Friday, April 28, 2006

lift every voice and sing

In the same poem, I also mentioned how I preferred Lift Every Voice and Sing to any star-spangled martial war cry. I used to teach middle school and every day the students would sing both songs and was really struck by how beautiful and powerful James Weldon Johnson's words are:

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
'Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

"jose can you see..."

As a creative response to some of the recent debates about immigration, several Latin musicians have gotten together to record a Spanish-language version of the Star-Spangled Banner. I'm not sure I can adequately convey how beautiful I think that idea is.

It raises a whole series of issues which I feel like I've been wrestling with for a while. Ever since after the 2004 Presidential election, when a lot of people I knew were joking around about moving to Canada (or alternatively, having the blue states secede) it struck me that there had to be a way to resolve the tension between genuine love of country and criticism of the government. My own family leaned towards the latter and so they left Cuba due to political reasons. But this time around, I felt a little angry at the people who were talking about going to Canada because of Bush. I even ended up writing a poem about the subject. How do you affirm the best parts of what it means to be American, while rejecting the harmful government policies, the racist history, the religious discrimination, etc. which are often deeply intertwined mainstream expressions of "patriotism". One line which sums up a lot of the poem went, "I love this country with the love of a mechanic: when something is broke, you fix it." Another idea had to do with being an American, but on your own terms. My parents didn't leave Cuba because they thought Spanish was an ugly language or because they preferred hamburgers and french fries to yucca and frijoles negros. They came here to be free. For me, that's what this song is about.

Lyrics to 'Nuestro Himno' ('Our Hymn')

Amanece, lo veis?, a la luz de la aurora?
lo que tanto aclamamos la noche caer?
sus estrellas sus franjas
flotaban ayer
en el fiero combate
en señal de victoria,
fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada.
Por la noche decían:
"Se va defendiendo!"
Oh decid! Despliega aún
Voz a su hermosura estrellada,
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?
Sus estrellas, sus franjas,
la libertad, somos iguales.
Somos hermanos, en nuestro himno.
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada.
Mi gente sigue luchando.
Ya es tiempo de romper las cadenas.
Por la noche decían: "!Se va defendiendo!"
Oh decid! Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada
sobre tierra de libres,
la bandera sagrada?

English translation:

By the light of the dawn, do you see arising,
what we proudly hailed at twilight's last fall?
Its stars, its stripes
yesterday streamed
above fierce combat
a gleaming emblem of victory
and the struggle toward liberty.
Throughout the night, they proclaimed:
"We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
Its stars, its stripes,
liberty, we are the same.
We are brothers in our anthem.
In fierce combat, a gleaming emblem of victory
and the struggle toward liberty.
My people fight on.
The time has come to break the chains.
Throughout the night they proclaimed, "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

the world's sixteen crucified saviors

The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves is a book I've occasionally seen in Afrocentric bookstores but I recently found a free online version so I'm sharing the link. The book certainly has its flaws, but its basic message is to point out how the Christian version of the Jesus story has many uncanny similarities with myths and legends surrounding other religious figures. So it supports the idea that elements of the Christ story have been overlain with older pagan elements (including Egyptian, which will make Sondjata happy). Also, since Muslims would want to affirm the "historical Jesus" the book also suggests ways of seperating the wheat (the real Jesus) from the chaff (the myth which was created around him).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

the mad dervish

I was doing a search recently and found Manuel aka the Mad Dervish who is another Latino Muslim blogger (on Myspace). Like most myspace blogs he tends to run on the personal side but I'll still give him a shout-out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"i am become death, the destroyer of worlds"

The article Divine Mushroom Cloud: A Call to Worship by Karen Horst Cobb explores the religious significance of nuclear warfare. Of course, some of the 'religious' implications were clear from the begining. Upon seeing the first atomic explosion (named the Trinity test no less) Robert Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb" is known to have thought back to the Bhagavad-Gita and the lines "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"

It reminds me of the film Beneath the Planet of the Apes where those mutant humans lived underground and formed a cult which worshipped the Bomb. I think she has a point. Admittedly, we still have a ways to go. We still haven't developed mental telepathy and we don't need masks to cover our radiation-scarred faces. But I think Cobb is right. In some circles, the bomb has become an idol of sorts, like the Ark of the Covenant which the children of Israel carried into battle.

