Agnostic Atheist, But Not Interested In White Supremacist Atheism

White men who try to portray only men of colour as misogynist will bash these men and their religion/culture and call doing so being against sexism towards women of colour. And this remains a White supremacist stance. Why? Because for women of colour, it’s NEVER “just” about gender. We share the cultures with men of colour that White men bash. Further, women of colour don’t need arrogant and ahistorical White male spokespersons, ones who ignore their own misogyny and the impact of White male misogyny globally. And for women of colour, intraracial/intracultural misogyny has always been critiqued and resisted against. The idea of the White savior remains White supremacist. Obviously White Savior Industrial Complex doesn’t only appear when speaking of humanitarianism (which is not humanism, by the way).

The White men who claim to be our “heroes” are ALSO oppressors in this case. Most of all, it is hypocritical when these White men with abysmal misogyny towards White women claim to be “less” misogynist than men of colour. Whether they were burning witches in the past, engaging in scientific and medical exploration via racist, sexist, abusive and unethical practices and dehumanization of brown bodies, or responsible for the majority of rapes of women in the U.S. today (despite not seeing a day in prison for almost any them; who rapes versus who is arrested for rape is divergent and reflective of racism and Prison Industrial Complex; even who can "joke" about rape is impacted by race), their track record is shady. They fail to examine how White supremacy impacts the masculinity of men of colour, leaving a narrow space for its existence which fosters intracultural/intraracial misogyny. (Theism isn’t the origin/source of all misogyny.) If patriarchy (which itself is oppression) is defined via White supremacist terms and men of colour are denied access to certain facets of it while not being in the position to challenge the deniers, much of it manifests as intracultural/intraracial misogyny since regardless of race, women are always socially placed beneath men. Many White men also fail to examine how patriarchy is problematic regardless of race or theism. But no, some will keep pretending that White men have “evolved” past misogyny.

Men are NOT in the position to determine what is “worse” misogyny, misogynoir or transmisogyny. Only the women who experience it can discuss it in this context and even then must do so without xenophobia, racism and cultural imperialism shaping that conversation. This is about as ludicrous as Whites trying to tell Black people that racism up North is “nicer” than down South. They aren’t in the position to make that determination. This is about as ludicrous as Whites trying to tell all LGBTQ people, including Black/people of colour, that Black people are “more” homophobic.

The above White supremacist, racist, xenophobic and conditionally sexist (as they claim to be against sexism [while the critiques remain primarily against men of colour], unless it is their own or that which is fostered by White supremacy, and will respond to a woman who dissents with coded sexism) stance is posited often by many cis hetero White male atheists.

Certainly some don’t; I’ve talked to White male atheists who don’t. Their atheism isn’t about behaving as if theist privilege (which is nuanced and can’t be examined without also examining racial/gender oppression and how some theisms are privileged over others while all are privileged over atheism, but certain atheists have so much privilege via race, gender, class, sexual orientation etc., that it’s difficult for theism/theist privilege of others to truly foster oppression that they can’t overcome with other privileges) is the only privilege that exists nor is their atheism smoke and mirrors for proffering oppressive White supremacist discourse that literally is the same discourse proffered by many White theists, and ultimately is about White supremacy.

However, I’m not speaking of the ones who don’t ascribe to atheist discourse that is White supremacist; I’m speaking of the ones who do. And when anyone who isn’t a White male critiques them, the following occurs:

  1. Assumption of theism. The assumption is made that the person must be a theist if they do not 100% agree with this type of cis hetero White male atheist. I mean…the dissenter is a woman or a brown woman or a brown man! Must be theist!
  2. Demand for “evidence.” "Can you provide any evidence to support your claim?" Now from social justice discourse, we already know about this stance of the privileged. Demand “proof” from the marginalized and if not provided, use the rhetoric that if the marginalized cannot google for them and "teach" them, the facts must not exist. This is comical because it actually mimics theism. Monotheists often say that if an atheist cannot prove that their god doesn’t exist, then that god must exist. Notice the pattern. This is why some mainstream movement atheists resemble some theists to me—their rhetorical methods. Always semantic warfare amidst evangelism.
  3. Use coded words. They’re slick. They rarely will say “nigger” or “cunt.” But “barbarian” and “hysterics” are common word choices. We know coded language, especially as people of colour. But they’ll insult our intelligence anyway and claim that we’re delusional for recognizing the etymology, dog whistle racism and racial/gendered history connected to a word.

