The only problem with all the attention hoodoo and related practices have garnered from the media is that the average American does not have much context in which to situate references to African American magic. It is doubtful that most could give straightforward definitions of hoodoo, Voodoo, or conjure or explain why hoodoo and Voodoo are not quite synonymous. Even less expected is that more than a handful could properly situate these systems of belief within African American history, folklore, and everyday life. Just as important to Americans’ cloudy ideas of hoodoo, conjure, and Voodoo are the stereotypes that surround supernaturalism. Magic, especially the variety introduced into America by Africans, has long been associated with superstition, ignorance, or downright devil worship. These stereotypes have been present since the days when New Englanders were hanging witches, as evidenced by the fact that at least one of the accused was a believer in and possible practitioner of Voodoo. True, the number of executions of accused magic workers has significantly declined over the centuries, but African American believers and practitioners still receive more than their fair share of disparaging remarks in the popular press.
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