Zora Neale Hurston wrote Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica Jewell Parker Rhodes wrote Voodoo Dreams a novel of Marie Laveau. Who else?
My love, My Love by Rosa Guy, Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson, Yvonne Chireau’s Black Magic, Katrina Hazzard-Donald’s “Mojo Workin” are some really good ones.
The Faces of the Gods by Leslie G. Desmangles, a book recommended to me by a Vodou priestess
Broadly interpreting, to bring in other Afro-Diasporic religions:
Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel, _Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, and Reality_
Kamari Maxine Clarke, _Mapping Yorùbá Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities_
Yvonne Daniel, _Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé_
Dianne M. Stewart [Diakité], _Three Eyes for the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience_
Katherine Dunham, _Island Possessed_
Rachel E Harding, _A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness_
Tracey E. Hucks, _Yoruba Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism_
J. Lorand Matory, _Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé_
Lorna McDaniel, _The Big Drum Ritual of Carriacou: Praisesongs for Rememory of Flight_
Luisah Teish, _Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals_
Mikelle Smith Omari-Tunkara, _Manipulating the Sacred: Yorùbá Art, Ritual, and Resistance in Brazilian Candomblé_
Marta Moreno Vega, _The Altar of My Soul: The Living Traditions of Santeria_
Jason R. Young, _Rituals of Resistance: African Atlantic Religion in Kongo and the Lowcountry South in the Era of Slavery_
David Hume claimed that to be black was to be “like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly.” And Immanuel Kant maintained that to be “black from head to foot” was “clear proof” that what any black person says is stupid. In his “Notes on Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson wrote: “In imagination they [Negroes] are dull, tasteless and anomalous,” and inferior. In the first American Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1798), the term “Negro” was defined as someone who is cruel, impudent, revengeful, treacherous, nasty, idle, dishonest, a liar and given to stealing.
My point here is to say that the white gaze is global and historically mobile. And its origins, while from Europe, are deeply seated in the making of America.
Black bodies in America continue to be reduced to their surfaces and to stereotypes that are constricting and false, that often force those black bodies to move through social spaces in ways that put white people at ease. We fear that our black bodies incite an accusation. We move in ways that help us to survive the procrustean gazes of white people. We dread that those who see us might feel the irrational fear to stand their ground rather than “finding common ground,” a reference that was made by Bernice King as she spoke about the legacy of her father at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The white gaze is also hegemonic, historically grounded in material relations of white power: it was deemed disrespectful for a black person to violate the white gaze by looking directly into the eyes of someone white. The white gaze is also ethically solipsistic: within it only whites have the capacity of making valid moral judgments.
If I am a witch, then so be it, I said. And I took to eating black things - huitlacoche the corn mushroom, coffee, dark chiles, the bruised part of fruit, the darkest, blackest things to make me hard and strong.
In America, though many of the traditional ritual and ceremonial practices of “Voodoo” were lost, most of its healing, divinatory, and spirit manifestational elements , were later forced to merge into the magico-botanical practices of what came to be known derisively as “Hoodoo.”It is vitally important for the African-Diaspora to understand that absence of the public expression of a religion does not negate ones ancestral lineage nor birth-right. The “Voodoo” is still present in the blood of those whose ancestors are born from it. Thousands are still being born today carrying the Spiritual lineages of the ancestors. Many have lost the knowledge of what to look for.
Although derisively mocked as “superstition, witchcraft, and sorcery,” there remains a historical testament to some of the esoteric and magical lore of many African-American priestesses and priests who descend from the various known and obscure African religions that at one time doted the American landscape during their enslavement and post-Reconstruction era. More than five volumes of this powerful oral tradition exemplifies their spiritual mastery and God-given gifts, leaving a powerful legacy to their descendants. A legacy not borne from Haiti, nor any other region, but the United States of America.