Two trends rolled over the Internet last week. One involved people striking out into their world to capture things that no one else could see and displaying them to a disbelieving world. The other was Pokemon Go.
At the same time that the wildly popular Pokemon app was inspiring children of all ages to brave the world outside the confines of their homes, a real struggle was gripping the country as the Black Lives Matter movement was handed two more obvious examples of why their movement must continue to have a voice.
Two more examples of the normally unseen were blasted across the web, and these two horrible incidents made the issue even harder to ignore. Their names were Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. They forced anyone with a modicum of paying attention to acknowledge that, yes, there really is something going on beneath our very noses, and it’s not the presence of a Rattata. It’s a very real and very insidious privilege that is burning away at society. It may be harder to see than a Pikachu lurking in your closet, but it is much more dangerous and a lot harder to capture.
The Pokemon Go app advises its players to be “constantly aware of your surroundings.” That’s good advice, but not just in the game. Here IRL, we also need to be actually aware of what is going on around us. When the black community takes to the streets to protest the killing of yet another innocent young man, it’s not the whining of “thug.” They are not claiming that only their lives matter. They’re not asking for special treatment. They are crying with their whole souls: “Look at what is happening to us! Please acknowledge the value of our lives!” They are begging those of us outside the community to see what is occurring right before our eyes. If we can do it to capture a venemoth, surely we can do it to facilitate the survival of our fellow human beings.
Those of us in the Pagan community tend to believe in the reality of that which is unseen. That should apply beyond believing in the Otherworld and extend out to a different reality experienced by our brothers and sisters of color. It may be difficult for us to see personally if we are not people of color, but we have enough evidence, littered on the streets in the forms of a slew of dead black bodies, to know it is real.
One of the hallmarks of Paganism is the belief that all in this life is sacred. We don’t believe in a fallen and sinful material world. We believe that this life, and all that is in it, is sacred. It’s time to actually live up to that belief and to honor and support the innocent, sacred black lives that are lost every day. To honor black lives is not to dishonor any other life. Rather, it is to acknowledge that those lives are just as sacred as any other life and should be treated with as much respect and reverence. When they are suffering, we support and help them. Those of us who are not of color may not fully see and understand their experiences, but our sight is limited. As Pagans, we know that no single perspective is correct, so if we open our minds we may be able to capture all sorts of monsters that we had never seen before.