And y'all know what the Bible (or the Quran for that matter) says about idolatry.

Grenada's past:
monkey business

when keeping it real goes wrong

Good Times.
Any time you meet a payment. - Good Times.
Any time you need a friend. - Good Times.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.

Temporary lay offs. - Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. - Good Times.
Scratchin’ and surviving. - Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line - Good Times.
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em - Good Times.

Chicago Tribune: Good times -- and bad

Reading this made me sad on multiple levels. Thirty-five years ago, Eric Monte, an African-American tv writer helped create some of the most popular and innovative movies and tv shows of the 1970s. He wrote "Cooley High" (which was the inspiration for What's Happening!) He was a co-creator of "Good Times" and he wrote for All In the Family as well. And for all his labor, he built a successful career, won an NAACP Image award, Benz and a nice house in Santa Monica.

Currently, the 62 year-old Chicago-native lives in a Salvation Army shelter. Part of his trip from A to B involved health problems (which weren't his fault) and drug addiction (which arguably was). But the sad part is that it seems like a large part of his difficulties were also a result of his efforts to fight for his integrity as a writer.

she watch channel zero

I just found out from Alexandalus that April 24-30 2006 is TV Turn-Off Week. He has several interesting links with more info.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

3500 years ago...

3500 years ago, people in Egypt worshipped different Gods than we do, although some have similar stories (Osiris and Horus). When we look back upon that time, we see them in a sense as ridiculous and primitive. How could someone pray to the image of a man with a dog's head, or a man with a bird's head, and accept that as God? Or, even think that it would grant his prayers and wishes? But 3,500 years from now, if humanity still exists, then people will look back on this time, they will look at our God, and think how we worshipped a man nailed to a piece of wood. And most pitiful of all, how could we not even listen to the most basic teaching and foundation of all his work: treat others the way you wish to be treated. If we treated America the way it has treated our people, we would be called terrorists, rapists, thieves, murderers. History cannot be wiped away in the sand and forgotten.

-Immortal Technique

immortal technique: two interviews

I haven't talked about the Afro-Latino political rapper, Immortal Technique in a while. But last month he did a two-part interview with XXL Magazine where he shares his unique perspective on the nature of the music business. And this month he did an interview with Ballerstatus on the implications of a community gardening project in Los Angeles.

first interview:
Immortal Technique Rock - The Boat (Part I)
Immortal Technique Rock - The Boat (Part II)

second interview:
Immortal Technique: South Central, America

Original Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive:
Immortal Technique

Grenada's past:
Immortal Technique: Volume Two

Friday, April 21, 2006

jesus radicals

Even when they call us mad, when they call us subversives and communists and all the epithets they put on us, we know we only preach the subversive witness of the Beatitudes, which have turned everything upside down —Oscar Romero

Speaking of Jesus Christ (as) being more political than is usually acknowledged, Jesus Radicals, a Christian anarchist organization is planning on having a conference:

Here in this Place: Anarchism and Christianity in our Context
August 4-5, 2006
Illinois Disciples Foundation
610 E. Springfield Avenue
Champaign, Illinois
Contact: jesusradicals AT

In addition, the Progressive Faith Blog Con is also having a real-life conference from Friday July 14 through Sunday July 16 at the Montclair State University Conference Center. It is still in the planning stages but I can say that they are putting in real effort to make the event ecumenical. If you are in the area, feel free to come regardless of religion.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

holy blood, holy grail

a belated "holiday" piece....
I've been reading Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I just finished a few days ago. The book has been getting some attention these days because the authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, recently lost a plagarism lawsuit against Dan Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code. Certain themes from the Da Vinci Code were pretty clearly inspired by Holy Blood, Holy Grail except The Da Vinci Code admits that it is fiction while Holy Blood, Holy Grail is presented as non-fiction. (It seems like a basic Catch-22. If Baigent and Leigh are just doing history, then the Da Vinci Code is just an example of historically-based fiction. But if Baigent and Leigh want to take credit for their story and say that Dan Brown stole their work, on some level, it means admitting they more or less made it up.)

Baigent and Leigh argue that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and their descendents became part of European royalty (specifically the Merovingian dynasty). Furthermore, a secret society called the Priory of Sion has an elaborate master plan to place Christ's descendants into positions of political power in Europe (and possibly the world).

