It begins around 25:11 when one of my favorite YouTube personalities Kelly-Ann Maddox talks about #TarotsoWhite and the “overwhelming lack of racial diversity in tarot and oracle decks.” Maddox covers it all. She acknowledges white privilege, too much whiteness in the human depictions on tarot decks, disappointment in the fetishization of people of color in the rare times they are actually portrayed (she gives the example of the Nubian queen), and wonders what it is like for us people of color to spend untold amounts of money on tarot and oracle decks only to flip through them to see that you’re not being represented.
Well. The reality is we’re used to it. Or at least I am. It wasn’t until around 2000 that my community was represented in the media beyond sage-y old kung-fu masters with broken English and fortune cookie wisdom, me-love-you-long-time, dragon ladies, geishas, or know-it-all nerds. I mean I guess I’m okay with the know-it-all nerd. I can sort of identify there.
The reality is I’m used to not seeing ordinary Asian faces in the media and tarot is no different. If I don’t see myself depicted on film, then what makes me think I should get to see myself depicted in the tarot courts? Instead, I get “pleasantly surprised” when I see non-stereotypical images of Asians, well, anywhere, and then doubly pleasantly surprised when it’s on a tarot card.
My first inclination is to say, as a person of color, the whiteness of tarot card imagery doesn’t bother me. But I can’t leave it at that. I have to ask myself why it doesn’t bother me. The reason why it doesn’t bother me is what I said before—by now I’m used to it. People of color are used to being invisible. And, well, that’s deeply problematic. So even if it doesn’t bother me, it should bother me just as it should bother every person of color. If it doesn’t bother you, then it will never change. And if it doesn’t change, then the racial paradigm will always leave us marginalized.
As for #TarotsoWhite, I really don’t know what to say on this topic. On one hand, I don’t want to think about race during a tarot reading. Anything in the imagery on a tarot deck that “stands out too much” (and I don’t mean in a semiotic way) can be distracting to me. Here’s the thing: I want to think about race. I want to talk about social justice. But maybe not during a tarot reading.
And I do find that sometimes racial diversity depicted on a deck can be distracting because—sad, sad fact—it’s not something we’re used to seeing. Racial diversity is really different for us. Seeing a token Asian dude or a Black woman doing something that is not stereotypical or fetishized is different, and it’s so different for our senses that it can actually become a distraction. It becomes your focal point because differences are always our focal points. Instead of turning my mental wheels on the symbolism of the pomegranates and what that omen holds for our seeker, I’m thinking, “Oh look! The High Priestess is an Asian chick! How neat!”
One comment you hear echoed among readers about #TarotsoWhite is that the whiteness in tarot is why they have a preference for abstract tarot and oracle decks where any human figures depicted are racially ambiguous. The subtext here is: “I want to be racially inclusive but I don’t want to think about race during a tarot reading and people of color depicted in tarot imagery is still kind of distracting so this is my best response.”
I get that. I dig it. I agree.
The catch is, if no one buys tarot and oracle decks featuring ordinary people of color (and by extension, tarot readers get used to seeing–and liking–decks that feature ordinary people of color), then deck creators and publishers won’t be inclined to feature ordinary people of color, and so we will never get to that point where the Asianness of an Asian High Priestess or the Blackness of a Black Emperor won’t distract us.
The only way for race to not be a distraction is for the topic of race to become boring. When the topic of race is boring, an Asian High Priestess and a Black Emperor will be no big deal for our subconscious to handle. Unfortunately, the topic of race is very interesting right now, especially given the racially charged climate we live in.
So if I, a person of color, don’t even want to think about race during a tarot reading, do other tarot readers want to think about race when they dish out the Celtic Cross? And if we don’t want to think about race in tarot but race featured in tarot makes us think about race in tarot, then do people really want to buy tarot decks that feature different races?
Well. We have to.
Social progress in the tarot world will only happen if it’s profitable for deck publishers to get on board with social progress. Otherwise, they’re going to throw out a few token people-of-color decks so as not to appear racist, and then stick primarily to the all-white Arcana cast. Frankly, it’s not profitable right now for deck publishers to feature people of color because even people of color don’t want to see people of color. Everybody wants to see white people.
