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Ghetto Tarot

A group of Haitian artists have taken the Rider-Waite-Smith iconography and turned them into a vibrant, colorful photographic interpretation called the Ghetto Tarot. You can find out more about the project at IndieGoGo here

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Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse and Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down Advice. She's the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot, and authored both companion books to those decks. Janet is a Renaissance Soul: Teacher, Blogger, Podcaster, Jewelry Designer, Creative Director of ChezBoyer.Etsy.com, Scent Alchemist (AromaPower.Etsy.com) and award-winning cook. As a respected, trusted Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer, she's penned over 1,200 published reviews that have also been featured in print magazines and other online outlets. Next to creating, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her beloved husband, son and 4 cats at her rural home in Pennsylvania.

Comments

  • Rachel
    Rachel Wednesday, 06 May 2015

    The person who put this project together is white European. The people in the pictures are Haitian, but the project is all the doing of the white European woman who is pictured on the indiegogo page. Passing this off as all the doing of Haitians is disingenuous. Many tarot readers who are People of Color have expressed hurt and outrage at this project and were shouted down in various tarot pages in what can only be described as acts of white privilege. If you want to support the project, that's certainly your choice, but at least be honest about its origins.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    PaganSquare is a collection of diverse bloggers with varying (sometimes, wildly) viewpoints. My views are my own, and do not (necessarily) reflect those of the Editor/founder of BBI.

    The only foot stomping I saw on this thread was yours. I defend free speech and free expression. No one is degraded in this deck but is, rather, celebrated. "People of Color" is also a wildly diverse group and just because a few who choose to identify with that moniker protest this deck doesn't mean that that their complaints are shared, or valued, by others--no matter the hue of melanin.

  • Rachel
    Rachel Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    You realize free speech protects you from government interference not from other people having opinions, right?
    But good to know you think you know what's better for People of Color than they do.
    Take a moment, check your privilege.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    It's a privilege to learn more about Haiti and see Haitian artists collaborating on an ethnic deck. I look forward to receiving my copy as a backer!

  • Rachel
    Rachel Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Poverty fetishization. Dressing poor people up like they're dolls. It's notable that I've yet to see a defense of this deck that doesn't stink of unrecognized privilege.
    Like I said in my original comment, you're certainly free to support the deck, just be honest with yourself and readers about what it really is.
    Check. Your. Privilege.
    Peace out.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    I'm not here to defend anything. I'm here to post ideas, books, decks and projects related to symbolism. I trust that my readers are smart enough to investigate and think for themselves. I don't need to attempt to strong-arm them as you're trying to do with me.

    Obviously, you have nothing better to do than try to bait and fight with people which is YOUR privilege, but I suggest you take it up with the creators and the Haitian artists that are choosing "dressing up like dolls" in portraying Tarot archetypes.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 14 May 2015

    Rachel, Janet, help me out, please. After reading your conversation, I researched the deck. From everything I read, it seems like a lot of the work was done by people of color, specifically artists, whose work the photographer then photographed.

    That looks like a collaboration respectful of Haitian artists.

    But perhaps I'm missing something obvious.

    Then I searched for online dialogues about racism and the deck, and found none.

    But if something racist is happening in our community, I'd like to help remedy it.

    Rachel, could you please fill me in, since I couldn't find the information online. In what forums are people being shouted down for their legitimate concerns? I'd like to read those forums for two reasons:
    1) to understand the specific problem with the deck.
    2) to support people of color who are being shouted down.

    Rachel, What specifically do you find racist about the deck? I'm not being facetious, I'm really trying to become informed so that I can be useful.

    Rachel, I do not know if you are a person of color, but I do know that it would be racist of me to immediately agree with a person of color. And, in a liberal community, good people doing good work can get irreparably hurt when somebody misapplies the word racism to them, because people will not defend them, out of fear of being called racist themselves.

    Rachel, I'm not saying you are misapplying the word, or that the deck is good. I'm saying I'm trying to understand the actual facts of the deck, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction of agreeing with you because you use the word "racist."

    I also know from experience that, when people do important work, other people—usually in positions of privilege—will spread nasty lies about the project and person, so I'm trying to find the truth of the matter, instead of being caught up in emotional heat.

