I am deeply appalled by all the duplicity and horrors visited on people in the name of religious faith. Belief in God ought to come with a deepened humanity, with fidelity to the idea of doing unto others as you’d wish them to do unto you. But look around: there’s all the killing, all the scamming, all the exploitation of the vulnerable in the name of God.


Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…

—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.

In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  

Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.

While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.

During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.

With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   

After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.

Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.

 * * *

April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.

Find her on Tumblr at and on her website at

Today Is The 3 Year Anniversary Of The Trayvon Benjamin Martin Execution.

Today Is The 3 Year Anniversary Of The Trayvon Benjamin Martin Execution.

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Mr MilitantNegro™
Jueseppi B.

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From February 21, 1965 to February 26th, 2012 to August 9th, 2014. #TrayvonMartin #MichaelBrown #MalcolmX50

— N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S.™ (@MrMilitantNegro) February 26, 2015

Trayvon Martin’s Parents ‘HeartbrokenPublished on Feb 25, 2015

George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin…

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besides the fact that almost all religions have been taught as a way keep others in line & subservient to their betters, the patriarchy, the rich, the powerful etc. it’s always been taught with a “you’ll be receive your reward in the afterlife” or “ a meek shall inherit the earth” mindset. which was to say “stfu & put up with misery, torture, and slavery on earth!” idk. i have faith & a belief in something greater than i (be that a God OR just the power of the universe creating what we know as life).

antimonicacid  asked:

hi! my character is a black man converting to islam. hes engaged to another (black) muslim girl, although this isnt the reason hes converting. he sees it as the right path. is there anything specific i should keep in mind w a black muslim convert?

Black Muslim Converts - Perspective on Black Americans

I think you are on the right track with this, pretty much. The majority of African-American Muslims I know - in my friend circle and in my family - are very practicing and wouldn’t want their daughter to marry someone unless he was definitely interested in converting. One thing I would keep in mind is that converting is not easy. It doesn’t end at the actual declaration of faith, of the initial moment of joy from the witnesses as they embrace their new brother or sister in faith and ask them if they want to change their name or if there is any other help they need.

It is a hard road. My mother’s family was very accepting, and on the whole, I’ve seen that African-American parents and family are very loving and understanding about Islam, particularly since a lot of them had it in their roots or have family members who have always given a good example to them. But there are those who sadly aren’t. Issues with family is something that any convert can face and something you should keep in mind - even on small things like repeatedly telling a family member you no longer eat pork or don’t feel comfortable with something that you used to do before you were Muslim.

Another issue converts face is learning about their faith and assimilating into it; particularly when you’re African-American and have to face racism and prejudice from other Muslims. This is a sad fact of life that has been brought into Islam - which always preaches equality and universal love - by culture and that learned distaste for particular skin colors and stereotypes associated with that particular race or ethnicity.

I’d definitely recommend trying to find someone who has experienced that as a beta reader to tell you more about the particular struggles an African-American convert in particular might face while trying to find their place in their community. To be clear: not everyone goes through this. I also don’t want this to be twisted into a, “See! Muslims are bad and racist!” We have racist people, like everyone else. This is not a problem of faith, but a problem of certain people bringing their own issues and misconceptions into their community of faith.

I am glad to mention that we have a lot of support and forming organizations to help converts and keep them feeling positive and supported through this new change in their life. A lot of converts might find African-American masjids and communities, as well, and be able to find more sustenance and understanding in the changes and issues they particularly face there.

I hope this helps and isn’t too confusing!

-Mod Kaye


I am truly disgusted. It is actually truly sad to think that people actually think like this. It’s 2014 and people still don’t believe in equality. Please help me spread this and show awareness to what is actually taking place in our society today. Something has to change. We have to teach the generations to come not to be so close minded such as these people here. It is truly insane to think that people believe just because a Muslim is working for the United States government that it is going downhill. As if the only people in our government should be white. America was a nation created from immigrants. I just can’t believe I’m actually witnessing this. Truly disgusting. Where is the humanity?

Arizona Charter School Teaches Students That White People Were Jealous of The 'Freedom' Slavery Gave To Black People (VIDEO)

Arizona Charter School Teaches Students That White People Were Jealous of The ‘Freedom’ Slavery Gave To Black People (VIDEO)

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Nah, this wasn’t that bad. We fed them, didn’t we?!

It’s become a common claim within conservative circles that African-Americans were better off under slavery than they are as a free people. And that’s the exact message that one charter school in Arizona is teaching their students.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State discovered that Heritage Academy in Mesa, Arizona requires…

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New Documentary: The Church House Sexuality in the Black Church

The Church House features interviews with ministers, preachers, bishops, church members and former church members. Topics covered include, sexism, homosexuality, and abuse of power. See the trailer and screening dates, places, and times here:

“Exodus is a feature-length documentary about the growing number of African-Americans leaving religion.

Award-winning journalist David Person takes a look at this trend by examining the lives of Black atheists and illuminating interviews with pastors and theologians commenting on the implications for the church and community.

Our subjects tell their stories of coming out atheist, including the prejudice and social problems they face as part of the most religious demographic in America.”

Watch sizzle reel at