advocacy beyond media

It’s my first post in months. The first post I’ve been able to complete through the exhaustion of the stress of this semester of uni, and I want y’all to know that I’ve finally had enough.

I suppose I should say hello but I don’t particularly care much about greetings and platitudes today because this post is very much a call out post.

The book community is a vast place with people from different ethnicities, religions, races and from different parts of the world. One of the prides of this community or people in it, is this diversity and the seeming sense of social awareness but like I said seeming because for a community that supposedly cares for the advancement of society through media representation, diversity and inclusion, the book community does not in fact care about people from marginalised backgrounds as much as they care for their cookie points on seeming to care.

This for many people of such backgrounds is a known fact, but this post is about some fairly recent occasions.

This week (or more accurately before this week because this week is just the culmination of these issues), there has been an explosion of issues around this world.

In India, we have the COVID-19 crisis with thousands of new cases and hundreds of people dying daily. Health care facilities and personnel are performing overcapacity. Resources, ventilation, oxygen tanks and vaccines are widely unavailable and people continue to contract the disease and die from it daily at an alarming rate. This is a similar case in Nepal.

In Palestine, the oppression of the settler state of Israel, which is ethnically cleansing Palestinians to make room for Jewish settlers, continues. On February 10, 2021, the Jerusalem District Court upheld an October 2020 Jerusalem Magistrate Court decision, requiring a number of Sheikh Jarrah residents to vacate properties they are living in by May 2, 2021 (later on postponed to May 6 2021). In the past week, there’s been increased violence and brutality from Israelis and the Israeli government to the inhabitants of Sheikh Jarrah ranging from verbal and physical assault to outright murder.

In Colombia, for over a week now Colombians have been protesting the new and outrageous tax reform to be implemented in a global pandemic. This is even more inappropriate given that over 40% of Colombians live below the poverty line. Following the onset of peaceful protests, there has been increased police brutality leading to 56 confirmed disappearances, 1,181 confirmed injured, 27 homicides and 9 confirmed sexual assaults and rape cases by police*.

*As of May 4th, 2021.

All of these are major and prominent issues occurring right now. No doubt there are more issues occurring at the moment (for example the COVID-19 crisis in Brazil, do look it up and raise awareness), but these particular ones listed are hard to miss and but still it’s too difficult for people in the book community to care.

Let’s go back to the book community and media advocacy. A lot of readers in the online book community pride themselves in reading ‘diversely’. I put this in quotes because the diversity in question can be well…questionable.

We pride ourselves in being woke, socially aware and advocating for diverse voices and people of colour. 

And yes, doing all that is important but fiction mirrors reality and advocacy and activism doesn’t stop at reading a few books by Black authors during Black History Month or having a favourite Asian author or having your token favourite POC. All that without any action or care for the lives and situations of real life and actual people of the marginalisation of characters and authors you say you love is nothing but performative. 

It shows a kind of disconnect from reality to claim you care about certain characters and ignore the pain of the people these characters are molded after or share a similar experience with.

Anti colonialism seems to be a trend with the book community lately. I don’t mean to diminish decolonisation and anti colonialism because as a person who’s from a former colony (in which the colonial state has some extent of power over us still), these themes are important to me. These are themes I stand for but it seems for a number of people in the book community, it’s only acceptable in fiction.

How can you say you’re for decolonisation or love books with anti colonial themes and ignore Palestine? You support books about anti colonialism and yet keep silent while Israel continues its genocide and displacement of Palestinians. 

Israel is a settler colonial state that has been systematically wiping out Palestinians for decades. A real life oppressor from which the books you say you love is modelled but when Palestinians need help, you’re silent.

This isn’t the first instance of the book community ignoring Palestinian voices. Since I joined this community, it’s been an observable fact that humanitarian crises in the Global South and most particularly in the Middle East are ignored. Palestine is even a more peculiar case because even if Global Southerners try, do our best and force you (in Global North) to listen to us with Palestine its much harder to get a fraction of support.

It clearly shows that you do not see Palestinians and Global Southerners as humans. It is very obvious that the book community does not see Palestinians specifically as humans.