Each one of us bears the responsibility of changing that dynamic. Tarot practitioners have to make a conscious, concerted effort to show deck publishers, by the power of our spending, that tarot decks with zero racial diversity are not profitable. It sort of has to be a forced change at first, you know, fake it ’til you make it, and eventually, racial diversity in tarot will finally feel natural to us.
But it’s a tall order because the race thing is so deeply engrained into us that most of us don’t even acknowledge it.
It’s like how my name “Benebell” can bother someone because [true story here–and this is the part that she figured was okay to say in public…] Benewell was the name of her [presumably White] Civil War ancestor and so my name Benebell becomes a nuisance and a point of distraction to her. The racialized reality is [here’s the part people would think is not okay to say in public…] Benebell distracts her because Benewell was an old white dude and Benebell is a young(ish) Asian girl.
The race issue, albeit subconscious, was the distraction, not the name issue. If I had been an old white dude, my name wouldn’t have bothered her as much. But it bothered her because of the race discrepancy. She just couldn’t get over an Asian girl “hijacking” her White ancestor’s name.
That subtle yet insidious anecdote extrapolated out to the tarot community at large explains why we find racial diversity in tarot distracting (though would die before we admit it). It’s because our brains have been wired for a very long time to envision a white High Priestess and a white Emperor, and a white Queen of Cups, and white kids in the Six of Cups, and white people fighting in the Five of Wands. When these people are not white, we can’t help but stop to think, “oh… hey.” And at its worst (like the Benebell vs. Benewell account) it’s a nuisance and at best, a point of distraction.
It’s just something we have to get over as tarot readers. Not only do we have to get over it, but we have to push homogeny out of profitability and convince publishers and deck creators that it’s just economic good sense to feature boring racial diversity. No Nubian queens or geishas, just plain, boring people of color, but, you know, decked out like the Queen of Swords or the hermaphrodite in The World.
The tarot and oracle decks that fetishize or exoticize race are popular because we can observe racial difference in a way that emphasizes difference. Somehow that’s okay for our subconscious to handle. It’s when different races, i.e., people of color, appear normal and run-of-the-mill that blows our [subconscious, and sometimes not so subconscious] minds. When people of color are depicted as the “other,” that’s okay, and we can work with that. That’s not distracting because the depictions play in to our preconceived stereotypes. Deck creators and publishers have to do better than that. Racial diversity and inclusion has to go beyond Afro-centric Timbuktu pharaohs of ancient Egypt Imperial China Japanese samurai culture art.
42 thoughts on “My Perspective and #TarotsoWhite”
Thanks for sharing your thoughts; speaking as a cis-gender, mostly straight, white guy, it’s a challenge to remember perspective. Having said that, I’m curious if you’ve ever used the Samurai Tarot printed by Lo Scarabeo? You can view the entire deck here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BynB4K7DvkfFemhaNGpYbUt3WjQ My wife gifted me a copy when we first met, and I found it intriguing, but I eventually moved on from illustrated decks in favor of the Marseille Tarot precisely because the non-illustrated pips avoided the problem of reinforcing white perspective. The illustrated trumps and face cards still exist within that paradigm, but it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t know how well versed the author and artist are in Japanese culture, but I enjoy the deviations they made from the RWS pattern – you’ll quickly notice what I mean when you look at the scans I made of the deck.
Thank you for sharing the images. It’s beautiful art and no, I haven’t worked with the Samurai Tarot before, but it’s lovely.
Part of the reason I’m really defensive of Barbara Moore’s Book of Shadows tarot even though it’s generally accepted as not her best work is because in the So Below she beautifully depicts people of all races doing every day things, and it rarely stands out if you aren’t looking for it–but as someone always looking for diversity I have ONE deck that is also a good deck that springs to mind for this conversation.
