The Black Practice of Disbelief: An Introduction to the Principles, History, and Communities of Black Nonbelievers (Hardcover)

The Black Practice of Disbelief: An Introduction to the Principles, History, and Communities of Black Nonbelievers By Anthony Pinn Cover Image
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A short introduction to Black Humanism: its history, its present, and the rich cultural sensibilities that infuse it

In the United States, to be a Black American is to be a Black Christian. And there’s something to this assumption in that the vast majority of African Americans are Christian. However, in recent years a growing number of African Americans have said they claim no particular religious affiliation—they are Black “nones.” And of these Black “nones,” the most public and vocal are those who claim to be humanists.

What does it mean to be a Black humanist? What do Black humanist believe, and what do they do? This slim volume answers these questions. Animated by 6 central principles, and discussed in terms of its history, practices, formations, and community rituals, this book argues that Black humanism can be understood as a religious movement. Pinn makes a distinction between theism and religion—which is simply a tool for examining, naming, and finding the meaning in human experience. Black humanism, based on this definition isn’t theistic but it is a religious system used to explore human experience and foster life meaning. It infuses humanism with rich cultural sensibilities drawn from Black experience. As shown in these pages, thinking about Black humanism this way frees readers from making unfounded assumptions and enables them to better appreciate the secular “beliefs,” ritual structures, and community formation constituted by Black humanists.

About the Author

Anthony B. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Distinguished Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University. He is also the founding director of Rice’s Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. Pinn is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. In addition, he is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies. Pinn is the author/editor of numerous books, including Interplay of Things: Religion, Art, and Presence Together (2021).

Praise For…

“Taking note of the recent uptick in Black ‘nones’—i.e., Black Americans who don’t identify with any religion—Pinn delivers an erudite yet accessible look at what it means to be ‘good without God.’ It’s a perceptive window into an often-overlooked—yet increasingly important—system of thought.”
Publishers Weekly

“Tony Pinn’s The Black Practice of Disbelief opens religious space in which Black does not necessarily equal Christian. It never has, of course. This book can empower Black seekers for whom traditional paths no longer serve. As a Black Unitarian Universalist minister, I treasure that space where the search for meaning is informed, not constrained by categories of identity, and grounded in the complexity of lives as they are really lived.”
—William G. Sinkford, past president of the UUA and transitional minister, All Souls Unitarian, Washington, DC

“For too long, the glorification and acceptance of Black human suffering as a part of religious or spiritual reward have contributed to the dehumanization of the Black community. It is not by accident that most public policies are written in ways that disenfranchise Black lives. The Black Practice of Disbelief amplifies the questions that people are afraid to raise regarding God’s presence or absence when humans suffer. This book is critical in addressing concerns for many of us in the Black community who find ourselves in the space in between religious and secular.”
—Sabrina E. Dent, director, BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation

“This is the book on Black humanism that we’ve been waiting for. Anthony Pinn is not just a scholar of Black religions and humanism but a passionate practitioner. Pinn argues persuasively for Black humanism as a meaning-making ethic, a fervor for justice, art, and activism, and with deeper roots than most people think.  This is an illuminating and insightful primer on one of the most misunderstood traditions in Black religiosity.”
—Monica A. Coleman, professor of Africana studies, University of Delaware

Product Details
ISBN: 9780807045220
ISBN-10: 0807045225
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 160
Language: English