DISCLAIMER (I’m not perfect)
If you were to ask me what my religion, I would tell you that I am Christian. What denomination specifically, baptist. However, it’s not because that what I indeed identify as and live my life, it is more so the fact that Christianity is my religious identity default because of the fact that religion — Christianity since we’re on the topic of race — is embedded in the DNA of African-American history, tradition and culture that it’s so hard to get away from as it still carries on to this day. Why? Blame it on the colonialism and American slavery.
Religion was forced on me at a very young age by my family. My mother became a minister a few years ago; she was always heavily involved in church. (Similar to how I am heavily active in extracurricular activities at my college). She mainly listens to gospel music, regularly plays Joel Olsteen & TD Jakes sermons in the car, owns Christian paintings that decorated all over our house and didn’t let me celebrate Halloween as a kid. My paternal grandparents — who grew up in the south in the 1930s and ‘40s are also Christians as well and carry almost the same conservative behavior as my mom.
As a child, I was forced to wake up a little after the crack of dawn to go to Sunday service at our black-ass church in Queens with my mom. (To which my sleepiness was on a full 10). Eventually, the older I got, the more fed up with the black church (for white folks reading, that’s all I know) I became. Aside from my ADHD that reaches a fever pitch when I’m in a place that where it ended at 2 o’clock when it was scheduled to finish at the beginning of the afternoon, the many issues going on at church like the ones you see on the OWN series Greenleaf that ultimately turned me off from continuing to go there. (It’s been two years since I’ve last been).
The cliquiness, the shade, the church leaders who can’t even practice what they preach, the preacher who come for millennials and generation Z as if they don’t have skeletons in their 70s/80s closet. The LGBTQ+ bashers. The older black generation who are content with respectability politics. Or even worse, the hypocrites. The teenagers and young adults who twerk it on a Friday but claim they are “saved” and a child of God on Sunday. Nothing wrong with the former but when you’re the same ones who want to call out the “sinful” and “unholy” things that other people do, now that’s a problem.
Being a person in my early 20s who is learning and experiencing different things in college, I’m still finding myself in all aspects, and one of them is religion. I wouldn’t call myself agnostic or an atheist right now, I don’t want to call myself only I’m spiritual, so I consider myself undecided. However, what is continuing to irk me is my friends, extended family members, and peers who keep pushing their religion (and the beliefs that come with it) on me. Can y’all stop asking if I want to build a better relationship with God? Or about, how we need to watch what we do so we don’t end up in Hell? Or, how we need to pray for better days aka the days where black folks aren’t being killed or assaulted by white police officers and trump supporters? AND by the way, since when were you chosen by God to be a judge on The Bible Factor, sis??
What we need to talk about is how important it is for African Americans to ask ourselves: am I Christian because that’s my authentic religion or is it because that what my mom, grandma, great-grandma, etc. was?
I’m not here to reinstate a history lesson that you can get via google but if most black people in America adopted Christianity because we were forcibly put on to it by our controlling and manipulative white slave owners, wouldn’t this be considered hypocritical that we’re still caving into white supremacy to this very day?
There many things we don’t discuss in the black community because of its taboo nature, and it’s not right. I don’t have to share what my walk with God, Moses or Mary is and you may think that I share everything with you all, I don’t — it’s at my discretion. However, what we need to start doing is realizing that black culture isn’t monolithic, and we all have different views and walks of life. So I’ma need to stop pushing your beliefs on others when we didn’t send for you.