Tag Archives: race

A response to…”But you should be willing to educate me!!!!”

So, apparently some people had an issue with the tone of my last post. They think I have some obligation to teach people about who I am in a calm and polite tone.  I don’t believe my parents birthed me to justify my existence and explain the conditions of my humanity to other people. I could check with them but I’m sure they’ll say no.

Oh, would you look at that? I’m fresh out.

 

My feelings towards people who think I’m obligated to sit wherever and make them understand or accept my humanity are best expressed by:

“I’ve got to explain myself

To everybody

I do more translating

Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it

I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against

The isolation of your self-imposed limitations

Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners

Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches

Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world

Find something else to make you legitimate

Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood

Your manhood

Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to

Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self

On behalf of your better selves

I am sick

Of having to remind you to breath

Before you suffocate

Your own fool self.

Forget it

Stretch or drown

Evolve or die

The bridge I must be

Is the Bridge to my own power

I must translate

My own fears

Mediate

My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere

But my true self

And then

I will be useful.”
Taken from The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Ruskin

 

I don’t think people get how exhausting it is to deal with people who refuse to check their privilege but demand you give them answers that they have no interest in hearing in the first place. I don’t think some of you get how exhausting it is to deal with white secularists who think they are entitled to label the black community as especially ignorant, pathological,  or “uncle tom” race traitors (in the case of black Christians) but act offended when I choose to self-identify. So I’m done dealing with people who think they can educate me on my experience:

White Supremacy. Because white people are better qualified to discuss the culture/lived experiences of POCs than POCs.

White Supremacy. Because white people are better qualified to discuss the culture/lived experiences of POCs than POCs.

I don’t care to play the game where people get to act like they are really confused by terms like “privilege” or confused as to how racism can still exist in a country that elected a black president. I’m tired. I’m done. I’m calling bullshit. I will talk about these things on my terms and my terms only. You don’t get to waste my time or energy anymore.

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MY BLACK ATHEIST FAQ

  • Why do you call yourself a “Black” atheist?
    • Short answer: Because I can. I’m allowed to self-identify.
    • Long answer: Because I am a member of an oppressed group of people that has its own  history, culture, and institutions. Because despite the gains of the civil rights movement my community remains economically and politically disenfranchised and is systematically targeted by unfair practices in the legal/criminal justice systems, education, housing, employment, etc. Because not calling myself black will not do anything to address these problems.
    • Also, many of the questions that I’ve been asked or heard asked below…
  • Why do you have your own groups? Why aren’t I as a white person welcome?
    • Because black atheists have some particular challenges to coming out as atheists. Coming out as an atheist can be particularly isolating for black atheists, as churches play a major role in  providing space for social interaction, cultural expression, and political action- also, FRIDAY FISH FRYS (J/K but not entirely) 🙂
    • Due to the behavior of many mainstream atheists/ atheist orgs, there is a perception that atheism is hostile towards religious believers whether or not they are progressive. The insensitivity, racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia that some atheists/ atheist orgs exhibit along with the very narrow range of issues that secularists tend to focus on, adds to the perception that atheism is a “white male thing”. Having our own groups makes us visible, allowing us to find each other and address issues that are marginalized within the mainstream movement.
    • To quote Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson:

“…when people of color are constantly bombarded with bullshit claims from Internet cowards about separatism, reverse discrimination and “self-segregation” when they point to the absence of social justice, anti-racist community organizing, coalition-building and visibility (outside of white suburbs and gentrified urban centers) amongst secular organizations, it merely underscores the burning need for authentic real-time grassroots organizations of color beyond the mainstream atheist power structure.”