I haven’t looked into that deck but now I will! Thank you! There are many tarot and oracle decks out there that do this well. Although I know I have not always been recorded as saying positive things about Doreen Virtue decks, one thing she does really well is racial inclusion, and done so in that “plain, boring” way I mentioned, where people of color are not fetishized. So credit does need to go there. =)
I have the Feng Shui Tarot and loved the art and theme when I bought it, but looking back on it as a more sober adult, it definitely feels like it falls into that exoticizing/stereotypical pile. A better one is The Ghetto Tarot (http://www.ghettotarot.de/), which I’m delighted to see is still for sale after its initial IndieGoGo run. One day, when I have a little more spending money….
I should note that I totally don’t mind colleting the “exoticizing” tarot and oracle decks because they do play into my love of historical fantasy. =) There was a bit of controversy surrounding The Ghetto Tarot, however. Key political activists and social commentators in the Black community weren’t too thrilled with it.
This is such a great conversation! I saw the “Ghetto Tarot” a few images-which I loved but they had nothing to do with “Ghetto” which was it seemed to me being used as a “code” as a way to say “black” or “African” “African American” why couldn’t they have come up with a more positive or neutral name and then maybe a subtitle for it.
Ok whew I just looked it up directly and they are saying usage of word Ghetto in Haiti is more positive than I as an African-American, Westernized person would see it- here in the U.S. Also I and this is personal don’t like how images of black folks often show only poor and downtrodden- I find it dis-empowering; why couldn’t the deck also show depictions of middle class blacks too, I just feel it painfully reinforces idea of brown skin= poverty, lack, suffering as a constant. I once asked a Turkish upper class classmate (mind you at a chi-chi college I got into) to do a palm reading. She had talked aobut it and did it for another friend. She took my hand and was quiet for a long time- finally she said “I can’t, I can’t do it, when I see a brown hand, I see the hand of a servant.” I WAS FLOORED, decades later I still remember it.
This was an incredibly insightful post, Benebell, and addressed the issue in a way I haven’t yet seen elsewhere in the dialogue. You did such a beautiful job of capturing the paradox: that non-fetishized inclusion of racial diversity in Tarot is distracting and abnormal, but that it can’t become anything else unless we continue to push for it. Thank you for a whammy of a brain-bender to start my Friday morning.
Thank you, Jack! By the way, love how that last blog post you did on typical questions a tarot reader gets went viral! I must have seen it posted and reposted hundreds of times across social media! ❤
Reblogged this on Mirrors of Consciousness and commented:
“Boring racial diversity” — Yes.
Benebell addresses excellent points from all angles. This is a must read!
This is a great dialogue to continue! thanks so much for putting it out there again and again. My personal group of friends talk about this too when we talk about designing a new deck. One reason I think that we -as artist- goto of fetishize the images of all races is we try to portray the “history/myths” behind the culture as the rider-Waite tarot shows the pope as the Hierophant or the Devil in all it’s Christian motif. It’s hard to depict visually the “magic” behind the cards without delving into the myth-archetypes from various cultures. But I do believe the more we discuss this the more the collective consciousness evolves and then so will our visual imagery. Also as artists we know that this can go the other way that visual imagery has the power to change the collective consciousness and therefore the discuss. Thanks again for a great blog.
Context is everything, which is why a tarot deck themed around historic fantasy that borrows those iconic cultural elements is okay, and is NOT “fetishizing” (depending, of course, on how it’s done) because within the context and the universe that the tarot narrative creates, it makes sense. So for example, if a tarot deck is about running through all the different cultural myths of the world, then depicting imperial China or ancient Timbuktu or the Mayans is totally cool. I love those decks in fact. Illuminati Tarot and Goddess Tarot come to mind.
