Examples of Racism in Atheist/ Skeptical Communities?


The conversation here in my blog about racism in the atheist community has been largely civil and productive.

The conversation on Twitter… not so much.

One theme in particular keeps cropping up — the theme that this isn’t really a problem, coupled with a hyper-skeptical demand for evidence and examples of this racism. (As if we needed more freaking evidence that racism is a real thing.)

So I want to collect examples. If you have seen or experienced examples of racism in the atheist and/ or skeptical communities — can you please comment here? Thanks.

BTW: My Twitter handle is @GretaChristina .

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been reading the twitter discussion, and it’s interesting, as is the one here.

    I do think a certain “not-a-real-problem” response is pretty much a reflex. We’ve seen it before, I believe. And I can certainly understand people being uncomfortable with a vague possibility, thus throwing out a proof-or-drop-it kind of response, but living with that discomfort for a bit is important. Overt bigotry is easy enough to confront, but latent bias takes patience.

  2. says

    Back in 2006, I was an “almost atheist”, posted a question in a well-known international atheist forum. Someone replied and told me to read books & learn english. I was just started my journey become skeptics, considered to call myself an atheist, but got a rude reply just because I made grammar mistakes. Because of that I postponed it and only eventually came out almost a year after that. Within that year, when people asked me about my faith I would answer, “I’m not religious, but I don’t like to be called “an atheist”, atheists are just rude..”

  3. says

    But…if it were real, then there might be racism in the community, and that’s a big problem, and then we’d have to, you know, deal with that. That sounds scary.

  4. says

    I haven’t seen too much “wah POC don’t belong make them go away” racism, but I have seen some seriously gross white privilege screwups. Remember the Reason Rally? Remember Elisabeth Cornwell’s speech?

    The Xenologer who commented on that page is me, and you can see that she didn’t even deign to answer it when she replied to other people on the page. Kinda suggests to me that she doesn’t think my objections were worthy of response, but seriously. She needs to not hold up Jefferson as a role model for champions of womens’ bodily autonomy.

    The charitable explanation is that Cornwell just doesn’t really know much about Jefferson, but the uncharitable interpretation is that reproductive coercion is only important to her when it’s happening to white women.

    Sadly, as a white person myself I have dealt with quite a few white people in my time, and I think that the uncharitable interpretation is way more likely to be right. Ask Cornwell straight up if she believes that reproductive coercion of women of color is important and I am sure she’d say, “Of course it is!” But look at her choice of example and ask yourself if you really believe her.

    I don’t.

  5. Laura-Ray says

    I can think of one that really pissed me off at the time…
    At the Reason Rally, there was that one speaker, I forget her name… She was a Hispanic atheist, and had a pretty heavy accent for the short part of her speech that was in English. As soon as she started talking, I saw a good part of the audience tune out. As soon as she started in Spanish, every single person around me started talking in normal speaking voices. Some people were even fucking shouting. I don’t speak Spanish so I was having my boyfriend translate for me (he couldn’t get most of it) and what was she talking about? How fucking hard it is for Hispanic people to come out as atheists, and how it’s okay to come out because there’s a community here for them to lean on in their time of need. And I was thinking, “Well geez, what says ‘open and accepting community that you can depend on’ like a bunch of white kids shouting across a speech about solidarity because it’s in Spanish?”
    Just thinking of how disrespectful and shitty it was makes me really irritated. And those people probably didn’t even think it was a big deal. I would expect that behavior from little kids. Even teens, they can be real little shits at times. But not from people I call my allies. We talk the talk, but I’m slowly despairing of us ever walking the walk :(

  6. Anymous Person says

    I’m a Latina woman. I will only include comments I have received by people in the atheist community in person since online comments will be dismissed anyway.

    I will offer this caveat, however: in person it’s not so much of a problem as it is online. I don’t really receive comments that are intentionally (at least this is how I perceive my situation) meant to cause me distress. They are merely thoughtless comments. The following are a few examples of what I’ve just come to expect. I am using these because I receive these or variations of these sporadically by people in the community.

    1) You are very smart for a Mexican.
    2) You are very pretty for a Mexican.
    3) I like you Latinas because you are Latin spitfires/feisty/are just more sexual/curvy/ etc.
    4) You aren’t like other Mexicans. You know, you are not lazy/ untrustworthy/ don’t value education/ overly emotional/ etc.
    5) She’s just crying because those Latin folks are overly emotional. Don’t pay her any mind.
    6)Are you documented?
    7)So you are Hispanic? I love Latin porn!(Context: Nothing against Latin porn, but I had only just met this person.)
    8) Why can’t Mexicans and Blacks be more like Asians?
    9) Hey, I just met you and don’t know anything about you but *insert Mexican Maid jokes here*(That always stings a bit because I supplement my income through maid work).
    10) Illegals are [insert horribly dehumanizing statement here], oh wait…you aren’t illegal are you?
    11) If he didn’t want the police to profile him, why was he dressed like an illegal?
    12) Debate me right now about immigration even though I just met you!
    13) Hispanics and Blacks get everything handed to them.
    14) No offense but Hispanics and Blacks are kind of ruining this country.

    I hope this was helpful.

  7. Parse says

    I brought a PoC friend to an atheist pub night, and since then I haven’t been to any further activities with the atheist group.
    – The leader of the atheist group was excited to see a non-white face at the event. Definitely not the same sort of greeting I had received when I attended the first few meetings; rather, this was definitely a ‘glom’ as described precisely in your previous post.
    – The pub night was moved from a place downtown to an upscale place in the suburbs and, while downtown is a mix of ethnicities, around here the suburbs are effectively exclusively white. My friend was the only person of color there, in the entire place, and received a bunch of “what’re you doin’ out here?” glares from the rest of the customers (and a few of the staff as well).
    – Additionally, the place in the suburbs is outside the range of bus service, so to go, you’d either need a car or a ride from somebody with one. It isn’t a problem for those from the suburbs (where a car is needed to go anywhere), but for people in the city itself (of all ethnicities), owning a car is expensive and unnecessary.