    • To my knowledge most black atheist groups (with one exception, “The Real Black Atheists”, formerly known as the Black Atheists of Atlanta) don’t exclude white people entirely. Though some white people in general, due to their privilege, are offended by the existence of spaces that do not assume their inclusion.
  • What if I go and start a white atheist group?
    • Go start one, then I won’t have to guess which group I should avoid.
  • But “we’re all Africans”, right?
    • You cannot negate the reality of systemic racial inequality by proclaiming “We are all Africans”!
  • Why are black people  Christians when Christianity was forced on black people through the institution of slavery?
    • At one time, conversion to Christianity was once a means of achieving freedom under the law in Virginia. Later the law was changed so that the freedom or enslavement of a person was based on the condition of the mother- this is when slavery became a condition based on racial heritage. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1narr3.html
    • The African Methodist Episcopal Church & other black churches were instrumental in the abolitionist movement and  in helped educate & house escaped and former slaves, in addition to organizing to fight for political, economic, and social equality. Many black  people drew inspiration from the bible and belief in god to resist slavery including Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, etc. Many black scholars and theologians would develop doctrines and theologies which would challenge slavery, racial apartheid, and even capitalistic exploitation based on a different interpretation of the bible.
    • Because of  racial dichotomies/ hierarchies that were created by white supremacy, blacks were viewed as not only the intellectual or cultural inferiors of whites but the moral inferiors of whites as well. Though slaves who practiced Christianity could no longer be freed as a condition of their conversion, adherence to Christianity along with assimilation conferred a sense of respectability. Black people, who were enslaved or otherwise were viewed as more moral, upstanding, civilized, and acceptable if they were Christian and didn’t disrupt the racial order. Performing this particular type of respectability could mean the difference between employment, safety, housing, etc. because “good” negroes (those who knew their “place”) were not perceived as a great  threat to white people. (see http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/brute/)

*Note that none of this is said to suggest that the black church should not be criticized at all. 

  • What role did the black church play in the Civil Rights movement? Was it a religious movement?
    • The answer to this is not exactly straight forward. Though there were many churches and religious people who participated, there were many churches that did not. In fact many churches were against the Civil Rights Movement.
    • There were some religious organizations that were instrumental in furthering the movement like the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), headed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but there were also several secular organizations like SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), The Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, and The Black Panthers.
    • Atheists/humanists like A. Philip Randolph, Paul Robeson, James Forman, and others also played significant roles in the Civil Rights Movement. Many people were reluctant or fearful to be open about their non-belief, political views, and affiliations due to intense surveillance and intimidation by the FBI and other entities.
  •  You seem to defend the black church a lot. Are you sure you are an atheist?
    • I just refuse to attack the black church wholesale. There are many toxic religious influences in the black community, namely the prosperity gospel and many mega-churches.
    • Though some black churches are extremely opposed to gays rights, reproductive rights, etc, there are many churches/ religious groups who are leading the way in progressive social justice activism (ex. Moral Mondays).
  • Why can black people use the word “nigger” but as a white person I can’t?
    • Short answer: Because you can’t. 
    • Long answer: Because that word is a tool of white supremacy and the systematic dehumanization of black people. Although some black people have appropriated it and decided to use it as a term of endearment or in other ways, that does not entitle a member of the privileged group to use it. The real question is why would you as a non-black person want to use that word? What do you get from using that word?
  •  Isn’t it racist to tell one someone they can’t (or in this case really shouldn’t) do something cause they aren’t black?
    • Not when the “something” is telling a person from a privileged group not to use dehumanizing language against members of an oppressed group. Call me when black people start create a system or racial apartheid where white people are systematically disenfranchised.
  • What is “white privilege”?
    • White privilege is a set of tangible and sometimes intangible privileges or benefits that white people (or obstensibly white people) receive just by virtue of being white. Examples of areas where whites are privileged include differences in sentencing and conviction rates, obtaining employment and job security, securing home and business loans, interests rates (even with similar credit scores/histories), etc.
    • For more information on white privilege (That is if you aren’t feigning interest) Google or Bing that shit!
  •  But I was born poor/grew up around black people/(insert other claim that doesn’t debunk that fact of racial privilege here), so how can you say that I benefit from white privilege? Also, look at all the exceptional black people who are successful that I can name.
    • Short answer: So what?
    • Poor white or lower class white people still benefit from white privilege for example, research has demonstrated that white people with felony convictions fare as well or better than black people without a criminal record. This is just one example of the reality of racial discrimination which gives an unfair advantage to white people.
    • FYI, pointing out FEW “exceptional” black people is not a sufficient counter argument in discussions of SYSTEMIC racial inequality. The key word is systemic and that doesn’t mean that no black person can achieve. It simply means that their are significant barriers to achievement for most.
  • It would probably be easier to accept what you are saying if you weren’t so angry/bitter. Could you please change your tone?
    • My tone isn’t the problem, it is merely an excuse for you to ignore my arguments/ my lived experiences.
    • You don’t get to determine how I should feel about these matters.
    • And you don’t get to use my tone or emotional state to minimize my experiences.

