I’m watching an Instagram live video when it happens again. When giving advice to the audience, one of the hosts casually chimes in saying, “Prayer is also very helpful.” Upon hearing this I immediately sigh in disappointment. Like so many other black people within our community, the host has assumed that the primarily black audience of the live video stream are all Christians. This happens all too often within our community: the presumption of religiousness, the ‘God bless you’s, the unsolicited offers of prayer. It comes with the territory of being black.
Until recently, I was willing to play along. However, after yet another unsuccessful attempt at dating a born-again Christian – more on this later – I’ve decided to ‘come out’ officially as agnostic. But why was I in the agnostic closet for so long? Partly it was due to a lack of self-acceptance, but largely, I felt there was very little space for me as an agnostic within the black community. In my community, a lack of faith is alienating and makes you a distinct outlier from the collective cultural norm of Christianity. Throughout my life, it’s been clear that a lack of belief is anomalous as a black person and this was something I picked up on very early on.