Movie Friday: Black Folk Don’t… do atheism

A brand new series came to my attention a little while back called Black Folk Don’t, which confronts and discusses (but doesn’t necessarily debunk) stereotypes about the African American community. I had been meaning to throw one of them on here as a Movie Friday for a couple of weeks, but the latest version was just so squarely on the nose that I had to share it.

Some of my own thoughts below the fold.

First off, that lady who looks like Paul Mooney annoyed the living shit out of me. Just going to deal with that right out front.

Secondly, I was surprised that there was no mention whatsoever of Islam. While the brother with the bow tie might have been part of the Nation of Islam, there was no mention at all of the rich contribution that Muslims brought to the civil rights movement, black conservatism, and the movement away from Christian domination of black Americans that would eventually splinter into the Five Percent Nation and the various other forms of black mysticism. The omission of Vodun (voodoo) and Rastafari are less puzzling, but still conspicuous.

Third, I found it profoundly distressing that Mooney lady at 2:30 completely distorts black history. Here’s what she says:

They know there’s a spiritual being that watches over us, and has helped us from the beginning of time. From slavery… civil rights… we survived so much hardship that we know on our own we couldn’t have done it.

So much wrong here to unpack.

One: slavery was not the beginning of time. The fact that the black story always starts with slavery is a ridiculously Eurocentric white supremacist meme that denies the rich and storied history of pre-colonial Africa. We existed for millennia before the 1400s, and made profound contributions to early civilization, all the way through to the medieval era.

Two: at some point she really should have asked herself what the sweet fuck her merciful Jesus was doing when he allowed the slave owners to get in the boats and capture her ancestors in the first fucking place. To have her tell it, Yahweh was chilling on his cloud napping until someone clued him in that some of his creatures were enslaving some of the other ones, upon hearing which he got off his ass and enacted a series of events so subtle that they cannot be distinguished from black folks just doing that shit themselves.

Three: look how easily she completely trivializes the hard work that thousands of black (and white, and Jewish, and Asian) people did to advance the cause of civil rights. To this day, people are struggling for black equality, and she wants to completely dismiss them and give all the credit to a god that let the shit happen in the first place.

And she does all this with a smile on her face. Seriously, Mooney-lady, eat shit. Nobody’s who’s as wrong as you should be smiling that much.

The fourth thing that stands out to me is that they mention the number of black thinkers who rejected a god concept because of black suffering. I dislike how this plays into the ready-made meme that people become atheists because they’re angry at a god or because they can’t understand why god would allow suffering. If anything, that feeling opens people up to exploring the possibility of a godless reality, but it’s very rarely what convinces them to reject god concepts entirely. Sadly, I don’t know enough about the history of black freethinkers to respond to this point with anything more than vague irritation.

Anyway, other than that, I liked this piece quite a bit. I am glad to see that black atheism is beginning to poke its head above the surface and get noticed. Hopefully this will kick off a few conversations.

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