    I’m uncertain whether that last one is racist, classist, showing my own racism, or some combination of all three, but at the very least the first two would count as valid examples.

  8. says

    I haven’t been to any conventions, and it’s been too long since I was active in atheist message boards, so most of the examples that come to mind are just vague recollections of net-dicketry, too petty to bother with at this point. I live and work in a minority community now, but honestly I can’t think of any friends or coworkers who would be interested in joining the secular community, so I’m at a loss there too.

    So, I find myself mainly thinking about the reasons that PoC might want to join in secular discussions and events in the first place, and wondering what (consistent with secular and skeptical goals) can be done to enhance that?

    I do think the lack of a response to xenologer is a shame. Speaking of charitable interpretations, maybe she just didn’t know what to say, but she should have tried.

    I’ve also seen people use spelling and grammar as leverage too often. It’s a bullshit move, and should be treated as such.

  9. says

    99% of my experiences in “the atheist community” (at least in meatspace) have been in Vancouver among a crowd that is predominantly made up of University of British Columbia students. You can’t really function at UBC without being around PoC (unless you really work at it, which some do).

    I will say that I haven’t, by and large, had any stand-out negative experiences. Vancouver is definitely not representative (our group is also about 30-40% women, many of whom actually take on active leadership roles in event planning and such). That being said, I haven’t found that they’re a lot better when it comes to the microaggression stuff than people I interact with generally. Again, Vancouver (the city) is pretty chilled out, so it’s a small sample size of problems to begin with.

    Online, I write a blog about race, so I can attest that there’s still retrograde racist stupidity among atheists who inhabit the tubes. MAJORLY skewed sample though.

  10. cswella says

    @LauraRay:

    As someone who has been hard of hearing all my life(severe loss in one, deaf in the other), I have a hard time seeing your scenario as disrespectful and shitty. Heavy accents are a mental chore for me to listen to even one on one. Just because I avoid situations where people are hard to hear/understand, doesn’t make my actions disrespectful, and I think the same idea can be applied here.

    Large crowd, open area where sound doesn’t echo, etc. Hearing speakers is hard enough even for my friends, add an accent and/or language barrier and it’s even worse. I realize everyone being quiet would help the few people who could understand her to hear better, but even then they would be sitting there unengaged and bored.

    For someone like that Hispanic speaker (and I don’t know how long she spoke for, situations may vary based on time), getting a translator would not have been a bad idea. Also, if it’s needed, Spanish or Sign Language translator would be just as great.

  11. Rachael says

    I can’t speak about racism, but I have heard my share of exclusionary language in all-Atheist communities. The word “fag” and its derivatives are thrown around like crazy in some places. One of my networks had a discussion in which people were saying things like “christians,jews, and muslims are fags” (exact, full text). Things like this are intolerable in my opinion, and I won’t stand for it. I would have just as passionate a response no matter who the offendee might be.

  12. Rebecca Hensler says

    Just a few days ago, the daily post from Grief Beyond Belief was a meme stating “Regardless of your religious beliefs, you should never tell a mourning mother that it was “God’s plan,”” with a photograph of Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, holding a photo of him.

    Among over a hundred supportive or supportively angry responses was one young white man’s statement:

    “Maybe if she had spent five minutes trying to raise a decent human being, instead of a thieving, drug using wannabe gang banger, things might have turned out a little differently…”

    DELETED

    But I did save it and looked at the poster’s Facebook profile. Among his “favorites”: The God Delusion, Jesus and Mo, The Thinking Atheist, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, The Freethought Society. This was not someone trying to troll Grief Beyond Belief, this was someone who considers himself part of our community. Yuck.

  13. Matt Penfold says

    As someone who has been hard of hearing all my life(severe loss in one, deaf in the other), I have a hard time seeing your scenario as disrespectful and shitty. Heavy accents are a mental chore for me to listen to even one on one. Just because I avoid situations where people are hard to hear/understand, doesn’t make my actions disrespectful, and I think the same idea can be applied here.

    [rest snipped for brevity]

    You might have trouble understanding what was being said so acting in a way that ensures others will as well is OK by you ?

    That is disrespectful, of the people around you. It is putting your need to be entertained above their right to listen to what is being said, and listening to the speakers was what the event was about after all.

  14. says

    I’ve seen some responses and debates about this topic on Greta’s Twitter, I think the whole message should be reframed. Less on blaming & accusing, more on persuading & solving.

    The problems/challenges are:
    1). How to increase the number of people of color (POC) coming out as an atheist/ skeptics
    2). How to make those POC come to the conferences and involve more in atheist/ skeptic movement
    3). How to reach and motivate all nonbelievers to help us the problems 1 & 2, without splitting the whole community, or alineating some people because of it

    The 3rd point is as important as 1 and 2, because it is part of solving the problem, that we have to know what makes some people reluctant to help, what makes them to debate Greta on this topic, what makes them ..probably.. feel inconvenient with other atheists from different culture/ race?

    So instead of finger pointing, blaming some conference organizer, some twitter user, or someone else of being racist, instead of debating about how rampant the racism problem within atheist community or conferences, we can reframe the whole message to be a simple, “Do you want more people of color to participate in the movement? If not, why? If yes, let’s work together and give me your ideas and suggestions.”

    Public figure of atheist and skeptic community should not blame or attack each other, nor should they split the community into “good” atheists and “bad” (racist) atheists, but they should lead the whole community toward common goals of improving and growing the community.

    Notes: The same thing applies for the feminism and sexism topics.

  15. Yasu says

    All the stereotypes in what hate or love they bring is part of the problem. How we see ourselves first effects how we see others.
    How we treat others treat us effects how we see ourselves. so this can be kind of circular on the inferior and superior complexes that plague those stereotypes.

    If people wouldn’t have been treated sub-human from the dawn of man there probably wouldn’t have been such wars over race, nationality, sex, ect. and created such groups of the human dominance hierarchy against human rights.

  16. Simon says

    Just curious, why are examples of racism being sought out? Isn’t under-representation (which can be corroborated easily) enough cause to take action or at least ask questions?

  17. Matt Penfold says

    Just curious, why are examples of racism being sought out? Isn’t under-representation (which can be corroborated easily) enough cause to take action or at least ask questions?

