Tag Archives: race

TWIH Episode 81: Planting the Church Unusual with Darnell Fennell #radicalinclusion #blacklivesmatter


This episode we welcome Darnell Fennell, the founding pastor of Just Love, a radically inclusive church plant in Houstan, TX. We discuss what it’s like to create an inclusive church in an area that is seen as more conservative to the wider progressive community. What does it mean to be “church” and what are the difficulties in starting a new church in general? How do you bridge the conversation on race and privilege in a mixed congregation? What is the importance of doing the inner work outside of the worship space?  We also discuss how to pastor people through the ever shifting political and social justice landscape, and the difficulties, financially and emotionally, of being progressive clergy.

Note: Apologies for some of the noise, Skype was being a bit cranky. Also, this was recorded at the end of May before the shootings in Orlando.

Darnell Fennell is a native Texan, from southwest Houston. He is no stranger to church having grown up in the Baptist tradition where he discovered a deep passion for ministry. In 2011 Fennell received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Houston followed by a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Ca in 2014. As an ordained minister in Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he has returned to Southwest Houston to begin work on a new church plant, Just Love. Darnell is over church as usual and desires to see a renewed Church, one that takes love seriously.


Just Love: http://www.justlovehouston.org

Facebook: D. D. Fennell

Pacific School of Religion

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TWIH Episode 77: The Politics of the Body with Irene McCalphin


Irene McCalphin joins us this week to talk about the intersections of fat liberation and marginalization. Why is it important to have representation in spiritual imagery, both in regards to race and body size? Why is the language of our rituals important? How can we move through learning about these issues of marginalization and come to a place where we can see outside of ourselves to a more inclusive community? Why is it important to keep the language of the diet industry out of spiritual space? How can kink (BDSM) be used as a spiritual tool and a pathway to a positive self image?

Note: This episode discusses BDSM used as a way of spiritual expression and as a spiritual tool.

Irene McCalphin is a Bay Area writer, performance artist and eater of food in public. She blends modern movement and words with neoburlesque to create socially conscious art pieces that add voice to marginalized communities and celebrates the human body.   A published author and poet Irene draws attention to the ever evolving intersections of fat, feminism, kink, spirituality and human sexuality.

She has facilitated and spoken at events such as NOLOSE, Fat Activist Conference: Tools for the Revolution and Fatty Affair. She has spoken at several universities including Berkeley, Stanford, Mills College and San Jose State. As a producer and presenter she consciously centers marginalized groups for spotlight appearances at events such as BayCon, Folsom Fringe, Red Hots Burlesque and Hubba Hubba Review.

Connect to her on social media and find out about all her shows and presentations via facebook, twitter and instagram or follow her at her sorely mismanaged blog.


Website: theungratefulfatbitch.com

Twitter: @MagnoliahBlack

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The Heretic Writes: Hey White People: Denial Ain’t Just a River in Egypt


The thing about racism in America is that the vast majority of white people don’t want to admit that they’ve breathed, lived, and ate racism from the moment they came out of the womb. We have been indoctrinated by our culture, no matter how hard PBS has tried otherwise, to recognize that white-ness is superior. It’s not always overt, but it is in everything we see and hear. Actors of Color are rarely seen in Hollywood or in TV (and, gods, the white-washing of historical drama). White, pale, and thin is the cultural standard of beauty. The heroes that are touted in history books are hardly ever People of Color, and in many states, the state legislators have re-written history books to make slavery a blip in the history of the how the United States came to be.

Let’s face it my fellow white people: we need to admit that we are the one’s with the problem.

I understand why most of us can’t admit this, though. We’re indoctrinated from the cradle, and what you learn as a child is extraordinarily hard to remove from one’s thought patterns. We don’t think of this inherent racism as “abnormal” because it has always been our “normal.”

Let me repeat that: We white people don’t think about this inherent racism, or that we can be racist, because racism has been our “normal” since we were children.

A concept I learned about awhile back is called “collective trauma” and I think it’s an apt concept for what’s happening now. It’s the idea that a group of people, society, or culture can have a collective grief and/or PTSD after a major traumatic event or series of events. There is also a generational element to this as well. The children and grand-children of those who have had this type of trauma can suffer from the effects of the trauma perpetrated on their family when they listen to the stories of their grandparents, great-grandparents, and ancestors.

In every abusive relationship, there is the victim and the perpetrator. There can also be people who are witnesses to the abuse who don’t say anything out of fear or denial. All of the people involved are damaged by the abuse. The victim has the most obvious trauma of being abused. The perpetrator and those who did nothing, if they admit their wrongdoing or denial, have to deal with the consequences of their actions (or inaction). They also have to admit that what has happened to the victim is real and true. (This is a bit over-simplified, but hear me out.)

White Americans, as a collective whole, have not owned up to the role that our ancestors have played in the abuse and slavery of African Americans, the genocide of Native Americans, and other acts of harm to People of Color. We have to collectively admit that we have done wrong, past and present. We have to admit that we have allowed this racism to seep into our culture and that it has created the United States that we find ourselves in today.

