Have atheist of color’s voices been stifled in anyway in our community? Atheism is still predominantly white. In fact, we match the Mormon Church in diversity. Organized atheists can do a better job of giving atheists of color a platform to speak for themselves. There are interesting PoCs out there worth listening to, and they’re not too hard to find. This is a new video about some atheists of color’s stories about finding their way out of religion and living without it. It’s well put together, and interesting for the articulate people in it.
20 thoughts on “Giving more than lip service to atheist diversity.”
Given that your audience includes more youtube atheists than the average FTblog, I predict we will be seeing racist responses soon. Not that even close to a majority of YT atheists are racist, but a very vocal contingent reflexively spews horseshit at anything that smells even remotely progressive.
Let the games begin!
Just watched it. The stuff from TV and movies was amazing. I had not seen any of that.
It’s weird, the first TV show they cited looked like it was pretty sensitive and fair with the character, but ended with an
intolerant theist getting the last word and sending the message being a black atheist is unacceptable. Yuck.
I like that part too. Greydon Square is very media savvy when it comes to how popular media forms black culture. Yeah there is a vocal minority of atheists that perceive any message about white and/or male privilege as an attack on their ability to do and say whatever they please. But they can spot Christian privilege and discrimination a mile away, and fight against it in government and society.
It takes work to understand how something affects other people that doesn’t affect you. Instead of doing the work they react defensively.
I’m put off by using “articulate” to describe the interviewees. Would you use that word to describe whites? Describing black people as “articulate” is no praise at all. It is insensitive at best. It’s no wonder there’s no diversity among us with language like this.
I describe my white husband Aron Ra as “Articulate” because he makes videos about science and can articulate difficult concepts and help people understand them better. The dictionary definition for “articulate”
(of a person or a person’s words) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently.
“an articulate account of their experiences”
The definition fits the people in the video and my husband and my students anyone else who has a gift and for vocal self expression perfectly.
I am not always an articulate speaker, so I admire that trait in other people.
BTW I am not white do not assume that I am.
I do say that about white people–or black, or Asian, or anyone else who happens to be able to express themselves well, or explain things thoroughly yet simply. I have never thought of it as a race-related thing.
I never made any assumptions about your race Lilandra. Your dictionary definition is perfect and correct. I have no qualms with it’s usage. Technically, quite appropriate. Culturally though, the thin edge of the wedge. I’m just saying it puts me off.
I think that’s you reading what you want to read instead of what Lilandra wrote. There’s exactly zero condescension in this post unless you put it there yourself.
You’re most likely right. I read and perceived it through the lens of my own diverse cultural background. Lilandra seems to be a perfectly lovely person and I’m quite sure she intended no condescension. But, an individual intention is less an issue than how language and verbiage can be perceived by the very people you might wish to attract. If we want to attract a more diverse group then perhaps we need to become more sensitive and aware of our own comportment instead of putting the onus on the perceiver.
As a young person in my 20’s, I was often referred to by food names. Cupcake, Pumpkin, Sugar, Muffin, by well meaning good-intentioned people who meant no harm by it. It was still condescending. These days though, through gentle reasoning, most people no longer call grown women by those names.
For me, “articulate” is a culturally charged word which ought not to used, especially since it calls into question a person’s intention for using it.
Did you really just try to one-up me on “street cred” before lecturing me on sensitivity over a rather common word?
You’re quite literally the first person I’ve ever encountered to say anything remotely like that about the word “articulate.” And I’m not exactly sheltered in my background, either. I don’t even know how that word could ever be “culturally charged.” It’s not even a turn of phrase…it’s a single word. There are relatively few single words that carry any kind of inflammatory weight, and almost all are very obvious.
If someone’s not going to join any atheist-type movement because one blogger used the word “articulate,” then quite frankly, that’s their problem. People like that are looking for reasons to get offended. I’m generally a fan of political correctness, but not to the point of inanity. We’d have to stop using words, because there’s probably people who get offended by half the English language for whatever reason.
And there you have it. The voice of “authority” in Monocle Smile about what should and should not set one at odds.
I really doubt that anyone is thin skinned enough to not join because of any one word by a singular blogger. However, the atheist community of mostly white men have been concerned for quite a long time about it’s lack of diversity. The post from Lilandra is certainly not the reason for this lack. It’s most probably something more subtle, pervasive and endemic to this group. Perhaps closer examination is in order. My point was just one glaringly obvious one, at least to me.
