Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for July 2020
I don’t need to tell you the World is being shaken by it’s very foundations right now.
As it should be.
The murder of another black American at the hands of corrupt police mobilized a movement, demanding justice and change.
As a white person, even though I’m a minority being female, deaf, Pagan, and having mental health challenges, I’ve endured my share of discrimination, and had my life held up by it.
But this is absolutely nothing compared with the hell people of color in this country go through.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a lifelong victim of systematic racism, and I don’t have the answers that are going to fix it.
My job is to listen and ask what I can do to help.
One issue people have talked about for a very long time is profiling. I know people who have been profiled for various reasons, not just race. To be truthful, I called for stories from people about profiling, and not enough answered about just being profiled by race to do an article, so I opened it up to ask about being profiled in general. People delivered. I will share these stories, and afterwards, discuss things we can do to help.
No spellwork for a second month in a row, and no ritual.
Sometimes, the very most powerful working is in the mundane, using our bodies to create physical change.
It’s appropriate we should be speaking about freedom of Americans right at 4th of July time. It’s been pointed out this Nation was founded for freedom for white people, and people of color have never been fully included in that. Women, the disabled, members of minority religions, the poor, and children also, have always been second class citizens in this country. One issue at a time has to be hammered away at by us. We have to take a good look at ourselves as a people. The way we treat our most vulnerable citizens says who we are.
One word before I share stories, however:
What does it say about us spiritually as a Nation that we discriminate so widely? Those who know history know America has hundreds of years of imprinting of atrocities against people of color. What we have done to Native Americans has been rightfully called The American Holocaust, and America, itself was not just built from hopes and work of frontiers. It was also built on the back of African and African American slaves, on stolen land from our Indigenous people, and the oppression of people of color has not stopped yet.
It may take hundreds more years to undo that imprinting, and replace it with goodness, and equality for all.
As people of the old gods, what does this mean to us? We don’t see things through the mainstream view. We don’t think there is ONE way to be. We don’t ascribe to following a central leader, and we typically have no issue rocking the boat. Many neo Pagans are individuals and see things not only through an earth based mindset, but we also know what energy does.
We know collective energies create change.
So, we know as more and more people ascribe to the same mindsets, society changes.
For us, as magical people, we know that joining the cause of helping people to see racism is about more than just the fact some people dislike the fact other people have a different skin color than they do. It’s about the fact many strive to keep a system in place that oppresses people of color because they believe it is beneficial so white people can have everything for themselves.
Truthfully- our resources are not even strained. There is enough for everybody. Hoarding of wealth is the issue, and that’s what needs to be combated. That’s a whole other evil.
What needs to happen is education for white people so we can understand these things, and so we can see the atrocities it creates.
So first, let’s hear stories about being profiled based on physical appearance. Names have been changed for privacy.
My neighbor’s experiences
The idea to write about this came to me in a discussion with a neighbor. She is white, and had children with an African American man. The kids are in their early 40’s. When her kids were not even teenagers yet, she was driving them on the highway, and got pulled over for speeding. She said the officer made her PROVE those two “black children” were her kids.
She furthermore told me that her son, when he was a teenager was put on the ground more than once, having been accused of robbing a bank- which he never did. He was on his face on the ground with a rifle to his head, trying to prove he was innocent. He was grabbed and accused simply because he was black. No other reason.
I’m deaf. It’s not fun, by any means, but it is what it is. I wear adaptive devices, and when I enter into a new situation, immediately assess things and where I need to be in order to hear best. I decided to get out of working in nursing homes, and signed up to attend a local culinary program. I love food, and dreamed of being a chef. The head chef at the program was not comfortable having a deaf student. At the open house I attended, he told me I probably would not be able to find a job. I countered that I was almost 40 years old and had always been able to find work, thanks very much. I thought I had told him! Not so. When new student orientation came, he and one of the business directors pulled me out of orientation to find out just how deaf I was, and to inform me they once had a student who was deaf and had caused a LOT of accidents in classes. I told them off again, and spoke with the Dean of the school who scoffed, and told me they would LOVE to take $40K from me to have me in school there, but keeping everybody safe was most important. At no time did they forbid me to attend, but I decided I was not going to get a fair chance there, and decided to keep my money, not making them $40K richer, and I looked in to culinary programs elsewhere. I was not asked about my impairment once at the other university I visited, and was immediately accepted at the first food service job I asked for. Not one staff person gave me any grief. Ever. My hearing was not an issue one time. People ask why I did not sue the college, and I explained I couldn’t because I was not refused admission. It’s not illegal to be an asshole. Had I gone, and was forced out, I might have had a case, but we will never know.