    Er, did you read what Greta said ? She has already told you, but because it seems beyond you to scroll up, here it is again:

    One theme in particular keeps cropping up — the theme that this isn’t really a problem, coupled with a hyper-skeptical demand for evidence and examples of this racism. (As if we needed more freaking evidence that racism is a real thing.)

    So I want to collect examples. If you have seen or experienced examples of racism in the atheist and/ or skeptical communities — can you please comment here? Thanks.

  18. Yasu says

    Many religions have sexism, racism, and discrimination of some sort. Though I never thought people of irreligion including atheists would feel that way.

    Many people use excuses of other things to hate and keep fears. There is that thing where I am a secular skeptic atheist that I rather use science and not assumptions to decide things in my life. It is not easy but I do work for that.

  19. FairlyFatGuy says

    All one has to do is look at your heroes Bill”I fear a brown horde descending on Europe” Mahr, or perhaps the fat deceased cancer ridden piece of crap Hitchens. Atheists are every bit as warmongery, stupid and racist as an theist just without the God.

  20. Danikajaye says

    I actually had a conversation with my atheist brother in-law where he said he wouldn’t hire and Aboriginal person even if they had the exact same qualifications (orbetter) than a non-Aboriginal applicant. His reasons were that he believed they were less evolved (quoted some studies on skull dimensions and the fact they never developed anything akin to European agriculture) and they were not as smart in IQ studies.

  21. MNb0 says

    In The Netherlands we have Geert Wilders and the PVV of course. Quite a view Dutch atheists vote for him – while he has proposed to deport several millions of moslims out of Europe.

  22. sambarge says

    I have to say that although I’ve seen a few examples of clear racism, the problem with the “atheist community” is it’s lack of diversity rather than any explicit racist attitudes. You do read the occasional “affirmative action is reverse discrimination” bullshit, of course but the real problem seems to be the assumption that the problems that matter are those that affect/impact white, heterosexual, cisgendered, middle-class men. Even if you bring up a different issue, someone will bring it back to how it affects the dominant group.

    That’s why Freethough Blogs is such a relief. The diversity of bloggers and the issues discussed are promising for the future of a progressive international movement.

  23. kagekiri says

    @15:

    I don’t agree.

    If some group was being like the secular groups who are on the “sexism isn’t a problem, bitches!!” side of that sexism gulf (which I can say with little doubt, is the wrong side to be on), but instead substituting sexism with racism (so, “racism’s not a problem, ch*nk!”; I’m Chinese, by the way), I don’t mind causing division.

    We’d be pretty terrible humanists to ignore discrimination or stay quiet about intolerant bigots in the name of false unity. “Oh, why do you think non-white people are unworthy of inclusion?” is a terrible question to ask. If that’s what they think, they’re the problem.

    Sexism isn’t a problem to be avoided just to hold groups together, and neither is racism. Screw that. If something’s unjust, and secular people want to stand for it, I don’t mind standing against them. In fact, I think we MUST confront them and stand against them, and not cede moral responsibility to others.

    I refuse to be like the Catholic church or the church espoused by the Apostle Paul: no keeping things in house just to save our public reputation at the cost of our internal trustworthiness.

    If you have crappy beliefs on race or sexism, expect vocal opposition, regardless of how much people might have liked your ideas on science, theology, or whatever (see: Dawkins’ dumb concern trolling on sexism, Hitchens’ hawkish views on the Middle East).

    Wrong is wrong, and we shouldn’t set up accommodationist style rules or idealization of leaders as utterly above reproach.

  24. says

    Okay, this is less of an example of racism than a manifestation of racism, but it’s an important issue nonetheless:

    The Wikipedia page on Secular Organizations for Sobriety (an alternative to AA) lists the demographics as being 99% white (and 75% male) to boot. The meeting I go to is consistent with this. While the gender skew isn’t quite so severe (I haven’t counted, but I think it’s closer to 60% than 75%, though still majority male), I have not seen a single PoC show up to any of the meetings I have been to.

    Although this is a problem that affects a relatively small segment of our movement, I think it is a very important one. Many of the people coming to SOS are in vulnerable and desperate situations, and some have had pretty bad experiences with AA (others attend both types of meetings and get something out of both, so I don’t want to say it’s universally bad… but for many of us, the rigidity of AA, the obsession with ritual, the emphasis on surrender as opposed to personal empowerment, all of that stuff makes it a non-starter, even on top of the god business). Many people coming to SOS are so grateful to finally find a fellowship of recovering addicts and alcoholics that we can connect with and with whom we feel comfortable.

    To find yourself the only person in the room who shares your skin color, that’s gotta be hard. SOS isn’t actively unwelcoming to PoC by any means, but the very fact that there is such a lack of diversity makes it de facto unwelcoming. And that’s really sad.

    Speaking for myself, I can say if there were no SOS meeting in my area where I felt comfortable, I would quite likely be fucked. So the idea that PoC might feel unwelcome there, that really disturbs me.

  25. says

    kagekiri has the right of it in my opinion.

    Anybody who seriously thinks that addressing racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia in our communities is not worth the conflict it could cause?

    Consider this:

    “I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the front upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.” -Audre Lorde

    See also:

    “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
    -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    I’m sure it’s possible to be a decent ally to POC if you disagree with these two statements, but I’ll go ahead and say that I personally do not see how anyone could manage it.

    Unlike some people, I think we’ve got enough holding us together that we can accomplish our goals while living up to our own standards of rationality and human decency where POC are concerned. I think we can survive this, but I’m not afraid of the result if we can’t. If all that’s holding the skeptic/Humanist/atheist/etcetera community together is a collective willingness to let our fellows mistreat POC, then I am sorry but our community deserves to fall apart. I think we’re better than that, though.

  26. says

    FairlyFatGuy says:

    the fat deceased cancer ridden piece of crap Hitchens

    All emphasis mine. Heh. Just got a kick out of that, that’s all.

