Marquita Tucker, M.B.A. is the Co-Organizer of Black Nonbelievers of Detroit. Here we talk about her background, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?
Marquita Tucker: I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I was born to a lower middle class African American single mother whose family is Christian; more specifically, Baptist.
English was the only family spoken in the home. My mother got her GED. My father was in prison from the time I was five until I was seventeen for abusing another woman severely. My mother was very… overprotective. She didn’t really let me out of the house; unless, it was for school.
But just because we were in the house together doesn’t mean that she liked to spend a lot of time with me. We didn’t really do things together. She just wanted to make sure that I was in the house and not out in the streets.
Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?
Tucker: I completed my M.B.A. in 2017. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Information Systems. Now, self-education is a different story. I subscribe to Eastern philosophies, Buddhism and Taoism. Not the religious aspect of these philosophies… just their views on life.
Jacobsen: How was the MBA important in the founding of a business and, especially, for economic independence?
Tucker: Well, I haven’t started my business yet. Obtaining my M.B.A. was important because after 12 years in an abusive marriage, I left with my four children and now I have to raise them by myself. I was able to secure high paying employment with my M.B.A. Now, my children and I live comfortably.
Jacobsen: When did secularism and non-belief in religion become more accurate as a worldview to you?
Tucker: I would have to say in 2009 after my daughter was born. I had been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses for about three years at that point. I saw on the news about a one year old baby who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and was in critical condition.
I really started questioning how a “loving” God could let something like that happen. I took my concern to the JWs who gave me a bunch of bullshit answers and scriptures and I was like, yeah, no. So, I stopped going to Kingdom Hall (their place of worship).
After about two weeks, the couple that I was studying with came to my house wondering where I had been. I told them that I had done research on the JWs, their racist founders, their money laundering and covering up of sexual abuse within their congregations.
And the woman said to me, “If you don’t get baptized, when it’s the end of days, Jehovah will kill you and your children.” I told her, “If your god can let a baby be raped and kill my children because I didn’t get dunked in water, then that’s not a god I want to worship.”
And I have been a non-believer ever since. I’ve done more research and asked more questions and went through the “angry new atheist” stage where you challenge every believer on everything and I’m so thankful that I’ve calmed down and accepted that, people are going to want to believe what they want to believe.
Jacobsen: What are some of the unique experiences of secular women of color compared to other populations within the freethought community in North America?
Tucker: Well, as a black woman, Jesus is supposed to be our “boyfriend”. I mean, in the black community, we are supposed to believe in Jesus and lean on Jesus for everything. If you don’t have a man, Jesus is your man. If you have a man, he’s supposed to live up to Jesus’ example.
Like, as a black woman, you HAVE to believe in God. Black women love inviting other black women to their “church home”. So as a non believer, I have to skirt those invites. I feel like I have to keep my secularism secret as to not be outcasted from the rest of the black women at my job.
Jacobsen: What can the community do to create more inclusive spaces for the wider range, experiences, and dialogues of secular women of color in North America?
Tucker: Maybe, they can just listen more. When we say that things are a certain way, i.e., there’s still racism in the secular community, or our experiences are different than a majority of the secular community, just take our word for it and meditate on it. We’re not lying. There’s no reason to lie..
Jacobsen: What is your role, and set of responsibilities, in Black Nonbelievers of Detroit? What is the community demographic there, e.g., age, education, sex and gender, and so on?
Tucker: I am the co-organizer for BNOD. I set up our meet up and some of our charity events. Our demographic is mostly black. We used to have a couple of white members, but I haven’t seen them lately. It’s a fairly even group, men and women. Many are college educated or entrepreneurs.
Jacobsen: Who have been the main opposition within the community and outside of the community – the secular community – for the inclusion and acceptance and normalization of secular women of color?
Tucker: I personally have not been confronted with too many opposers, but, I have heard from my secular sisters about white men who like to challenge them or disparage their place in the nonbeliever community.
Jacobsen: What is the strongest argument against a god and for the existence of a natural world without one?
Tucker: The strongest argument? I like this one saying that I saw on Facebook, it pretty much sums it up. “If you saw a child about to get raped and murdered, would you stop it?” “Yes.” “Just like that, you’re more moral than a god.” The natural world exists because it does. No one was there when this all started so it’s not for human to give it’s due to some judgmental, jealous, homicidal, sexist god.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today? How can people become involved, donate time, assist with activism efforts, and increase the overall membership and capacity of Black Nonbelievers Detroit?
Tucker: Just come hang out with us. We don’t ask for too much more than an open mind. We like to help in our community any way that we can and that doesn’t mean that you have to break your back about it. For December, we did an event for the Ruth Ellis Center which assists the LGBT youth of Detroit.
We donated hygiene products and clothing. Nothing too hard. Just know, black nonbelievers, that you are not alone. There are others out there like you who don’t believe in God, whose families would freak out if they knew, and we are our here living. We are ok. You can come and vent with us. We are here.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Marquita.
Tucker: Thank you so much!
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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