“Without an African ancestral link, the practice becomes something other than Hoodoo.” Madame Omi Kongo

There is no one “official” hoodoo authority, so technically there isn’t a single answer to the question of whether or not hoodoo is closed or open or somewhere in between. If any black folks wanna teach white people or any non-black person how to work the roots, they have a right to make that choice about sharing our culture with others. However, many of us black rootworkers do feel that rootwork/hoodoo is a closed African American tradition because we feel that it is endangering and harmful to our practices and our community to teach them to anyone outside of our culture.

This flowchart is meant to be informative of how many black rootworkers feel (including myself, of course) about who may or may not practice hoodoo, but it is not the only set of possible answers or opinions on these topics. Please keep that in mind! If you have a different opinion, feel free to respectfully disagree, but these answers represent how a significant proportion of the black hoodoo community feels about these issues. See the linked posts below for reference.

 

“Can I Practice Hoodoo?” Flowchart

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Flowchart Reference

To clear up any confusion about this chart, I’ve included clarification about which specific questions, responses, and answers link to one another. Where possible, I’ve also included links to past posts and discussions that provide more in-depth details about where these questions and answers are coming from (with special thanks to @witches-ofcolor and @afrocentric-divinationfor the answers they wrote).

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Yeah, I’m black. -> Answer: You are welcome to practice hoodoo (also known as rootwork) if you’d like to! There are lots of in-person practitioners, reliable books, and online resources that you can learn from.

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: I’m black, but not a black America/African American. -> Answer: Complicated situation. Some black rootworkers will definitely see this as appropriation while others might not. Be aware of this and think carefully about the potential impacts of this decision on the black community.

Answer: You are welcome to practice hoodoo (also known as rootwork) if you’d like to! There are lots of in-person practitioners, reliable books, and online resources that you can learn from. -> Responses: But I’m not Christian. / But I’m not initiated into hoodoo tradition. / But hoodoo traditions weren’t passed down in my family. / But I don’t have an in-person rootworking mentor. -> Answer: None of these are reasons that you can’t be a rootworker. Everyone of African descent has access to the spirits of their ancestors who can teach them hoodoo. It’s possible to learn on your own, and you don’t have to be Christian even though hoodoo is very influenced by Christianity.

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: I’m a person of color, but I’m not black. -> Answer: If you practice hoodoo, it will be considered cultural appropriation that is harmful to the black rootworking community by many. If you have any respect for our people and our culture, please just don’t do it!

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Nope. I’m white. -> Answer: If you practice hoodoo, it will be considered cultural appropriation that is harmful to the black rootworking community by many. If you have any respect for our people and our culture, please just don’t do it!

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Yes, but I have white skin. -> Question: Do you have a black and/or biracial parent? -> Response: Yes, I’m mixed race. [Added comment: Mixed race folks with at least one visibly black parent but who appear to be “white” to most people are called “white passing,” but they are still black.-> Answer: You are welcome to practice hoodoo (also known as rootwork) if you’d like to! There are lots of in-person practitioners, reliable books, and online resources that you can learn from.

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Yes, but I have white skin. -> Question: Do you have a black and/or biracial parent? -> Response: Yes, I was adopted. -> Answer:Complicated situation. Some black rootworkers will definitely see this as appropriation while others might not. Be aware of this and think carefully about the potential impacts of this decision on the black community.

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Yes, but I have white skin. -> Question: Do you have a black and/or biracial parent? -> Response: No, but my great-great-great-grandparent was black. -> Answer: You’re not black, please don’t identify as such. You and Rachel Dolezal STILL aren’t welcome to practice hoodoo.

Question: Do you identify as black and/or African American because you are of African descent? -> Response: Yes, but I have white skin. -> Question: Do you have a black and/or biracial parent? -> Response: No, we’re ALL from Africa if you look back far enough. -> Answer: You’re not black, please don’t identify as such. You and Rachel Dolezal STILL aren’t welcome to practice hoodoo.

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