Some of the details of their theory are of special interest to Muslims:

1. Baigent and Leigh suggest that Jesus may have survived the crucifixion.

2. They suggest that Jesus did not claim to be God but was a human Messiah. So instead of following the typical Christian interpretation that Jesus was killed because his theological claims were blasphemous to monotheistic Jews, they argue that his claim to be the messiah, (a human hereditary priest-king) was a political threat to Imperial Rome (which is why he would have been sentenced to crucifixion in the first place).

3. In order to make Christ's message more popular in the Roman Empire, the political message was de-emphasized and replaced with anti-semitic elements. (Blaming the Jews instead of the Romans)

4. The Priory of Sion was also behind the founding of the Templars who had a long term goal of trying to unify Jews, Christians and Muslims under one system; an actual theocratic government ruled by the descendants of Jesus. As they put it:

For if Jesus were acknowledged as a mortal prophet, as a priest-king and legitimate ruler of the line of David, he might well have become acceptable to both Muslims and Jews. As king of Jerusalem, his lineal descendant would than have been in a position to implement one of the primary tenents of Templar policy - the reconciliation of Christianity with Judaism and Islam.

The authors try to bring together various threads to weave a complex story, but to be honest, they aren't always very rigorous in terms of making their argument and so some of the pieces don't hold. For example, the Priory of Sion was probably a hoax. (It seems the 'real' Priory of Sion is not a 1000 year old secret society but was founded in the 1950's by a French con artist as part of an elaborate scam). Nevertheless, the book was an interesting read, and provided some food for thought. (I was most persuaded by the idea that Christ's mission was more political than is usually acknowledged).

the da vinci code
the (real) da vinci code
angels and demons
the black stone

Monday, April 17, 2006

even more on immigration

More Black and Muslim commentary on immigration:

Welcome to Mexicali by Marvin X
Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators by Amin Sharif
Chickenbones: Latino Immigrants, Jobs, and Civil Rights
Alt.Muslim: Muslim Voices On The Sidelines In Immigration Debate

more on immigration

To be honest, it is slightly surprising to me how much people seem to be coming together around issues of immigration. I've tended to think of immigration as an issue which (literally) evokes borders between people and sets up a dichotomy of "us" and "them". But recently, concerns about immigration seem to be a real galvanzing and unifying force across many different communities. Of course, it has been bringing Latino groups together, but it hasn't stopped there.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

the lemba

As a part of my ongoing and vigorous discussions with Sondjata on Abrahamic religion and Afrocentritiy it had occured to me that it would be good to mention the Lemba people.

The Lemba (or Lembaa) are a group of people who live in southern Africa (mostly Malawi, Zimbabwe and the South African). And although they speak Bantu languages similar to their neighbours, they have specific religious practices similar to those in Judaism (e.g. prohibition of pork, male circumcision). On top of that, according to their oral tradition they are of Jewish descent dating back to the time of Solomon. Furthermore, some DNA evidence (specifically looking at markers on the Y-chromosome) strongly suggests their claims are true.

So here is just another example of how deeply the Abrahamic and African worlds overlap.

Haruth: The Lemba
Wikipedia: Lemba
NYTimes: Group in Africa Has Jewish Roots, DNA Indicates
The Jews of Africa: The Lemba of Southern Africa
The Freeman Institute: The Black Jews of Southern Africa
PBS/Nova: The Lemba, The Black Jews of Southern Africa
Wikipedia: African Jew

Friday, April 14, 2006

"one man's freedom fighter..."

In These Times: The Battle for Fred Hampton Way by Salim Muqakkil talks about the current struggle in Chicago to name one city block in honor of the Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton. Many of the city's Black politicians are supporting the measure but in a "surprise" move, the Fraternal Order of Police is objecting.

It reminds me of an earlier conflict, also in Chicago, where the local Puerto Rican community wanted to put a statue of Pedro Albizu Campos in Humboldt Park but faced opposition from the Park District.

