Why I identify as an Atheist : Secular Voices of Color

Below is my video contribution for ‘Secular Voices of Colour‘. As the project coordinator, Sincere Karibo stated

Secular Voices of Color is a unique opportunity to spread awareness of and focus on the stories minority representation of nonbelievers.

My video contribution is transcribed below. Happy Viewing!

My name is Yemisi Ilesanmi, I am a Nigerian, grew up in Nigeria and now resident in UK. I was born into a Christian family. Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth and it is one of the most religious in the world. Growing up I decided if I was going to be a Christian, damn right I was going to be the best Christian ever. My parents attended the spiritual church known more as white garment church. It was always about speaking in tongues, prophesy, exorcism and all that crap that comes with believing in a skydaddy and the existence of evil spirits.

When I was about 13 years old, I got seriously involved in the church, I attended every church service which was about three times a week and attended night vigils too. Soon, I was speaking in tongues and prophesying. I believed God spoke to me to give messages to people. However, those messages were basically things I had convinced myself God wanted me to say to his people.  They were regurgitated shits I heard every day in the church. I cringe to remember these now. It was innocent but it was harmful, it was pure brain wash, it was indoctrination.

Because of my experience of speaking in tongues, being filled with so called ‘Holy spirits’ and spinning around in trance like silliness, no pastor, nobody can tell me I don’t know what it feels like to be filled with the holy spirit, because I do. And I can look you straight in the eye and say it feels like been high on drugs, drunk and riding high on hypocrisy. It is all bullshit and no one with a good conscience would seriously call that crap real, because it is all manufactured.

If you have the courage to search in your heart, you know it isn’t real. You know you have control over what you say when allegedly speaking in tongues, you know you have control when spinning around doing acrobatics in the name of being in trance and consumed by holy spirits, you might want to truly believe that God has control of your tongue and body, but deep in your heart, you know it is all down to you and how best you’ve practised your holy spirit routines.

Believers assume something terrible must have happened for one to lose “faith” or not have faith at all. However, it was not the shenanigans of those so called men and women of God that broke my faith in God.

The terrible thing that happened was I actually read the bible, and the good news is, reading the bible and other ‘holy’ books turned me into an Atheist!

There was no big bang that left me gasping for faith. As a teenager growing up in a very religious society, in an act of faith and sincere eagerness to save the world with the love of Christ (and yeah, to win more bible quizzes), I reached out to the bible so as to be able to bring the word of this loving God to many, but instead, found inside those holy book pages, a God whose vindictiveness and callousness hit me like a big bang. The mere thought of being made in His image made me wanna puke. The collision with such brutality was so huge that it activated my brain.

For example, the story of Pharaoh and how God hardened the heart of Pharaoh but still proceeded to kill innocent children, sent plagues, wiped out families and committed genocides because Pharaoh did just what God made him do. He refused to let the people of Israel go because God hardened his heart. Even at that young age, it was clear to me that the villain of that story was not Pharaoh, it was God. I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t see the immorality in God’s action. It was a turning point for me. Further readings of the bible exposed so many cruelties and also inaccuracies that I could not in good conscience continue to hold the bible and God in high esteem. God’s morals were clearly beneath my moral.

With my evolved brain finally working to capacity, it did not take me too long to figure out that there is no “God” designing our planets, dishing out destinies, taking care of our needs, waiting for us to go on our knees and ask so S/He/It shall give, or busy keeping scores on our good and bad deeds, while stoking an eternal fire for those who didn’t stroke his ego while on earth, to burn in hell for eternity.

I am an atheist because there is no evidence of an omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent being watching our every action from high above. And why not from down below anyway? I guess we don’t like the idea of stepping on, walking and shitting all over God. Well, “high above” made sense when heaven or space looked so impenetrable, but with space shuttles penetrating the skies and rovers curiously taking pictures from “high above” and none yet of a white bearded old man glaring down at us, there is nothing so scary about “high above” any more.

From all evidence available, man not only created God, but did so in his own image. There are as many Gods as there are people, communities and religions. People tend to create God(s) that appeal to them and their particular situation consciously or unconsciously. There is no big deal about exercising our imagination but it becomes a big deal when you judge others base on your own particular God beliefs or tried forcing your imagination down the throat of others.

