Black, Female & Godless

 

(Image via Photobucket)
(Image via Photobucket)

 

“Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.” — Emmett F. Fields

 

I am not evil.  I am not angry.  I am not lost, nor am I broken.  I just don’t believe in the supernatural – no gods, no goddesses, no leprechauns, and no fairies.  I am an atheist.

 

dark fairy photo: dark fairy 54.gif
It would be awesome if fairies did exist. (gif via Photobucket)

 

Like many Americans, I grew up in a Christian household – Seventh-Day Adventist, to be exact.  There were things that I hated about church and one was that being a Christian and going to church didn’t seem to make a difference.  At all.

One of my earliest memories was me, my sister and my mother (who was talked about mercilessly by the “sweet” Christian folk) going to Mt. Olive SDA Church in Hillsboro, TX.  Since we lived in Keene, TX we had to drive 40 minutes to go to church.  I didn’t understand why we would do this, when there was a church that was a 10-minute walk from our house.

I asked my mother one day why we did this.  “Oh,” she said, “I’m not allowed in that church.”

“Why?”

“They don’t let black people in that church.”

What.  The.  Fuck?!  In 1983, my devout, Christian mother was not allowed to set foot inside of a Christian church.  Again, WTF?!

 

Christ-like? I think not. (Image source)

 

I was confused on why this was just accepted.  Where was the outrage?  Why was this not a big deal?  No one seemed to be too bothered by this, but my mother being a divorced woman was shameful.  Really?!  Of course, the blame wasn’t with religion but with the people.  Still, I could never get comfortable with such nasty, racist beliefs.  While racism is not only confined to the church, it just wasn’t convincing being told that “God is love” while also being called “nigger” every other day – by Christians.  God loves me, but you don’t?  Just because I have brown skin?  There was a serious disconnect there.  I was 10 years old at this time.

It was also made clear to me that questions were bad.  Terrible!  While my mother accepted my questions, the church did not.  As Seventh-Day Adventists, we believed that the seventh day (Saturday) was made holy and that it should be a day of rest – a belief adopted from Judaism.  But why did I have to wake up early, put on a fussy dress, and go to one of the most dull places ever?  I found it to be an utter waste of time.

“I thought this was a day of rest?”, I’d argue.  I just wanted to sleep in.  Why was this frowned upon?  “You can’t just sleep the Sabbath away,” Mom said.

 

How about a Black Sabbath, Mom?
How about a Black Sabbath, Mom? (photo via Photobucket)

 

Why the hell not?  That made absolutely no sense.  And to me, church was worse than school.  It’s like working on your day off.  I was already a Seventh-Day Adventist.  I already believed in God.  Why on earth do I need to congregate with people older than my mother, who wanted to flap their lips all day about things I didn’t understand?  I just wanted to sleep, love God, and draw.  At least my schoolmates, who worshiped on Sundays, got to watch TV, play video games, and do whatever they wanted after church.  Not us.  We couldn’t do anything “secular” from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.  I never looked forward to the Sabbath.

Unlike what some people think, I didn’t immediately switch from Christianity to atheism.  First, I was a Christian, but didn’t go to church.  After all, if God was all knowing, He knew that I loved Him whether or not my butt rested on a church pew.  Then, I was spiritual, but not religious.  Then, I started to study other religions.  I liked a lot of what I had read (particularly Wicca) but these beliefs didn’t make sense to me, either.

Then I questioned why I believed in God.  I would talk to him, but he didn’t answer back; I never heard his voice.  I never saw him, never saw his face.  I realized that I believed in God because that was what I was taught; I believed simply based on hearsay.  Once I came to that realization, at the age of 36, I accepted that I was an atheist.

 

Actually, I do like going to church

 

I don’t go around wearing my atheism on my sleeve, but there’s a reason I’m writing this.  I’m writing this because there are atheists of color (not just black) that think we are alone.  We are not – it just feels that way.  And as risky as it can be to come out as an atheist, it’s even worse in communities of color.  The Christian religion is entrenched in the black community.  Being an open, black atheist is akin to denying your blackness.  So, not only am I an amoral scumbag for not believing in a god, but I’m also not proud of being black, which is ridiculous!

