racial equity is a pretty firmly-embedded racist tradition.  The reason it's racist is because it makes the assumption that whiteness is not already abundantly celebrated.  People petition for "white history" classes or "white pride" or in this case "white religion" without stopping for a second to realize that we already have these things.  We have celebrations of various European ethnic groups, religious figures are re-written as European whites when they clearly weren't (Jesus Christ, anyone?), history classes and entertainment alike overwhelmingly portray white people, there is absolutely no possible way to argue whiteness is not celebrated!

So you're a Heathen, and maybe you feel your connection to the divine is in some way connected to your Ancestors.  This isn't inherently bad; I am a huge proponent of bringing Ancestor-based faith back into the public Pagan spectrum.  But being white is not a prerequisite for honoring those Gods and it never has been.  Bringing your whiteness into the issue is racist, no matter how much you wish it wasn't.