A friend of mine I will call John had a chilling story he shared:
“Back in 2001 (I believe), I was invited to go for coffee after work by some friends. The day in question, where I was profiled, I was wearing a black turtleneck, baggy dress slacks, black hard shoes, and sported a tight fade haircut. I had in my possession a book, a video tape, car keys and maybe my headphones.
After I left… I proceeded to walk north… to go home. As I made my way around the corner to head home, I noticed that the wind had picked up somehow. It was police helicopter. I continued to walk up the street. The wind picked up more. I looked up and the police helicopter was lower than before and tilted sideways a little. The pilot was looking at me or so I thought, and then I thought that was a paranoid thought. I continued to walk. I got as far as Fresno’s Restaurant and what was at the time the mental health clinic parking lot, when out of nowhere came a police cruiser which pulled up to block my path. I sorta’ stopped in my path and observed that the officer was saying something into his radio microphone which was attached to his chest. Then he rushed me.
“Do you have a gun on you?! Do you have a gun on you?!”, he said as he grabbed me and flung me around and threw me hard against his police cruiser. I yelled asking, “what did I do? What did I do??!”
He kicked my legs apart, and proceeded to perform a Terry Pat Down on the outer parts of my clothing. This is legal. He searched in my pockets. That is illegal. He felt the outer part of my groin area on the outside of my clothing. He had to have felt that I was not wearing any underwear, which I was not. The police officer then stuck his hand down the front of my pants and touched my male area and he snickered into my ear. I was humiliated. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the people on the patio of the restaurant had stopped eating and were watching this happen to me. I also realized he was trying to get me to react violently by his snickering when he touched me inappropriately. I did not react. I did lower my head in humiliation however, because I could not believe what he had done. The officer backed off and said, “Male black reported in the area matching your description. He was reported to have a gun.” His partner in another cruiser pulled up, and he walked away, got in his car and left me standing there. I knew the officer lied. In my heart I knew I did not match the description and that this was a lie.
The people… were still watching me. I collected myself and walked fast home. I was so upset and furious, I called my mother crying. She called me down and asked me to call the police and report it. I did so. I felt a little empowered doing it, but the desk sergeant was lying in wait for me to further my anguish. He refused to allow me to make my report and kept excusing the officer’s behavior. I demanded to file a report. He refused to take, and kept explaining the officer’s point of view away. I demanded further to file the report, and because of Cop friends from the past, I knew the line was being recorded. I started telling on the line what happened. The desk sergeant yelled over me to stop the report from showing on the line. I yelled louder my report. He yelled louder to drown me out. This continued until finally I demanded that he send an officer out to my house to take my report in person. The desk sergeant began to backpedal and tried to apologize, and I demanded that an officer be sent to my home. He complied.
The next officer that showed up at my home took my report, BUT, the entire time he took my report, he assessed my home and surroundings, and someone began to send him private messages over his radio, which he responded to by typing on the keyboard housed on the side of it. I began to suspect that he was talking to the officer who attacked me.
I got an attorney. I was so mad, I wanted to sue him for touching me under my clothes and for trying to goad me into attacking so he could arrest me. I provided my lawyer all of the details. He collected both recordings of the encounter with the police officer and the desk sergeant. It was decided my hearing would take place before a magistrate instead of judge. I had character witnesses to my trauma present and I went to be heard. I told my side of the events. I really told that officer how I felt about him as well, and how because he had that badge, I had to stand there and let him do that, but if it were anybody else and he did that to me, I would have tried my best to beat him down in self-defense.
The time came for the officer to speak his side, and you know what? I have never heard the words “Male Black” so much in my whole life as the justification to stop. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. Male Black. He must have said it like 22 times. He said it so much that in my head, my brain started saying “Male back, black male, Black Black, Blackety Black, Midnight Black, Heart of Darkness, Charcoal Black, Black is Black and because I saw the magistrate nod his head listening, I could almost imagine the magistrate saying “black is black’.
My attorney had his turn to question the officer. He played the tape. The officer said into his Microphone as he approached me, “approaching the suspect, but it’s a code 4.”, I believe. I pretty sure he said code 4. My lawyer asked the officer what is code 4, and this was the only time I ever saw the officer begin to look worried. The officer said in answer, “It means not the person we are looking for”. He did this to me and he knew I was not the person they were looking for. My lawyer showed him the clothing I was wearing that day. He asked him the description of what the person they were looking for was wearing.
Description – White T-shirt, blue jeans, red and black leather jacket, baseball hat, and a bandanna, was the description of the suspect. I matched him only by race.
