Black Atheist is a Cast Member on Real World January 4, 2010

Black Atheist is a Cast Member on Real World

I don’t watch MTV’s The Real World, but it seems new cast member Ty Ruff is an atheist. And he’s black. Those things don’t go together very often — certainly not on television.

His bio says this:

… Despite growing up in the church, he is anti-religion and thinks believing in God is a crutch…

I can’t find any more information about his faith right now… but if anyone watches the series, I’d love to see a transcript if/when he talks about religion.

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  • JPH

    We should start a pool on how long it takes for him to become born again on the show.

  • Roommates were watching the first episode re-run. I was 1/2 paying attention when Ty started talking about his atheism at their first dinner. There is a bisexual male who is very religious and Ty called him out on it.

    He doesn’t beat around the bush that’s for sure. A few of the religious people on the show were definitely hurt by his outwardly anti-religious stance. I’m really interested to see how aggressively they push this issue.

    It seems like in the past that mixing homosexuals and religious people was pretty standard, but I love this spin. Inevitably, Real World is really about being drunk…but I do hope some good can come of this.

    There is also another girl, Emily, who identified as “not religious”.

    This is in her profile:

    “… twenty-one year old Emily was raised in a fundamentalist Christian cult. Since breaking out from the cult, her daredevil nature has led her to throw herself into new things and broaden her horizons in every facet of her life…”

    I will definitely stay tuned.

  • Eddie

    I was excited to see an “atheist” on the cast, but it seems like he was more interested in calling people “stupid” than actually discussing the flaws of faith. I felt like we could’ve had much better representation, but it’s nice to be acknolwedged at all. Also, it matters not that he is “black”. Any reason as to why that’s included in the title?

  • rbray14

    well it is the real world,and reality tv.
    i.e. nothing real about it.least that’s how i see it.
    till you see a atheist on say the view or Oprah not being bashed or ganged up on
    there’s still a way to go.

  • Revyloution

    For some reason I didnt associate the the word ‘black’ and the photo below the title.

    I jumped to the conclusion that there was a new type of atheism called ‘black’. Like Film Noir, or Dark Comedy.

    Black Atheism. Perhaps Coughlin666 on youtube? Instead of the steady rationalism of Dawkins or Hitchens, Black Atheism could be godless rants by pugnacious obscene men filmed with grainy sepia toned video.

    Quick, someone make a Meme!

  • JJR

    See also rapper Greydon Square

    Really cool dude.

    And of course The Infidel Guy, who was doing atheist-themed internet audio broadcasting before podcasting was cool.

  • Joshua W.

    I caught some of the first episode and I don’t think that level-headed rational conversation will ever have a place on The Real World (and some days I fear IN the real world). That show is all about friction and ratings. Ty came across as very angry at the world, probably due to the fact that he was left for dead as a baby and shuffled around foster homes as a young child. I don’t see him as being representative of atheists, just as a young adult with some issues to work out.
    I think the much more interesting thing to keep an eye on will be how the religious community reacts to Mike, the bi-sexual christian. Perhaps Ty and Mike will find themselves battling a common opponent.

  • TeddyKGB

    I would never watch anything on MTV, but linked to this clip:

    Unfortunately, he made an ass of himself.

  • littlejohn

    Eddie: I think it is significant that he is black, and there’s nothing racist about noticing it.
    It’s common knowledge that the African-American community is, statistically speaking, unusually religious. Communities often center around churches. Most major civil right leaders have had “Rev.” in from of their names: King, Jackson, Sharpton, just to name a few.
    The most prominent atheists are white males. I don’t know why. Any thoughts?
    It would be nice for once to put political correctness aside and discuss this like adults.

  • Leviathan

    The Infidel Guy was once on once of those wife swap shows, in which they swapped his wife with a christian woman.

  • muggle

    Not a “Real World” fan but keep us posted. It should be fairly interesting as far as those things go.

    It shouldn’t make a difference that he’s black and I’d ask why too except I have known black Atheists frustrated by the assumption that they’d be religious based on their skin color. So, yeah, they need to be more visible. This particular time it’s a racial stereotype they’re battling.

    Honestly, people do make assumptions based on religion based solely on ethnic stereotypes. Like assuming all Hispanics are Catholic. Or anyone with a Jewish last name, is a believer in the Jewish faith. It’s stupid.

    On the amusing (well, ironic anyway) side, I’m pretty sure I got that job where I was harrassed by the Christians when I was openly Atheist because they assumed I was Catholic based on my French last name. Sorry. Daddy gave up Catholicism when he married Mommy and I gave up Protestantism when I reached the age of reason.

  • Keep in mind that what gets shown on TV is filtered through the editors of the program, who are more interested in constructing a compelling narrative than in honestly portraying anything “real”.

    If the producers of the show want The Atheist to come off as angry and insulting, those are the scenes they’re going to show us.

    Add that to the facts that people in their early twenties (especially those who want to be on The Real World) are not always known for being rational, humble, and level-headed, and that people making this show are not interested in hiring cast members who are courteous or soft-spoken (THAT doesn’t make good TV) and there’s an excellent chance that this will not end up making atheists look good.

  • people making this show are not interested in hiring cast members who are courteous or soft-spoken (THAT doesn’t make good TV) and there’s an excellent chance that this will not end up making atheists look good.

