Please watch the above video (that’s a link up there) first, then return to this blog post.
In the video, a black woman (her name is Jil) in a black sitcom that I do not watch introduces her black boyfriend to her black father and black family. This sounds pretty fucking normal, except that he is an atheist and her father is a deeply religious man and member of a deeply religious family. At dinner, they decide that his apparent atheism is too much and, since the connotations of the word “question” don’t seem to fit at all, they decide to interrogate him over it.
Yeah, interrogate, as if he’d really done something wrong. Like, they just can’t deal with the stress of him being an atheist. He raises up some stock atheist arguments that you’ve heard already probably, towards which they argue back.
Well, all’s well that ends well right? Wrong. Jil and her boyfriend break up, not just because he’s an atheist, but also because he lied about it, which is a little understandable because ‘coming out’ as a black atheist can be social suicide as the show has shown us.
But that’s not all: after they break up, the father is shown to be utterly relieved at her decision.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not the writers were on the family’s side or the boyfriend’s. Maybe there was an atheist on the writing team and the final result was the reaching of a compromise. Maybe it was just commentary on the state of black atheists within their own community. Whatever the case, it hits hard, and it’s entirely true. The family’s reaction was realistic. The father’s reaction was realistic. The boyfriend was pretty realistic. It should be praised for accurately portraying this aspect of the black community.
It’s just really hard to tell if the writers were condoning black atheism or condemning it.