A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
Article ID: 15808
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,591
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Author: Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Posted: June 7th. 2015
Times Viewed: 4,677
Being a Wiccan, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom is like living in another world. Very few people understand my lifestyle, but that’s fine with me. I do not wish for everyone to “get” my family or me. But I do expect them to offer me the same courtesy and respect that they would to anyone else.
I also love my city. Living in St. Louis has had its ups and downs. We have a nice Pagan population here and though I have left a couple of times I know that this is where I am meant to be.
The past few months have been a trial like none other though. My husband and I moved into our neighborhood six years ago because of its diversity and closeness to the city. We are raising two little girls as Wiccans and do not hide who we are. But the recent riots and division has magnified our differences.
Many of our African American neighbors have kept to themselves lately due to the riots and outrage over the Michael Brown case. I have been told “You’re not black so you wouldn’t understand, ” by numerous friends. It pains me greatly because I too know what oppression and ignorance can do to a person. Whenever a Pagan commits a heinous crime it only increases the amount of people who are misinformed on my beliefs. Just as hate crimes against witches only kindle the rage I hold against bigots.
The black community suffers more because they have no shelter from those who choose to discriminate against them. I am Wiccan and proud to admit it, but most people would not be able to tell just from looking at me, though I have my own unique style that often baffles others. I cannot fully feel for those unlike me, but there is such a thing as empathy. Without it the teachings of psychology would be irrelevant and unsupported.
I do not often speak about the vicious hatred that has been aimed at me because of my faith. That is not how I choose to live my life, but here I think the most recent event should be addressed because of its relevancy. I have a great rapport with my neighbors. And though each family surrounding my house is not the same race as mine we get along just fine, at least usually. But since the sensational reports of the Michael Brown case have invaded all of our lives, frustrations have been directed at me in ways I thought I had grown accustomed to.
My next-door neighbor, a good Christian woman is a grandmother who is raising her grandson. He is a sweet boy who has dined with my family and played with my kids. Based on our pleasant relationship I was shocked and grieved when she openly made a point to insult me by comparing me to a devil worshipper when taking down my Halloween decorations this past November.
Now we have known each other for six years now, and she has never expressed any displeasure of any kind towards our decorations, backyard rituals, or somewhat strange appearance at times. I understand that my husband’s long hair and thick beard is not the norm. Nor is the fact that I went and shaved one side of my head. But we have always stood out and she never once batted an eyelash.
So why now?
Because at the time of this particular incident the Michael Brown case was still unresolved, because her grandson is a growing eleven year old African American adolescent and she has numerous concerns. And because I know this and feel for her, I let her unwarranted comment dissipate in the air before me. Usually I would pull out every ounce of my higher education and let her know why her words were so wrong. Instead I just shook my head and laughed something about the fact that I don’t believe in the devil and just wish to celebrate the people I love who have passed on in a fun way. I do not wish for her to feel obligated to partake in my customs just as I would hope that she would not want the same for me.
We cannot divide ourselves further and expect understanding. I am a religious minority therefore I have no interest in persecuting any other minority of any kind. It is trying and extremely difficult when others funnel their frustrations at you but we are all people, just people.
Even I, in all my pride of openness, have had reservations against specific groups of individuals who are different than me. I recently gave in and joined Twitter. Despite the obnoxiousness of the site, I have had fun with the one-liners that come my way. Reciprocating them is entertaining and even sometimes humbling.
Having a love of the human connection I generally follow anyone who follows me. When going through new at one point I happened to notice that one of my followers is a Satanist. Now this is the funny part, I have learned about some of the teachings of Satanism and know that a great deal of the people who follow this faith are just like anyone else, but I had to fight some internal reservations. Even with my knowledge general bias has had an effect on me, a negative one at that.
My husband teased me pretty bad over it. Most people who know me believe me to be extremely accepting, but even I have my faults. We all do. I of course have since enjoyed the silly tweets from the Satanist and have gotten over myself. But it reminds me that the negativity I have had to face from others comes from their own struggles.
At this point most of us are some kind of minority. I feel that part of being an American is feeling that you don’t fit in. So many people have expressed their desperation is being misunderstood to me. I take comfort in the fact that I believe that we have the power to save ourselves. We can choose to amplify out pain and fight over being different, or we can embrace the beauty that is every single individual and truly live together.
St. Louis riots
Michael Brown Case
Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
Bio: Jessica is a Wiccan mother of two whose non-fiction essays and articles that have been seen on “The Witchs Voice, ” “Circle Magazine, ” and “Spirit One Magazine”. She loves the written word and exploring all forms of writing. Her children’s book “My Family is Different” about diversity in religion was released by THG StarDragon Publishing this past September and is available on amazon.
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