Glenn Turner, here, I’m the founder, organizer and sponsor of PantheaCon. Let me first off send a huge apology to any Pagans of Color who felt pain during PantheaCon. The conference cares. I care. I will stand by you as we in our part of our society work through the racism that has pervaded it. It is real.
With the dawning of a New Civil Rights movement this is the question for our times. I’m glad this issue is front and center. I’m sorry to hear that Pagans of Color did not feel welcome at PantheaCon. That was not our intention. However being able to call-out racism when it happens is a great start in dealing with long ignored situations. I want to especially thank Jamie (firstname.lastname@example.org) our head of Programming for making space available for this hot topic. When I finally heard about this on Monday afternoon, I was confident that she did and said the right things.
PantheaCon has always (for 21 years) been open to all. We have made an organized effort, especially in the last five years to reach out to LGBTA and non-European based groups and to provide much needed space for them in the pagan community. I was delighted to see more non-white faces. Paganism is a very diverse community and the Bay Area has always been a magnet for diversity. People come here to find a safe space. PantheaCon will continue to stand up for justice for all, and make all efforts to provide safe space.
I won’t go into the several blogs that have focused on this issue, but here are links to them:
The igniting situation was a satirical newsletter formatted like our Daily Oracle. It happened to be the least “funny” of any in past years. In particular there was jab at a long time Wiccan group CoG (Covenant of the Goddess) that published a stupid and ill considered response to #BlackLivesMatter . Local branches of CoG have repudiated that statement and insisted that the National board retract it. Here is a link to the improved CoG response letter: http://covenantpio.blogspot.com/2015/01/update-cogs-response-to-blacklivesmatter.html
The Northern California Local Council (NCLC) has published its own statement. http://www.conjure.com/COG/blacklivesmatter.html I wish it had been posted at that hospitality room. As you can imagine this is a huge problem churning up inside CoG.
As the founder and organizer of PantheaCon for all these 21 years, I have been asked, or rather called-out to answer for CoG and its presence at PantheaCon. CoG has a hospitality room in conjunction with 2 other Wiccan groups. This puts me on the spot as I am also a founder of CoG and am currently its local first officer. Let me make it very clear that NCLC was horrified by the National board’s statement. Look at our Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/pages/Covenant-of-the-Goddess-Northern-California-Local-Council/136932419699946 for the last few months. We support #BlackLivesMatter! We apologize for any pain National CoG has caused Pagans of Color. If I hadn’t been working so hard on PantheaCon, I might have been more involved.
For those who want me and PantheaCon to ban or target offending people or groups – we will do so only if we determine that it is an entrenched problem with a person or group. We have a strong anti-harassment and anti-racism policy. Best of all would be for the offending group to learn and join in the development of Safe Space for all. I hope that next year we can have some productive panels and discussions about bigotry and racism, and have a dialogue with CoG. Learning and moving beyond previous error is our goal.
Is there a theme for next year’s Con in all this? I welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions. email@example.com
Blessings and healing for all,
Founder, sponsor, organizer of PantheaCon