In many ways engaging with White male atheists who do this is worse than the often labeled Tea Party-style overt racism. It’s subversive cultural warfare. It’s elaborate gaslighting. It basically becomes a game of semantics and theory meant to erase our experiences and existence as people of colour (and White women also) unless we 100% ascribe to any position they proffer. I’m not interested in this game.

Though I identify as an agnostic atheist, I’m not interested in atheism alone. It literally means little alone. It’s simply the rejection of: practicing religion, organized religion as a tool of the State and of the existence of deities. (And actually, usually the definition only means the last part of the previous sentence.) I’m interested in how this connects to a greater ideology that is anti-oppression, for all, which most definitely includes challenging racism and White supremacy. Without the latter, the former is simply nothing at best or can become a White supremacist tool to facilitate oppression at worst.

I’m more interested in deconstructing White supremacy anywhere it appears. Theism or atheism as the place it appears is of less consequence. And when White theists tell theists of colour that they must ignore their race and the truth of their experiences (and to not do so is “racist”) to make Whites comfortable and then White atheists adopt the same goal towards atheists of colour—using different rhetoric but the same goal—the issue isn’t “god.” The issue is White supremacy. It’s rarely about “god,” these conversations about theism, ironically. Even recently a White atheist suggested to me that Black and other atheists of colour congregating is “racist.” (So…Black Skeptics of Los Angeles is a “racist” group?) The rejection of White domination and acceptance of communal cultural support is not “racism;” it’s self-preservation.

Cis hetero White male atheists who adopt these stances and take an almost theist-like approach to atheism where someone like Richard Dawkins becomes their “pastor” and they save Twitter searches with his name to attack anyone who disagrees (I find this odd; I will never do this for anyone famous) truly remind me of some theists who are more concerned about protecting a Ted Haggard, Pat Robinson, Eddie Long or Creflo Dollar figure than any actual belief system. The common link between theism and atheism for some people isn’t only White supremacy and capitalism but also tunnel vision loyalty to a rigid amount/types of ideas and/or persons. It’s a part of America’s “team” culture and “us vs. them” culture. This is always a problem.

And it’s not that religion should be safe from critique. I critique it. A lot. But critique itself isn’t always discourse for understanding. Critique itself isn’t always about a desire for change. And those who critique from incredible positions of privilege and/or power should examine if their critique is really about standing with the oppressed or about facilitating oppression. Nuanced critique of the privileged from the oppressed cannot “oppress” the privileged. It might actually save the oppressed’s lives. Conversely, shallow critique of the oppressed, from the privileged—critique that reinforces status quo—is a form of oppression.

Most atheists of colour aren’t looking for a White massa to run a collective atheist plantation. So the White men that I’ve described here can keep Dawkins. I’m good over here with Black free thinkers and humanists of the past like Frederick Douglas, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, and Florynce Kennedy, living legend humanists like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, active Black atheist feminist scholars like Sikivu Hutchinson and the atheists of colour that I talk to via Twitter/Tumblr/offline. I promise, I’m already good over here.

It’s genuinely odd to me that I can’t put “atheist” in my Twitter bio, not because of Black (Christian) theists (who I’ve also critiqued though I love our shared Black culture, still) but because of the cis hetero White male atheists that I’ve described here. I don’t want them contacting me, ever. I feel physically ill talking to them and I’m certain that diving into a pool of maggots is more pleasant. Whether Black/of colour or White, only atheists (and theists) with a commitment to justice or interested in evolving into someone committed to justice, not White supremacy (or other isms), are who I want to talk to. Not all talking is genuine discourse for understanding, and self-care is primary to me. I truly understand why some people no longer identify as skeptic or are opposed to Dawkins and the like.