Owning up to this isn’t easy. To really make this meaningful, to really own up to our collective wrongdoing, we have to mean it. We have to without any qualifiers. We have to admit that we were wrong and that we have been doing wrong without any conditions, or “but I’m not racist!” or anything else. We have to admit that what People of Color go through and have gone through are real. We have to say that we’re sorry and mean it. We have to listen and take in the fact that we, collectively, have abused people for no other reason than the color of their skin.

This doesn’t mean that individual people are all bad, horrible abusers that are responsible for specific incidents of their ancestors. What I’m talking about here is acknowledgment of the role that white people have played in the oppression of People of Color and that we, white people, are the ones who need to fix this. We have to admit that we need to change the ways that we think, and the systems that preptrate the violence, in order to make society better.

In short: we need to admit that our “normal” is really “abnormal” and that we need to challenge the powers that insist that the abnormal should continue to exist.

This admittance is only the beginning (as anyone in 12-step can tell you). The next steps are harder because they involve taking a good look at oneself and how we think of People of Color. We have to de-program ourselves out of the collective paradigm.

I’m not writing this to say that I have it all perfected or anything. I’m writing this out of my own experience and my own battles and frustrations with the programming we received from our society. It’s really a constant battle that I fight in my head, especially with the words that come up in my mind when I am out and about in the world. There are still times where racist thoughts will pop into my head, and after my internal WTF, I recognize it for what it is: it is a racist belief that I was taught. I counter this with the new narratives that I’ve learned by listening to the stories of People of Color and what I’ve educated myself about racism. I try my best to make sure that I counter the racist narrative that exists in my head by doing what I can to stop racism in my communities.

But collectively, we’re lazy about this. It’s much easier to lash out and insist that the normal we’re taught is not racist. It takes internal work to counter the racist narrative we’ve been taught. It’s easier to deny that we can be racist and deny the very real abuse that is perpetrated because “that’s how it’s always been.” We don’t want to rock the boat.

Keeping a low profile is easier than creating change.

Seeing People of Color (and those “not like us”) as human beings deserving of respect and compassion is hard. It is easier to point at the “them” than it is to point at ourselves and say that we are wrong.

Inclusion takes time to fully realize itself, but if we don’t admit our role in exclusion, it won’t happen at all.

TWIH Episode 42: Santeria, Mystery, and Respect with River Devora


In this episode we talk to River Devora, Santera and Heathen, and learn about what Santeria is and is not. What are the misconceptions, and how much has been distorted or twisted by fear? Why do other pagans fear this tradition? What role does racism play in the reactions of people who are outside the tradition? What about animal sacrifice? How do we show respect, not only to this tradition, but to those who practice it?

River Devora is a multi-trad spirit worker, medium, and clergyperson. She has been actively involved in pagan and polytheist communities since 1994, and has led numerous classes and rituals.  She initiated as a community priestess with Waxing Muse Coven in 1996, made Ocha to Ochun in 2011, and is oathed to Odin, Freyr, Loki, Juksakka, the Morrigan and the Matronae. She leads a monthly online and in-person class series on polytheist practice called Strong Roots and Wide Branches. She lives with her living and non-living family in a quiet home with a bossy garden.


Email: river.devora@gmail.com

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TWIH Episode 41: Emerging into Self with Diana Morningstar #transvisibility


This episode, we welcome Diana Morningstar, who tells us about her coming out and transition as a transgender woman. She also talks about her life in the pagan and queer communities, pre- and post-transition. Diana gives an honest look at herself, her certainties and doubts about transitioning, and her gravitation towards Goddess culture and the issues she ran into in that culture. 


Diana Morningstar has been involved in the neopagan movement since the mid 80’s and has participated in Church of All Worlds, NROOGD, Umbanda, and Feri tradition rites among others. She is an initiated witch, a shameless eclectic, and an amazon forest warrior. She has been involved in activism with Earth First! and Queer Nation, and lately with trans issues. She is a transsexual woman living in Sonoma County, CA and is 56 years old. She has journeyed beyond the ninth wave to reach the Isle of Women, and is immensely grateful to be at last on that shore. She writes software, makes graphic art, plays piano and harp, and loves to cycle and hike. The moonlit forest is her true home.



Email: diana@miragearts.com

Website: http://www.miragearts.com

To Survive on This Shore: http://www.tosurviveonthisshore.com/photographs-and-interviews Beautiful collection of stories and pictures from transgender elders.



Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

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TWIH Episode 39: Hospitality, Gender, and Inclusion with Dee Shull (#pantheacon)


In this episode we’re joined by Dee Shull to talk about the concept of hospitality and the inclusion of gender variant people in rituals. How do we show hospitality to those who are different? What is a responsible way to be inclusive, even if your group doesn’t represent as a diverse group as the members would like? How do we create as safe a space as possible? 

