This topic has been on my mind for at least a week now and I have honestly hesitated in writing this post. I know some people are going to be upset. Some people are going to scream but you have to be inclusive to EVERYONE and honestly, I’m just not here for it anymore. To be fair, this idea didn’t just pop into my head. It was sparked by a tweet I saw from Oregon Wood Witch and from there it just spiraled into a mess of thoughts that I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around. Honestly, this post might be a jumble of ideas and thoughts, probably to be expanded upon again in the future.
I’ve spoken about the idea of gatekeeping before. It’s a term used widely in several communities (I actually just heard it on Shelbizzle’s channel recently) when someone is preventing someone else from doing something. Quite literally it is a term for someone standing at the gate of a concept or idea and choosing who is allowed.
“It means that one person cannot decide who does or does not have access to a community, identity, or – in the witchcraft community – a practice. This means that I would not be able to tell you that you can’t practice witchcraft because you’re a child, or you can’t practice witchcraft if you don’t identify as a female. This is gatekeeping.”
On The Topic of Gatekeeping – July 9, 2020
I’m going to let you in on a secret, though…
Some gates are meant to be kept.
Some gates are meant to be closed.
Some gates are meant to be hidden from the public.
The way I view gatekeeping right now is in terms of community and cultural safety. BIPOC should be allowed to gatekeep their cultural practices, especially when it comes to allowing white people into their spaces. If they don’t want me, a white woman, to learn some of their cultural practices? That’s okay and that is well within their rights to keep such things private.
I can’t speak for other cultures and I do not attempt to speak for BIPOC as a white woman, but I’m going to tell you one thing right now.
I am a gatekeeper.
I am the keeper of my community, whether that be this website, my YouTube channel, any of my free social media platforms, and my paid platforms. I have a responsibility to the people I serve in my community to make sure it is a safe space for them to share their experiences without fear of judgment or hatred. This is especially true for BIPOC and other marginalized groups.
YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.
So who’s not welcome? Who is not allowed to cross my gate?
If you are…
- Peddling conspiracy theories
- Denying science
- Spiritually bypassing others
- Refusing to listen to BIPOC and other marginalized people
- And perpetuating harmful stigmas or hatred toward people
I DON’T WANT YOU HERE.
When there are pagans out there who claim that you can’t worship the Norse Gods because you’re not white, there is a problem in the community.
When there are pagans who choose to speak over those who have been hurt by the words or actions of another, there is a problem in the community.
When there are organizations that exclude trans people and BIPOC from events and opportunities, there is a problem in the community.
When these things happen, it does us no good to cry out but they’re not one of us! The problem is that they most certainly are! They are pagan! They are witches! They identify with our community! Doing this and brushing it under the rug and othering them doesn’t solve the problem. We can’t allow these people in our spaces. We can’t allow them to speak over entire communities just because it fits their needs and their goals.
There is a paradox to tolerance, and many who are intolerant seem to try and trap the tolerant in their beliefs. You’ll hear things like, but you have to be inclusive to everyone or you’re not tolerant. That may literally be the case, but in order to uphold a tolerant society or, in our case, community, we simply cannot tolerate the intolerant.
“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
The Open Society and Its Enemies – Karl Popper
If we don’t stand together — and firmly — on this subject and keep the gates of our community closed to the intolerant, then our communities are all but doomed.