I’m an atheist and the satirical tweet in the screencap below still made me chuckle.

image

I don’t have the time for this White supremacist form of atheism, especially via circular arguments and online harassment. It is about as pleasurable as seeing Zimmerman’s smile in the courtroom or watching the Rodney King video. I honestly find street harassment (which I vehemently despise) more pleasant than talking to these type of atheists. I don’t want them around me. I don’t want to debate. I don’t want to even have 140 characters of conversation with those who ascribe to it. I want to be left alone.

(Oh, and if this describes your atheism, don’t bother reblogging the post with your 2500 words about how racism doesn’t exist, how White supremacy whether facilitated through atheism or theism doesn’t exist, how any discourse not shaped by evo bio or evo psych isn’t scholarly, or how you actually “care” about sexism globally yet only critique any faith tied to marginalized people via race and will call any woman who doesn’t agree out of her name. I’m not interested. Post *your* thoughts on *your* own blog. Please.)

I AM NOTHING IF NOT LITERAL-MINDED. TRICKERY WITH WORDS IS WHERE HUMANS LIVE.

‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.’

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—‘

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

‘So we can believe the big ones?’

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

‘They’re not the same at all!’

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET— Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MIGHT BE JUDGED.

… YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?

—  Terry Pratchett, Hogfather 

generie asked:

Hi Trudy. Since I became involved with social justice I have rejected the mainstream atheist community because I knew of it's western supremacist/racist/sexist attitudes, a lot of the community is problematic. But I felt needed a space when I lost nearly half of my friends and my family since I left my religion. These days I don't know how to cope with the bullying I get as a black woman for not being theist. Even within the social justice community I feel shunned sometimes, ever feel like this?

Part one? Yes. Discussed that here: Agnostic Atheist, But Not Interested In White Supremacist Atheism and Race, Gender And Online Skeptic or Asexual Communities

Part two? Yes. LOL. Discussed that here: Fellow Black People Who Are Theist And/Or Heterosexual, Please Give Me A Break. Please.

It is difficult. We are already catching hell because of anti-Blackness, racism, White supremacy, sexism, misogyny, misogynoir and other oppressions applicable based on our individual identities and then within Blackness we occupy a tiny space, (and not just as skeptics/agnostic/atheists but often times as Black women *specifically* we are expected and even demanded to be theist in ways Black men are not). Margins in the margins and such… 

I’ve always felt like an outcast even before disavowing theism. I feel way more okay with this now at my age approaching 35 and what I’ve been through in life versus when I was a bit younger. I understand how difficult it can be sometimes when that outcast status then feels like you’re being actively punished for it. 

I am so sorry that you lost loved ones. (((hugs if wanted))) So did I! Not just lost love ones either but they actively hate me know. Actively. At the same time some loved ones still love me, even more, and relationships have grown. I truly hope that happens for you with even a few people.

Sikivu Hutchinson writes a lot about the dichotomy you describe; her writing has helped me A LOT. A Black female atheist invested in Blackness not theism and atheism not White supremacy. (And for me, ultimately my community is with Blackness and Black womanhood above anything else, so I’m interested in if/how Black theists recognize the tiny space Black skeptics, agnostics, atheists etc. occupy and work with that moreso than expecting White mainstream atheism to divest of White supremacy enough to consider us human, because that’s not happening with White theists in mass either. Feel me?)

Also talking to other PoC atheists (on Twitter) has been helpful for me. Even some White women atheists who’ve experienced terrible misogyny within mainstream atheism community have reached out to me and we’ve talked about this. (And a teeny tiny handful of White men atheists—who reject the dogmatic, dawkmatic, White supremacist, anti-Black, Islamaphobic, paternalistic way the mainstream operates—I’ve spoken to, and they’ve been supportive.)