But there have been instances, and now here I won’t name names, where the insertion of marginalized culture does feel exoticized, the “otherness” emphasized (like accentuating certain facial features…. oh gawd…), and in the context of the deck itself, the insertion of the culture feels forced, artificial even. That’s what’s best to avoid. 🙂
Good points and @Benebell your reply too. I like (done well,) the inclusion of archetypes or heroic figures yes from various cultures- not just Western archetypes so I don’t’ find it usually annoying or condescending. We are all so steeped in WEstern tradition that when we see non-Western as you mentioned we critique it more it sort of like a bit of grit- because its SO UNUSUAL, I was just thinking of this today- re: a film did anyone see it: about the couple who survived the Tsunami in Thailand(?) “The Impossible.” THe couple was Spanish but in the film-blonde actress Naomi Watts played role and the husband too was unspecified white male. I saw film then looked it up and as person of color I just wondered wow –why did they get folks who didn’t even look like the real people- I found out-the director said he “wanted it to be a more universal film.” A more UNIVERSAL FILM.
HAhhhhh… I was like WOW. In fact he deliberately removed any reference to ethnicity or specificity that would have be reflective of the actual survivors. GOD forbid I had know they were “ethnic” the assumption is viewers wouldn’t have be able to relate??? Sad is that it only reinforces the very lack of ability to see diversity as “normal” and he/they didn’t even get it. Also it was still a really harrowing film, also the scene where they fly out of the third world country-leaving havoc behind was so well-sad (the struggling thousands) and happy (for them.)
This is why I’m so enamored with the Orbifold Tarot! There are no stereotypic human figures, co-opted cultures, or anthropomorphic animal images. The theme is built around the elements and their energies, and the card imagery is based on sacred geometry. Readers can see themselves (or those they read for) reflected in the deck through the elements and energies (and their associated colors) that are featured. This is truly a deck for all of us, regardless of how we look or identify. It embraces a fresh way of approaching the tarot that’s both contemporary and rooted in tradition. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to check it out!
Yes, I’ve seen the Orbifold, have it in my deck collection, and love it! I did a deck review of it a while back, here on the blog. ;-D
Ha! I vaguely remember reading that review. Do you have a link to it?
Yep. Here you go! ❤
Many thanks! Your review is phenomenal and so comprehensive! Much appreciated!
Reblogged this on Mist & Aether and commented:
Benebell comments on racial diversity beautifully.
I reblogged this. You have contextualized the dynamics of race within the tarot community eloquently well.
I actually got in an argument on aceletic on a thread about a multicultural deck on kickstarter titled vudu tarot that has yet to be primted. Several of the presumably white posters did not think it was a big deal, that that there enough non white decks out there. In fact, the general sentimemt was that tarot should reflect the European aesthetic because tradition and that having non white people on a deck was a distraction. Very disheartening but as noted in your post resignation.
I commend kelly ann amd you for saying somethimg. Frankly non white decks don’t really do that well and have less resale value than heavily white themed decks.
Isn’t it interesting when depictions of racial diversity in “the historically European tarot deck” are discouraged but folks can’t see what the trouble is with blackface and yellowface? It’s okay when white actors play characters who are clearly supposed to be people of color (I can count at least 5 Blockbuster movies in the last 5 years where this happened, before we even delve into horribly racist history…), but put people of color in the place where traditionally white people once stood and oh- oh- oh– hold up now…. what is this… what is happening here…
Excellent point. Cinema is rife with this. Just recently anime Ghost in the Shell in which the main character is clearly asian is being cast by a white actress. Or how many people were upset that Idris Elba a black actor was cast as a Norse god in the Thor movie.
Also Tarot is particularly hamfisted with using non whites as props or appropriating symbols and meanings without logic because it looks pretty. But you never see non-whites taking liberties like that. I mean I own several decks myself, but I never felt included in tarot. One of the main reasons I won’t read for other people or go to tarot events, I don’t really see a lot imagery, readers, and perspectives of POC. People like you however really help (they are needed in this field) which is why I am looking forward to you second book.
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“Frankly non white decks don’t really do that well and have less resale value than heavily white themed decks.”
