In the aftershow this weekend, a caller asked why there aren’t any black hosts of The Atheist Experience. As we discussed, this isn’t an act of deliberate exclusion. Over time, hosts come forward who are active members of the group and have an interest in representing the community in this way. For whatever reason, there are not very many regular black ACA members. For starters, the 2010 census shows that 8.1% of Austin is black, compared to 11.8% in the rest of Texas and 13.1% of the whole country. For another thing, it’s pretty well documented that African-Americans believe in God at a much higher rate than the general population.
We often get calls asking us to explain this last point, and we are hesitant to speculate about it to blatantly, since there are pitfalls of white people speaking for the black community. I did rattle off the names of a few well known black atheists that I am aware of. One name that came up was Ian Cromwell, a black atheist blogger at The Crommunist Manifesto. Word got back to Ian and I wound up in a brief chat with him last night. Ian mentioned that it may not necessarily be helpful to cast blame on us for not having black hosts, for the reasons I mentioned above. But also, he said that it should be easy for the caller to just google answers to the question of why there aren’t more black atheists.
I told him I don’t know where to find these resources myself, so Ian helped me out by offering up some links for me to check out. I have, and they’re worth reading.
- One of Ian’s posts, “Is atheism a ‘white people thing’?” is directed generally at explaining this demographic difference in God belief to atheists.
- Another one, “Why do you need to be a ‘black atheist’?” is directed more specifically at black people who may feel uncomfortable about taking on the label.
- Ian also mentioned some video blogs, and one good thing I managed to track down was “Black Folk Don’t: ’Do Atheism’–Really?” It is a short documentary style interview of a lot of black people on the hesitation to identify with atheists.
- Added in an edit: “No, *This* Is How We Get More Black People Involved in the Atheist Movement“
- Added from comments: “The Expectations of Being a Black Atheist“
Anyway, check them out. Knowledge is good. It’s also worth mentioning that we have an upcoming plans for Matt to have an on air discussion with David Tamayo, who spoke at the American Atheist convention about encouraging atheism in minority communities.