    Janet, Rachel, thank you.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Tuesday, 19 May 2015

    I agree completely, Francesca. That's one reason I didn't take Rachel's comments too seriously: she failed to provide actual proof or examples of racism. Saying a "person of color" protests doesn't cut it for me. And, she failed to answer my comments that every major Tarot publisher extant right now is located in either the U.S., Italy or Australia--not to mention that all figure-heads are white...who produce decks featuring people that are 95% Caucasian.

    And, it's insulting to the Haitian artists to say they're "dressed up like dolls": it implies that they are mindless, ignorant people who are easily fooled and used--to the extent that they'd degrade themselves or surrender autonomy by donning play clothes for "white people".

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 19 May 2015

    Janet, thanks for responding. You're mentioning important things in your response. Important!

    I'd originally commented because there were two issues on the table. One is the possible racism of the deck and people of color being silenced when they pointed it out on the forums Rachel mentioned. I was hoping to get more information about all that, in hopes I could support any people of color who are getting trashed in this situation.

    I have no idea if the deck is racist or not. On the surface it seems wonderful, and supportive of the Haitian artists involved.

    The other thing on the table also strongly motivated me to post: I felt that someone was coming *at* you, instead of dealing with the issue in a way that actually engenders dialogue and change.

    My personal belief is that we are all racist to some extent. No matter how hard we try, we internalize societal messages subconsciously. I'm willing to look inside for possible subconscious racism, sexism, classism,… when I am criticized. What I'm not willing to do is allow anybody to trash me. I've had enough of that.

    So if a stranger trashes me, I will not engage in dialogue with them about classism, racism, etc, until they start treating me decently, because otherwise nothing really gets accomplished, except that I've allowed myself to be a whipping boy.

    So I was hoping that if I asked questions, we could get into a useful dialogue. I do hope Rachel comes back to post some information that I can explore. And, Janet, I know what it's like to have a stranger come at me and how hurtful it is. Take good care of you!

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Tuesday, 02 June 2015

    ::hugs Francesca:: Just came upon a piece in The Guardian talking about Alice Smeet's inspiration for the Ghetto Tarot--with images of the Haitian artists and their card counterpart: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/may/30/alice-smeetss-ghetto-tarot-in-pictures

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 02 June 2015

    Wow, Janet, this finally sheds light on the deck for me, thank you! It was not so much the Guardian article as a link in it: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-ghetto-tarot/#/story

    Following that link, I read, they were "moving away from the clichéd images of poverty... Our intention is not a glorification of the life in the Ghetto...Our objective is to highlight the creativity and strength of the citizens of the Ghetto...Atis rezistans are claiming the word “Ghetto”, free themselves of its depreciating undertone and turn it into something beautiful. Their act of appropriating a word loaded with unfavorable sentiments by altering its meaning is an act of inspiration."

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Tuesday, 02 June 2015

    Francesca, that was the link I to referred to in my original post. :) I guess some couldn't be bothered to actually visit the page and investigate for themselves...

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 02 June 2015

    Yeah, I had clicked that link when I first read your blog, but I don't think all its current great information was there then. I remember thinking that the info on that page was very sparse, which disappointed me, because I wanted more. Do you remember all that great information being there before? Maybe I missed it somehow. ❤️

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Tuesday, 02 June 2015

    Yep, it was--but you had to go to the "Story" tab. :)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 03 June 2015

    Oh, heck, I was looking all over the web for information, wondering why I couldn't find much, and it was there all along. Oh well.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 03 June 2015

    Oops, sorry I wasn't more clear. I'm familiar with IndieGoGo and figured people would see the Story tab that explains their mission right there. :) (Now you can understand my utter surprise at Rachel's false accusations and repeated baiting!)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 03 June 2015

    Janet, not to worry, I'm embarrassed that I didn't see the story tab, because I am web conversant. Heck, I had a webpage back when there were very few women on the web, and I was my own web master then.

    I can better understand now why Rachel threw you for a loop.

    I still wish she'd come back and share the info that had her so upset. She clearly feels passionately about the deck, and if she has info i don't have, it could be good to know it.

    Take care!

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Wednesday, 03 June 2015

    Truth always out, Francesca! :) My guess is that she didn't come back because all she went by was surface facts: white, European photographer taking pictures of brown Haitians. :p

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 03 June 2015

    That had occurred to me, too. But I like that you said it is your *guess,* since neither of us will ever know the actual reason unless she comes back. ❤️❤️❤️

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