See my comment about the film where race was changed…Benebell covers that too, there will be a transition period- we all have “normalized” white skin and find other tones as “different.” The vast impact of Hollywood films, games and such spreads that to the rest of the world- to people of all races. The only way to change that is to change that- by changing that in movies, books, films- it’s an omission- if we can start including “real stories” of folks of color, successful, or boring (the black accountant, teacher, nurse) that’s a great start-before even tackling fictional…/film/entertainment.
Frankly, I find this discussion ridiculous and the injection of racial politics purposefully stirring up trouble where there is NONE.
I’m Native American, and I don’t care that there are few to no Native American tarot decks or imagery. Why?
Because the tarot deals in archetypes. Thats it. The cards don’t represent PHYSICAL people, they represent the psychological circle ruts everyone digs themselves into in life. Thats it.
Here is how to solve this “problem of lack of racial diversity”.
EVERYONE JUST USE ANIMAL DECKS! Thats it. Case closed. The Wild Unknown Tarot for all with no choice whatsoever. Or if that is no good, switch to Marseilles style decks. Then everyone will only have to look at “white” people for only a few cards out of the deck.
Animal decks do exist. Early Tarock and Tarot decks used animals as symbols or suits. The earliest decks did not have illustrated pips. Historically speaking, a Marseilles deck would be devoid of the cultural appropriation of Romani, Egyptians, and Hebrews and thus would reflect the Tarot’s culture of origin (Western Continental European).
However, I don’t think this issue is whether or not people are tired of looking at white people. I think what Bene is saying – and she can correct me if I’m wrong – is that Tarot symbolism shouldn’t reinforce the idea of white people as the default people. Then again, there’s nothing stopping anyone from creating their own deck that includes the ethnicity or race of people they want in them. The Tarot of today is not the same as twenty years ago. We all have the Internet, printers, card stock paper, markers, ect. Nobody has to sit around and wait for someone else to create a deck for them. We can do it ourselves if we want.
@melponeme_k: “The cards don’t represent PHYSICAL people, they represent the psychological circle ruts everyone digs themselves into in life. That’s it.”
Me: Whoa so when the people are all white?? Why can’t someone Asian represent too? And what’s with the “stirring up trouble?” You sound like you have a lot of fear and “racial politics” is a term to try to close down a discussion. I’m glad that you live in a world where you haven’t been negatively affected by “race” and individual and systemic perception of you. Congratulations.
And you seem to think this is an attack on white people it’s not- it’s an attack on racism and exclusion-the mindset that locks and limits people who are not white. Making all of us aware of racism is helping all of us to grow and evolved as human beings on a small planet.
Quick example- I’ve often especially in past decades (less so now) spoken to people on the phone- (I have a neutral, non-accented voice-I often get comments on.) When I walk in to meet the person who is white, they literally look startled! This used to happen quite frequently (they were startled as they did not know I was black.) I didn’t “sound black.” This is annoying and hurtful to deal with.
Call it “racial politics” if you like to feel better about it, I do understand,) but it’s peoples lives, minds and dreams that get squashed unless they have enough inner fortitude to survive it.
I feel you. =) But I wouldn’t be quick to call the discussion “ridiculous.” Any time I know someone out there feels strongly about a particular issue, even if that position is counter to the one I hold, I would tread lightly and not call the issue “ridiculous.” It’s an easy way to unnecessarily hurt people and make them feel like what they care about is not important. We never want anyone to feel that way, right? It’s helpful to acknowledge the importance of the issue that someone is feeling strongly about, and then from there, open the issue up to discourse, one way or the other.
There are decks out there dedicated to different minorities. I have one for Native Americans. I have one based Japanese artwork. I even backed the VUDU Tarot on Kickstarter.
The process of creating decks that include different faces is up to the minority tarot fans. Minority. I and others are called this for a reason. As in we have very little numbers. And I can prove this in the United States. I’ve done a bit of travel and once you hit the outer areas…well lets just say, the cities are MEGA different in demographics.
To force change is just as insulting. It has to happen organically. It has to happen as self empowerment from the minority tarot fans. Anything else would just be pandering and patronizing. Frankly, I’m tired of being patronized and white knighted like a child because of my skin color.
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I love your comments.