I identify as an atheist and I am damn proud of my break from religion and all its attendant delusions. As an atheist, I am better positioned to appreciate the world as it is, without delusions. I take responsibility for my own success or failure. I know the forces I battle daily are not spiritual but very physical. And ideological. I know witches and wizards are not responsible for ill health, unemployment or poverty, these are the ills of capitalism and an uncaring society.

I am more politically and socially conscious of who the real enemies of progress are, and I know religion is a cancer that must be stopped from spreading if as humans we are to truly enjoy this one life that we have. Religion endorses mental slavery and for us to be truly free, we must emancipate our self from mental slavery.

I wouldn’t pretend that a non-religious world would mean an end to all conflicts, but it sure would help if we took out20151227_144022 all imaginary friends and imaginary enemies. No child should ever have to grow up with a fear of hell fire or a delusion that there is a God watching their every move.

Black people and all people of color really need this freedom from mental slavery. It is particularly sad because the religion we so much embrace as blacks, like Christianity and Islam, were all forced on our ancestors in the most appalling and cruel ways possible. If anything, these religions should make us recoil in anger and shame. Embracing these tools of oppression means we are still slaves and not anywhere near being truly free.

Let’s emancipate our self from mental slavery, let’s kick religion in its patronizing, patriarchal and imaginary ass. Let us live life fully conscious that this is the one life we have and we are responsible and accountable to our self and conscience. And not a big skydaddy.

Related link- Why Am I An Atheist? 

No, Atheism is not a leap of faith or a descent into bigotry!

When a friend tagged me in an article in the Guardian titled, ‘My atheism does not make me superior to believers. 396822_165455010225354_100002825693663_217839_1616784218_nIt’s a leap of faith too”, by Ijeoma Oluo, I knew from the second part of the title not to expect much and as predicted, the article turned out to be arrant nonsense.

For one, it reads like a piece someone just figuring out that there is no Santa Claus, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy or Bogey Man would write. It is quite surprising that the writer, a self-proclaimed atheist, could not differentiate between faith and knowledge.

For this reason, I wouldn’t take seriously anything the writer has to say about atheism, however, i would endeavour to analyse her article.

She wrote-

I didn’t come to this conclusion because the story of a man waking from the dead made no sense – I wasn’t an overly analytical child. I still enthusiastically believed in Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. But when I searched myself for any sense of belief in a higher power, it just wasn’t there. I wanted it to be there – how comforting to have a God. But it wasn’t there, and it isn’t to this day.

This sounds creepily like a gay person wishing they were not gay. Atheism is not a feeling, it is not a sexual orientation or emotional/ sexual attraction, it is not the spooky feeling that some people insist they get that tells them a ghost is in the room. [Read more…]

Just another baby born with a bible: Which came first, the baby or the bible?

bible baby

A woman has allegedly given birth to a bible and a baby girl in Osun state, Nigeria. Just another baby born holding a holy book. Last time, it was a baby allegedly born holding a Quran. There was also that case of a baby born holding prayer imagebeads, this time it is a baby born with a bible, all in Nigeria.

I wonder why they are never born with a cure for cancer, a recipe for the best Jollof Rice or at least a lottery ticket that would change the lives of their prayerful parents! Such bullshit stopped being news to me a long time ago, and this malady wouldn’t have caught my attention if not for the sad fact that it was given national coverage on NTA as prime time news! Yes, it made national news coverage on paper and TV, not as satire or a joke but as real news! 

According to NTA, Adijatu Babalola, a mother of three, gave birth to a baby girl after she had delivered a bible in a mysterious way. [Read more…]

Online Dating: Serving up Choices and Confusion

Dating in this generation has a whole new meaning. It is all about choice or rather the illusion of choice, leading to confusion, pain, and a life wasted on swiping profiles for the next hit. This Facebook note by a Facebook friend, got me thinking about dating. As a single woman, i must say, i agree totally with his take on it. In this age of online dating, it is all about the illusion of choice and the uncertainty that comes with it. dating

Back when i was a teenager growing up in Nigeria, 20 something years ago, dating was not even a thing. You were either in a relationship with someone or you were not. It was straight to the relationship phase. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl, “Will you be my girlfriend?”, if girl likes boy, she plays coquettish long enough to not appear desperate, then says yes, and bingo, they are in a relationship. No dating as it is known today, no testing the waters, that was done at the ‘eyeing her/him up’ stage. The courtship stage did not normally involve alone time together. Maybe time with friends and families where you both sussed each other out, until one of you makes the move. [Read more…]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting: Religious Assholes, Vile Politicians and Dipshit Media

In between the religions assholes causing havoc and the vile politicians eager to drop bombs on civilians, it is a CU5oEefUYAAkYmHwonder WW3 has not been officially declared!

