I’ve had repeated issues with the “polytheist” sort (i.e., those who irrationally refuse to identify as “pagan” despite being, in all academic ways, Neopagan) who, to put it generously, tokenize the fuck out of POC. I’ve written about this before on other platforms, though less…organized.
Let’s start with something personal: I was tokenized for being a Hellenic pagan Asian person. Yet, as soon as I corrected someone about my other (non-pagan) practice Shinto, I found white people (and one non-white person) jumping down my throat to whitesplain me. Even within “polytheist” rhetoric, this is ridiculous: isn’t it supposed to be inherently accepting of diversity? Clearly, people are only willing to accept a monotonous tone of truth there. As soon as an unruly non-white person disagrees with the group consensus, a couple of reply guys materialize out of nowhere and start whitesplaining you to death.
I’ve noticed other people being faced with this tokenization too, albeit less explicit. I’ve seen a few white nationalist pagans retweeting Shinto shrine videos, for example. It’s bizarre to wonder how (and why) that works, but it’s not news that revulsion and attraction can coexist (see: transphobes being obsessed with porn of trans women).
That said, my own personal experience isn’t really enough to speak to a whole phenomena. Let’s look at some examples.
Here we see some pagans making Mauna Kea defense their pet cause. They will Tweet about Pagans not talking about Mauna Kea, which is all well and good except for the performative aspect of this. While Mauna Kea and its protectors deserve much more press coverage for sure, it’s strange to link indigenous Hawaiian spirituality with paganism without Hawaiian consent, especially considering how a lot of what are called indigenous religions in the study of religion have historically disliked the word pagan. It’s also a classic example of white outsiders speaking over BIPOC who are actually involved, almost to the extent of a white savior scenario. This approach to faux-solidarity also centers (mostly white) pagans instead of the Hawaiians who are actually impacted by and actively trying to change the telescope construction.
Here’s another example. A lot of “polytheist” sorts have been supporting Hindutva and Hindutva groups. To be fair, it can be hard to tell if a Twitter user is Hindutva, but Hindutvas are usually pretty easy to identify by their obsession with “Abrahamics”/”monotheists”, or self-identify as such. A simple search would be enough, TBH.
I can see why “polytheists” would relate to Hindutva due to their shared hatred of Christians and Muslims, but that certainly does not make it okay, considering the violent paramilitary group RSS and other violent tactics the BJP (India’s Hindutva party) have done. I’m not gonna go super ham about Hindutva stuff since that’s not my area of expertise, but suffice it to say I’m alarmed by the amount of support for them I’ve seen in pagan spaces.
So, to follow up on my previous image, here’s eSamskritiindia tweeting Hindutva things (one of many, I just didn’t want to make this post longer than it had to):
I simply can’t call it sympathy if it’s done out of desire to speak over BIPOC. It’s a cooptation of BIPOC struggles that veers into overtly fascist territory at times and should not be excused. It’s another way white people seek to erase POC voices as well as use us as disposable tools for their own, tangentially related social causes. It’s dangerous and white supremacist in act/deed, sometimes in thought as well.