Skip to content

Ask Mandisa 8 – Progressive Politics, Atheism, and Firsts


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/11/19

Mandisa Thomas is the Founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc (Twitter & Facebook). One of the, if not the, largest organization for African-American or black nonbelievers or atheists in America. 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 the recent election cycle.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, you just had election cycle, yesterday. Why do people tend to, not necessarily in a bad way, want to have things happen instantaneously when, in fact, they happen slowly over time with bumps of rapidity?

Mandisa Thomas: I think in this area and in this age of information and the internet and technology. I think many people, especially some young people, want to see change happen overnight. What must be understood is that many of the problems that we have in today’s society didn’t happen overnight, it is institutional and took time to build, so it will take time to dismantle.

Also, people’s memories tend to be very short. That once something good happens then they can be apathetic, like President Obama being elected. Then they don’t think a president like Trump can be elected. It is important for people to be involved consistently, not just on the global level but on the local level.

The States runs in those areas: local, state, and federal. It is important to get involved. They think it is an exciting thing. But often, it is boring and can be tedious. I think it turns people off, but we cannot allow ourselves to become so disillusioned that bad things start happening over and over again.

Jacobsen: What were some of the big wins from yesterday?

Thomas: The state of Colorado elected its first gay governor. The state of Massachusetts has its first black congresswoman. There was a Muslim woman elected to Congress. There was a lot of progress when it comes to Congress. The Democrats are now the majority in the US House. There was a narrow governor’s race in Georgia and Florida. The first potential black governors. The Florida race was almost tied.

It was very neck and neck. The Georgia race will be a recount because there were allegations of voter suppression in the state of Georgia, which affected mostly minorities and the black vote. There is going to be a recount there. There’s also the first openly atheist woman elected in the legislature.

Those sorts of things were there. I know states like Texas had Beto O’Rourke trying to be Ted Cruz, but this was close race. It showed the number of people who took out the time to vote and who believe in change.

Jacobsen: If you take the last 18 years, what was the single biggest win, politically, for atheists and the nonbeliever community in America?

Thomas: Of course, I think it was the election of President Obama. What that means, President Obama was the first US president to recognize the presence of nonbelievers. What that meant for the United States, the change was coming. Even though, he identified as Christian president.

He acknowledged there are differences in the United States. Whereas before, this was not acknowledged at all. There are now more openly – even though the number is pretty low – atheist representatives in national and state governments.  That acknowledgment is crucial to those of us who want to get involved and make these changes.

There are some laws on the books, which say atheists cannot hold a seat in public office. That needs to change. The more we speak out, the more we continue to be involved. We can, hopefully, start overturning these ridiculous laws.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mandisa.

Thomas: Thank you very much.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: