10 Fierce Atheists: Unapologetically Black Women Beyond Belief

Tagged: activism / atheism / Debbie Goddard / gender/feminism / LGBTQ / Mandisa Thomas / Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson highlights Mandisa Thomas, Debbie Goddard, and others for Women's History Month:

There's a pivotal scene in freethinker Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun in which matriarch Lena Younger tries to put the fear of God in her rebellious, politically conscious daughter Beneatha. Beneatha, an Afrocentric atheist, has been mouthing off about God's non-existence and irrelevance, proclaiming "Mama...it's all a matter of ideas and God is just one idea I don't accept...I get so tired of Him getting credit for all the things the human race achieves through its own stubborn effort." Lena responds by slapping Beneatha and making her repeat, "In my mother's house there is still God."

Lena's violent rebuke of Beneatha is a caveat to all the uppity Black female atheists who've been rendered invisible -- both by a white secular culture that only sees atheism through the Islamophobic lens of Richard Dawkins, and a black religious culture that uses heteronormative Christian respectability politics to silence and police women. Decades after the literary slap heard around Black America, to be female, beyond belief and Black (to recast Hansberry's iconic phrase) is still the ultimate betrayal of the race.

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