While I would like to digress and talk more about the pattern of centering the West in humanitarian crises and ignoring the Global South, that’s a topic for another day. At this moment, I need everyone to remember that Palestinian rights are human rights; and Israel has been committing multiple human rights violations for decades.

It’s AAPI Heritage Month and you know what that means, we’re going to have huge TBR lists of books by Asian American and Pacific Islander authors, and even Asian authors. Recommendation lists will be aplenty, but yet you can hardly find people who care about what’s happening in Palestine and India.

Yesterday, there was wide outrage in book twitter and the Shadow and Bone fandom about the fact that the stunt double for Amita Suman was in fact white and was in Brownface in the series. Now we should talk about brownface and representation in media given the history of American media, but it’s laughable and very much annoying to get so much outrage in hours about this when it took almost a week to get the attention of people in these communities to care about the COVID-19 crisis in Nepal’s neighbouring country, India and also in Nepal itself.

You would care more about an actress in brownface than actual Brown people dying. How can you say you care about an actress when it takes literally begging and even guilting to get you to care about people who look like her, are from the same region and even country (in Nepal’s case) as she is?

Latinx Heritage Month is coming up in a few months but yet hardly anyone is concerned about the lives of the people of Colombia or what’s happening now.

Last year in the book community, defining performative activism and calling it out was a huge thing and for good reason, but it seems this community is quick to ignore its own advice and that this advice is only good for certain people.

It’s not surprising but still heartbreaking to see people in this community be selective about their causes, be selective of who they deem worthy or human enough. No one is asking you to do so much or to go out of your way, we literally just asking for a retweet, a shout out, an acknowledgement that yes, I see and I’m here for you.

But it seems you don’t see us humans too. We’re just characters that exist for you to enjoy in your books and TV shows. Your acknowledgment of existence is limited only to fiction. Your support of marginalised people is limited to support of media that gives us the bare minimum of representation.

Outside of your terms (representation in media), our existence stops and so does your advocacy. And it rings quite clear that you do not care or advocate for us, you’re only concerned about you and your look.


If you’d like amplify or donate to issues going on around the world, here are a few tweets about them and ways to help.

India

Fanna shares resources about what is going on in India, donation links and fundraisers. There are many ways to help India on here ranging from donations for medical resources, relief for families, fundraisers and giveaways to win some cool stuff in exchange for a donation

Palestine

Jia shares reliable charities and organisations that you can donate to in order to materially help Palestinians.

A ramadan fundraiser for families in Gaza for Muslims, non Muslims are more than welcome to also help out.

Colombia

Fran shares a thread with extensive information on what’s going on in Colombia and some ways to help. There’s a link to a thread about issues occurring in Mexico

Brazil

This person shares information on the situation in Brazil and links to donations.

I’ll post more information regarding Nepal and how to help later.


I want to end this post with a general reminder to the book community that your advocacy does not stop at critiquing media representation, if it does then it’s empty and performative. And remember that people in the Global South are just people like you and deserve basic human rights.


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: Black Anger

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, with the inclusion of a prelude from me, Mel (she/her/they) recommends in a YouTube video 5 books she finds cathartic and we talk about Black anger.


Black anger, or rather the suppression of Black anger to conform and fit into white palatability, is an important part of the experience of many Black people.

Just like joy, fear and pain, anger is a basic human emotion. Children as young as six months old feel and express anger, but when Black people show the slightest hint of this emotion, a problem arises.

Like I said in one of the earlier posts I wrote for The Black Experience 2.0, Black people don’t get to be imperfect or human. We are to remain perfect, placid and pleasant; the moment we deviate a little from this mold we become problematic, irrational, violent and aggressive. And it doesn’t take much for us to be categorised as such, a groundless perception from a non Black person is enough to label us the angry Black person. Whether or not our anger is justified or we’re truly angry, it matters not because Black people are perceived to be angry, indesirable, despite it being a universal emotion.

We do not get to outwardly process a basic emotion. Even in a world with severe inequalities and injustice that push us to the brink and right into the fold of said emotion. We do not get to react, to be upset, to be angry. We don’t get to deal with the bullshit.