From Z Magazine: Puerto Rican Community in Chicago by Melinda Power:

In the early 1990s, a fierce struggle over a statue of Don Pedro Albizu Campos, the fiery independentista and Nationalist Party leader, materialized in the Puerto Rican community. Aggressive opposition from pro-statehood Puerto Ricans, conservative Democrats, and real estate interests blocked placement of the statue in Humboldt Park, an expansive and beautiful oasis in the heart of the Puerto Rican community. As a testament to the strength of Puerto Rican nationalism, the City of Chicago agreed to the community's request to install two striking, 59-foot, steel Puerto Rican flags at the east and west entrances to the neighborhood. Spanning Division Street, the main thoroughfare, these flags clearly mark the community's boundaries. They also send a message to would-be gentrifiers: "Humboldt Park is Puerto Rican territory."

La Casita's lot now includes a landscaped garden area, benches to sit on, and a space for performances. There are often barbecues here in the summer. When two of the freed prisoners returned to Chicago in September 1999, the welcome-home party was held there. In front stands a bronze statue of Pedro Albizu Campos, the Puerto Rican nationalist leader revered by the PRCC and by the Young Lords.

In the mid-1990s, the PRCC wanted to place the statue in Humboldt Park, but the Park District objected. The statue was eventually moved to La Casita, where it is a spot on the Paseo Boricua walking tours. It remains a sore point for the PRCC—one of the instances in which domination of space by the powers that be has prevailed. The Paseo Boricua Directory points out, "The placement of the Statue of Albizu needs to be resolved, since Humboldt Park has been denied to us. The Casita is therefore the most appropriate place for the placement of the statue."

You win some, you lose some. But then what really shows the hypocrisy of this whole situation is that a major Chicago street is already named after an honest-to-"goodness" Fascist: Streetworthy? The case for and against Italo Balbo
The cliches are overused but apt: One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. History is written by the winners. Or as Obi Wan said: "Luke, you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

gattaca: so this is how it starts...

NYTimes: Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests by Amy Harmon shows how DNA testing is being used in order make and establish claims of political and economic significance.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

when is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Miami Herald: Patriot Act bars Cuban rebels from asylum Supporters of an old anti-Castro rebellion are having difficulties getting asylum in the United States because the Patriot Act labels them terrorists.

"i never ever ran from the ku klux klan and i shouldn't have to run from a black man cause that's..."

Self-destruction by the Stop the Violence All-Stars. I was just thinking about that lyric earlier today. The song takes me way back. I almost feel like rehashing my past posts on different examples of black-on-black pathology. For some reason, some folks have a really deep urge to be HNIC (even some white people) and will stop at nothing to get there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

dave chappelle on npr

Last Laughs 2004: NPR interview with Dave Chappelle

pretty white girl singing

This is another personal/cryptic post: If I could find the transcript, I would post it... has anyone out there seen the Dave Chappelle segment where he says his views are so radical the only way he could get his opinions expressed on tv is to have a pretty white girl sing them? (And then for the rest of the segment, he actually hands a series of note cards to the singing white girl standing next to him) I'm not sure I want to get into the details, but if you have the means, I would highly recommend that the brothers out there get a singing white girl from time to time. It might make your life easier. I'm being serious.

Monday, April 10, 2006

brown berets

Thanks to Adisa for the heads up. This link is from the Watsonville Brown Berets. For those who don't know, in the 60s and 70s the Brown Berets were the Chicano analogue of the Black Panthers. And the Watsonville chapter is a contemporary group which was inspired by the Brown Berets of the past.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

representin' the west (bank)

HindustanTimes: Arab-American rappers find new voice in political hip-hop music focuses on two of the Arab-American rappers, Omar Offendum and Ragtop of Los Angeles who are on the forefront of this trend.

Reading about them reminded me of the Suheir Hammad poem, Taxi, which starts off...

urban warrior i think we're
too used to bottled water and soft ass wipes
street soldier not gettin' taxis and little white ladies
claspin purses ain't all it's about

Hip-hop is definitely spreading and finding different things to say. You also might want to check out the Iron Sheik, a Palestinian-American rapper who I've seen in concert before. His page has song samples, lyrics, show information, and other goodies.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

growing anger among blacks as latinos take over

April 7, 2006

NEWARK, N.J. -- The men both stood in a busy hardware store parking lot, but their lives were far apart.

On one end, Oscar Bautista of El Salvador said he had been waiting more than three hours for a job. Across the lot, Art Jackson loaded potting soil into his Dodge Durango. He complained that immigrants are making it harder for Americans to keep good jobs, especially blacks.