I recently bought, The Tarot de Marrakech, the creator Georges Colleuil used non white /Caucasian people for the Major Arcana and for the court cards he also used other races as illustrations. Quit nice! I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Hello Bene, I think it’s also important to note that the Tarot as we know it now is a western European invention. While one can create any Tarot deck with any race or ethnicity (which I support), I hesitate to condemn European only Tarot decks because it is a product of Europe. The Tarot is the European version of a game that existed in many places around the world like China, Egypt, and India. Each culture added it’s own symbolism, suits, and number system, and Europe is no different except that Europeans added the Tarot Trumps to the original format too. The Tarot Trumps distinguishes it from other known card systems in the world.
Respect for culture goes both ways, too. I can acknowledge that the dominant culture is Western European while at the same time acknowledging that Tarot is a Western European invention. Western Europeans may not have invented playing cards themselves, but they created a new system to play with them by adding the Trumps. Still, if I make a deck to reflect my own ethnicity and cultural/religious values, it would still be working within the Western European system not invented by my ethnicity.
There is also the problem that the Tarot itself is built on ethnic stereotypes and appropriation. Occultists assumed that the Romani people introduced the Tarot to Europe, and since they assumed Romani were from Egypt (hence the derogatory term “gypsy”); Western European occultist men decided to build the entire divination system around ancient Egyptian symbolism which was not theirs to take. Then Judaic, Kabbalistic, astrological, and numerology correspondences were added. The Tarot is what it is today because Western European men assumed and stereotyped the Romani people and it all snowballed from there.
I’d like to know how the Romani people feel about this. I would like to know why nobody has ever asked them. I would like to know why #TarotsoWhite is an issue when anyone can create, publish, and distribute their own themed deck (even if through PDF). There’s nothing stopping anyone from creating their own deck or collaborating with others to make a deck that reflects their race, ethnicity, or religion. I’m actually surprised that people haven’t, especially since decks are generously crowdfunded into the thousands of dollars and there’s a great opportunity for people to make a name for themselves by filling a much needed niche in the Tarot genre.
In closing, if we’re to go down the path of political activism in Tarot, there’s a lot to think about. A LOT. If the Tarot is problematic, how do we keep using it? This is something I’m asking myself after 22 years of reading (putting me back on the path of The Fool, a new direction).
Hello, you reflect many of my views, the Tarot is a sacred part of European culture and all cultures borrow from other cultures to make something unique. Every culture is welcome to use and remake the Tarot but please respect it in the same way as I would respect the divination systems like the I Ching and adjust myself instead of forcing a system to meet my European cultural background.
I take it you are not well-versed in the long history of European imperialism in Asia then.
Maybe the woman really was distracted by the name and it had nothing to do with not wanting her ancestor’s name associated with an Asian person. The names are very similar. I try not to assume what people are thinking because it usually leads me to false assumptions.
I guess that for centuries tarot cards had Caucasians on them because Caucasians created them and used them. Just as Asians appear in Asian art and Africans appear in African art and the same across every cultural platform.
As more individuals of color create tarot decks it will change. While it is probably true that publishers remain partial to Caucasian imagery, in this age of self publishing, anyone can sell what they feel there is a need for. There’s really nothing stopping anyone from creating the tarot deck they want to see.
Change happens when we make it happen. I look forward to seeing people of color creating more decks. I believe a lot of people will be very happy to use them.
At this point I can’t even list which tarot decks I own that have cultural diversity because I don’t think of them as being unusual. In fact, I’ve never even noticed that a few of my decks had cultural diversity in them until it was pointed out to me. I really just see people. The only deck that I was initially aware of as being ethnic was the African American Tarot because it is in the title. I use it often because it is an informative deck and very beautiful deck. It doesn’t distract me one bit.
Not every Caucasian person is wicked or entitled. But that is a discussion for another day.
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It is traditionally accepted that the Tarot originated in Egypt. Certainly, Egyptian symbolism and artwork inspired Tarot designers for hundreds of years, and today decks use conventional Tarot imagery whose roots are undeniably Egyptian. Google Books
Originally published: 1994
Author: Clive Barrett
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Egypt is in Africa.
