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Jul 13 2013

Help Minority Atheists to College

I wrote before about the amazing program started by Black Skeptics of LA to help send minority atheists to college (see Day of Solidarity for Black Atheists). Called the First in the Family Humanist Scholarship Initiative, they give thousand dollar grants to college-bound minority students who are not only nonbelievers, but the first in their family to attend college. This is the way to give families a leg up and improve the prospects for future generations.

Not only can you support next year’s grants as an individual (see below), but imagine if every atheist meetup, chapter, club, or group (on campus or in the community) across the country (or certainly at least in California) ran a charity drive and sent donations collectively to support this scholarship, all under their group’s name. This would be an amazing show of solidarity and support for atheist minorities (recipients this year were black or Hispanic) from the atheism and secular community. It would also do something useful and good, and right in our wheelhouse: bettering the education and influence of our fellow atheists, particularly the young and up-and-coming!

This program is always accepting donations (now at a new URL – they are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, an IRS-recognized charity). It has also received support and recognition from the Foundation Beyond Belief. I’d like to see them grow enough in donations that they can expand not just to more students, but with larger scholarship awards (a good show of support already raised the scholarship amount; it can again). But even just the recognition and small aid this scholarship gives to these students is a huge asset to the growth and mainstreaming of atheism. It shows we care about atheists in minority communities and are willing to give at least something to help them get the education they need to make a difference. It also shows we acknowledge these bright young students and their struggles, that they aren’t invisible to us, and that we are willing to share some of our success with them.

To see how valuable this whole program is, you will definitely be inspired reading about this scholarship’s first recipients, whose award ceremony is indeed this very day: see Black Skeptics Los Angeles Awards First in the Family Humanist Scholarships to South L.A. Students (and just added to that list: Ramiro Salas). These students are amazing. And once you hear their stories and achievements, I think you won’t be able to resist supporting future recipients just like them. (. So give something, even if just twenty bucks, or fifty, or a hundred. Or more. And maybe get your atheist campus or community group involved, too. Enjoy becoming a part of this! It matters.

2 comments

  1. 1
    GrzeTor

    That’s very racist, discriminatory, immoral and unfair. Organizations that deny their scholarships based on people in need not belonging to some favored racial/ethinc groups should be shunned, condemned and such behaviors shuld be fought, even legislatively.

    1. 1.1
      Richard Carrier

      Nonsense. Racial minorities in that class (families with no college background) are demonstrably disadvantaged (that’s a scientifically demonstrable fact; indeed, one of the links I provided begins by discussing the prison pipelining problem affecting racial minorities in poor neighborhoods, something you evidently need to learn more about; likewise studies of standard scholarship awards which show significant racial bias in favor of whites).

      Charity to redress that injustice is justifiable, not discriminatory. If poor white people were being disproportionately mistreated relative to people of color, then we’d be erecting charities to help them. But alas, that’s not what is happening (at least not in South LA). It’s the other way around. And we are right to respond to the facts as they are, not as you would wish them to be.

      As the program grows to other neighborhoods, different facts on the ground may call for different applications of the program. That’s up to the BSLA. But there are already examples of caucasian-only scholarship programs in places where whites are the minority and disproportionately affected (Tennessee State University has such a program).

      Your own principles would entail this. If a scholarship should target a class of person in need, and we have two classes of persons, in which all else is equal, yet in class A 10% more money is being directed to them than to persons in class B, persons in class B are the persons in need (by a differential of 10%). If what puts you in class B happens to be race, then it’s having that race that puts you in disproportionate need. If it were not race but merely, say, being an orphan, then that would be the need-creating factor. And whether race is or is not a need-creating factor is a matter for scientific data to indicate, not armchair imagination.

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