Today in the last post for the original portion of The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat, Mel recommends in a YouTube video, 5 books to help process the bullshit and deal with Black anger, frustration and racism and the response to racism; and all based on their personal experiences and emotions.

About Mel

Hey, I’m Mel from mel.theravengirl. I’m a booktuber, reader and actor. I talk about books that bring me joy whether that be a cheesy fantasy romance, or a collection of essays. (either way I’ll probably mention BTS.)

You can find Mel on Twitter @meltheravengirl and on their YouTube channel @mel.theravengirl.


We’ve officially come to the end of the original segment or part of TBE 2.0. While I’ll be adding more posts to this series at different points of the year or during the second celebration of Black History Month in October (UK Black History Month), TBE has originally planned this year ends with the post and the last day of February.

I hope all Black people all over the world had a great month and I hope you enjoyed this series.

Till next time and the next addition, I hope you stay safe and sound.

With love,

|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: The Devaluation and Consumerism of Black Pain

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Laila Sabreen (she/her) talks about the devaluation and consumerism of Black pain and Black trauma. 


The role that Black pain plays in the publishing industry is one that I’ve had to think about a lot as both a reader and writer of YA.

Pain, like any other emotion, has its place in the Black community– as it does in pretty much all communities. The problem that is present is how stories centered around Black pain are able to make it further past the gatekeepers of the publishing industry compared to stories centered around Black joy or Black love. A parallel problem that sometimes arises when examining how Black pain is devalued and consumed can be seen when books that feature Black pain, as well as Black joy and/or Black love, only receive attention for the former aspect rather than any of the latter. This is because publishing often places more value on Black pain compared to the Black joy or Black love, which leads to a greater consumption of Black pain which then leads to its devaluation and the cycle continues. Black pain does, and should continue to, have a space in publishing, but it is not what defines us as a community. It is not all that we are.

Though Black pain, Black joy, Black love, etc are all equally important, I believe that Black pain is more consumed by the publishing industry because it’s often thought to teach or act as an educational tool for readers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning something from books, in fact it’s pretty great, but a problem sometimes arises when stories about Black pain are expected to educate readers. Black pain can educate those that don’t experience it, but that’s not its function. Our pain doesn’t exist to educate or serve others, and the expectation for it to do so lends its devaluation and consummation.

There are stories that I look to, especially as a writer, that include Black pain in ways that I found really engaging and insightful. In Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, Bree, learns about her lineage and family history especially as it relates to growing up in the South. In Slay by Brittney Morris, Kierra, has to learn how to navigate and celebrate her Blackness in both the real world and a virtual one. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, is both a love story and a story about how Felix, a Black trans boy, faces transphobia, classism, and racism. There are many more examples, but these are three where the Black protagonists do face pain because of their identity at some point on their journey, but facing that pain is not the eternity of their stories.

It’s only a part.

About Laila Sabreen

Laila Sabreen is a young adult contemporary author based in the Washington DC area. She currently attends Emory University where she is double majoring in Sociology and English. Her love of writing began as a love of reading, which started when she used to take weekly trips to her local library. There she fell in love with the Angelina Ballerina series, so much so that she started to write Angelina Ballerina fanfiction at the age of five (though she did not know it was fanfiction at the time). Today, she writes novels about the Black Muslim characters she wanted to see growing up. Her debut novel, You Truly Assumed, will be published by Inkyard Press/HarperCollins in Winter 2022.

Website

Twitter

Instagram 

TikTok


 

The Black Experience 2.0: The Dehumanisation of Black Characters

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, I talk about something I’ve wanted to discuss for a long time and it’s the dehumanisation of Black characters and the casual anti blackness in the book community.


A common call in book spaces, in relation to characters, is the call for messy, imperfect characters. There is a nearly constant call for human, imperfect, messy characters  but after spending a while in the book community, I’ve noticed that this call doesn’t apply to characters of certain races, specifically Black characters.

Like with other trends developing in publishing, this need is being met, albeit slowly, we have a little more messy characters now. But the reception of these characters are vastly different.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised or as frustrated when I noticed the disparity between the way non Black imperfect characters and Black ones are received.  

