This post originally started as a response to a Facebook thread in the Cascadia Radical Faeries group and grew into something longer.
Rap and Hip Hop are Black / African American art forms. Cazwell’s video, Hot Homo, much like our community (Cascadia Radical Faeries, the Faeries in general) is extraordinarily white. Yet we extoll it for it’s diversity: different sizes, hairinesses, and muscle densities of white people!
The white gay men’s community is notorious for appropriating culture from black women (and black gay men).Here’s a black woman on the topic. If that’s hard to take in, here’s a gentler version from two white gay men.
It’s a shame that in order for something that exciting to become palatable to broader audiences, it first has to be whitewashed. Shockingly, Macklemore (a straight white rapper) was not the first person to address homophobia in rap music. Black queer rappers have been doing that for quite a while.
So other than cultural appropriation, what does this have to do with our community? According to 2006 census figures, black identified people in Metro Vancouver make up barely 1% of the population, so it’s not surprising that black gay men, let alone black faeries are a rarity. (These demographics are not the case outside Cascadia, but that’s another conversation).
The conversation on race and racism in Cascadia is more than a black and white issue. In Metro Vancouver visible minorities were 42% of the population in 2006, mostly folks of Chinese and South Asian descents. If we zoom into specifically the City of Vancouver, that number becomes 51%. Visible minorities are the majority. (There’s some vibe of “we’re scared of immigrants” in this article. Just read it for the figures.)
When I go to heart circles, to gatherings, I don’t see this reflected. I barely even see people of colour represented at all. Can we call ourselves a community of radicals if we only transgress norms around gender and sexuality?
When my peers ask me about the faeries, I hate how I always have to temper my enthusiasm with a disclaimer to the effect of “well, they’re starting to get their act together with trans stuff, cultural appropriation is rampant, and they’re almost exclusive white.”
My community outside the faeries doesn’t just include a diversity of gay cliques, but a diversity of gender histories and expressions (while still identifying in the realm of guys) and a diversity of ethnicities, languages, and stories of how they each came to inhabit unceded Coast Salish territories (just like all of us white immigrants / descendants of immigrants).
I want to be able to Welcome them Home to the faeries, because I know that some of them would love it. I want to be able to say that we’re talking about cultural appropriation, and that we’re exploring how we can engage with anti-racism, white supremacy, and decolonization as a community. What could this look like? This video is from a group of Witches who helped bring these conversations to the recent BC Witchcamp. They made a really awesome zine called Cultural Appropriation in Spirituality which could be a great starting point for some of our own conversations.
I am committed to holding space for some sort of conversation around these topics at the 2015 BC Faerie Gathering. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like, but that’s okay. I plan to explore some of these themes on my blog in the coming months, especially what it means to simultaneously hold privileged and marginalized identities. Most of all, I’m excited to be exploring this with y’all.