Mandisa Thomas is the Founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc (Twitter & Facebook). One of the largest, if the not the largest, organization for African-American or black nonbelievers & atheists in the United States.
The organization is intended to give secular fellowship, provide nurturance and support for nonbelievers, encourage a sense of pride in irreligion, and promote charity in the non-religious community.
I reached out to begin an educational series with one of the, and again if not the, most prominent African-American woman nonbeliever grassroots activists in the United States.
Here, we talk about Mother’s Day, again (conducted after it).
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is Mother’s Day to you?
Mandisa Thomas: Mother’s day for me is mostly about my children, and the mother that I have become. I do not have a good relationship with my own mother; in fact, I do not talk to her at all. This holiday can bring a lot, I mean a lot, of pressure for people.
There is such a push for people to forget about any childhood or emotional trauma associated with their parents, especially their mom on this day. There seems to be this pressure and this contrived idea: no matter if a parent is harmful or hurtful to you, that you’re supposed to forget it. Whatever they did, it was in the best interest of the child. When it comes to parent and child dynamics, throughout the years, there have always been points of contention.
Sometimes, it can be very stressful for a lot of people. At times, I feel a sense of disenchantment and disillusion when it comes to holiday. But I do appreciate that my children think I’m a good mom.
It can be sad not being able to celebrate fully. But I always do wish those who do have good relationships with their parents a happy Mother’s Day or a happy day in general. Hopefully, people can make the best of the day, whether they celebrate or not.
Jacobsen: What if someone wants to sincerely get over those barriers and forgive? What would be the steps for them to do that?
If someone takes this a cue in a national moment to move towards forgiveness, even if the person has not earned it in any way, what are some steps to do it – just for the individual?
Thomas: Everyone deserves that closure if they want to forgive. There is a book that I read years ago, I highly recommend it. It is called Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Dr. Susan Forward.
It is a good read for people who were abused as children. I also suggest therapy from a licensed professional counselor, not a religious therapist or someone who is going to tell you to pray on it.
It is important for people who have experienced emotional trauma. Because subconsciously, those things we bury from childhood can affect how we live our lives as adults and can possibly be passed down onto children and projected onto other people around us.
I would first recommend therapy. Also, the overcoming the idea that you have to have a relationship with your parent. That can be done at one’s own pace. You do not have to be forced into it. It is important that you as an individual are comfortable with that position, whether you decide to move forward with a relationship or let it go altogether.
Jacobsen: For those who may not rely on, as many in the secular community don’t – though, some Pew data show they do, supernatural practices or assertions around, for example, practices of prayer, and so on, what is a means by which they can do that in the community?
Thomas: Recovering from Religion has the Secular Therapy Project. It is primarily an online forum for people who are non-religious and are looking for therapists, licensed professional counselors, in their area as well.
A second resource would be to find community outlets. These can be based around a hobby. They may want to indulge that before turning to a religious organization. It is best to find what brings you some sort of peace or joy in your life and take advantage of it.
It is a huge misconception that one must absolutely depend on some god or divine entity in order to fulfill your life. Really, it is important that people understand that the inspiration and healing can come from anywhere.
The first and foremost step would be to seek out a licensed professional counselor who is secular. This can be done through the Secular Therapy Project.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mandisa.
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.
Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.
Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.
Image Credit: Mandisa Thomas.