I shouldn’t be shocked or angry whenever I see a Black character being bashed for the same thing a non Black character gets sympathy for. I shouldn’t be shocked when Black teen characters going through life are called ‘troublesome’ or ‘awful’ and their non Black counterparts are called ‘struggling poor dears’.

The lack of empathy for and constant dehumanisation of Black characters shouldn’t be surprising since it’s reminiscent of the real life treatment of Black people.

Black people don’t get to be messy in real life, Black characters in fiction can’t too. Black people don’t get to go through rough times in real life; Black characters can’t too. Black people don’t get to have lapses of judgement in real life; Black characters can’t too. Black people don’t get to make honest mistakes or be ignorant in real life; Black characters can’t too.

Black people and Black characters have to be perfect. Messiness, imperfection is not for us. Those concepts aren’t relatable in us. Complex realities don’t exist for us. We’re either really good or we’re not.

Humanity and it’s complexity is not for us.

So excuse me whenever I feel slightly irritated when people ask for imperfect characters but cannot accept imperfect Black characters.

Because I see y’all bashing that Black teen character’s experience is reminiscent of an actual Black person’s teenhood struggles and trying to figure out right from wrong, and then in the same breath empathising with a White character for doing the same.

I see y’all looking for redemption in White antiheroes and villains and in the same breath rage at Black antiheroes and villains and claim there’s no redemption for them.

I see y’all love and coddle character A (or W) and despise character B.

I see your casual and projected anti blackness, and I’m tired of it.

“We need messy characters” “Less put together characters and more hot messes”

These are all great requests but until you can accept less than perfect Black characters, and in extension Black people, don’t ask that.

Solve your antiblackness, it’s glaring and Black folks are tired.


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: Black Joy

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Celeste Harte (she/her) and booktuber Ashley (she/her) talk about Black joy, the need for more stories about Black joy and how being Black is more than just pain and trauma even if it’s what the media is more interested in. And in a small Instagram picture addition, Sumayo (she/her) talks about how Black joy and love is an act of resistance.

(This post is divided mainly into two parts; an article and a linked YouTube video with the addition of an Instagram post)


Celeste Harte: The Need for Black Joy

Black entertainment has always been a two edged sword, in my opinion. Black people have been able to sing, dance, and perform for people for a long time. And obviously make money from it. But whenever you see those old videos, when the camera panned out on those black and white screens, you saw a lot of white faces. Not Black ones.

But this was the Jim Crow era! Why would white people want to watch Black people sing and dance knowing they would benefit from it, one might ask.

That’s because white people actually do enjoy Black entertainment. To some degree, I believe they expect it. We’ve always been marveled at. But there’s a difference between being enjoyed and being respected. Those performers still had to leave out the back, and go through the “for colored people” exits, and go back to their “for colored people” lives. Because those white people *only* saw those Black people as entertainment. Yes, Black people enjoyed Black music and performances, but they couldn’t afford to see them live. So the entertainment was made by Black people, for white people, even though Black people happened to enjoy it.

The same goes for entertainment today. I get a bad taste in my mouth when I see slave movies come out and white viewers are the main ones that enjoy it. Or when Black books highlighting our pain are more popular than books highlighting our victories.

I feel like we’re still only providing entertainment that white people enjoy. It technically puts money in our pocket, but by the time we go home, nothing has changed. Because we’re still not respected. We’re just entertaining.

Books featuring Black Joy are important because they have nothing to do with the white audience. It’s not about educating white people on how not to be racist, it’s not about making them aware to how different our situation is from theirs. Because at the end of the day, those stories don’t benefit Black readers at all. They already know what their lives are like. What does an educational book do for them? It may be cathartic to some degree, yes, but sometimes we just want to escape to some fantasy land where there are other problems than skin color and oppression. We want to see ourselves falling in love and having a happily ever after. To some degree, racism may always be part of it, because that’s the reality of our lives, but the story doesn’t have to always center it to be accurate. 

So therefore, these stories highlighting Black pain simply become another form of entertainment, by Black people, for white people. White people enjoy being the center of attention, whether it’s negatively or positively, apparently. And stories that don’t center them simply don’t get attention because they don’t care to read or support them.

