Colonisation, Faith, Philosophy

Is Black atheism really THAT weird?

I saw a tweet the other day and this guy was saying that he finds it weird when he meets Black people that are atheist, or something along those lines. I found it weird because on one hand I kind of get it, most black people that I have personally come across anyway are religious but then I also think should they be???

There’s this whole argument that Black people should absolutely not be Christian because the WHITE MAN USED IT TO ENSLAVE THEM!!!!! I get where this is coming from but it’s just narrow-minded. It takes away Black peoples agency. Not only that but Christianity was in Africa before the slave trade and colonialism, it just wasn’t really a huge deal. There’s evidence that suggests Christianity was first established in 1 or 2AD in Northern Africa, this is before it even found its way to some parts of Europe. This also includes Islam which spread around the 7th century causing Christianity to retreat slightly, although it remained in places like Ethiopia. Islam also gained considerable momentum in the West around the 10th century. Then the Portuguese showed up in the 15th century which was the main driving force for Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But even in light of this, it’s not like in smaller communities people were sitting together singing hymns and retelling the parables, they were still slaughtering chickens for sacrifice and throwing away twins into evil forests. Sort of. (Sidenote: I really recommend reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe it provides great insights into precolonial village life). The extent to which Africa, specifically Sub-saharan Africa, was Christian is greatly overestimated just to argue against the fact that Christianity is the White mans religion. I think we need to shift how we think about religion, who it is for and who it belongs to. If it is the White mans religion where did he get it from? And why did he require a monopoly on violence to spread his belief of an all loving God?

Anyway, that’s besides the point. I think that right now we’re in a climate where people are either extremely afraid to be wrong/problematic so they never say anything even mildly controversial or people are totally controversial and abrasive about their beliefs. I think there is a happy medium and I also think that starts with honest conversations that are not controversial for shock factor. To do this you can’t be on the defence, you cannot be ready to be offended otherwise you’ll never learn anything. What if I want to talk about why the gospels have different accounts of Christs resurrection? Can I do that without someone being offended, probably not. Or what if I wanted to talk about inheritance laws in Islam or Judaism, or what’s happening with Palestine or Israel? I’d probably be labelled an Islamaphobe or Antisemite. However, this is assuming the things being said are genuinely not oppressive and I understand that some people just love to fight which is annoying.

There needs to be a space where both believers and non-believers can challenge and discuss their views without offending each other. I’ve seen in some religious communities that someone even asking a question is seen as defiance rather than an opportunity to unpack a specific belief. How we respond to each other I think is so important. One thing I’ve heard a lot of since I decided I wasn’t a Christian anymore was people telling me that it’s okay because I’m on a journey. And yes, everyone is on a journey but the end goal for me isn’t Christianity. It’s almost as if other peoples way to cope with my lack of faith is to assume that at some point I’ll eventually “see the light” which is so crazy because I don’t have the opposite expectation for them. Not only this but I’ve seen non-believers be embarrassed about their religious pasts and only ever insult the religion they once followed without trying to have productive conversations about it. Or even some atheists looking down at religious people as having less academic capability which is just so wrong. It goes on and on and back and forth, without being productive.

I think organised Religion is too obviously political to ignore which begs the question of whether people are having genuine personal experiences or if they’re just subject to conditioning. Some people don’t like this because they don’t like the idea of being subject to anything but conditioning is so real. Conditioning is why me, as a proud feminist who believes that generally men and women are capable of the same thing, could NEVER propose to a man. I think I would rather eat a rubber duck. It’s a totally random example but the principle applies. There’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t one day be able to bend my knee and ask for a mans hand in marriage but I literally just can’t, for no good reason. And that’s how conditioning works, you can believe things that are totally unjustified just because it’s become a norm for you through whatever sociological or psychological process. A simple question could be, if I were not born into this family in this country would I still have this ‘objective’ belief?

Maybe if I challenged myself enough I could think myself out of refusing to propose but I have bigger fish to fry. Plus it’s just one of those beliefs I’m okay with being subject to. Humans aren’t as rational as we think.

The big overarching point I want to make with this is that we should let people say things, and although people do just say anything, we should let them talk to we can figure out how right or wrong they are without being mean. Unless they are mean first.

((Also, there are tonnes of resources online that teach African history in an accessible way, it does take a fair amount of sifting through useless stuff but it’s worth it!!))

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Faith, Feminism, Sex & Relationships, Sociology

So what’s the furthest you’ve gone with a guy?

Honestly, there is a lot to unpack here.

Questions like this tend to have underlying misogynistic roots. Often times what it sounds like is “let me assess what this girls sexual experiences are so I can figure out what kind of treatment I think she deserves”. As much as society has progressed it would be a lie to say that women who are as sexually liberated as some men are treated the same. You might not even be explicitly thinking this, but what if the female you’re talking to has what you consider to be a lot of sexual experience? Are you going to treat her exactly the same as the one who has less? You might think yes, but your subconscious may still be unlearning the values you’ve picked up during socialisation.

Despite there appearing to be a shift in attitudes surrounding ‘sexual purity’; in a lot of cultures and religions shaming women in particular for engaging in sexual activity is normal and even encouraged. Having views on what context you think people should be having sex in is one thing, but shaming others in an attempt to control is not okay. Especially when it comes down to some religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism mainly) where premarital sex is seen as a sin. Faith and salvation are personal and shaming someone for engaging in what you believe is a sin isn’t going to make them repent. In fact, it just makes you (someone who is also not living sin free) look dumb and nobody wants to look dumb. I really want to highlight here that shaming isn’t the same as what some believe is correcting someone in their faith. Shaming is telling your brother/sister in Christ/Islam/etc. that they aren’t good enough and that their faith means less than yours because they have “sinned differently” to you. That is also not okay.

Also, this odd obsession with virginity and purity can be really problematic. Someone being a virgin doesn’t make them any more or less vulnerable than anyone else and finding this attractive is very questionable. Even in saying this, ideas around virginity and the way it is socially, culturally and biologically constructed mean that what it is to be a virgin transcends discussions around just sex and relationships.

ANYWAY.

Even if your values don’t align with the stereotype, this doesn’t take away from the matter at hand. How you treat others should not completely depend on their perceived sexual experiences.

Don’t get me wrong though, this works the other way. It’s important to think about the purpose of invasive questions regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.

Maybe it’s not that deep, does that justify asking someone invasive questions out of the blue?

I think not.

Maybe you’re asking because you want to know what the person might be comfortable doing with you. But if this is the case, you could actually just ask them what they’re most comfortable doing with you in the given moment in an appropriate context. What they have done with someone else won’t necessarily be an indicator of what someone is willing to do with you and this applies outside of a sexual context. Also, making someone else feel like they’re being irrational for not wanting to answer is borderline mad.

Well, what if you’re just curious? That’s fine, I’m sure we’d love to know lots of things about the people we are getting to know but are you going to put your curiosity over someone else’s comfort? It might be the case that the person you’re talking to wouldn’t mind answering, but your best bet is minding your business unless you’re actually talking about your sexual experiences. What the furthest you’ve gone with another person is not a 21 questions type of question, it’s not a question you ask after ‘wyd’ and it most definitely not a question you ask to someone you barely know.

So if anyone does ask you and you don’t want to tell them, always remember that you don’t owe them an explanation.

Some might disagree with me and that’s okay. Part of me was reluctant to write this but I had to get it off my chest. Perhaps I’m just writing this for myself out of frustration so that the next time I’m asked I can just send a link.

You can’t force someone to respect you, but you can refuse to be disrespected.

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