The magistrate judge said he was going to deliberate, and he wanted to adjourn until the following Monday. This was said on Thursday. Friday, while walking to go have dinner with my then boyfriend, I was surrounded out of nowhere by police officers who jumped out of 2 patty wagons, and 4 cruisers. The officer I was taking to court was among the officers. They threatened me, and they threatened my boyfriend. They threatened my boyfriend, and told him to shut the bleep up or they would see what kind of trouble that they could drum up for him. Then the officer I was taking to court came over to have his fun with me by pretending to not know who I was. He called me Jerome, Tyrone, and Michael before he said, “OH! I know who you are.” Then he walked back to the other officers who all laughed and got chesty and high fived each other hyping each other up. Then one of the other officers walked over to me and said, “You see we can find you.” He walked away back to the other men. Then they held me there for another 10 or 20 minutes and left.
On Monday, the magistrate said he was kicking the case to Federal Court for decision and the dollar amount I would have had to pay was so high, that I could not afford “justice”. And with this and the threat against my life, I had to drop the case. My friend Katie begged me to drop this case and she begged me to realize then and there that, “you cannot fight City Hall”. I had to let it go. And I guess I have not really gotten over it, because I just had tears as I wrote this. I am a good man. I try to be. People – some people only see my skin. Not me.
And that is my story of when I was profiled by one the Police Department’s finest. I was panicked and terrified whenever cops pulled behind me for 2 years thereafter, but eventually I just decided it was another trauma to just deal with and get over it as a result of being Black, and that some white people just love torturing black people. It is their greatest hobby in some instances. “
“ What happened to me and some friends hardly seem worthwhile to mention considering what black people go through. Back in the day, we all hung out on campus. Often cops would stop us / me on the street and ask for Id to run checks to see if we / me were wanted, and if we had any drugs on us / me. Some cops would beat people up before taking them in but thank The Gods that never happened to me. I have seen cops plant drugs on people 2x back in the day. They would often say “fucking hippies.” But there were a few OK cops. I have seen them take a guy’s bag of pot and just tell them to go away. One time in FLA, a friend of mine and I were walking down the road and a pick-up truck with red necks in it took a pot shot at us and laughed as they drove away…Those 2 guys that had them planted on them went to jail for possession.” I will mention the profiling happened in the 1960’s due to the fact these guys had long hair, and Christopher told me the harassment stopped when long hair became mainstream. It’s not a big deal to be called a hippie, but to be searched for drugs regularly due to a hairdo, and have drugs planted on you, which lands you in jail is very very bad.
What Needs to Happen?
I asked people what they feel needs to happen. Here are their answers.
“I think as far as police brutality, good cops need a safe way to report bad cops. I think fear of retaliation is a problem. I also think that the justice system has let too many cops get away with a slap on the wrist for police brutality. I don’t just mean the not guilty verdicts either. Why are bad cops still on the force after NUMEROUS incidents of police brutality? The change needs to start within law enforcement. I honestly wish i knew how to stop the racism and murder of people of color like myself. I don’t have hope it ever will stop. I wish i had an answer for that. Like until people change their mindset, racism will always be an issue. Hate will always be an issue. Bad people, ignorant people come in all backgrounds. However just to judge and hate because of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc… That shit is beyond wack. It’s time out for excuses. Time for unity and everybody be on one accord to MAKE CHANGES!! We can’t go on like this. I wish we could have this conversation ask these questions openly without people getting offended. We have to begin a dialogue in order to change a mess that keeps happening. I want to ask a cop who was accused of police brutality, why did you do it? “
“Way too much to give you an answer, the cops need to be reined in big time, their union disbanded and their funding cut.”
“I definitely feel anyone working in law enforcement that doesn’t have any record of misconduct should continue with their jobs. Most likely they are not going to suddenly strike against an African American. Anyone who DOES have a history of misconduct and still working the force should be required to undergo some behavioral health evaluation to ensure they are mentally stable enough to continue that job. In my personal opinion, officer should have a degree in law because they work AS law enforcement. If you work in law enforcement, you should be required by the state you work in, to have a degree in law. But this will never happen. There are too many stipulations and they would have to have something implemented for officers already in the force. I’m not sure what that will be but I’m sure someone has the same ideas as me wondering how it can be done. “
He retired from the Police force a while back, and had a viewpoint I am sharing.
“Well first of all statistically there are more whites killed by police each year than blacks, and according to FBI it’s been that way steadily since 2016. So these are random incidents and random acts that if you really look come from under-trained and over-zealous men who are more afraid than the suspects they deal with, that’s why you have 4 or 5 cars roll up on a single vehicle with 2 or 3 occupants.” He also said a change needed is the type of individuals hired today- he said respect and discipline is necessary, and “these punks today have neither.”
“I think the change will come from a 3 fold strategy:
- Starting right now, cops have to be held accountable for their crimes. The “brass” needs to learn the REAL saying; One bad apple SPOILS THE WHOLE BUNCH. And, like w/civilians, those that aid in committing or covering up for their fellow officers need to also be prosecuted. Those that are so disciplined need to be excluded from the law enforcement role.