''You need to take care of home first,'' said Jackson, an African-American phone salesman from northern New Jersey.

Blacks and Latinos are often united on social and political issues. But they often differ when it comes to immigration.

Newcomers make black progress harder, said Wesley Crawford, who works at Source of Knowledge, a bookstore in Newark. ''It's a misconception that they're taking jobs we don't want. If you give people a good job, they will work.''

While Hispanic immigrants have protested a proposed crackdown on illegal immigration, the nation's most prominent black leaders have all been to New Orleans to try to stop the upcoming local election. Shortly after the storm, Jesse Jackson and others complained that Latino workers seemed to have more access than blacks to rebuilding jobs.

Bruce S. Gordon, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that African-American and Latino bonds are strong and that his ''spirit was there'' at the immigration marches.

Most of the immigration protests have focused on a bill passed by the U.S. House that would make illegal immigration a felony, and all but one black voting member of Congress, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, was against it, according to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Still, many blacks feel threatened, said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a black writer in Los Angeles.

''The civil rights leaders say we're all united, but the average person on the street is taking great offense at this group coming in and essentially taking over,'' he said.

the fear of a free black intellectual

Black Electorate: WANTED: The Non-Threatening Negro – The Fear Of A Free Black Intellectual

According to The Urban League Institute’s report, "Sunday Morning Apartheid: A Diversity Study of the Sunday Morning Talk Shows" only 8 percent of the guests on the major Sunday morning talk shows over the past 18 months – or only 176 times out of more than 2,100 opportunities - were Blacks. 122 of those 176 appearances were made by Juan Williams, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. Why is there such a limited black presence among the "talking heads"? Cedric Muhammad suggests that it is not just a matter of political bias or simple racism but something more complex.

Friday, April 07, 2006

azad slide

Following up on the issue of religion and cultural appropriation, I found a Persian livejournal blogger who wrestles with the question: How do you all feel about white American folks wanting to participate in spiritual/cultural things that are not their own?

"green is the new red"

Check out the newish blog Vegan Kid: Words in Resistance and especially check out the Carnival of Empty Cages #1 where he shows Grenada some link-love to two prior entries related to vegan/vegetarian issues. (One on Ron English, the painter who created much of the artwork shown in the film Supersize Me, and a second on Sean Muttaqi, the band Vegan Reich and the Hardline Movement).

In general, he has some interesting posts on "green" issues. And a couple of his posts give examples of how in the current political climate, green groups (environmentalist/animal-rights) are more and more under suspicion. So "first" they came after the Muslims and Arabs. "Then" they came after the pacifists and Green folks. Who is next?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

conference on islamic african civilization


Saturday April 8th, 2006
12:45 pm - 10 pm
The Fourth Annual Conference on Islamic African Civilization
Public Health Auditorium, Rm. 23
(located on Fifth Ave. bet. Bouquet St. and Oakland Ave.)
University of Pittsburgh

Lectures Include (in order of schedule):
The U.S. Constitution: Reading Between the Lines
An Analysis of African Muslim Resistance to European Colonialism
The Historical Relationship between Muslim Spain and Islamic Africa
Keynote speaker: Jihad Abdul-Mumit, former Political Prisoner, Black Panther Party Member, and Black Liberation Army Member, speaking on "Self Determination"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

the anti-imperialist left confronted with islam

International Viewpoint: An interview with Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali is an interesting kind of person. A secular Pakistani intellectual (so a "cultural Muslim"... as much as I dislike the term). But in a lot of ways his anti-imperialist perspective resonates very well with the interests of the Muslim world (Perhaps we could call him a "political Muslim")? In the above-mentioned interview he makes an interesting distinction between himself and someone like Hirsi Ali.

I travel a lot both in the Muslim world and in the rest of the world, but I have never yet felt threatened. Why is that? It is no doubt because people who don’t agree with me about religion know that I am an enemy of imperialism. I unceasingly criticize imperialism and all its works, more than the believers do. Whereas Hirsi Ali and people like her in the United States and in Europe make a profession out of attacking Islam. There are other important questions in the world.

Why do these people concentrate endlessly on Islam? In the way that they attack Islam, they go along with existing prejudices. And for that they are hated. There is no excuse or justification for acts of violence against these people. It is necessary to discuss with them. But these acts are a sign of despair: people are so much at the end of their tether that they have recourse to violence.