    (I loved Hitchens, but I don’t really have any quarrel with the Hitchens-haters… he was a flawed man, to be sure, and those who despised him serve an important purpose in reminding us that he was often full of shit :D )

  27. says

    I was following your tweets in the recent discussion about race, Greta. Thanks very much for being willing to discuss this. Most of my interaction with the atheist community is online, so the racism I’ve seen is mostly in articles, blog posts, and especially comment sections.

    Thanks @SallyStrange (#16) for the link! I’ll definitely bookmark it.

    I was going to mention RichardDawkins.net as well. I don’t comment there anymore and rarely (very rarely) even visit the site, because of the blatant discrimination that can be found in the comments sections of various articles. A lot of discussions concerning Islam contain comments in which people are basically hating immigrants, and if anyone calls them out on it (which some thankfully do), they’ll claim that if you don’t agree with their views, you’re being “politically correct” and making excuses for Islam — even though their point had nothing to do with Islam and was about immigrants and/or people from certain countries. Even on an article that’s about a really serious problem like honor killings, these types of comments come up, and it becomes difficult to discuss the actual issue because part of the time is spent responding to the various people who are just being bigoted.

    One argument that comes up is people claiming that immigrants should just adopt whatever the beliefs are of the country they move to, which sounds ridiculous, especially if it’s coming from people who are atheists in a majority-Christian country. It’s also kind of insulting, because they’re basically saying immigrants shouldn’t think critically, but should just adopt whatever beliefs the majority in their new country tells them to adopt.

    Also, the attempts to dismiss complaints of sexism (and also other types of discrimination, like anti-LGBTQIA bigotry) by talking about how women in other countries have it worse. It just comes across as fake concern for people in other countries in order to avoid being criticized for sexism (like how conservative Christians in the US will try to deflect criticism of their own discriminatory actions by bringing up Islam, but then not actually care about or want to do anything to help the people who are hurt by Islam once the conversation is over).

  28. Greta Christina says

    All one has to do is look at your heroes Bill”I fear a brown horde descending on Europe” Mahr, or perhaps the fat deceased cancer ridden piece of crap Hitchens.

    FairlyFatGuy @ #21: If you ever use either “cancer ridden” or “fat” as insults in my blog again, I will ban you so fast it will make your head spin. That is absolutely not accepted in my blog. Do not do it again. Period.

  29. Brandon says

    I have to say that I have never experienced an iota of racism from the atheist community. Granted, most of my communication with the community has been through the internet, where my race has never been brought up. Because a person’s racial identity is so often reflected by physical attributes, it is possible people are less vocal about it in speaking/writing. I’m certainly guilty of never bringing it up. Of all of the bloggers/podcasters I follow, I can only name 2 that ever bring up the subject of their race.

    Perhaps part of “don’t be afraid to talk about race” should more specifically include encouraging atheists of color to talk about it, to be open about their non-belief, and to be more active in the community. I found that many of these suggestions seem to be framed towards people that are not of color rather than.

    I’m certainly not saying that racism doesn’t occur in the atheist community. I’ve always just gotten the impression that atheists have been generally more sympathetic towards minorities.

    What may be more at issue than the acceptance of people of color by the atheist community is the need of the individuals to be accepted more in their own communities. I’ve read articles this year suggesting that coming out as an atheist African American can generally be more difficult than for Caucasian people. I know for one that my father’s Hispanic family had enough difficulty when my parents left the Catholic church. I could only imagine how they would react if they still talked to us and found out that I am an atheist.

    An increase in the number of open minority members would go a long way towards increasing diversity in the community. And increased diversity could certainly help this along. Overall, I think these points are all in the right direction.

  30. Ysanne says

    The pub night was moved from a place downtown to an upscale place in the suburbs and, while downtown is a mix of ethnicities, around here the suburbs are effectively exclusively white. My friend was the only person of color there, in the entire place, and received a bunch of “what’re you doin’ out here?” glares from the rest of the customers (and a few of the staff as well).

    I’d like to emphasize this point because I find it important and something that’s usually not obvious to white people who haven’t experienced this “you shouldn’t be here” atmosphere. Especially if this kind of exclusion it’s less prominent in your usual community.

  31. LeftSidePositive says

    @15: isn’t it convenient that all your advice makes it as easy as possible for the privileged to keep being prejudiced, and to make it as difficult as possible to hold accountable those who are being hurtful to others?!

  32. says

    @kagegiri @xenologer:

    Sorry if I didn’t explain very clearly before. I didn’t mean that we just have to be silent about the whole racism problem, absolutely not! Should we speak out against racism (as also sexism and other discrimination)? Absolutely! Is there only one way to do that, by calling them dumb racists for example? Absolutely not!

    There are different ways to convey the same message, and some might be more effective rather than wasting time to debate who’s at fault, who’s the most racist or dumber. We should point out to them where the racism lies, or even find out why someone’s being racist (or misogynist, or whatever). That is why questioning them why they think they feel that way (which is just a re-wording of “why you are being racist?”), is not a terrible idea. Of course afterwards you still have to debate them and show them how bad they are, but at the very least you’ll have more information about them that you can use to show the problem to them or to the audience of the debate.

    Not everyone can be convinced, and not everyone worthy of our time. We must skip the worst ones, like the ones that cannot have a proper argument without ad-hominem attacks, but we can debate the rest.

    Not everyone born in an open-minded liberal family. I was religious creationist homophobic misogynist luckily-not-that-much-racist just 6 years ago. I did read a lot of debates in freethought & liberal forums and websites, and learn from it. And then I founded the Indonesian atheists group, where the degree of sexism, racism, homophobic, and the trolling related to that was somewhat higher that you have in the US, but the group has grown a lot since it was founded. It probably needs about 1 – 2 years before the debates about homosexuality is replaced with our LGBT atheist members coming out. I’m not that lucky with feminism, but it gets better and better, as long as we can always focus on the issue (not the person) and keep debating it. People can change.

    So, I care a lot about social issues, that is why I think we can use different ways to convey the same message, maybe sometimes less harsh but still clear, to persuade people to be more friendly toward people from different race or culture. To show the bad guys how bad they are, but maybe sometimes without calling them “bad” (I know that it isn’t always possible to do that, but we can try..).