 

 

Additional Reading:

Bridging the STEM  Divide Youth Conference & White Atheist Hypocrites <<<<Just Added

Six Reasons Why There Aren’t More Blacks in the Atheist Community << Just added

Black, Atheist & Hiding 

I’m a Black Unicorn Baby: I am a Black Woman Atheist!

What Not to Say to Radical Atheist-Humanists of Color

Black Atheists and The Failure of Black Academia

Freethought Giant: A. Philip Randolph and the March on Washington

The Black Church

God in America: The Black Church

Black Women are Among Country’s most Religious Groups 

Why Did So Many Black women Die?: Jonestown at 35?

Black Woman on the Atheist Tip

We Only Do Diversity When Want To: Atheist Silence on the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers

Welfare Queens, Feminism, Secularism, Anti-Racism

Open Letter to Dave Silverman

“Can’t All Fights for Equality be Basic and Foundational?” 

Why I Need Spaces for POCs

Ain’t I a Skeptic?

Billboard Brouhaha

The Lobbying Game << Just Added

Godless Americana

Moral Combat

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

The New Jim Crow

Clinging to Mammy

The History of White People

 

 

Web/ Podcasts:

Big Think: Nell Irvin Painter, Author of The History of White People

Exposing your non-belief & Why the decision can be paralyzing

 

People of Color Beyond Faith Roundtable Discussion

People of Color Beyond Faith Roundtable: Debunking Post-Racialism

People of Color Beyond Faith: Religious Oppression and Women of Color

People of Color Beyond Faith: Radical Humanist Traditions of Communities of Color

People of Color Beyond Faith: Sex, Sexuality, & Gender Politics

FTBCon2: Social Justice and Young Women of Color

BFT Radio: Interfaith, Social Justice, Atheism

BFT Radio: Social Justice Community Activism and the Atheist Community

BFT Radio: Freethought History- A Conversation with Norm Allen

BFT Radio: Freethought History- A Conversation with Dr. Chris Cameron

BFT Radio: A Conversation on Godless Americana with Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson

BFT Radio: Atheists of Color FAQ & Comments

 

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Why I need spaces for POCs…

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog entitled: “Ain’t I a Skeptic?”. The piece was written primarily out of my frustration with the skeptical and secular (AND feminist) communities and their post-racialist color-blind stance that generally assures that white experiences/ cultural perspectives/ philosophies/ etc. take precedence over those of people of color. It is because the views and experiences of people of color are ignored or purposely cherry picked that we are rendered invisible. And it never fails that when we as people of color begin to speak up for ourselves and share our narratives that the post-racialist “we are all Africans” crowd attempts to put us in our place. Observe:

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Imagine the level of entitlement a white male in this country must feel when he labels the event described in the photo as an example of discrimination. What little must he think of the discrimination that people of color face on a daily basis? Forget stop and frisk, forget the school to prison pipeline, and the economic and health disparities that exist between white people and other groups- because here we have a conversation where whiteness and the perspectives of whites are not given priority.

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That is a question best addressed to the landowning,slave-holding, white male Christians of the the past who prior to the 1700’s offered slaves the opportunity to gain freedom in exchange for religious conversion and later changed the laws to make servitude indefinite and a condition based primarily on skin color. You can also ask them why they infused their racism into scientific theories and movements while you are at it. Meanwhile, I and others will attempt to untangle how this legacy of racism and religious ideology has contributed to some of the problems we face as people of color. Next!

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I’m so glad she asked that question, it is a question most people of color ask themselves from the time they are children. That is the very same question we ask when we want flesh colored band-aids, dolls, action figures,  when our lives and bodies aren’t valued, or when we are denied justice. But I’m guessing that isn’t what she meant…

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Once again, we come against this ignorant reduction of racism. We aren’t merely coming together on the basis of skin color we are coming together on the basis of our experiences as people who live in a society that discriminates against and marginalizes us because of skin color and ethnicity. This is not about dehumanizing, marginalizing, or disparaging white people. It is about educating, empowering, uplifting, understanding and coalescing with others of like mind and experience. And that is why It doesn’t shock me to find that those who unconsciously uphold white supremacy, and are loathe to deal with what racism and discrimination really are, can’t seem to understand why the decision to reveal non-belief as a person of color could be paralyzing. Image

