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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Philosophy, Social Media, Sociology

Cancel Culture

If there’s one thing that anyone with social media this year has been exposed to it’s cancelling culture. I think the essence of “cancelling” makes sense. You notice someone/something is being problematic so you stop supporting them/it. After all, by continuing to support someone who might have said things that are not deemed to be progressive can mean that in a way you’re validating their actions. You’re indirectly saying “I don’t care about the fact that you might have said or done something offensive, I like you that much I’m willing to look past it”. At face value this seems fair enough, after all we’re not all going to be offended by the same thing.

There are several problems with cancelling. First of all, some people might not agree that supporting an individual who behaves offensively means you are validating their actions. For example, if your favourite musician is known to sexually assault women does this mean you support the sexual assault of women? This seems a bit far fetched especially since their musical capability is independent of their ethical beliefs. But what if their music is actually about degrading women? Then the line between their beliefs and talents is blurred. This gets complicated, especially because we need to ask ourselves if the nature of the persons behaviour is representative of the kind of person they are. What I mean by this is if someone makes one racist comment in their lifetime, does this make them racist? If not, then how many racist comments do you have to make to be deemed racist? Do you even have to make a racist comment to be racist?

But let’s assume that supporting a problematic person means you ARE indirectly supporting their actions, then it follows we should not support such a person because we don’t want them to have a platform to express their offensive ideals. How do we go about actually cancelling them? Well from what I’ve seen on twitter, when a group of people decide that they no longer want to support someone, they tweet about how that person is cancelled and then they proceed to totally drag this person. This can take many forms, sometimes it can be kind of light hearted where a bunch of memes are made about you (like we saw with brother nature) or you could end up receiving death threats, having your job taken from you, being kicked out of your school etc. People on social media have the power to really end your life without you dying.

Personally I think that if we truly want to cancel someone, what I mentioned above is totally counterproductive. Cancelling culture is way too loud. If you really want to stop supporting someone, stop supporting them, it’s really simple. I know some people who didn’t even know about brother nature until twitter dragged him. The saying that all publicity is good publicity is kind of valid here, you’re promoting someone by mentioning their name whether you’re praising or cancelling them. Do you really want to give someone you don’t support that kind of attention? Of course here it can be said: How will we ever know about problematic people unless someone brings it to light first? This is a fair point, but it’s not that difficult to dispute: if you read something about someone and believe it be true, unless you feel as though people around you would care, don’t say anything on a social media platform in order to prevent that person from getting too much attention.

It’s also important to address that with cancelling culture social media offers redemption, sort of. This is another issue. Who can forgive and when do we forgive? Should we forgive someone who tweeted racist things when they were 14? Should we forgive them even if we aren’t sure if they are displaying that same behaviour? One thing that’s been talked about in the YouTube beauty community is that some YouTubers have been caught making racist comments a few years ago, but they’ve made their apology videos and now when reviewing make up products they are vocal about shade range. Does this excuse their earlier behaviour? Do people have to earn their forgiveness by displaying the very opposite behaviour of what they depicted a few years ago? As a consumer that’s for you to decide. You might not think that your attention is worth a much as your money, but it can be.

That being said, it depends on who you are. If someone with a platform made racist comments towards Asian people, and you are not Asian then it’s not up to you to forgive anyone. You weren’t the victim of the comment. In order to forgive you have to have been offended. This seems obvious but countless times I have seen the unaffected demographic forgive influencers for their behaviour. You also can’t tell someone whether or not they should forgive, it’s okay to have an opinion but know when to share it

There are so many philosophical questions that can be challenging to think about, but we shouldn’t shy away from them. It may seem like this is a pointless activity but it’s one thing to form an opinion, it is another to understand WHY you believe what you do.

I’ve asked a lot of questions in this blog post, it’s not because I’m sitting on the fence about anything. There are people I do and do not support for particular reasons but the point of this post wasn’t to say who we should and shouldn’t support. It’s to encourage us to consider various lines of thought before we come to such decisions and encourage us to be sensible first and vocal second.

 

Your silence CAN mean just as much, if not more than your vocality.

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