I don’t think we’ll necessarily have the “community” around this that we’ve come to know when we have community around Blackness or Black womanhood, but there are Black people working to create such spaces and maybe with time there will be more. If you haven’t already, check out: atheists of colour (list), African Americans For Humanism, Sikivu Hutchinson blog, Blog Talk Radio - Black FreeThinkers, @PoCBeyondFaith, @BlkFreeThinkers.

Hope this helps. Take care. ❤

Getting sick and tired of these silly beta emo fags that dominate this website. If you have an issue with what society does to you. Fucking do something about it other then moaning to like minded cunts.

This go’s for.
Feminists.
Vegans.
Social justice warriors.
Animal rights activists.
LGBTQ preaches.
Theists.
Preachy atheists.

And all of you pussy cunts who come here to rot because you don’t have the balls to take action for what you believe in.

Joel Osteen's Nicely Wrapped Abuse-Apologism Tweet

Years ago several people gifted me Joel Osteen CDs (they didn’t know about me considering atheism at the time; I’m an agnostic atheist now) with his dreamy voice to match his bright eyes on TV and he spouted the disconnected from reality positivity police rhetoric that sounds fine when you aren’t critically thinking and the person is attractive and charismatic. Thus, it was no different from embracing any other kind of artist where people pretend the message is great because they are willfully choosing not to think. This was several years ago.

Yesterday On Twitter, I saw him tweet something rather awful:

When you allow what someone says or does to upset you, you allow them to control you.

Let the record show that this is bullshit. It is the CORE of victim blaming. It fuels abusers. It is their spinach if they are Popeye. It obscures the fact that abusive people often are already trying to dominate those that they abuse regardless of the abused person’s response or lack thereof. They blame the victim for being a human being and having a response. They buy into the myth that logic and emotion are diametrical. It begs for sociopathy that almost no one can perform. It forces people to deny humanity. It fuels power. It is no more theist than it is human-made imperialist White supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Well…those two go together at times (as does atheism at times, to be quite honest). Victim blaming rears its head absolutely anywhere; doesn’t seem to give a damn if a deity is involved or not. Victim blaming is social and human-made.

This is how I replied to him:

Jesus got upset; Matthew 21:12-13. Your comment is victim blaming. It empowers abusers, not those who are abused. Humans respond emotionally. Natural thing.

In the verses I mentioned, Jesus responded to those using the church for consumption and consumerism by tossing them out of there in a fit of anger. He had an emotional response to what he thought was disgusting. Throughout the four gospels, he regularly supported the abused and responded to their emotions with his own compassion. Did Jesus “allow” himself to be “controlled” because he was simply human when in a human form? When he cried out from the cross, "my god, my god, why hath thou forsaken me?” I’m so sure that was an emotional response to what was said and done to him. I’m so sure it was not about pretending to be an unemotional sociopath just to prove that Pilate (who washed his hands of the whole thing; oh look, no accountability) and those who held him to what they thought was justice (though they knew it wasn’t) could think that they didn’t “control” him. 

Now, I don’t really care about these stories—though they have interesting metaphors that are completely and utterly ignored by some of these prosperity gospel theists—because they aren’t ones I believe in terms of a supernatural sense. I was not going to robotically retweet Osteen’s abuse apologism or even pretend that isn’t what it is, even if I were theist. I recognized this rhetoric even when I was one.

Here’s the rest of what I tweeted, in general, no longer to him specifically:

Love how these clowns don’t even use their own book. Your own book and idol is contrary to what you say. I don’t believe it but I READ it. Notice how many abusers will like his tweet. ‘If I abuse you daily and you respond, that means I control you! I win.’ Where’s accountability? Meritocracy, American exceptionalism, respectability politics AND prosperity gospel are all rooted in victim blaming. External individualism. None of these involve accountability, introspection or institutional/systems perspective. All external individualism. Farces.

What he tweeted is abuse apologism that is the foundation of every major American theory and institution—as I alluded to above—let alone the country itself. What he did is not something that can support any type of compassion and kindness. Even though his belief system is not mine, steam comes out of my ears when someone like him sits in every single privileged category that exists—literally ALL of them—and tweets something so benevolently reprehensible. 