- Other nations have more screening of candidates to eliminate those who would tend to abuse their power, we need that. Also. Other nations have more training for cadets before they are deployed into the public, many 2-3 years. We need that.
- Right now, all I hear folks talking about changing is crushing the police unions and, in general I support unions, though no organization should have the power to shield bad cops.
Basically, it all goes back to what is harming our society everywhere; equality. No person or group of peoples should be above the law. And for those charged with enforcement and or execution of the law (from cops to Presidents) the standard must be even more strict, not less as they are the EXAMPLE that leads the rest of us.”
What can we do?
What can we do to bring about the changes in society we KNOW need to happen?
I find it reprehensible we waited so long for a Nationwide civil rights movement. George Floyd is not the first, nor will he be the last person of color murdered by police. Breonna Taylor would have been 27 this year had she not been shot in cold blood.
YES white men are killed in higher numbers by police- yes this is true. But black people only make up less than ¼ of the population, and based on statistics by how many black people there are, how many white people there are, and how many of them are killed by police, statistically, black people are more likely to be killed by police.
This link explains it:
This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important.
Just today, as I write this, the mayor of DC had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street leading to the White House. There is hope, but this is just the beginning.
What can we do to change this?
- Vote- Who is in office matters. They are the ones who create laws, and make the changes we ask for. We have to have the right people in office to do this.
- Demand laws about police conduct change- I have not forgotten the public outcry when it was revealed how many Priests in the Catholic church were rapists and pedophiles. It was known to the clergy for forever, and hidden from the public. Priests would be reassigned to other parishes, where they could continue abuse. All hell broke loose, and people demanded change. Now, Priests get defrocked- aka fired, and criminal charges filed. Now they are not protected by each other, and allowed to continue. This is the same thing that needs to happen to Police who abuse the badge. I call for a zero tolerance policy for misconduct and excessive force, as well as murder. No job should allow employees the privilege of abusing the public. No more special treatment. From now on, they get the same consequences for violent assault and murder as not police. Excessive use of force should result in immediate termination and charges filed.
- Keep reporting and videotaping- This is how we have proof. Someday, cameras will be mandatory. They are not right now. If there is no proof of what happened, there will be no consequences.
- Support the good cops- I know a handful of people who want to completely do away with police and military, but we know that’s neither going to happen, nor should it. Part of supporting police is being involved in demanding the right thing, but we can’t tear down the good cops in the process. These are the people who save our lives, and endanger their own in the process.
- If you do protest- I don’t advocate crowds right now in the pandemic, and everybody is welcome to be angry with me for this. Black Americans are more likely to get the corona virus, and less likely to have access to medical care. I don’t see, personally how it helps people of color to be out there possibly exposing them to their death by disease. I do know more than a handful of people who point blank say they don’t “give a fuck” about that, and are going to protest anyways. If you do so- be safe. Don’t pick fights. Don’t scream in people’s faces. Don’t damage anything. I have seen dozens of photos and videos of unhelpful rage filled white people looting and vandalizing. Black people get blamed for that, just so you know. If you have anger management issues, stay away from the protests. Other people will be punished for your personal issues and poor decisions. Know the curfews, stay with a group. If you have an illness, most especially something like asthma- you do not need to go to the protest. You may get tear gassed, and it could be fatal. It should not be this way. Every American ought to be assured they will be safe protesting, but we are not, and the attacks on peaceful protesters Nationwide reminds us of this.
- Not every helpful job entails being onsite for protesting- The show of crowd solidarity is not forgotten. Throngs of people in force in all 50 states and many other Nations has been called the largest Civil Rights movement yet. More needs done besides being THERE. Safe houses nearby the protests can be established. First aid supplies, milk, and water is being accepted by many businesses. Helping board up windows, drive people home, and calls to law enforcement is being made. The number one thing all people – most especially white people need to do is very surprising, and the easiest thing we can do:
- LISTEN to people of color- We do not feel the brunt of our privilege. We don’t see it. We don’t suffer because of it. The last thing white people need to do- which I have seen LOTS of white people doing- is to step in, and silence people of color and act in behalf of them. I call this being a colonizer, and it’s showing itself in ugly ways. We do not speak for people of color. We are to be allies in this . Not decision makers. Ask what is needed from the people who these horrors affect, and do what is asked.
I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t fight everything singlehandedly. This is something all of us have to join in and move forward, and it’s not going to happen overnight.
May the gods help us. May we help each other. May we change. We are never going to be The Land of The Free and The Home of The Brave while we are a Nation crippled by systematic racism.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].