So, to my fellow atheists and other freethinkers (especially those of color), you may not feel the need to (or cannot) come out as an atheist.  But just know that you are not alone.  We’re few in number, but we’re not alone.  And just because we’re in the minority, doesn’t make it wrong.  There is nothing wrong with being a atheist.  I don’t care what anyone tells you – no one is born religious.  Religion has to be taught.

Here are a few links to atheism in general and to black atheism in particular.  I’ve also included a short YouTube video below.

The Atheist Experience (also on YouTube)

Greta Christina (Freethought Blogs)

Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist (Patheos)

The Root: “Please Stop Assuming All Blacks Are Christian”, by Jenée Desmond-Harris

Black Atheists Of America (Facebook)

The New York Times: “The Unbelievers”, by Emily Brennan

 

“We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” — Gene Roddenberry

 

 

Love & Shimmies,

Dasia Denise

 

4 thoughts on “Black, Female & Godless”

  1. Over here in NY, I know a lot of atheists and people who are spiritual but not religious. Many of them aren’t white – I’m a brown guy, will turn 39 next month and the older I get the more I move from believing that there is a god to believing that there isn’t one. So, as another minority – you’re not alone, you’re just in an area where the norm is Christianity. A lot of my co-workers are Chinese and they aren’t religious in the least (some have family who are Buddhist though). About 1/2 of my black friends aren’t religious and the others tend to be Christian of some sort. I have found that Christians tend to be a bit more heavy-handed about being a Christian. I studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses, about 22 years ago, for a year-and-a-half. When I left, because I just couldn’t see it any differently from any other controlling group (the government, mob, religion and other groups are basically the same to me) they still came by frequently to invite me to go back and continue studying. It took a long time for them to stop – part of that was due to my personality though. I read about other religions and philosophies and found talking about them interesting. But, sorry about the ramble. The main point is – don’t let it oppress you. You’re not alone, but you’re practically in an outpost in foreign territory.

    1. I appreciate your response. I live in Maryland, near Washington, D.C., so I haven’t had much trouble with my lack of religious belief. There’s a couple of people who refuse to acknowledge my atheism, but they’re older black folks and pretty harmless. I’m lucky that I live in an area that I can be open about my atheism. I was doing some research about Juneteenth celebrations and unfortunately, what I’ve found was basically a church service. I feel like a lot of “black events” are either steeped in Christianity or catering to the “thug for life” lifestyle. But since I can openly speak out, I wanted to let others know – especially those that don’t have this luxury – that they are not alone and that it’s okay. We all end up in the same place after death, which is nowhere.

      1. You know, I never knew about Juneteenth until you mentioned it. Its interesting how much cultural education is passed over in the US. When I speak to my co-workers, its like that. One of them is a history buff from mainland China. His education about things like WWII and general foreign/international political knowledge is jaw-dropping to me. The perspectives are completely different from what we’re taught, and the breadth of information is also amazing. Over the years, he’s given me analyses of dozens of countries governments and societies from every continent – and I’m often surprised, because my idea of Chinese education is that they’re oppressed and controlled, but it seems like they’re actually better-educated than many Americans that I know.

        1. Yeah, the indoctrination in the US runs deep and it’s pretty fucked up. You realize how ignorant some Americans are. There was this amazing TED talk by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie, where she talked about the dangers of a single story. It’s like how we talk and hear about Africa – how it’s war-torn, corrupt, and everyone’s starving to death. But there are poor people, rich people, and many, many regular people, some who are middle-class (just like any other country). It’s also amazing how people forget that Africa is a continent, and a huge one at that. There are so many distinct countries, languages, customs, and cultures. I’m trying to undo a lot of brainwashing myself. It won’t completely go away, but at least I’m becoming more aware and not to believe everything I see – especially when it discusses other countries.

          Here’s a link to the TED talk, if you’re interested: http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

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