Hnn | HNN Articles

Building a Strong and Diverse Community: A Profile of Black Atheists of America

 

By Ayanna Watson

Black Atheists of America (BAAm) is a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between atheism and the black community. I founded the organization in 2010 with the intention of diversifying the growing atheist movement and promoting critical thinking.

The black community is the most religious community in America, according to a 2011 Gallup report. BAAm addresses issues that directly affect this community, while providing a support group for black atheists. Religion is so deeply rooted in the black American culture that when a member of the community identifies as an atheist, they are often seen as turning their back on their culture. 

There is a lot of misinformation in the black community about American history. The black community attributes many of its accomplishments to religion. Many black Americans believe that the main reason why blacks survived the Jim Crow south, for example, was due to the Black Church. The Black Church was instrumental in facilitating the organization of the black community. It facilitated communication and the pooling of resources, while providing a safe meeting space for members of the black community.

One should not, however, be quick to equate the necessity of the Black Church as god being a necessity to overcome social injustices. Each of these benefits could have just as easily been achieved without religion. The church took a leadership role in the civil rights movement because its presence and infrastructure was uniquely positioned to do so. The church also promotes anti-intellectualism by requiring its members to dismiss reality and expect supernatural solutions. This line of thinking restricts the ability of the community to study its problems and create real solutions. 

Some black atheists note that such a belief is not only incorrect, but insulting. It is essentially saying that social injustices are not enough for members of the black community to fight for equality, and hence a god is necessary to inform these individuals that inequality should not be accepted.  

The belief that god was a necessity in overcoming social injustices also ignores the efforts of non-believers during these movements. For example, no one disputes the fact that A. Philip Randolph was a major contributor to the civil rights movement, but his open lack of belief is often kept silent.   

Black communities in America are plagued with poor health care, inadequate education and poverty. In these communities one often finds a large number of churches. In fact, these areas serve as homes to some of the largest megachurches in the country. These entities are not required to pay taxes, in spite of the fact that they reap many benefits from the communities in which they sit. This is detrimental to low-income communities. The amount of money that gets funneled into churches can just as easily be spent on improving issues that leave many black communities in a state of devastation. 

BAAm intends to tackle these issues within the black community by improving education. As part of this initiative, BAAm has created two main programs. The Science Cubed program is geared toward providing equal access to education for children despite their socio-economic background. Under Science Cubed, BAAm donates supplies to public school science teachers in low-income areas. 

The second program, After-School Cubed, will be geared toward improving critical thinking skills for young age children. The program will serve as an inexpensive alternative after-school program for parents. The children not only receive assistance with their homework, but they are taught how to approach the material using critical thinking skills. 

For more information about BAAm and its programs, please visit our website at www.blackatheistsofamerica.org.

Ayanna Watson was born and raised in New York where, as a student at a Christian-based high school, her studies of Christianity ultimately led to her rejection of the Bible. Upon becoming an atheist and recognizing the lack of diversity within the atheist community, she organized Black Atheists of America, Inc. (BAAm).

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

The Humanevangelist: Skyfall, Humanist Style by Clay Farris Naff. http://thehu...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Would you, or someone you know, be a good fit for the American Humanist Associat...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an interesting letter to the editor of The Press Enterprise. http://www...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy 271st Birthday Thomas Jefferson! Read Jefferson's wall of separation lett...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good so there are options... Happy Friday Everyone!! http://obscureinternet....

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson. http://thehumanist.com/magazine/march...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are getting ready! Are you? Register today! http://conference.americanhumani...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Inheriting the Wind by Daniel Thomas Moran! http://thehumanist.com/arts_enterta...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! What did the July/August, 1981 issue of the Humanist magazi...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good! Now we can all relax... Science is here! Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out this info-graph from the Public Religion Research Institute. http://...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: House Rules. By Luis Granados http://thehumanist.com/ne...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Another installment of Carl Coon's A Short History of Evolution. This week's top...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Matthew Bulger reports from On The Hill. http://thehumanist.com/news/nati...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out the latest Humanist Hour Podcast with Guy P. Harrison on Skepticism an...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out Roy Speckhardt's new Huffpost Article "Why Population Dynamics Matter"...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Atheists Who Adopt: We're Raising Our Seven Kids, Four Through Adoption, to be F...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

With the National Day of Reason fast approaching we need your help in getting me...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out this cool comic strip! Thanks Ayhan Bardakchiev for sharing. To view...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Matthew Bulger, AHA Legislative Associate, gives us his take on Noah. http://t...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Ethical Dilemma: I Loved Annie Hall. Should I Hate Woody Allen? http://theh...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

NEWS: Minnesota Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Allow Atheist Wedding Officiants....

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Woo Hoo! Thank you to everyone who donated to the InStove campaign through Hum...

9 days ago