These are not even the worst responses to this project or towards similar spaces devoted to giving a voice to people of color. But these responses are an example of why I and many others seek spaces for and created by people of color to discuss how our race, ethnicity, and culture intersect with secularism, politics, sex, gender, feminism, etc. And these responses are why many organizations and spaces struggle with diversity because when they fail to take into account race/ethnicity impact the experiences of their target audiences they assume heterogeneity. And because we live in a culture that assumes that whiteness, maleness, and heterosexuality are the norm, so follows the assumptions of organizations that practice “blindness”. But I argue that this “blindness” is not benign but a strategy to maintain the status quo. Remember the words of Alice Walker: “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

And if the responses to Thursday night’s #POCBeyondChat are any indication, then there are voices that will not be silenced and people who are both willing to grow and support the growth of communities of color. If that sounds like you, feel free to join us this Sunday @ 2 pm EST on Youtube as well as #POCBeyondChat on Twitter (Black Freethinkers will continue the conversation on Blogtalk Radio @ 1 pm EST) I hope to see you there.

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People of Color Beyond Faith Webcast: “Debunking Post-Racialism in the Secular Community”

Tonight, Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, founder of Black Skeptics Group and Women’s Leadership Project, hosted the first People of Color Beyond Faith Webcast. The discussion focused primarily on dismantling notions of post-racialism in the secular, skeptical, and atheist communities. Joining the discussion were Kimberly Veal, founder of Black Freethinkers and Director of Development for Black Skeptics Group; Donald Wright, founder of Houston Area Black-Nonbelievers; and myself. Among the specific issues that were addressed were the infamous billboards used to denounce the Pennsylvania legislatures “Year of the Bible”; the use (or misuse) of the popular slogan “We are all Africans”; and the way that the carving out of safe spaces for minority groups is often perceived as “reverse racism” or “self segregation”. It is an entertaining and informative discussion, if you can get past our initial technical difficulties (I can assure you that we are in the process of resolving them.).

If you take anything from this, I hope that you will understand that racial issues cannot be resolved with slogans and color-blindness. Despite the election of Barack Obama, an African American, as President, political and socioeconomic inequality remain persistent in our society. And the groups that bear these political and socioeconomic burden are disproportionately black and brown. Though religiosity is higher among these groups, religion is not the main factor that drives these inequalities and churches and faith based institutions are often the only organizations that attempt to address the needs of these communities at all. So it isn’t productive to appropriate the cultural and historic experiences of people of color (about which there are already many misconceptions) when it is convenient for you and ignore the ongoing discrimination and injustices they face. And let me tell you that turning around and pronouncing “We are all Africans” will not resolve the situation. If you can find me an MOC that avoided being stopped and frisked by pronouncing that to a police officer, I’d love to hear about it.

Empty pronouncements won’t do! Insensitive billboards will not do! And empty statements on diversity will not do! If the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, and others have taught us anything, it is that there are lives at stake. And the last thing those whose lives are at risk need to hear is someone calling them an “Uncle Tom” or ignorant simply for believing in god. Interfaith cooperation around matters of social justice is not simply a nice or neighborly thing to do- it is imperative for communities of color! And debunking post-racialism in the secular community and society at large is a necessary component.

I hope you will join us for future webcasts and for #pocbeyondchat on Twitter (Thursdays @ 8 EST, with the exception of Thanksgiving).

Links

People of Color Beyond Faith Twitter Page
Black Skeptics
Black Freethinkers
Houston Area Non-believers

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Environmental Justice as a Skeptical Platform

Within the skeptical community there are many who are comfortable with focusing on a narrow set of  issues which can be examined using empirical methods, while also promoting scientific literacy. And the issues typically focused upon are important like debunking pseudoscience, exposing con artists and psychics (sort of redundant, I know), and critically examining all sorts paranormal claims. But just as skeptics like Jamila Bey have proposed we need to consider tackling other issues with our skeptical toolbox.