 N.B.: This episode was recorded shortly after Pantheacon 2015. There were also technical problems with the sound (my own fault, really) that have since been fixed. My wife, who is my sound engineer, worked a miracle on this episode, however, there will be some lingering weirdness with the audio. And finally, when we discuss “Dianics” in this episode, we are referring to Z. Budapestian Dianics, who are generally trans-exclusionary.

Dee Shull is a decidedly eclectic pagan whose praxis includes some generic Wiccan-flavored elements, heathen practice, animism, and ecstatic work (they prefers the term over “shamanic”). They works most closely with Brighid and the Vanir. They is also genderfluid and queer, and advocates for not just inclusion of gender diverse pagans, but the practice of hospitality by and within groups.


Email (please be mindful that Dee is in the middle of their last terms of their masters): seabhacmhor@gmail.com

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TWIH Episode 30: Paganism, Race, and Responsibility with Emily Carlin (@Pantheacon #pcon #pantheacon)


This week we are joined by Emily Carlin to talk about the intersectionality of paganism and race and how the modern witchcraft movement is just beginning to really address it’s “whiteness.” How do we navigate the intersections of religion and race? Is secrecy inhibiting the conversation? What is the difference between responsible use of another culture’s magickal practices and cultural appropriation?

Emily Carlin is an eclectic witch and attorney based in Seattle, Washington. She specializes in defensive magick, community building, and pop culture magick. Emily blogs at blacksunmagick.blogspot.com and teaches online at Shadowkrafting.com and at Pagan events in the Puget Sound area. 

This episode is part of a series of episodes that coincide with Pantheacon held in San Jose, CA over President’s Day Weekend. Click here for the complete Pantheacon schedule. Also, be sure to stop by the st4r.org/Circle of Cerridwen suite in room 966 to say hello!


Emily’s Website: http://www.e-carlin.com

Emily’s Class Website: http://shadowkrafting.com

Emily’s Blog: blacksunmagick.blogspot.com

Emily’s email: emily@e-carlin.com


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TWIH Episode 24: Why #BlackLivesMatter with Guy S. Johnson


Guy S. Johnson joins us this week to talk about the intersections of ministry, race, gender, and why it’s important to specifically discuss why #blacklivesmatter. What do we do with a system that is broken on so many levels? How do we talk about saving the lives of people of color without addressing poverty, food scarcity, the education system, and the criminal justice system? Guy and I delve into the depths of why #blacklivesmatter is about more than what we are told it is in the media.

Guy S. Johnson is a singer, an activist, a writer, a foodie, and most importantly, a minister. A graduate of the Lancaster Theological Seminary and Dominican University, he can best be described as “real”. His love of God and God’s people is without question. Guy believes that strangers are simply “friends he has yet to meet.” He LOVES people.

He shares his life with his partner, Robert Davis, in Leesburg, Virginia, and serves as the Pastoral Associate at the Grace United Church of Christ in Frederick, MD, where Dr. Robert Agpar-Taylor is his pastor. He is a partner, a brother, an uncle, and most importantly, a friend of God.


Guy’s Facebook Page

Guy’s Twitter

Guy’s webpage: http://www.guysjohnson.com

Grace United Church of Christ


Ultimate Things: An Introduction to Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature

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TWIH Episode 19: What is Heathenry? with Ember Cooke


In this episode, Ember Cooke describes what Heathenry is and talks about the different types of Heathen paths. Who are the Heathen (also known collectively as Norse) Gods? What do Heathens do? What does race have to do with Heathen practice, and why is that all people know of the Heathen traditions?

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained with Diana Paxson and Lorrie Wood to be a Seidhkona, Vitka, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy in fall of 2004 and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects, including books published by Diana Paxson, Raven Kaldera, and Noroniel Lokason, and has presented rituals and workshops at festivals like PantheaCon for many years. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training, interfaith work, and ritual service for the wider Pagan community. This has including nine years of medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. She has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.



 Ember’s blog: EmberVoices

Ember’s email: emberoutreach@gmail.com

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TWIH Episode 2: Religion, Race, and…Batman? with Jae Howlett


This week’s co-host is Jae Howlett, one of my earliest friends in California and someone with whom I have had many discussions about spirituality and race. This week, we have a conversation about how Christianity, and other religions, can be used as a front for prejudice in our society, the progressive movement,  how to be a good ally, and, of course, Batman.

Jae Howlett is a 35 year old self-stated Agnostic who reads books on sociopolitical intersections when he’s not watching MMA or reading William Gibson and other cyberpunk Sci-Fi.


This Week In Blackness: http://thisweekinblackness.com/

Reading List:

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (Amazon)

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen (Amazon)

A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki (Amazon)

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (Amazon)

Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Anglo-American Law by Ward Churchill (Amazon)

Note about book links: I’ve posted the Amazon links here, but I do encourage you to buy from local booksellers if you are able to do so. I do recognize, however, that for some folks Amazon is their only option.

Running time: 41 minutes

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