Black Joy reads are important for non-Black readers to stop having to be taught about our experience and just read these books because they’ve been missing. Read them because they’re needed. Because there’s more to us than just our oppression and being entertaining. These books should be read so that readers can stop getting the idea that Black people have a duty to educate the world on our oppression and start simply supporting us because it’s what we’re due.

We’re due the experience of not having to be entertaining for other people. We’re due being able to write stories about us simply being.

So don’t read a book just so you can feel sorry for us. Read a book that simply cheers us on. Because that’s what we deserve.


Ashley: Where’s The Joy? | Black Joy Books You Should Read

I grew up loving sci-fi, loving fantasy as I said but never seeing myself represented in those books. I never got to see Black girls, Black boys in fantasy stories, sci-fi stories, fighting aliens, taking down dragons, storming castles, rescuing princesses the whole nine yards[…]but people who looked like me, my friends and my family did not exist in them. We got Black trauma narratives.

AShley (PaGES IN THE STARS)

Sumayo: Black Joy Is An Act of Resistance (Instagram post)


About Celeste Harte

Celeste Harte is an African-American writer living in Spain. She loves reading and writing sci-fi and fantasy, and is obsessed with all 

things mermaids and dragons.

You can find Celeste on Twitter and Instagram @celesteharte and @celeste_harte respectively.

About Ashley

Ashley is a booktuber, bookstagrammer and a huge Stars Wars fan.

You can find her on Twitter @TheJediAshCash, on Instagram @pagesinthestars and on her YouTube channel Pages In The Stars


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: (Re)Discovering My Blackness and Queerness

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, Rogier (he/him) shares a raw post about rediscovering his Blackness and queerness and how they come together in his experience.


This post will be chaotic and I’m sorry. I talk about being mixed Black and queer in Suriname. A South American nation with a Caribbean culture.

I’m Black and Indigenous. I live in a lower middle class neighborhood. Growing up, we only spoke Dutch at home, rarely Sranang (the language developed here during the colonization). My mom was scared we wouldn’t do well at school and that we would be seen as the ‘rowdy black and brown kids’. I find it funny, how in a majority POC country whiteness is still upheld.

I’m Black. My family on my mother’s side is Black but I never felt Black enough growing up. I could not hold a conversion in Sranang, wasn’t aware of idioms and didn’t listen to local music/ American rap. My music taste ran mostly white. I mostly listened to Pop, Punk growing up ( Paramore, Avril Lavigne, All American Rejects, Panic at the Disco) and whatever Lykke Li and Florence are. Only in recent years have I become aware that it’s okay to only love the songs I do and I’m still Black despite it. And to not be afraid to listen to rap and local music.

I had to learn that colorism exists and how it was presented in my life. My mom was afraid that darker skinned Black people could be criminals and were too loud. I had to unlearn that. I had to unlearn immediately imagining white people when reading fiction. That’s still an ongoing process, still sometimes when reading a Black or Brown character on page, for a split moment I imagine them to be white.

Society is flooded with white body ideals and this has definitely influenced my romantic attraction. Now I find myself thinking “Are some white guys really attractive or are they just white?”.

I know this sounds weird but I had to sit with myself why I would not date Black men and why Black guys were not even in my mind. Now that I’m nearing 30, that has changed and is changing. I’ve noticed that there are so many cute Black and Brown guys.

I knew I was gay at age 12, asexual at 22. Discovering I was gay was a lot easier than figuring out I was ace. Romantic attraction came first and sexual attraction sporadically. I also did discover that I’m sex averse. I haven’t enjoyed any sexual encounters really. Cute guys are cute, some nicer than others but I find sex acts generally boring. I find people attractive but I don’t want to have sex with them lol.

Talking about my sexual orientation, homoromantic and asexual is a mouthful. So I just use queer or ace instead.

With exploring my sexuality; Suriname has a decent gay night life in normal times. Although, I haven’t been to any because I don’t feel safe and its very sex driven. Homophobia is still a thing here, although it’s not as bad as some Latin countries and other Caribbean  nations, it exists. Someday, I hope that queer cafes or pubs will be a thing that are cozy and ace inclusive in the future.

