There’s been a lot of discussion about privilege in the Pagan community following Pantheacon. Or rather Pantheacon just happened to be the place where the conversation came to the surface more, because the conversation has been happening for a while now. And such conversations are important because ideally it brings to light the inequities in the community.
I’m a middle class white man that has the fortune of living in a first world country with running water, heat, and a number of other resources that are available to me. The level of privilege that I have is staggering and likely I’m not even fully aware of it. Yet what I am aware of is that there are other people that don’t have that same level of privilege, who for reasons of gender or skin color or whatever else don’t have the same level of access to resources, education, and opportunities that I have, and also face more situations where their appearance is used to judge them.
I feel that one of the ways I can leverage my privilege is to turn around and use it for the greater good. I’m not doing this out of a sense of white guilt, but rather because I don’t believe that inequity of any sort should continue to flourish. And while my actions can’t make everything right, I feel that what I can do is help make people more aware of the issues as well as continue to educate myself. One of the reasons Immanion Press has published several anthologies focused on issues of privilege as it applies to occultism and Paganism is because by doing so other people get their voice heard and hopefully they are inspired to continue writing and discussing because they recognize why it is so important.
And while I don’t think addressing privilege in Paganism will make everything right, I think it’s a start. If you want to make change happen, start with your community and build from there. That kind of change is slow, but it also builds momentum. I know that whatever change I facilitate will best occur by working with what I know.
In a lot of ways, it’s interesting to observe the Pagan community and how it is dealing with the issue of privilege. Pagans, by and large, like to think of themselves as progressive people. And yet its clear that privilege still operates on certain levels. At this year’s Pantheacon the Pagans and Privilege panel had to be held in a hospitality suite and the People of Color hospitality suite got a lot of resistance from the Pantheacon staff. At the same time the conversations are happening, and people are becoming more aware of the issues. Change is happening, as long as we are willing to continue to make it happen by confronting the issues and how they effect all of us as a community, and as individuals.