Black Atheist characters revisited


by Frederick Sparks

A few years ago I wrote a post overviewing the (limited) portrayals of black atheist characters in popular television and film. In it, I argued that more numerous portrayals of black nonbelieving characters (particularly in a positive light) would go a long way in normalizing the experience of black nonbelievers, in the same way that I believe increasing portrayals of gay characters in popular culture both reflects and influences growing gay acceptance.

Well, we certainly aren’t there yet, as the Friendly Atheist describes in his post about a recent episode of “Belle”, a sitcom offering on TV One, a black oriented cable network. In the episode, the daughter of the main family brings home a seemingly perfect beau who reveals one “flaw”..he’ s an atheist.

As Hemant points out, the writers pass up the opportunity to challenge the traditional thinking around this issue, instead choosing to easily dispatch of the controversy by having the young woman doubt her beau’s “heart” because he’s a nonbeliever.

Comments

  1. Bree Crutch says

    Several atheists have made their opinions known on the TV One website, and I’ve sent an email to TV One directly. Needless to say, there has been no reply.

    When viewing the opening of the show, Belle’s, -with family sitting at a table with their head bowed in prayer-it pretty much set the tone for the show. Be religious-but don’t malign or disrespect someone who isn’t religious (or share their faith). Having said that, TV One was very irresponsible in the way they handled having an Atheist as a dominant character on the show and I’m hoping (ever so slightly), they’ll find a way to rectify the situation in the future.

  2. Debra says

    I just watch the clip for the first time. I am not an atheist but at the same time, I do not follow any religion anymore. I remember when I was looking for a “home church”, I had many questions and was faced with a lot of bull. For my grandmothers sake, I go to her church sometimes (Christmas/Easter). It’s not cool to disrespect anyone or their beliefs, or lack there of. Shows bad character. TV one was wrong but I’m not gonna disrespect them. I’m better than that.

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