If it’s my problem, if I was looking for a reason to be offended to the point of “inanity”, then I’m quite happy to move on and correct the error of my ways.
PS: Who says “street cred” anymore?
The person who wrote the column is being almost as ridiculous as kitlane.
The key here is tone and source. If an old white person uses the term to describe a person of color as if they’re surprised, then yes, I would wince. But that has nothing to do with this post in any way, shape, or form.
I claim no authority. I’m offering my opinion. Lilandra has been doing a good job of blogging about atheists of color to increase awareness, but you’re too busy fuming over a single word to notice. Yes, the atheist community is woefully monochromatic and we need to do a better job of scrutinizing the reasons behind that. However, I can tell you that one of those reasons is NOT Lilandra using the word “articulate” in a blog post despite the ludicrous claim you made in your first post.
No one says “street cred” any more. Hence the non-serious quotes.
Surely we need to be thoughtful about how we communicate with others? We need to consider the message we’re trying to send, and how we can make sure that message is not misunderstood. True, there’s a degree of expectation that the person you’re talking to will make an effort to understand you, but if you’re using words that mean something specific to that person, intending that they mean something entirely different, you’re going to have problems.
I used to use the word faith in discussion with Christians on a fairly regular basis – I had faith in scientists, and in the scientific method; I had faith that the sun would rise in the morning; I was faithful to my girlfriend, and had faith that she was faithful in kind. These things did not mean to them what they meant to me. To them, faith, faith and faith were all Faith, so I no longer use that word in any context when dealing with religious believers… makes it a bit difficult to talk to people called Faith, but what can you do?
I often wash the dishes for my parents when I’m at their place. My dad has a habit of calling me a “good boy” for that, and I often want to tear his throat out with my teeth and scream at him that I am NOT A DOG!! I would very much appreciate it if he stopped doing that. (Stop looking at me like that, I was exaggerating.) If he had to say anything, I’d rather is was just “thanks.” I guess I should actually mention this to him, and maybe he actually will stop it if I do. I know he doesn’t mean to annoy me, but it still sets my teeth grinding.
I’m sure most atheists would happily see the end of, “but you’re so moral,” as a response to the discovery of out lack of belief, as if atheism tended to bring a state of ethical anarchy along with it, and it would certainly help if those theists who don’t believe in atheism as a synonym of immorality didn’t keep saying it despite supposedly not believing the sentiment implied by it,
I’m practically certain that Lilandra didn’t mean to imply the phrase “unlike most people of colour,” when she said that there were interesting and articulate PoCs worth listening to, but the implication is there, and we really should try to avoid those sorts of implications.
This isn’t like those red herring distraction arguments about the totally-legit-and-not-at-all-strawman-based fact that we’re not atheists until we can prove conclusively that no god exists and therefore should use the term agnostic to be honest. It’s not a matter of being offended that we don’t believe in X or Y god and dare to talk about it. It’s about cultural context, historical and current prejudices. It’s a legitimate complaint, and we shouldn’t ignore it just because we didn’t mean it like that, because intent isn’t magic.
Thanx Aron. That video was very interesting. And I do think we need to be an effort to diversify the atheist movement.
‘Twas not Aron, was Lilandra. 😉
I think Reginald Finley, the Infidel Guy, deserves a mention. He’s smart, well-spoken, and his videos are excellent. Plus, he’s pretty damn HOT… just sayin’….
I sincerely hope they don’t get their movement undercut or hijacked by the same nose bleeding social justice activists in skeptic disguise at whose hands the larger movement had to suffer.
Better push them off into fringe groups like A+ as quickly as humany possible, or we’ll all have to watch their movement fail and fall in real-time, at 120 frames per second.
So… opposing irrational and harmful behaviours is activism in skeptic disguise now? Or have you just convinced yourself that it’s political, and skepticism cannot enter politics, therefore it’s irrational to oppose irrationality in political disguise? Or do you somehow think that the denial of reality in favour of easy lies to support petty-minded prejudice is what skepticism is meant to be about?
I always thought that skepticism was about pursuing rationality and fact, regardless of our prior opinions, but I’m willing to be corrected on this.
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