10 March 2008

Where Are We...?

I have been trying to find black atheists on the internet and am dismayed at how few black people, particularly in the highly populated USA, are willing to publicly acknowledge themselves as rational, freethinking atheists. It is worrying.

Then like an oasis in the desert I came across Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist who's blog entry dated 6 March 2006 I have reproduced in full below:

'Where the hell are they?
Stop. Think about a famous atheist you know. My personal finance readers might have thought about
Michael Newdow, the atheist who is trying to get the words "under god" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

My atheist readers might have thought about Sam Harris, Isaac Asimov, or Bertrand Russell.

"Hold it!" my female atheist readers protest, "There are several famous women atheist as well". Examples include Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (HT: Escape from the Meme Machine). Right you are my female atheist readers. (free thought mom and Atheist Mama)

But my question is this: Where the hell are all the black atheists famous and otherwise?

When you think of some of the famous black people in the media (that are NOT rap artists or athletes) and you have Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, quite far from atheism. There's Colin Powell and Condi, who's (ex)-boss probably required them to be Christian in order to get the job. Who else is there? Oh wait, the rest are media personalities that prey on gullible housewives (Oprah), atheletes, or rap stars. Rap stars who are at least nominally theistic who can thank god when winning awards and giving them so much "bling", while at the same time glorifying a nihilistic life-style that blacks who try to emulate it will find themselves ignorant, debt-ridden, and thinking that the lottery is the best way to get rich.

Blacks are almost always portrayed as devout believers in the media. I remember when I still went to church in high school, our pastor would rant and rave that Michael Jordan wouldn't thank god for winning games/being such a great player like he [Jordan] should. Did you get that? So it was our duty as "good black people" to penalize the "bad black people" for not praising the same god that put us in slave chains for all those years. What a crock of sh*t.

There needs to be a new spokesperson for blacks in America. Not another god-damned hypocritical preacher in the vein of the Sharptons and the Jacksons. A rational spokesperson. Someone that is not afraid to be an intelligent black person who can speak English and can evoke actions from other blacks without relying on antiquated religious notions. This person, man or woman, will be the face for the black freethinkers: the black atheist, the black agnostic, the black materialist, and everything else in-between. He/she will be a foil for the vapid, idotic, untrue sound-bites from our religious counterparts (example: see here)

No longer will rap stars, idiot preachers, and a cultish day-time talk show hostess define us to the rest of America. We will redefine what it means to be a black american. We will rise above the mediocracy that has plagued our race. We will fulfill our potential for greatenss. We will do it all without relying on unnecessary, irrational, and destructive beliefs.

But, before we can, we need to answer this question: Where the hell are the black atheists?''

The amazing thing is this is an old post that is still even more relevant 2 years later. Where are we? Why are we not brave enough to break through the mould set by those who wish to control? If we spend our time thrashing out against racism and don't see just how insidiously wicked all forms of the supernatural are to our well being, then why bother?

I will follow up on the people who made comments on Frank's blog updating us about the black atheists. You might care to do the same. I'll continue my research and do a write up on my findings shortly.


BlackAtheist said...

Great blog. For another african american atheist, check out "Jason Yeldell" and his book A call to Sanity

Zee Harrison said...

Thank you blackatheist,
I will definitely check out this book and write a review once I have got my hands on it and read it!

Thank you also for the compliment! As simple as my blog is it takes many hours of blood, sweat and tears - and many joys too.

Frank said...

Wow, I am humbled by the compliment. Thanks.
PS LOVED the Jamaican joke. Are you from the island by any chance?

Brittany O'Neal said...

Being a Black women in America, I have two strikes against me, so adding Atheism on that list makes me a prime candidate for further oppression (luckily I am not left handed). There were a few prominent Black atheist in the past including Hubert Harrison, and A. Philip Randolph. Some were more on the Agnostic side (whatever that may be, but i think an argument could be made to position some agnostics in the Atheist category) and realized the ill effects of religion on the Black community, but understood that the Black church and religion were core components to a majority of Black people. Being Black leaders they did not want to alienate the people they were trying to help deal with racial oppression and other social issues facing the Black community. However, today Black atheist exist, but religion preference is not usually something people talk about therefore we see Black people and society tells us they are religious. This is false. The first thing we can do is talk to each other about religion and find other people like us. I am not suggesting we force people to have similar views or to agree with us, but just to talk and I think we will be surprised at how many Black Atheist are out there.

black_freethinker said...


The above website has what I woudl associate with atheist free thinking: critical thinking (for a hyperlink click on my name)

Not much on the net for us black atheists. I know there are many of us but of course admitting this to our family and friends can sometimes amount to virtual suicide!