Vodou is a religion, a practice, and a way of life for many people in Haiti. When people from Benin and Congo were enslaved and kidnapped by the French, they brought with them practices that, as a result of the diaspora, evolved into the practices of Haitian Vodou. Thus, this is a black practice, made by and for black people(Stone, 2011).
Vodou is empowering for the Haitian people, and has been a present part of their culture throughout many tragedies and triumphs. During the Haitian Revolution, the French made practicing Vodou illegal, yet it prevailed and one of the biggest names attached to the successful liberation was “Boukman”, a Vodou high priest. After this, many Haitians traveled to New Orleans, which is known for its large presence of Vodou practitioners.
Despite its rich history and impact on the people who partake in it, Vodou is still given a bad name through oversexualization, oversimplification, demonization, and erasure. While not considered derogatory by all who use Vodou, the spelling of it as “Voodoo” is the American-English change. In New Orleans, the marking of Vodou as being “black magic” grew after the migration and practitioners faced discrimination and slander against them and their practices. Vodou is not witchcraft, yet Hollywood continues to show it as the “evil version of witchcraft,” completely ignoring its rich history and sacred practices, or worse, labeling it as a cult(Kamerling-Brown, 2016).
Hodou and Vodou are NOT the same. Learn about Hodou here(link to Hodou page)
See Vodou Dolls
Kamerling-Brown, Eliza M., “More Than a Misunderstood Religion: Rediscovering Vodou as a Tool of Survival and a Vehicle for Independence in Colonial Haiti” (2016). Young Historians Conference. 14. https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/younghistorians/2016/oralpres/14
Stone, Les. “Vodou lives.” World Policy Journal, vol. 28, no. 4, 2011, p. 50+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A275920181/AONE?u=lom_ferrissu&sid=AONE&xid=b9cb2470. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.