The Witch Trials of Overcoming Stigmas

Upon exploring how witchcraft is viewed in Africa I did not find myself to be all that surprised. I had always assumed that accusations of witchcraft were employed by people to further their own interests. The greatest example that I am aware of in my own upbringing as a  westerner is the Salem Witch Trials. Most recently I took a class where I got to read a very thematic version of the events from the text known as The Crucible. While I understand there is a lot of creative liberty taken with the way this narrative unfolds, it still provides an accurate enough depiction of the hysteria during that time. Many of the characters had their own specific agendas when it came to making sure that others were designated guilty for witchcraft. However there is one big difference between the western hysteria and the events we see in Africa. The Salem Witch Trials involved accusing people of a practice that was not commonplace in their society. The interesting distinction I found is that in Africa witchcraft did not always have a supremely negative connotation. Most just involve getting some kind of guidance or medicinal help unique to western medicine. Getting back on topic I move to why I am not surprised to see the similarity between the western history of witch hysteria and the recent witch chaos in South Africa. When people want their own agenda to gain a following they manipulate the stigmas people have about witches. As people become frustrated with the way society is and they fail to understand how events led them to this point in history they find someone to blame. Unfortunately our text makes this clear as it says, “Modern witchcraft is associated not only with democratic opportunities, but also material goods. When there is no development of the economy, when little wealth is to be had, witchcraft is viewed as the impediment”(Segall 175). This immense longing for justice is fulfilled incorrectly with a shortcut as people go on these witch hunts for a type of closure that benefits no one in the end.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/01/12/us/politics/12reuters-usa-election-trump-south-carolina.html

The link above is the article I read for today’s assignment. Whether or not you agree with the protester described in this article it is difficult to deny the importance of his example. Throughout this class we have been urged to be a positive voice for change. However if anyone else is like me perhaps they remain skeptical as to how they as one single voice in a crowd among the  many differing opinions can even make a dent in the social conversations of today’s issues. This is why I say one can look to John King of South Carolina’s black caucus. He has the very strong opinion that Donald Trump uses racist rhetoric in order to capitalize on voters. He has urged Donald Trump to stay out of the state as a result. While many people are less than happy with Trump’s controversial statements not very many can make their opinion stand out if all they do is talk about their offended feelings. However King shows how people can really take notice of your ideas. He has gotten the attention of media sources by ensuring that “Rock Hill…posts the motto “No Room for Racism” on all city limit signs”(Jenkins). Seeing how this visible act of protest is accomplished to not just say but also show how one person thinks over a wide area is very impressive to me. I also believe that it directly coincides with the other effective visible protests in the streets that people with signs can get behind as well. All in all King helps show another useful method for getting a message across. Whether or not you agree with the message is besides the point but in a country like this where we have the first amendment we should all learn how to best make sure it is put to good use.

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