It reminds me of the distinction I made a long time ago between Irshad Manji and Me'shell Ndegeocello (Me'Shell Suihailia Bashir Shakur). All non-Muslims, (or Muslims for that matter) are not made from the same cloth.

Monday, April 03, 2006

damocles re-revisited or "gone fishing"

This post will be more on the cryptic and personal side but I still feel like "sharing". My own time under the sword will be ending soon. I think I've managed to come out a little bit wiser, with only a few nicks and scrapes for my trouble. Damocles said to himself "It is good to be the king" and thought it would be mostly fun and games. But the king knew better and realized that Damocles was his chance to go on vacation. Sometimes I've felt like Damocles. Most of the time I feel like Dionysius the king. Occasionally, I've even felt like the sword. It all depends on your point of view.

immigrant rights

In the spirit of Latino/Muslim unity, Ihsan (the excellent Muslim group blog) has put together an informative and useful collection of links on the subject of Immigrant Rights

Also, on Alternet a brief piece called Viva la Immigration Debate adds a nuance of complexity to the current situation by looking at how Cesar Chavez (born a U.S. citizen) approached the issue of immigration.

white people and native religion

In her entry, Native Peoples and Cultural Genocide Brownfemipower (who almost considered dropping out of the blogosphere but has fortunately decided to grace us with her presence for a while longer) at the Woman of Color Blog looks at the relationship between the New Age movement and Native American spirituality. I'm generally sympathetic to the argument but had a different set of reactions and thoughts to some of her points. She says:

At no time did New Agers do any of the hard work of researching their own indigenous pasts to reclaim their own religious roots despite the fact that many European tribes were strongly based in earth-centered beliefs. No, New Agers went the easier route of "stealing" bits and pieces of other religions and claiming them as their own. For example, if you walk into a store catering to New Agers, you can find books and other memorabilia based in religions as far ranging as Buddhism to Taoism to the Kabbalah.

Although it's not good to appropriate any religion, the various religions that New Agers generally like to meddle with do manage to retain a large measure of control simply through their relative size. That is, a group of New Agers in Ann Arbor are not going to control how Hinduism changes or manifests itself in India. It simply isn't going to happen.

For Native peoples, however, this isn't the case. Representing only about one percent of the overall population of the United States, Native peoples are grossly outnumbered by New Agers when it comes to dealing with them on a tribe-by-tribe basis.

Firstly, I would say that some "New Age" folks, for example, followers of Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionism, or modern Druidism actually do look at spiritual paths associated with Pre-Christian Europe. So just to be fair, not all white New Agers are blatantly stealing from non-Western peoples. Some of them, really do try to stick to "their own" traditions. (But then that comes with its own problems as well. For example, some modern pagan groups have connections with white supremacists. They are pagan because they want to connect to a pre-Christian Europe "untainted" by Jewish or other influences.)

Secondly, in general, I would tend to question the implied link between ethnicity and religion. (e.g. see robert karimi) Even though it is important to avoid fanaticism, and one should cultivate a great sense of humility in terms of our own individual interpretations of texts, or our own specific understanding of the truth, nevertheless, religion still deals with matters of ultimate concern and absolute truth. (see not spiritual but religious) If Buddhism, or Islam, or Christianity are true, then they say something which is valid for all human beings; not just Asian people, or Arabs, or Africans. And similarly, if a non-Native or non-Indigenous person decides that the spiritual teachings of the the Australian Aborigines or Native Americans are meaningful for them, then I would think that people should have room to explore that possibility regardless of their background.

For me, the problem isn't in whether white people should try to practice non-Western religions. The real problem is that in general, whatever spiritual path we have chosen, we should all try to follow it thoughtfully, seriously, deeply, and self-critically. And there are obviously certain challenges, pitfalls, traps and temptations which will make it hard for anyone to follow a given path properly. The problem of white "New Agers" dabbling in non-Western cultures and co-opting them is only one temptation and one flavor of superficiality. (And someone in a different situation will face different obstacles). But I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility that a white person is capable of sincerely, thoughtfully self-critically following a non-Western path.

That said, I'm sure that Brownfemipower's criticisms apply to a large number of people in the New Age movement and I don't intend any of the above discussion to take away from that validity.