Now that Tumblr’s back in good graces thanks to Musk’s purchase of Twitter, it’s time to unearth some of Tumblr’s ancient history. Why are so many of the verifiably true Tumblr stories so very weird?
A Tumblr user suggests it’s okay to remove bones from grave sites because she didn’t actually dig them up herself.
Another Tumblr user justifies the use of child labor by saying it’s normal for their home country.
Yet another has removed her toe and sent it to a user to be made into a jar.
With all the fake stories on Tumblr, surely these are fake too, right?
No. They’re not. All of these are verifiably true, at least as verifiable as anything online can be.
The Bone Witch
Aside from religion, most people just want their bodies to be treated with respect once they die, and a lot of laws reflect that – graverobbing is illegal. Stealing things off of bodies is illegal. Improper disposal of a body is illegal. I probably don’t have to explain that even if it wasn’t, taking something off of a deceased person you don’t know is both weird and deeply impolite. While some cultures and religions expect family members to keep some of the deceased’s remains (and some people do outside of any cultural or religious purpose for comfort, especially for cremation – see those mini-urn necklaces) all of that is done with respect for the dead and permission of the living family, if there is any.
This is not what the Tumblr Bone Witch did. The post, now known as Boneghazi, started as a callout post where one user accused another of digging up graves. She’d spotted the user offering up human bones in a Facebook group for other indigenous religion practitioners. The accused replied to clarify that no, they weren’t digging up graves – bones had washed out of the cemetery (the bone collector lived in Louisiana where flooding is common) and Bone Witch had picked them up, fearing they would be crushed or swept away.
However, instead of returning the bones to the cemetery… the Bone Witch kept them, by their own admission. I can specify that the bones were then placed on an altar for religious reasons, so it’s not as bad as it could have been, but it was still not ideal – who says they’d agree to be put on an altar? What if they were Catholic, and didn’t want to be used in that way? Besides, Louisiana-specific witchcraft and voodoo, by most accounts, doesn’t offer human remains on the altar, instead preferring animals (which are sacrificed quickly and as painlessly as possible, and often eaten afterwards), money, and food items, so offering these bones was out of the norm already. According to sources online, if you do offer human bones, you don’t make them stranger’s bones, at least in the style of witchcraft practiced in New Orleans. The religion (like most religions, actually) doesn’t endorse robbing the graves of strangers.
To make it worse, the grave site they’d been pulling the bones from was Holt Cemetery. For context, in New Orleans, you want to be interred in an above-ground tomb if you can help it because the in-ground plots flood, and the ground can behave unpredictably, resurfacing coffins and bones if it gets bad enough. If you and your family are poor, you can’t afford the concrete and the plot of land needed to do that. Historically, this affected the black communities in the area far worse than it did the white ones. These people couldn’t choose to be buried somewhere else. The bone witch was taking from the most vulnerable grave sites in the state.
But then the bone witch offered them up in a witchcraft Facebook group, as long as the other party paid for shipping. The altar was one thing, not to excuse it – shipping parts of the bones out was an entirely different one. There is A) taking the bones from their resting place after they’d already been disturbed by weather and B) potentially moving them out of Louisiana altogether!
Back online, the Facebook group where that offer happened was imploding. In an effort to be accepting of unorthodox witchcraft, the leaders of the group came to the realization that they’d been supporting an argument that boiled down to ‘these corpses are okay to steal from because they were buried somewhere that made it easy’, upon prodding from several POC witches in the group who were not okay with bone theft. One of the original founders resigned after apologizing for picking the wrong side, but the group still could not be saved.
And the police agreed. When people who recognized their username spotted the post, they contacted the police, and their house was raided in the search for remains. They did get arrested, were unable to pay bail, had a hearing, and then left the state.
The Toe Taxidermy
A Tumblr user’s removed human toe was sent to a taxidermy hobbyist who then preserved it. Weird, and potentially criminal if postage laws weren’t followed, but not disrespectful since everyone involved agreed enthusiastically to it, so in my opinion it’s not as bad as the bone witch.
The post that blew up was the one where the toe haver communicated to the toe giver that the toe had arrived safely, and the toe giver was very excited. She was going to make a pendant out of the toe and then send it back. At that point, the post began circulating free from it’s context, which does make it a little better, but not a lot: people assumed this was a gift from a girlfriend, a gift from a boyfriend, an amateur’s idea, etc. And that it wouldn’t end well. In reality, the original user had her fourth toe removed for medical reasons many years back, and the receiver made art with assorted taxidermy pieces alongside wet and dry specimens. This was a commissioned project because the fluid the toe was stored in was about to expire and she was sentimentally attached to the toe.
Again, a little weird – still much, much better than the bone witch.
The Sixpenceee Child Slavery Case
Sixpenceee was known as a post thief and a scammer long before people knew them as ‘The Blogger Who Had A Child Slave’. They live somewhere in Southeast Asia. I couldn’t find a source specifying either Bangladesh or India, although both are mentioned, and the laws of both places directly clash with what Sixpenceee stated about school to justify the labor. India, for example, provides free and compulsory education up to age fourteen, where Bangladesh provides five years of grade school and five years of high school.
One day they posted that they had a child living in their house as help. People were confused – child labor? They surely didn’t mean that, did they? No, they did – they specified that school became expensive (the phrasing implied the schooling itself was no longer free) after grade school and as a result, many kids from poor families stopped getting an education very young. Some children in this situation are pushed into child labor: factories, domestic positions, etc. so really, it was good for the kid they had helping their family that he had gotten a domestic position instead of a factory one. In another post, they talked about their uncle’s ‘domestic servant’, a young girl named Priya (young as in approximately eight years old) who was overjoyed to be working in a house with AC and indoor plumbing instead of a factory, where children may be crushed to death.
They then attempted to gaslight people who recognized this as child labor by saying that a lot of South and Southeast Asian countries did it and it wasn’t weird. That’s a logical fallacy. Just because it’s not weird doesn’t mean it’s right. Sixpenceee is known to have a savior complex from another project they started online called ‘SixPenceee Heals’ where they charged money to ‘be a shoulder to cry on’, before they got called out about it and then stopped advertising their service. The same thing is happening here. Bizarrely, some of the posts under their #India tag are a child marriage awareness project and posts about the pipe slums, so they know the kids don’t have another option, they just choose to defend the slavery anyway.
As you’d expect, it’s not sunshine and rainbows for everyone who got a maid position instead of a factory one. There is a lot of potential for abuse and human trafficking, and a lot of the domestic servants are women. The family may or may not plan on actually paying them a livable wage, instead exchanging room and board for real money and locking that maid into a position they can’t leave.
Sixpenceee continues to post, and continues to block any user who questions them about their child servant to this day.
Sources: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/a-tumblr-user-mailed-another-tumblr-user-her-severed-toe-to (read at own risk – pictures of the toe in question inside)
(original post is still up on Tumblr, if you’d like to search their username)
https://sixpenceeeharms.tumblr.com/post/161256846293/koopashell-coffee-clerk-inkskinned (note – this is a callout blog post. As Tumblr is a social media site, and you can block people from viewing your account, screenshots of controversial posts are easier to spread than the original post is, because the original poster can prevent users from interacting with their posts. While screenshots can be faked, (and you should consume all such content with caution) the original poster has made it as difficult as possible for people to find the original post where they defended having a child slave, perhaps even deleting it, and direct links can be blocked by the blog owner anyway. So screenshots it is.)