  33. says

    @Karl Karnadi

    Nobody is saying that people with problem-causing damaging behavior should be rounded up and shot or anything, but we do need to be honest about the fact that certain behaviors are not just “offensive” or “politically incorrect” but damaging to the community.

    I just don’t want us to be so afraid of making the people responsible for those behaviors uncomfortable that we demand that POC be uncomfortable instead. It’s against the spirit of this post, but more to the point it sort of makes us awful.

    There will always be people who are interested in opening up to and engaging with those whose behavior is still excessively busted, and there’ll be people who are tired of being stepped on who are no longer so patient, and honestly I think that’s a valid way to feel too, even if it makes them poorly-suited to be infinitely-patient diplomats.

    But approach doesn’t seem like it is the point of this post, and so there’s zero reason to debate how to go about that sort of education here. This post is for examples of racism. So we should probably stick to pointing out where racism has reared up in the communities so that we can begin (elsewhere, as in… in another discussion) to address those things.

    That’s just kinda my feeling on it.

  34. Simon says

    OK, I just thought the previous post had made it clear that this discussion was to be “what will we do to address this”, as opposed to “is there really a problem in the first place”. But anyway, if that is something we need to reiterate so be it. FWIW I saw that Greta was going back and forth predominantly with one persistent twitter user for the most part earlier, so not sure how much of a widely accepted misgiving this is.

    My personal perspective is of a 32 year old white male organizer of multiple monthly local events in the DC area all the way from a book club to large 1000+ person lectures. I’ve also attended several national conferences. So I have experience organizing in a pretty diverse locality as well as attendance at national events. Yes, I know the internet also counts, but it’s not always easy to see the demographics.

    I guess to anyone who questions the existence of a problem, I would first ask them a couple of questions:

    Note: The assumption is that the person is an atheist.

    1) Have you attended an indicative IRL meeting of an atheist/skeptic/humanist group, either nationally or locally?
    2) What is your race/ethnicity?

    The first question is simply to see if the person has any personal familiarity with the community outside of the internet. My experience and pretty much every other organizer I know is that white men tend to be in the overwhelming majority regardless of the demographics of the area. Age breakdown differs by group. Some lean older, some don’t in my experience.

    The second question is merely so that if they answer -for example- that they are a young white man (but any other age/race/gender combo will do), I would follow up and inquire how many meetings they attend on a regular basis where the vast majority of attendees are -for example- older black women (but any non-“young white men” group will do for the illustration). I suspect not very many people are in this category.

    The beauty of the last question is it applies quite literally to Greta’s subject matter. All you need to is flip it around and ask a black woman how many meetings she attends where the attendees are predominantly white men. I suspect not many people are in this category either.

  35. Simon says

    By the way-just so people don’t think I’m derailing, I’m not sure that my example qualifies as ‘racism’ per se. However I’m bringing it up because even if we assume good motivations on behalf of all participants, I am positing that the effect of who you see participating when you are part of a group does matter-especially in larger groups where you don’t have a close relationship with most attendees.

  36. Anonymouse says

    I think an excellent example of racism in the Atheist community is the way in which many people (and I mean Atheists in particular, of course) carried out Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. What was supposed to be a protest against a religion and it’s tenets turned into a slew of terrible racial caricatures. Many also took the opportunity to include very hateful anti-immigrant sentiments.

  37. alkaloid says

    This was a while back and I don’t know how much it counts really as atheist community, but I completely bailed out on one particular atheism channel after one of its members started using the N-word all the time (and none of them knew I was black, or bothered objecting).

  38. Janee says

    I see the stereotype all the time that all PoC are religious, and hear people say all too often that it’s because they’re ignorant and unintelligent. The assumption that PoC are one uniform group is in itself racism, and adding to it that this supposedly uniform group is all unintellingent and ignorant. If they’re willing to ignore that and say it’s not racism I can’t imagine what would convince them.

  39. says

    Racism?

    1. I have been accused of being a secret muslim using the rule of Taqiya. Why? Because I chose a muslim doctor’s name as a pseudonym. It’s not a rare thing. It usually occurs when I disagree with another atheist.

    2. After pointing out that the Hippocratic Oath isn’t used anymore primarily because Hippocrates is out of date, sexist and not universally regarded as the father of medicine since there are muslims who revere Avicenna, Turks who prefer Galenus, Indians who like Sushuratha and countless other “fathers of medicine” in different cultures. I was told that “My Ancestors Were Swinging From The Trees When Greeks Were Doing Philosophy”.

    3. A variety of MRA atheists often subscribe to a rather racist creed involving the alleged superiority of non-white women while bitching about men of colour.

    4. There will always be wankers in life. Openly racist people are such people… The real danger from an atheist movement that doesn’t have a lot of people from different ethnic backgrounds is that we fail to realise that not everyone’s cultures are so forgiving of atheism.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/09/19/ask-richard-atheist-muslima-in-europe-feels-trapped-by-family-ties/

    The advice here is great, if you are white. Chances are your family isn’t going to hunt you down and smother you for wearing trousers rather than a salwar kameez (http://goo.gl/qVWeJ). Richard’s Advice isn’t bad. It’s just a piece of advice that doesn’t come from understanding the woman’s situation or the level of control applied to women who normally live in such situations.

    So I wrote up a response to the woman. http://goo.gl/qRnYj. I write about it because I know what sort of abuse exists in the culture because for a long time it existed (And still exists) in mine. What is abuse to white atheists isn’t even considered as such (I know Indian Atheists and Feminists who defend marital rape…) and what isn’t abuse to white atheists can often be considered as such too.

    Ostracisation itself is a punishment. It’s horrible because you are cut off from your social group. You WANT to go back. There are countless stories of people yearning for their old churches, hoping that the church will let them back and forgive them in much the same way that an abused spouse may want to go back to the person who abused them. Imagine that same feeling around people who may be nice to you, or who may ship you off to “Home” to get married and sort out any of those corrupt western ideals. Or kill you… It sounds like fear mongering but this happens way way to often to be classed as fear mongering.