Africa = African imagery.
Original tarot featured POC.
The tarot were co-opted and the black imagery erased.
Now, tarotsowhite just doesnt measure up anymore as we are
all one. What pronounces the issue is that folls using divinatory pratives should have this easily figured out, being in touch with source and spirit.
We know, we are ALL ONE. More, not less, onus is placed upon those who claim to be proponents of spirit.
As we ascend, it is up to us now whatever our background, to include all. Including in the tarot. Not seperatist decks like 1960s water fountains!! This is nutty. Can I wake uo in 200 years? And thisnasic stiff be figured out already? Sheesh guys!! Cmon already!! 😉
This whole conversation is super odd and backwards to me. Like watching a culture from the 1800s.
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Sorry for the typos. Tired!🧐
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People of color are definitely used to being excluded or invisible. I guess it isn’t distracting for me because I am don’t exotify my own image. I appreciate same-sex lovers and Asian, Native, Latinx and various brown faces in the tarot because we are beautiful and I love beautiful images and I would like to see those archetypes include images that look like me and people I know and love. I don’t exotify those images or have the mentality that the norm is 17th-century anglo pages. My world is bigger than that and as a representation of the universe and grand scheme of things, I expect my tarot to be as well. Often, I tend to gravitate to decks based in nature because that is a major place of connection for me. My main deck is the Goddess Tarot. Ultimately I am drawn to what I am drawn to. If I don’t limit the tarot I would purchase by race, why should white people?
I’m a white person, so I don’t have a lot to say except that maybe there aren’t a lot of artists out there that are of color, that are also interested in creating tarot decks. I certainly think it’s hard for a white person to approach that subject objectively. I just purchased the Illuminati Tarot which features multiple races. It was created by a white guy. I don’t know if he did it justice or not. But on the subject of race, in the next few short decades we’re all going to be mixed race anyway. Race identity will be a thing of the past.
This the message I left as a comment on YouTube in response to Kelly-Ann Maddox’s video. I love Kelly-Ann’s videos but here… I don’t agree with what is said.
“Yeah OK…. Only white poeple displayed on Tarot cards. An issue? I wonder.
Roots of the Tarot are deeply burried in late medieval Europe. Late medieval Europe users of tarot cards were white (with exceptions, of course, I guess).
Why not just considering “white Caucasian colour” as a “neutral colour” for european allegories and symbols?
Are we shocked that african representations of local Gods like Amma, Nommo or Nyamé use when represented caracteristique african body shapes ? I do not, personnaly. Are we shocked to see that all representations of the Buddha have asian type of eyes? I don’t. And I don’t see why I would be shocked. In my opinion, all this debate about “races” desplayed in tarot is a very very shallow one. (By the way, there is only one race when it comes to humanity, the human race)
And here is more. What kind of “colour” would we chose for the High Priestress? Or for the page of wands? Without being a psychic I can already imagine a lot of issues when it will come to choose what “human colour” goes to what card? What race to choose for the firery wands? Or the gloomy swords? I don’t see anything good coming out of this debate ; only some stinky and dangerous considerations. Peace to all :-)”
I don’t know if this has been mentioned before, but POC have had a large influence in Tarot. The Rider-Waite-Smith was illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, who was quite possibly a WOC. There have been many debates of her exact ethnicity. Some claim she was fully White, others say she was part Black, Native American, and even Chinese.
The Motherpeace Tarot was a round deck that is widely regarded as the first Feminist Tarot deck. Each Suit is represnetive of a different race. Pentacles (Disc) by Native Americans, Cups were for Celts, Wands for Sub-Sahara Africa, and Swords I believe are Greek/Roman
There are defiantly issues with making People Of Color, especially women, more visible in media.
One new Indie Deck you might want to check out is “The Dark Goddess” Tarot which uses a very wide variety of Goddess from different cultures (It is all female as a bonus) and is very interesting