I was out when I briefly saw the headlines for the Colorado shooting today; apparently, three people, including a police officer, have been confirmed dead and many more injured.

The shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, is a 57-year-old white man from North Carolina.

According to reports

“Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the gunman, described as wearing a long coat and armed with a rifle, gave up after officers inside the building shouted at him. He previously had been firing at police who entered the facility.

Buckley also said the unidentified man had brought “items” with him inside the building and left some outside, meaning officers had to make sure they were not “any kind of devices.”

“The man apparently began his deadly spree at the Planned Parenthood building, although it was not clear if his motive was related to the organization.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said.

Interesting how they are not eager to jump to conclusions about this shooter’s ideas and ideology. This is white cis [Read more…]

Winter might be upon us but nothing is going to take away my sunshine; let’s dance!

What better way to herald a new month than to dance away the pains, sorrows, regrets, betrayals, dashed hopes and disappointments of the past month. What does not kill us makes us stronger.

As I wrote in my poem: ‘Chin Up and Weather the Storm’

Life dishes out its mixture of pain and pleasureSnapshot_20151028_24

With pressure, we appreciate more our treasures

Stricken down, rise up and look beyond the snares

This too shall pass for nothing stays the same

When it is all falling apart, just stay strong

Chin up and weather the storm!

Winter might be upon us but nothing is going to take away my sunshine.

As Albert Camus said-

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

Nothing lifts my spirits better than good music and the liberty to dance to my favourite tunes whenever I feel like. Music and dance are the choice flavour of my body and soul!

Here is to all Survivors; keep surviving and live life the best you can. Enjoy my dance video!

 

8 Reasons “I’d Rather Be a Rebel than a Slave” on t-shirts for “Suffragette” is Wrong

When Time Out London invited the leading actresses of the new film, “Suffragette”, to be photographed for its October 2015 issue, they did not envisage the heated debate that ensued. The photoshoot featured the stars of the movie, Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, and Anne-Marie Duff posing in t-shirts bearing Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” The appropriateness of the t-shirts message was called into question. Reactions to this debate have been very enlightening as well as disturbing. The photoshoot provided another opportunity to see white feminism in action and the reaction shows how difficult it is for feminists of colour to be heard in a visibly white world.

Mary Rozzi

Mary Rozzi

Below are 8 reasons why the quote on the t-shirts is inappropriate, insensitive and offensive as a promotional material for a 21st century film that seeks to promote equality.

1- Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between being a slave or a rebel

My ancestors were humans who were carted off from Africa and made slaves in foreign lands. They did not have12108275_10153653732906873_381376419150408220_n the luxury of choosing between being a rebel or being a slave. No one would “rather be a slave”. Many of them were rebels but this did not save them from being slaves. They did not just hand themselves over to their captors. They did not just roll over and decided to live the slave life. They did not choose to be separated from their families and land of births.

Captivity was forced on them. Slavery was forced on them. Many were born into slavery. Being a rebel in the sense of organising protests and speeches under police protection and throwing animal blood at their fancily dressed “Masters” were not options available to them.

However, the fact that millions of my ancestors died as slaves in foreign lands did not mean that many of them were not rebels. There were rebellions on the slave ships. Many died with their rebellion stories that will never be told. [Read more…]

My Birthday Dance and Musings: Already Loving my 40s!

I am grateful for four amazing decades on planet earth. I am eagerly looking forward to new challenges and more20150816_141924 resised ftb jpg amazing experiences in the coming years!

I am especially looking forward to starting a new job as a union organiser with one of the largest trade unions in UK. I missed being a full time trade unionist and I am so looking forward to working with union activists and organising workers again!

I started working for the labour movement in my early twenties and with the responsibility of fighting for workers’ rights came many opportunities to see the world from different angles. The views can be very depressing especially when it comes to class stratification, oppression, exploitation of labour, crass capitalism and its uneven division of wealth built on the backs of the long-suffering majority who toil every day to earn a living wage but never get to enjoy the wealth created by their labour. However, sometimes the view can be very exhilarating, especially when the voiceless find their voices through union organising, and against all odds, conquer to achieve great successes, fuelled by strength in unity and propelled by hope in a better tomorrow, while demanding for a better today. The last few years of my 30s were pretty challenging, mostly due to having to start afresh in a new, unfamiliar environment as a single parent with a teenage son who was about to enrol in college. I did not plan to be an immigrant in UK or anywhere else, but sometimes, even though we have our life already neatly planned, circumstances beyond our control could force us to depart from our schedule.

Leaving behind a comfortable life and job security to start afresh in a strange land was not an easy decision to make. [Read more…]

Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single? [Read more…]

I Am Beautiful and I know It

It is so cringeworthy when people tell me i am beautiful and I accept it at face value with a nod to my own beauty but as a reward they want me to grovel at their feet or expect I say something self-devaluing like  “Oh no, you are just being nice, I am not all that.” Of course, i am all that and much more too, thanks for the observation!

I woke up this morning to this awesome video by Daysha Edewi titled “What If I Knew I Was Beautiful”. My fb friend had commented on the video on Facebook and tagged me and I went, “OMG, this video is so me!” [Read more…]

Serena Williams: Racism, Sexism and the Champion

Serena Williams gave us another ‪‎Serenaslam. She is unarguably one of the greatest of all times. At 33, when most men and women champions are catching their retirement cheques, Serena Williams is saying ‘You aint seen anything yet!’ Serena Williams is at her best ever and she is here to stay. What an inspirational athlete!

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The Williams sisters not only changed the face of Tennis, they took it to a higher level. In a game where racism still unashamedly rears its ugly head, where sexism and beauty stereotypes mean the best athlete who happens to be black, gets less endorsement deals than the white blonde she has dominated for years, one cannot but admire the determination of the Williams sisters to excel in their game. Their many victories are inspirational and legendary.

We cannot ignore the racism the Williams sisters have faced over the years in a game that is predominantly white and traditionally elitist. [Read more…]

BeingFemaleInNigeria: The viral hashtag, the tweets and my take on it

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is a hashtag that went viral in Nigeria just barely hours after it was first tweeted by members of a small book club. The hashtag started trending in many countries including UK. I would have loved for the hashtag to read ‘BeingaWomanInNigeria’ because the word ‘Female’ has its own social construct problem. However, i am over the moon that this very important conversation, which got the whole nation talking, was started by a very small book club.

The book club members had gathered to read their book of the month, an essay titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Nigerian award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. According to a member of the book club, Florence Warmate, the discussion got very interesting and members started sharing their personal experiences of sexism in Nigeria. They decided not to leave it there but start a conversation on social media about what it is like being a woman in Nigeria.

Florence Warmate posted her first tweet on the subject using the agreed hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria. Hours later, it was trending on twitter. It was interesting that a small group of women could ignite a national discussion via social media in a matter of hours. Clearly, it was a discussion Nigerian women (and some men too), were dying to have. [Read more…]

On the ban of UKIP LGBT from London Pride

London Pride is an event I eagerly look forward to since I started residing in UK. For me, it represents freedom, a 10270791_910936968932361_6130231271874203855_nsafe place to make a loud political statement and have fun with LGBT families and allies.

Therefore, it was a shock when I checked the London Parade list for 27 June, 2015 and saw UKIP LGBT staring right back at me.  The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is widely known for its homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia and blatant racism.  I was aghast that UKIP LGBT is going to be in that ‘safe and fun’ pride parade.

Considering how vocal UKIP leaders and members have been about condemning LGBT rights and [Read more…]

The curious case of Rachel Dolezal

When Rachel Dolezal was outed as a Caucasian woman in blackface, the story almost broke the internet. Several daystumblr_inline_npu43mC6mM1qfb043_500 later, we are still trying to put the pieces together. So far, the story has served as a platform to discuss racism and cultural appropriation. However, it has also served as a platform for transphobes to pontificate on gender and redefine transracial.

Rachel Dolezal, 37 year old part-time professor in the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University, was outed by her Caucasian parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, as a white woman pretending to be black. Following the social media attention, Rachel Dolezal handed in her resignation as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). She tendered her resignation without any sign of remorse, later followed by an exclusive live interview with NBC News where she insisted-

I definitely am not white, I’m more black than I am white. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.

Rachel seems to think her chosen truth trumps facts. You can choose your truth but you can’t choose your facts. She seems to have a history of choosing her truths with total disregard for facts.

On several occasions, Rachel Dolezal has claimed to be the victim of hate crimes. However, Investigators have not been able to find evidence to substantiate her claims. In fact, it was an effort to connect the dots in her latest hate [Read more…]