The Dark Noise Collective was (is?) "a nationwide, multiracial, multi-genre collective featuring some of the most exciting, insightful, and powerful poets writing today," according to its bio. The collective stopped updating its Twitter feed in 2017, so its lasting legacy will have to be a Google Doc it published for fellow poets a couple years back. Titled “Writing Prompts on Police Brutality and Racist Violence,” the thing went largely unnoticed on the wider internet until recently when someone at Campbell Union High School District in San Jose, California included it in its online equity resource guide. This would have been unremarkable, except for one small detail: The document includes instructions for placing hexes on people you don’t agree with.
If you’ve ever worked at the kind of place with an equity resource guide, you can imagine what must have happened: Some poor schlub, probably on a Friday at 4:45 p.m., was given the task of rounding up anti-racism links for the school district’s website. They rushed through the task in 20 minutes, not noticing that one of the docs — writing prompts from an unknown poetry collective featuring “some of the most exciting, insightful, and powerful poets writing today”— contained instructions for cursing “people who have been agents of police terror or global brutality.” This exercise wouldn't seem shocking to young, college-educated bohemian-artist-types, but it's terribly offensive to the kind of Christians who literally believe the Devil is a man with a goatee and a pitchfork who goes around tricking people into sin (read: fun).
It's unlikely that anybody would have cared until Spencer Lindquist, who comes across as a mean-spirited parody of an actual human college student (as is generally the case with most young conservatives) exposed the affair in a 1,300-word essay for The Federalist. Among other things, the intern feigns disgust when he reports that schools in California “[instruct] K-12 students to use witchcraft on political opponents.”
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From here, the story gets even weirder. Paul O'Donnell, a reporter for Religion News Service, contacted Stephanie Rose Bird, the author of Earth Mama's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss and a rootworker (a magical practitioner in the tradition of the African diaspora) for her expert opinion. Bird told O'Donnell why one shouldn’t be so casual about their hexes:
“As practiced by BIPOC and other folks immersed in a practice that addresses justice issues, Hoodoo [rootwork] has a lengthy history in America and beyond. While you don’t have to be an initiate to cast hexes or spells, Hoodoo practitioners realize neither is something to be taken lightly,” Bird said.
Besides, Bird continued, magic “is potentially dangerous to all concerned.”
This story brings the left and right together in a rather odd place, where they both issue stern warnings about the dangers of dabbling in magic. It also gives you a good sense of how the internet works: If you’re not lucky, one of these days you’ll see your content taken completely out of context and used to further someone else's political agenda.