    See: Jersey Shore

  • people making this show are not interested in hiring cast members who are courteous or soft-spoken (THAT doesn’t make good TV) and there’s an excellent chance that this will not end up making atheists look good.

    Well let’s remember what happened about a year ago on the Real World Brooklyn, when they had a Mormon cast character. That guy didn’t turn out as a great representative of the Mormon faith. I just thought I’d throw that out there.

  • Cool…I’m actually a fan of the Real World – don’t give me a hard time, I get enough of it from my husband! I just like how there are no competitions, and it’s just them living for a few months. I know it’s not “real”, but it’s still interesting to see the dynamics, and having an atheist (or two) may make for an interesting season. I haven’t watched the first episode yet, but now I’m looking forward to it!

  • magetoo

    Keep in mind that what gets shown on TV is filtered through the editors of the program, who are more interested in constructing a compelling narrative than in honestly portraying anything “real”.

    Ah, someone beat me to it. Charlie Brooker’s segment on reality TV editing would be required viewing at this point, I think. (It should be on Youtube.)

    Yeah, constructing a narrative, which usually means “conflict” on reality TV. And since everyone knows that atheists are angry and really just want to punch religious people in the face, that seems likely to be the angle they would be going for.

  • This is something that needs to be talked about, I think. Many of the most visible atheists are usually white, usually male. Where are all the black and Hispanic atheists? Are they in the closet?

    I have one Twitter follower whose bio puts him in Kenya. Beyond him, I can’t think of even one.

    I remember when Florida Atheists (or Freethinkers or whoever they were) put up a billboard in Florida, a local (black) preacher made a big production of the fact that it was located in an African-American neighborhood. Why?

    Questions were asked in 2008 in California about why many of the same African-Americans who voted for Obama also voted against civil rights to pass Proposition 8. The “devoutness” of religious belief in the African-American community was discussed as a possible reason.

  • littlejohn

    @muggle: I don’t think it’s “stupid” to guess than a Hispanic is Catholic or that a person named Silverstein is Jewish. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred you’d be right. It would be stupid, of course, to assume that there are no exceptions. There is, or at least used to be, an NFL lineman named Zimmerman. I’ve heard him complain that everyone assumes he’s Jewish (he isn’t), not an unreasonable assumption, what with the name. But of course there are exceptions. We all play the odds on these things, or we’d all go crazy. I assume the sun will rise tomorrow, and that the pope is catholic. But maybe you’ve got a bear who uses an outhouse.

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    Not to open a can of worms but the “devoutness” of black people (in america, at least) has often been attributed to slavery. Greydon Square touches on this subject a bit on the song “The CPT Theorem” on the album of the same name.

  • @littlejohn

    Maybe not “stupid” but annoyingly assumptive.
    Everyday people assume that my kids were adopted because they’re bi-racial. Considering I went through two 10 month pregnancies and pushed a total of nearly 17 pounds of live human baby-meat out of my vagina I reserve the right to get annoyed at people who make these kinds of assumptions.

    Also, considering the numbers of Jews who fled Europe and integrated into Latin America I think you’re (general) being a tad ignorant to assume that Hispanics are all Catholic. Don’t try that in Miami (google “Jewban”) 😉
    Assumptions suck.

    As for the topic at hand, I do think it’s nice to have a more visible atheist from the black community and it’s definitely an important thing for other black people who are ‘in the closet’ to see. To feel like a minority within a minority can’t be an easy thing.
    I won’t be watching it, though – I don’t do MTV anymore.
    Not since Totally Pauly went off the air, anyway 😉
    (’cause he’s a wea-sel!)

    (btw – you’ll be happy to know my vagina has healed quite nicely now after the terror and agony it went through almost two and four years ago respectively. And, my kids turned out to be very cute 😀 )

  • I see your Grayden Square and Infidel Guy and raise you my friend Clyde who is black, an atheist, and gay. Talk about having the world against you.

  • MeagD

    Here’s a youtube link to the “fight” from episode one.

    Suffice it to say that no one looks particularly intelligent or well spoken. It is, after all, The Real World.

  • pinksponge

    Other black atheists include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wrath James White, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Sikivu Hutchinson.

  • Afrolatino Atheist RIGHT HERE

    i watched the clip. While I think he came off as arrogant i will say this, pay attention to the response of the other cast members…

  • I know plenty of black atheists. Why the racism, man? As if skin color makes someone more or less likely to believe bullshit, lol.

  • gwen

    Neil has stated over and over that he is an agnostic. although I am not a fan of the show, It is great to see another black atheist. It will place the idea of atheism in the heads of other African Americans who feel doubt about the existence of ‘god’. I am a black atheist, and my (grown) children are third generation black atheists. I do not personally know any other black atheists. I made sure my children had a firm grounding in world religions, so they could make up their own mind about belief, or lack thereof.

  • muggle

    littlejohn, see lagunatic, she said it so well (woman, you have a way with words), but I stand by what I said. It’s as stupid to assume someone’s religious because they’re black as it is to assume they tap dance.

  • Jasper

    He’s kinda cute. I am just that shallow today.

  • “17 pounds of live human baby-meat…”

    once in a while you come across an assemblage of words that cause you to pause, then re-read them before widening your eyes and bursting into laughter…

    i heart this blog. ;D

  • Jamila

    Evangelical Black Atheist Here. We just had an African Americans for Humanism conference in Washington, DC. Had a great time and will do it again next year!

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