How Whitewashing Villainized Black Women’s Magic in Louisiana

As Halloween draws near, “voodoo” costumes will undoubtedly be on the main menu. But the most popular versions of these costumes meant to scare and entertain the masses are racist depictions of a religion that encompasses African traditions and honors the innate wisdom of Black female practitioners in Louisiana. Few are aware of these issues because either they’ve never lived in Louisiana or have never met a Black woman from Louisiana who practices vodou. But I have the honor of both distinguishing factors.

Waking the Witch: The Feminist History of Spiritualism

In 1848, the adolescent sisters Kate and Margaret Fox of Hydesville, New York, made quite a commotion when they told people of the strange rapping sounds they heard throughout their house. In the ensuing months, they began to communicate with “Mr. Splitfoot,” the devilish name they gave to the spirit that they said was the source of the knocking.