So before we do that we have to first get a working definition of  what skepticism is. So borrowing from a prominent skeptic, DJ Grothe, skepticism is not simply about “rejecting others false beliefs” but it’s also a “method of finding out the truth by using reason and looking at evidence — should be widely applied, and not just be restricted to a limited set of spooky claims.” So, how could one disagree that our movement could benefit from applying our skeptical tools to  issues of social justice? Well, Grothe and many other atheists do just that. One of the reasons cited is that skeptics don’t all share the same beliefs but as skeptics shouldn’t we be interested in uncovering truth wherever we can.  By exploring and uncovering that truth we could not only encourage others to join our ranks but also make a real difference in many people’s lives. Just as people’s lives can be improved when we  expose con artists who prey on their beliefs and bank account we can make a similar impact on issues of sociopolitical concern. One of those areas is environmental justice.

What is environmental justice?
Environmental justice is a field that concerns not just how environmental policy impacts the environment but how those policies also impact people based on race, gender, class, etc. It also focuses on how to involve communities in policy decisions and to protect them from unfair treatment and discrimination in the future.

Why does it matter? 

And there are countless other examples.

What makes this a good platform?

What makes this a good starting point for me is the fact that science is one of the principal things one has to consider when discussing environmental justice, and that as we all know is a major strength in the secular community. We get to discuss global warming, health, technology, and all the things we typically love. Being able to determine what is known about a particular environmental issue or process,  what risk it poses, and figuring out how to communicate that to a wide audience would allow us to capitalize on the tools and skills we acquire as skeptics. But communicating them to a wider audience is where becoming involved in environmental justice issues would help us the most. When communicating information to different groups it forces you to make some considerations, such as level of education or say the history of a particular community. Learning about a community and communicating effectively requires developing compassion. And compassion doesn’t necessarily mean buying into their beliefs or feelings, just like understanding why someone might be fooled into believing that someone can communicate with their dead loved one doesn’t make you buy into the concept of psychics and séances. It just helps us to know when to be more or less outspoken in critiquing their beliefs.

Talking about environmental justice will force us to have discussions about issues of class, race, gender, etc  that we sorely need. It will force us to address our concepts of race beyond the fact that it is unscientific. It will force us to discuss the concept of privilege and how blindness, whether color, gender, ability, or what have you often increases the likelihood that groups will be discriminated against. We can even discuss how these issues play out in the developing world.

It also gives our community another way to effect change that may be even more headline grabbing and would frankly be more interesting to many of the communities effected by this. Not many people in  the US, for instance know or care about what homeopathy is, but they know what a coal burning plant is, even if they don’t know what impact living in close proximity to one may have on their health.

Think about it, tackling this issue will make us so much more well rounded than we currently are as a community. I mean if we use our skepticism to help ourselves and others, that makes it a humanistic endeavor. And if it’s a humanistic endeavor then we don’t have to constrict our platform so narrowly. I think environmental justice is the most logical direction for our community to head in.

There are some aspects of field of environmental justice that are not so attractive to me as a skeptic, like the notion that the environment is sacred. It might seem like nitpicking to some people but I think there is an important difference between saying something is important and saying something is sacred. Saying something is sacred generally walls off a topic from being fully explored or critiqued because its associated with some sort of divine power or authority. And that to me is an area where we can help the environmental justice movement by helping some within it rely less  on spiritual/ divine arguments and focus more on science, ethics, health, sustainability, and risk assessment.

What do you think?

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Billboard Brouhaha

Recently, Sikivu Hutchinson wrote a wonderfully insightful piece taking down the responses by many atheists to the topic of diversity and whether the movement should concern itself with issues of social justice. I highly recommend you read it, there are few others in the secular community that are as masterful at articulating these issues as she is (though Jamila Bey, Ian Cromwell, and a handful of others come to mind).

I bring this up because the need for people like Sikivu and so many others to continue fighting for diversity and to hold discussions of issues concerning white privilege, race, etc is underscored by recent events surrounding this:

In case you aren’t familiar with this story, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have called this the year of the Bible. The resolution among other things says that the bible “inspired [the] concepts of civil government” contained in our nation’s founding documents. **Barf** It also suggests that by “Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture” that our nation can be strengthened. **Double Barf**

So understandably atheists and secularists, along with anyone with any understanding of history, can understand why those and other statements in the resolution are not only wrong but also offensive. They are offensive because not only was our nation was founded on the separation of church and state, but this sort of resolution also ignores all the citizens who lack faith but those who share in other faiths as well. Then there are a whole slew of reasons I could get into about how the bible is not the wonderful moral document that its advertised to be but I won’t- at least not today.

