Racism is Not Welcome Anywhere in my Sphere of Influence

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I can barely believe I need to write this. I can barely believe there needs to be a special group called Heathens United Against Racism.

But apparently that is the reality of where we are at this moment in time. So I post this that my community will know in no uncertain terms where I stand. This post is in response to this recent post by Steve Abell, Steersman of the Throth: “Letters from Midgard: Yes, Enough”.

I could make this easy on myself and say “What John Beckett said”, because damn, he nailed it in his recent writing, “Racism Cannot be Tolerated”.  But I prefer to take the time to find my own words. This is what I have to say in response to both of the above blogposts:

I have had an uneasy relationship with Heathenry for about 12 years now. Its power is undeniable. Its Gods and its inner landscapes are both beautiful and terrible. And yet, its willingness to accept racism as a defining feature among some of its practitioners is utterly abhorrent to me. It makes me ashamed to call myself Heathen. So I often don’t.

The Blood and Soil nonsense needs to be abolished. It is hurtful, exclusionary, and completely fallacious. We humans have been nomadic since forever. We’ve been intermingling with one another since we dwelt in caves, so the thought that there has ever been any sort of racial purity is ridiculous.

Also, Gods have called to people across cultural boundaries for as long as we have record of people experiencing Gods. Who are we to second guess the choices of Gods?  It is laughable to think this is our decision to make. Aside from the absurdity in such thinking, this attitude in no way demonstrates the hospitality that Heathens boast of.

The kind of Heathenry espoused by Stephen McNallen makes my skin crawl. I want as far away from it as I can get. However, I am unwilling to cede the ground to such views and let them poison something so breathtakingly beautiful. So I stay, that I may be part of defining a Heathenry I can be proud of.

I don’t know Ryan Smith well. I don’t know Steven Abell at all. But to suggest that Ryan is too extreme in his condemnation of racism while Stephen McNallen is a friendly fellow to chat with is everything that is wrong with Heathenry. Personally I think an aggressive stance against racism is called for. People are being killed over it. If you don’t like Ryan’s methods then come up with your own. But do something, because racism is poisoning the well.

I am glad HUAR exists. I wish it didn’t need to. The fact that some felt a need to create a group to demarcate those of us willing to stand against racism is telling indeed. The day we don’t need a special group, because the word “Heathen” itself already includes within it a bold stance against racism, is the day I will wear the banner of Heathen proudly.

I can’t stop people being racists. But I don’t have to tolerate racism, or welcome it at any events I produce, sponsor, or attend. Racism is not welcome in my sphere of influence in any way.

Standing up for true Heathen hospitality by welcoming and defending ANY person who is genuinely drawn to Heathen traditions is the kind of Heathenry I want to be a part of, and one I will help to create.

– Sharon Knight

6 thoughts on “Racism is Not Welcome Anywhere in my Sphere of Influence

  1. I have stayed out of this simply because I am not American, and I really need to deal with my own circus and my own monkeys, without acquiring more of them. I do remember though, that years ago Diana Paxson of the Troth introduced me to then idea that there WERE German heathen groups who weren’t Nazis (and trust me, all the others were, outright or implied), and and it deeply saddens me that a spokesperson of the Troth now comes out with this sort of racism enabling BS.
    Thank you for finding the perfect words, yet again!

  2. Thank you for writing, Shira!

    This needs to be fought, or Heathenism will be utterly lost to it. Since I have been so moved by much in these traditions, and since this does make up a good part of my cultural heritage, I feel I need to be very clear what I will and will not support.

    I believe the majority of American heathens are not racist. (At least I certainly hope not!) But there is not nearly enough push back against the ones who are.

  3. I sit quiet and remember a Celtic blessing, May the Gods of your people bless you. From old days it was said that none should refuse aid to a stranger who came to the door, for one could never know – it might be a God in disguise. Our Gods came from the North, which some say means the sky. We’ve learned from beings that are not even our species. Old clans often say that their origins began with one of these Gods. I think we should take an example from the time when Gods walked with us, they were not racist, we shouldn’t be either.

  4. Thank you for addressing and championing this issue. As simply a Pagan in the Deep South of the U.S., I’ve very recently been thrown in the deep end of the murky, foul and diseased stench of these pits. Until there is NO LAST SHADOW of Racism and Bigotry (look up the difference because, folks, it might set off some soul-searching alarms in those who thought their hearts were clear), we’ll ever fall short of fully open-armed welcome with which we’re SUPPOSED to be identified.

    I’m incredibly amused that untold amounts of money, research, sweat and reams of data collection, contributions of DNA from around the globe and ever so many impressive Alphabet Soup titles seem to have finally concluded that ALL humans initially descended from ONE SET OF DNA. Amazing, right? ALL races and ethnicities evolved from that single, original group of humans. Then THOSE people spread out over and around our Earth and adapted accordingly, creating our many differing skin colors, body types, etc. How very cool is that, right? So, ultimately? We are not only genuinely all brothers and sisters, but we truly ALL stem from the same original family DNA sequences. Eat that, you bunch of “better and holier-than-thou” supremacists! 😂 Oh how it must pain their egos … ya think?

  5. Thank you for this! We need to get rid of the need to be “better than”, and now. Not sure how to do this, as the pecking order is apparently so deeply embedded in the human psyche, other than to live by example, to be willing, as you suggest, to examine ourselves in every moment for our own tendencies in this regard, and to challenge those tendencies every time.

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