    And without atheists from hindu and muslim backgrounds standing in the fore you wouldn’t have the knowledge base to understand this. Without black atheists we wouldn’t understand the nature of racism in America since they were the primary victims of the american apartheid particularly in relation to the church and their support of their freedom. We won’t understand black atheists in africa or indian atheists in India whose atheism isn’t derived solely from western ideals. I cannot speak for chinese and eastern asian faiths but they too have a place.

    I am not saying “Get A Token Minority”, I am saying that there are a tonne of atheists out there who aren’t White Judeo-Christians. Give a newbie a shot. Try and find some new blood rather than hashing over the same few people.

    I know that a few black atheist organisations have meet ups. Go Along. Find out what they do there. What’s different from your meetings. Make changes. It’s the simplest way to create a little diversity is a little perspective.

  40. Greta Christina says

    @15: isn’t it convenient that all your advice makes it as easy as possible for the privileged to keep being prejudiced, and to make it as difficult as possible to hold accountable those who are being hurtful to others?!

    LeftSidePositive @ #33: I’m pretty sure Karl Karnadi (the commenter at #15) is a person of color. He recounted an anecdote of racism he experienced in comment #2. You may disagree with him, but it would be mistaken to think he’s speaking from a place of privilege on this issue.

  41. Greta Christina says

    OK, I just thought the previous post had made it clear that this discussion was to be “what will we do to address this”, as opposed to “is there really a problem in the first place”.

    Simon @ #36: Different discussions. The previous post’s discussion was focused on “what can we do about it.” This one is focused on demonstrating that there really is a real problem that needs addressing. It depresses me beyond my power to describe that, in 2012, we still need to have that conversation — but apparently we do. Sigh.

  42. says

    I think a little back story is needed. I wrote that because my aunt was abused (Yes Hindus have Honour Issues too)and luckily survived. She would be beaten if the tea cup handle faced the wrong way, if she smiled at someone else in public.

    Her husband would even beat her at work… Yes, no one would intervene because they were scared of being called racists. It took 15 years for my father to defend his sister so he has no excuse IMHO, but it also took 15 years for people around her to step in and protect her. And that’s indicative of the problem. If you don’t have representation from different groups then you cannot understand what they face and so you won’t do anything to help those who need help.

    And my aunt was a doctor, she was smart, well educated and intelligent. It wasn’t racism, it was just that people didn’t know how to deal with another culture where this was considered acceptable behaviour. So I thought about what I would have done for someone like my aunt. And that’s the advice I gave. Don’t underestimate the risk you are in as someone who is asian for breaking the societal norms associated with your culture.

    You can pay for it with your life. My aunt passed away last year after living for 21 years with kidney failure brought about by physical assault. Her ex-husband is a free man. He was given a suspended sentence of just 2 months. He actually works in the USA now because he was prevented from working in the UK. But he got away scott free. Because people who were brown didn’t care and people who were white didn’t know how to deal with this.

  43. Jay says

    “If you’ve seen or experienced racism in atheist communities – please comment on my blog. Some ppl think it isn’t real.” -Greta Christina

    If you’ve seen or experienced examples of vaccines causing autism – speak up. Some ppl think it isn’t real. -typical crank

    So glad we’re the enlightened ones.

    Data > anecdotes

    You may very well be correct; I don’t happen to have data one way or the other on the subject. But I see a disturbing trend among skeptics who seem to uncritically assert their speculations as if they were fact and insist that reasonable disagreement over or even just questioning their premise makes one some sort of denialist. This sort of attitude seems to run counter to the goals of skepticism. Lately, I’ve seen both sides of these contentious issues talk past each other and straw man each others’ positions. And the reason seems to stem from a larger interest in scoring points in a public debate than in aligning one’s views with the truth. This is the biggest problem I see among skeptics today. Choosing to double down on positions when faced with disagreement rather than seeing it as a great opportunity to get a different opinion. Skeptics should welcome being proven wrong or at least hearing out not altogether unreasonable alternative views. And skeptic audiences should cheer when fellow skeptics display such humility rather than cheer the perceived scoring of points in an argument. Humility is a virtue; unearned certainty is not.

  44. Mike Nam says

    I’m Korean by ancestry, though born and raised in the U.S. While I’ve rarely felt excluded or experienced overt racism in the short time I’ve started participating in atheist/skeptical circles, the times I feel the most discouraged is when this topic is brought up. Somehow even suggesting better marketing strategies to encourage nonbelievers of color to get involved gets equated to pandering or social engineering. Worse, sometimes I’ll see accusations of reverse discrimination or that it’s somehow MORE racist to diversify the “brand” if you will. If Major League baseball feels it adds to their success to have minority outreach programs, I don’t understand how it would be wrong for ANY organization who values diversity to do the same.

    Sure, there are some obstacles…some of us who made the choice to extricate ourselves from somewhat insular communities, often based around church or family units, are wary of “joining” in general. I’ve always been an oddball in my family to begin with, since most of my closest friends growing up are Jewish, culturally and sometimes even religiously, and even I sometimes look around at meetups and events and note that I’m often the one of few (if not the only) Asian-American face in the room. Imagine if you aren’t as comfortable as I am in such a situation with practically no programming (event-wise) to help draw you in somewhat. It’s nothing overt, people are generally friendly, but when you actively start to bring up these points, as Greta did, the vocal pushback, or even the palpable indifference, makes you feel a little bit crummy that the topic, to some, merits less consideration than poltergeists or Tom Cruise’s nuttiness.

  45. Bruce Gorton says

    I remember a discussion at a point in which I was arguing with an atheist eugenics enthusiast (I seem to remember it being at one of the offshoots of the Dawkins forums when he shut down the boards) who argued that the extra low IQ of Africa demonstrated the racial inferiority of black people.

    South Africa has a much higher proportion of nons in the black population than in the white.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_South_Africa#Demographics

    (Not where I originally saw the statistic, but the first place I found when I Googled it)

    79.9% of Black residents are Christian, 17.5% have no religion, 0.2% are Muslim, 0.0% are Jewish, 0.0% are Hindu and 2.3% have other or undetermined beliefs.