And sure, people focused on him as a celebrity personality and/or those ideologically committed to victim blaming (through purposely ignoring institutional and structural issues and their complexities and via the false notion that anyone who cannot consume and dominate at the level that someone else can must have “invited” abuse into their lives) will scour the bible looking for verses that justify abuse (and yes, there are many) or attack me personally or claim that I am just “mad” about church (no; for me, almost a decade sits between leaving church and leaving theism) because these are the lazy, quick and simple answers. Even citing any social justice work Osteen does is irrelevant here; it doesn’t make what he said any less oppressive. I had someone reply "really girls?" to me and another Black woman (@FeministaJones; I don’t know her overall religious/non-religious stance; I just know she recognized the problem with his tweet) who challenged Osteen’s tweet. Wow, thank you for that compelling argument!

I am not interested in what people believe or not when it is not framed any differently from the oppressive status quo. Osteen’s rhetoric supports abuse. I KNOW abusers who have said the same thing he tweeted and meant it. People who regularly abuse me online say it, assuming they aren’t busy mocking me for other abuse that I experience. In the past, I worked with teenagers who were abused by family members and heard similar. I studied psychology and criminal justice and encountered case upon case of domestic violence and even rape apologism framed as such. There is nothing revolutionary about taking a stance like Osteen’s and it doesn’t even match Jesus’ words and work. The abused are regularly more accountable than abusers. Regularly. They take on blame that is not even theirs to take on, even as people try to ration who deserves respect and who deserves abuse, as if the latter should ever be a reasonable stance.

I wonder how much time will continue to be spent framing victim blaming and status quo power protection as a belief system from the divine. It’s not. It’s simply oppression. Human-made, at that.

Watch on www.gradientlair.com

In this awesome HuffPo video, Black atheists discussed atheism, humanism, sexual orientation, sexuality, intersectionality, race and racism. It’s great. It includes Debbie Goddard, the director of African Americans for Humanism, Jamila Bey, a journalist with the radio show titled “The Sex, Politics And Religion Hour: SPAR With Jamila,” Ronelle Adams, an atheist author and activist and Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, an atheist author and activist, who I’ve mentioned before here. 

I love this video. The conversation was so pertinent and riveting. I thought that it was interesting that Ronelle mentioned that he felt it was more difficult to come out about his atheism than his sexuality since a lot of the argument against being gay is rooted in theism (though of course, atheists can also be homophobic). I love Jamila’s passion and it was interesting that Debbie mentioned that some Black people perceive atheism and secular humanism as “shackles” as well, not just religion. Sikivu mentioned the long history of Black humanists, something that often gets eschewed since mainstream atheism is so…White. Her commentary about how religion is used to police the sexuality of Black women is interesting here. Critical.

The most important thing here is how they discussed intersectional thinking and a commitment to justice through a secular framework. As I’ve written about before, I am beyond disinterested in theism or atheism if in praxis it’s shaped by White supremacy and other oppressions. In the past, Sikivu has articulated the importance of intersectional thinking when it comes to race and secularism.

Overall, it’s really good video. As a Black agnostic atheist whose also a womanist, I found this so timely and important.

Of course, even if there were no evidence for God’s existence, that’s no proof that God does not exist. An Australian forensic scientist I met while lecturing in Syndey told me that there’s a saying beloved of criminologists: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. A suspect might still be the murderer even if there is no evidence that he is. To rule him out, you need an alibi, that is, positive evidence that he did not commit the crime. To rule out God’s existence, the atheist needs more than just absence of evidence; he needs some positive evidence of absence.
—  William Lane Craig

If you ever get into an argument with a religious nut, especially one where neither side can mention science or the bible, this is a great picture to show them. If it’s a dispute only mentioning god, this picture will refute any of the religious person’s claims. Since they won’t believe evidence, perhaps this will make them start questioning their god. It’s as easy as this. Use their own beliefs against them. :P

Things I No Longer Want To Have To Do As An Atheist

I don’t want to be asked to pray for people. I don’t want to be expected to “join hands” and pray about someone’s illness. I don’t want people that I know to say they’ll pray for me, especially when they know that said prayers have resolved absolutely nothing, in years. I don’t want people to condescendingly say “pray about it” to avoid listening to me because they don’t have the resources to try to problem solve with me or don’t have true concern about me in order to be a listening ear of compassion. I don’t want to associate with people who assume not engaging in prayer rituals for others is equivalent to wishing harm on others. I don’t want to be expected to tweet prayers in response to natural disasters or human-made “terrorism” (which includes imperialism via White supremacist capitalist patriarchy and White male mass violence).