In response to this resolution the Pennsylvania Chapter of American Atheists decided to protest this resolution by exercising their first amendment rights and putting up this billboard. The message according to Ernest Perce of the PA chapter is that,”Slavery is brought to you by the bible and the House of Representatives.” I am not sure how slavery “is brought” to you by the legislature but I think taking a dig at the bible to show that it’s not the epitome of moral truth is warranted. That is a perfectly valid discussion to have since the bible condones and sanctions a number of horrific acts.

But what was the reaction to this billboard? Hostility and a great deal of it.

The billboard was placed in a predominantly black neighborhood in Harrisburg and residents there were extremely offended by  the image of a slave in chains. Some, including at least one member of the NAACP viewed this as a racist message targeting blacks and viewed it as a hate crime. Now that was clearly an overreaction.  But not all the criticism of this billboard amounts to an overreaction.  I think if anything this incident just demonstrates a lack of cultural sensitivity on behalf of the American Atheists. Slavery and its history in our country is a very difficult subject to discuss particularly in relationship to blacks in this country.  It’s true that many of the horrific and brutal aspects of slavery were defended using the bible, which is what I think American Atheists were trying to convey, but the bible is not the primary reason blacks were enslaved.  Talking about why blacks were enslaved and continue to deal with discrimination and economic and political disenfranchisement  means having a long uncomfortable conversation about  white supremacy, privilege, power, etc. That is just the reality of the situation. One cannot boil down slavery to the bible. Unfortunately, by choosing this image they have invoked that history, whether they choose to own that or not. What kills me is that I’ve seen folks defend the use of this image by saying “blacks are not the only ones who have experienced slavery”  and what have you. And its true enough that black people are not the only group to have ever been enslaved but images like other types of stimuli affect us. They hold meaning. And when one uses an image connected to such a troubling  moment in history you have to be ready to discuss the issues that are bound to come up. As a black person I am offended to see the history of my ancestors used to attack others in this manner seems flippant. Even if the intention wasn’t to be flippant, one still has to remember that any good advertisement has to reflect a number of things including (Bear with me if I miss anything important, all my advertising “expertise” comes from middle and high school class projects. :-)):

  • it has to be attractive or catchy (which can include controversy)- So half a check there maybe. Ok, I’ll be generous and give a full check due to controversy.
  • it has to have a message that is immediate and easily understood– FAIL 
  • it needs to reflect its audience- EPIC FAIL


This ad failed to consider its audience. Now I don’t believe they were trying to target African-Americans because from what I understand they bought space on this billboard because the price was right. But I still don’t think that means they get a pass, the fact that they did not consider that the price of ad space wasn’t connected to socioeconomic conditions in Harrisburg demonstrates either a profound lack of sensitivity or a deep disconnect with these types of issues. Of course while many black will have an emotional reaction to an image like this, so will many whites. This is because references to the history of slavery in the US and elsewhere invoked by this image are liable to make many white people defensive and put off by this as well. And while controversy can be a good thing to stir up, it seems to me that many folks within our community are ill-prepared to deal with courting the kind of controversy that comes when you bring up our not so distant racial past. And this in a way explains to me why so many of them are unwilling to deal with issues of social justice or expanding the scope of the movement in such a way the it will attract a more diverse array  of non-believers, secularists, and skeptics to our ranks.

Like I said before, I don’t take issue with criticizing the bible but the quote is powerful enough on its own. Why not lose the image increase the text size and leave it at that? I don’t think this t-shirt is less powerful because it isn’t accompanied by a picture of the middle passage, do you?

Sometimes the truth doesn't need much help.

 For those who can’t make out the text:
“Slavery is Ok. Homosexuality. Not So Much
Leviticus 20:33, Leviticus – 21
Sincerely God”

So the question is… how do we proceed? Should we blame religiosity or ignorance for the response to this ad? Or do we take some responsibility and consider how incidents like these effect the perception of what it means to be an atheist, skeptic, freethinker, non-believer, and all the other categories we label ourselves within the secular movement?  Do we try to educate one another and try to broaden our perspective in this movement so that we can correct the misunderstandings and attitudes that have led to the perception that atheists are assholes lacking social awareness? Or that atheism/secularism is boy’s club?  A perception that I struggled with before I came out as an atheist myself. Whats it going to be?

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