    86.8% of White residents are Christian, 8.8% have no religion, 0.2% are Muslim, 1.4% are Jewish, and 0.0% are Hindu. 2.7% have other or undetermined beliefs.

    While some of that 17.5% follow “traditional religions” – a fair chunk of that population is due to historic issues with the apartheid government, which tried to promote religion alongside racial injustice.

    It is one of the reasons I find it strange when people talk about atheism being a “white” thing – the bulk of the atheists and non-believers I know personally aren’t white.

    But the thing is the voice of atheism online, in my experience, is that it is too white.

    Can you imagine that argument, if that 17.5% was actually represented online? Can you imagine just how much more awesome it would be if we had those voices loud and passionate pointing out every single weakness of the eugenics argument?

    Those arguments only really get away with existing, because we have not done a good enough job of including black voices in our arguments. We are weakened by not hearing these voices, much as we would be weakened by not hearing the voices of atheist feminists.

  46. Phil says

    So Calif area, I have no complaints. The skeptic meetings I have been to have been 90% white which is a bit of a disappointment since the anglo population is just under 50%.
    No one assumes anything and I guess when I open my mouth and start speaking they assume I am a US born Asian which makes me rather boring.
    In political events people ask me how to reach the Asian population and I do say they run native language newspapers and websites and they would love to interview people just to fill up space but that’s hardly racist.

  47. captainahags says

    “If you’ve seen or experienced racism in atheist communities – please comment on my blog. Some ppl think it isn’t real.” -Greta Christina

    If you’ve seen or experienced examples of vaccines causing autism – speak up. Some ppl think it isn’t real. -typical crank

    So glad we’re the enlightened ones.

    Data > anecdotes

    Holy false equivalence, batman!

    Vaccines and autism is an issue of people confusing correlation with causation- it’s not that many of the kids don’t have it, the issue is that people mistakenly point to vaccines as the cause. A more apt comparison might be “If you’ve seen or experienced autism, speak up, some people think it’s not real.”

    It’s pretty easy to detect racism if you don’t allow yourself to be blinded by privilege. Nobody’s asking for a statistical analysis of how many people are racists, or anything of the sort- this isn’t about doing a precise analysis. People have said things along the lines of “racism isn’t a problem in this community,” so if people are having problems with it, that statement would be proven false, and perhaps if the community were to realize that there can be problems with racism, a discussion could be had about ways to overcome them. However, burying our heads in the sand and refusing to admit there’s even the slightest bit of a problem advances the community not one iota.

  48. A. Noyd says

    Jay (#46)

    You may very well be correct; I don’t happen to have data one way or the other on the subject.

    If you really have no data one way or the other, then you have no business making the comparison just you did. Racism is a problem endemic to (at least) all major human societies and unless you can justify making the assumption—which has plenty of evidence against it—that atheist are vastly better when it comes to dealing with social issues, then your comparison is insultingly unwarranted.

    In fact, your refusal to begin examining the question of racism in the atheist community using what we know of racism in society in general is an error I’ve noticed other atheists and skeptics making. When you try to apply skepticism from the assumed default of all possible answers being equally likely, you end up prioritizing a formal, ideological type of skepticism over a socially-informed, practical one.

    Where questions of race are concerned, a one-size-fits-all approach to skepticism tends to lead to racism. It results in absurdities like your anti-vaxxer comparison which implies that the existence of racism is as unlikely as a causal relationship between vaccines and autism, and that personal experiences of racism deserve as much doubt as personal experiences of vaccines causing autism.

  49. Bjarte Foshaug says

    I’m sure there are plenty of examples of plain old-fashioned bigotry against non-whites*, but the most egregious examples of racism I have personally come across in the skeptical/atheist communites have been from people who consider themselves “progressive” and like to label anyone who disagrees with them a racist. There seems to be a deep and unbridgeable gap between those who advocate equal rights and equal treatment for all people regardless of gender, ethnic decent, sexual orientation etc. and those who try to reframe different rules/rights for different people as a good thing, usually under the banner of respecting cultural differences and celebrating diversity. There is another unbridgeable gap between those who think rights, equality, tolerance, and respect are for living people and those who are mainly interested in protecting cultures, ideologies, beliefs, practices, traditions, ways of thinking, and ways of living. Those on the former side of the divide tend to see the latter as racist because they legitimize inequality and equate the individual with (usually the most reactionary segment of) “their”** culture. Meanwhile those on the latter side see the former as racist for imposing their own “western” ideals of equality and tolerance on another culture.

    In both cases I find myself firmly in the former camp. As I wrote on Maryam Namazie’s blog, there is nothing more conservative, or even downright reactionary, than radical cultural relativism. The whole philosophy is ultimately based on the premise that whatever your ancestors happened to believe or practice is somehow “right” for you, and nobody outside the West could possibly want to live differently than their ancestors unless they have been taught to internalize western bigotry against “their own”** culture. It never seems to occur to cultural relativists that non-white women, homosexuals, infidels and heretics etc. might want the same kind of changes we have made (imperfectly, to be sure, but still…) in the West for the same kinds of reasons. There is nothing “white” or “western” about not wanting to be mistreated or oppressed, and anyone who claims the opposite is a far worse racist than those who still haven’t learned to flinch at the word “negro”.

    All inn all radical cultural relativism seems to be another harmful by-product of the disastrous doctrine of the Blank Slate. I have actually argued with people who seemed to think that disliking pain (or even feeling it in the first place) is just an aribtrary cultural convention that simply doesn’t apply to anyone outside “western” culture. If this isn’t racism, then nothing is.
    * Although racism isn’t limitied to white people.
    ** As defined by others long before they were born

  50. Hamster says

    I once brought up Madrigal v Quilligan with a fellow atheist. I mentioned that it hurt to see folks attempt to justify or dismiss these kinds of human rights violations. Then he goes and does the same thing and begins to lecture me on overpopulation.

