Fresh from arguing that science needs more high profile women and skepticism is preaching to the converted, Alom Shaha argues that atheism has a white ethnic bias and needs to take active steps to be more inclusive.
There are issues that black and Asian atheists face that white atheists do not, for example, greater pressure to adhere to the religion of the communities in which they live. … They fear being ostracised from their family and friends, and “not being able to get married”. Sure, there are some white people who might face these same issues, but I would suggest the problem is more widespread in, for example, some Muslim communities than in the typical readership of the Guardian.
These are issues that the white “leadership” of the atheist and sceptic movements have largely ignored because they are not issues that concern them. But these issues should concern all atheists – because if we are to be a “community”, if, as so many of us want, we are to be given the same standing in society as people who identify with a religious group, then we must ensure that black and Asian people are not just made to feel welcome but actively encouraged to join atheist and sceptic movements.
I have been disappointed by the refusal of many atheists and sceptics I know to acknowledge that there is even a problem. Saying “there isn’t a big conspiracy to keep black and Asian people out“, is tragically missing the point.
Simply arguing that black or Asian people are free to go along to gatherings of atheists or sceptics is to ignore an uncomfortable truth: people tend to be more comfortable with people who are like them.
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/nov/17/non-white-atheists-exclusion
New Humanist’s Paul Sims replies:
[W]hile he may indeed have a point in terms of numbers, I’m inclined to say he’s being a little harsh on humanist organisations, as well as the white, male “leaders” he identifies. As a publication, New Humanist is slightly different from a group organising meet-ups and talks – we’re not necessarily catering to a “community”, except perhaps for a readership who share common interests – but the concerns of our magazine, as well as the diversity of the people who write for it and the people we meet as a result, hardly suggest that we are inadvertently excluding ethnic minorities. And some of the most committed campaigners I have met have been former Muslims who have first-hand experience of the excesses of religion and possess a frame of reference for their unbelief that is probably lacking in someone such as myself, who has never really had any religious affiliation worthy of the name (the former Catholics I have met tend to be similarly committed).
Full article: http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2010/11/are-atheistshumanists-excluding-ethnic.html
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Atheism is too white, says Alom Shaha,