In a superb new post, Sikivu Hutchinson, at Black Skeptics (on Freethought Blogs), explains in illuminating detail so much of what is wrong with the incredibly irresponsible and offensive ad the American Atheists put up in Pennsylvania using the picture of a bound slave and a Bible verse supporting slavery (Colossians 3:22), which was aimed to challenge passersby’s conception of what is contained in the Bible and protest Pennsylvania’s official “Year of the Bible” through so sardonically participating in it:
Much to the “astonishment” of AA reps, the billboard was reviled, defaced, and labeled a hate crime by some in the African American community. Apparently offended black folk just weren’t intelligent enough to grasp the sage lesson that American Atheists, prominent champion of anti-racist social justice, was trying to teach them. Instead, some “misconstrued” the message as racist, concluding that, in a country where white nationalists have issued a clarion call to take back the nation from the Negro savage/illegal alien in the White House, “slaves obey your masters” probably still means them.
Sikivu goes on:
Vandals tore part of the billboard down and it was removed shortly after it was mounted. But AA’s ahistorical paternalistic approach to “secular” public service messaging is one of the main reasons why New Atheism is still racially segregated and lily white. Clearly AA doesn’t give a damn about the reality of urban communities of color in the U.S. vis-à-vis the institutional role of organized religion in a white supremacist capitalist context.
Read the whole piece for a wealth of social and historical context and causes for moral indignation with which to fully understand the billboard’s significance. Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars.
Here is my own attempt to address bewildered commenters who still don’t see what is wrong with the billboard even after reading Sikivu.