I don’t want to be asked to donate money to churches. I don’t want to associate with people who think that not handing blank checks that I don’t have anyway to churches is the same as wishing harm on people who attend said church. I don’t want to be asked where’s my “church home.” I don’t want to be invited to a church. I don’t want to be a doormat in a Black church so that men who are otherwise oppressed in society can feel like kings in the church. I don’t want to spend all of my time in a place like a church that harms me—the world is already enough.

I don’t want men using their theism and assumption of my theism as an excuse to try to talk to me. I don’t want these same men offering me unsolicited advice or media suggestions based on their extremely patriarchal and sexist theist views. I don’t want men marginalized by race to expect me to accept gender subjugation because of a theism I don’t practice.

I don’t want to rationalize slavery, poverty, rape, child abuse and hunger as things a deity sees but mysteriously ignores since the deity’s ways are “mysterious.” I don’t want to be expected to believe that certain Whites are chosen by a deity and thereby superior to Blacks who’ve suffered and still do. I don’t want to worship a White male deity. I don’t want to worship a deity as a spirit, without a gender or race either. I don’t want to participate in the subjugation and oppression of others because of a book written and modified by men is presumed to be connected to a deity for whose existence cannot be proven. I don’t want the answer to any currently unanswered questions about human existence to be "if the answer is currently unknown, it’s because a deity made it happen, and once later explained by evidence, the deity moves on to being the answer for other unknowns."

I don’t want people who believe in this deity to claim that I am “oppressing” them by rejection of their oppression of me, as if it’s their right. I don’t want to be judged as a person who automatically wishes harm on others if my “good” isn’t shaped by a same set of religious beliefs that also advocates sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression and hatred. I don’t want to be expected to cite platitudes and verses from a collection of writing by men—writing that has no proof of connection to a deity even if said deity exists—as proof of my supposed goodness. I don’t want to be required to only think of the anti-racism and social safety net related sociopolitical roles of The Black Church as an excuse to ignore the institution also as a source of oppression. I don’t want to have to practically daily explain to theists, especially Christians that their personal need or comfort from religion becomes more than personal when it is a tool used by individuals or the State to oppress others. I don’t want to have to explain how statements such as "everyone just respect everyone’s beliefs" obscures theist privilege and unequal political and social footing between varying theisms and then theism itself versus atheism.

I don’t want to read about any more people, especially ones of colour who feel forced to believe in and practice various religions, especially the monotheisms, against their will. I don’t want to read about yet another Black person outcast from their family for not believing in the same religion used to subjugate their ancestors. I don’t want to read about any more people of colour using Bible verses to justify physical abuse of children or viewing them as property not people. I don’t want to be told by Black people with theist privilege that I should accept this subjugation for “the sake of the race” or because Black womanhood has to be shaped by suffering and oppression and nothing else. I don’t want to be told by those with theist privilege that I should just “get over it” and accept everything I listed above, when some of these same people wouldn’t suggest this in the case of race, gender, class or sexuality.

I don’t want to engage in religious rituals where my “inherent evil” as a Black woman is placed center stage, yet those rituals are conducted in a church that would cease to exist in under 30 days without Black women’s labor. I don’t want to give credit to a male god for the centuries of sacrifices made by human Black women. I don’t want to be required to participate in my own oppression. I don’t want to even explain why I shouldn’t be required to participate in my own oppression.

Related Posts: Black, Atheist and Hiding, Thoughts About Atheism and Intersectional Feminism