How sexuality and being Black come together for me? It’s that I have become comfortable with my feminine qualities. I’m neither really masculine or feminine. More in the middle really. Who knows what the future will bring but I know that a guy is out there that will accept me being ace.


You can find Rogier on Twitter @rocapri 

|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience: Black Magic — Hoodoo

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Amber McBride(she/her) talks about Hoodoo/Rootwork, the problem with mainstream exploitation of Hoodoo and some book recommendations that incorporate rootwork, in the first post in the subsegment Black Magic.

(Black Magic is a sub segment of TBE 2.0 with the contributions of authors and bloggers recommending books by Black authors. With the exception of Hoodoo, Black Magic is a sub series of recommendation list)


HOODOO – ROOTWORK – BLACK MAGIC

To put it simply Hoodoo, also known as Rootwork or Conjure, is an African American magic system that arose in the Americas after enslaved Africans were stolen from their homelands and stripped of their way of life. Hoodoo and its many practices are as unique as regions in North and South America, but the pillars of Hoodoo include—the elevation of ancestors, knowledge of and working with herbs, roots, candles, sticks and bones, oneness with nature and balance.

Hoodoo unlike Voodoo is not a religion rather a series of rituals and traditions that when applied properly can bring good fortune and ward off bad energies. Many enslaved African Americans were not permitted to practice the religions/traditions of their homelands and therefore many elements of Hoodoo were hidden in plain sight. This is why often Hoodoo uses Bible verses or psalms in tandem with many spells.

Those who practice Hoodoo have an enormous respect for nature and therefore all herbs and roots should be sourced ethically. If a particular root is rare or going extinct it is important to find a substitute. Tree bark should not be continuously taken from the same tree. Any bones used should come from animals that have already passed on. Furthermore, as articulated in Sticks, Stones and Bones by Stephanie Rose Bird, metals (silver, copper, lead, iron) often share similar properties to bones and can be used as replacements.

In recent years Hoodoo has been exploited by mainstream media. Often linked to Voodoo or Witchcraft. It is easy to see the similarities, but these practices are each unique and should be respected for their profound differences.

The problem with Hoodoo being seen as something new and profitable by the mainstream is that shops sell products that are not ethically sourced and therefore carry bad charges. If the roots, oils, candles are not carrying the right energies more harm than good can be done. In short, capitalism got its hands on Hoodoo and went wild.

Hoodoo’s links to African and African American ancestors make it a uniquely African American practice. With this said, Hoodoo does borrow and give to many traditions, including Native American rituals. Many belief systems around the world that utilize storytelling, respect for ancestors and admiration of nature have similarities to Hoodoo. These practices have conversations with each other, but nuance is important when learning and respecting any belief system in and of itself.

I am not here to say that only people of African descent can practice Hoodoo, but an extensive knowledge of African and African American traditions is needed to practice it in any substantial regard.

Practicing Hoodoo is different for each Conjurer or Rootworker, but respect for the ancestors and the living world around you is of paramount importance.

 

Books That Incorporate Hoodoo

*Book title = Buy link

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.—HMH Books

Sticks, Stones & Bones by Stephanie Rose Bird

This book gives a comprehensive overview of Hoodoo/Rootwork and the importance of sticks, stones and bones in the practice. It is an excellent introduction into Hoodoo.

Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted. Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.—Macmillan

Root Magic by Eden Royce

Debut author Eden Royce arrives with a wondrous story of love, bravery, friendship, and family, filled to the brim with magic great and small.

—Harper Collins

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.—Simon and Schuster


About Amber McBride

Amber McBride is an English professor at the University of Virginia. She also low key practices Hoodoo and high key devours books (150 or so a year keep her well fed). In her spare time she enjoys pretending it is Halloween everyday, organizing her crystals, watching K-dramas and accidentally scrolling through TikTok for 3 hours at a time. She believes in ghosts and she believes in you.

Website: amber-mcbride.com

Twitter: @ambsmcbride

Instagram: @ambsmcbride


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |