A Voice of Our Own
Atheists have existed in every culture since the world began. In secret, or in open proliferation, we have seen as many dawns and darknesses as the rest, have contributed as much to mankind’s benefit as have believers of every sort, and likely done far more to the progress of the species than any are likely to do. As this is a truth shared by all peoples of the world, the question has often been raised, “Since atheism is not subject to ethnicity, why then must we have a page, a site, a community defined by
a shared ethnicity? Why must a Black Atheists exist?” It is a fair question, with an important answer.
There is a tendency to think that if we pretend a thing is not so, it will eventually cease to be. While this may be the case with some things, and not granting certain people and subjects a second thought may sometimes be the wisest choice, the general issue of race is unfortunately more complex. Most especially as writers here, as artists we are never “making it about race.” Though most may not wish it to be so, the truth is that it became about race the moment one was deemed superior to the other, and it will remain a factor so long as the disparity between the quality of our lives and our opportunities remains in such stark contrast to those of others. It may seem to some that creating a space such as this is merely feeding into that division, and some will no doubt even wish it to be so. But, the reality and reason are another matter entirely.
The history of the Afro- man and woman, particularly in America, is one unique to all of human history. According to some surveys, roughly eight in ten black Americans identify as religious. This equates to about seventy-nine percent of black adults, compared to a mere fifty-six percent of all adults in this country. It would be naïve to suggest that this is not a result of our tragic introduction to this country, and a direct result of the manner by which the consequent policies have determined our existence in its society. The history of Islam in the Afro-cultures of the world is similar. This religious fervor is a significant development in our evolution, introduced by others whose interests were not our own. But, just as these religions have been adopted and adapted by black culture, both shaping it and religion in turn, so too does secular thought find an expression in black culture unlike any other. Given this singular history, it follows that our perspective on this, amongst a host of other issues, be equally singular.
This is not a project to separate ‘us’ from ‘them’, but a platform wherefrom our presence may be distinguished, and an otherwise unseen and unheard consciousness may have its voice. It is an additional and necessary means whereby the accurate and vital understanding of atheism and secular thought may be projected to the overall benefit of our culture, and of mankind as a whole.