    In case you all were curious
    “Madrigal v Quilligan has been understood in light of the thousands of unwanted sterilizations reported in the United States from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. And certainly, the experiences of the Mexican-origin women who suffered at the scalpels of County General physicians mirror those of the African American, Puerto Rican, and Native American women who came forth with comparable stories during the same years.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449330/

  51. says

    Jay says:

    “If you’ve seen or experienced racism in atheist communities – please comment on my blog. Some ppl think it isn’t real.” -Greta Christina

    If you’ve seen or experienced examples of vaccines causing autism – speak up. Some ppl think it isn’t real. -typical crank

    So glad we’re the enlightened ones.

    Data > anecdotes

    Sigh. Yet another Cargo-Cult skeptic, who’s absorbed the terminology, but fails to understand the underlying principles. The reason why “my child had the MMR jab, then became autistic” is invalid, is because it amounts to the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. It would only be a valid form of reasoning if there were no other possible means by which a child could become autistic. The same flaw invalidates almost all other anecdote-based medical claims.

    On the other hand, the statement “there is racism in the skeptical movement” and the occurrence of racist incidents are biconditional. There is no fallacy in using one to imply the other. “Anecdotes are not data” may be a snappy catchphrase, but in this case it is being used as a magical incantation, by someone who’s completely out of their depth.

  52. CT says

    Completely OT – I am encouraged by the fact that a lot of you live in places with lingering subtle racism while I live in a place where it’s far from subtle, where people get to write columns like this http://www.gastongazette.com/articles/diversity-73695-corporate-government.html in the local newspaper disparaging diversity as ‘stupid’. You give me a small hope that things can change here eventually.

    I don’t have any anecdotes because there is very little of a atheist or skeptic community here and I don’t participate *and* I pass for white so I get the privilege of no racism unless someone asks me about my heritage.

  53. ischemgeek says

    I don’t know if the “the informal group of agnostics, skeptics and athiests I count among my friends” counts as part of the athiest community, but in the past few years, I’ve encountered quite a bit – mainly of the “You’re pasty-pale and have green eyes and talk like you’re from the sticks when you’re relaxed and with friends so I’m gonna assume you’re in on this with me” conspiratorial comments type. Here’s the sort I’ve experienced:

    1) racist jokes (with punchlines along the lines of “it’s funny because black people talk funny!”) which are immediately defended as “just a joke” when I call people on it (sound familiar?).
    2) “I’m not a racist, but [insert racist statement here].”
    3) Garden-variety xenophobia and scapegoating. International students are the cause of vandalism in the city (even though, despite >40% of the student body being international students, 100% of the incidents I’ve witnessed have been done by locals), we should deport everyone who commits violent crime (because no true Scotsman Canadian commits crime, amirite?), etc.
    4) Racism against First Nations people, ranging from harmful stereotyping and resentment (“They’re all on welfare!” and “The government pays their tuition, so why would they want to work for it?”) to open, frothing, virulent hatred of First Nations people. I won’t repeat some of the stuff I’ve heard in the latter category, but suffice to say it includes, but is not limited to, expressions of regret that the Brits didn’t succeed in their genocide program. I have never seen hatred of any group as severe as that against First Nations people in this region of the country. Maybe that’s because I’m more sensitive to it since my partner is a member of one of the First Nations, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that’s localized to this region of the country, though, because I’ve never encountered that sort of level of hate against them anywhere else in the country.

    People who seem to be working from ignorance get me arguing with them. People who seem to be working from hatred, I cut out of my circle of friends. “Xie’s a nice person, xie just hates [racial group],” does not fly with me. If xie is fantancizing about genocide, or saying that (hate to Godwin, but I’ve encountered it) Hitler wasn’t wrong about all things, or other stuff like that, xie is a horrible person, no matter how nice xie acts toward me. If xie would like a genocide against their hated group, or wants to bring back concentration camps, I know xie is only acting that way toward me because I have pale skin, green eyes, and an anglo-saxon surname. I’ve only had to cut ties with 2 people about it so far. Emotionally, it can suck, but the alternative of maintaining ties with people who want my partner or friends dead just because of their heritage is worse.

    It happens less often now that I’m starting to get a reputation as an “uptight bitch”, to quote the guy I cut out of my circle for expressing a genocide fantasy to me. People know I’ll call them on it, either by correcting their misconceptions (“Actually, the reserves pay the tuition. It’s not really any different than having your extended family help you out. So there’s pressure to succeed, because if you don’t graduate, you just wasted money from your community that could have been spent on other things.”), or making fun of the punchline (“I get it! It’s funny because of [insert stereotype here]! That’s so original and totally not racist at all!“) as approriprate. Sometimes, I’ll fly off the handle, but only if someone’s said something especially egregious. Pretty much anything referencing Hitler approvingly qualifies.

  54. says

    There was some discussion about women of color not feeling safe with Slutwalk due to historical views that women of color were appropriate targets of sexual violence.

  55. carlie, who has nice reading comprehension says

    A lot more people have absorbed cultural racism than they realize. If you’re anywhere in the US, check out sundown towns. There’s a database there of known sundown towns. If you’re on the list or nearby, you’re probably in a majority white area and have never thought about why – turns out it’s usually not by historical settling accident, but was a deliberate exclusion (and sometimes actual driving out) of any minorities. And the thing is, most of them still are that way, and if you scratch the surface the internalized racism comes bubbling out in all kinds of little ways. And the scary part is that you never even realize it – you don’t notice the bias of your entire environment. Racism: you’re soaking in it!

  56. says

    @xenologer @greta:

    Yes, I think I should say sorry to you and Greta to be off-topic here. I found out this page from Greta’s debate on Twitter and got frustrated reading at the lengthy debates that I suspect examples of racism and the usual frontal approach would not be enough.

    I’d be interested if you can post something about this on your blog Greta, so that I wouldn’t have to be off-topic on debating/ discussing this very important issue :)

  57. says

    Ayup. It’s pretty much pandemic and a much-related phenomenon, IMHO, to the sexism and homophobia. I would posit that it’s really the same subset of white male atheists/skeptics that are enabling all the 4chan-style /b/-boys bigotry to continue.

    At the apex of the Atheoblog Wars over the Elevator Incident, I posted on how I thought the misogyny of some /b/oys evolved as a juvenile defensive mechanism. I think the race is one of the intersecting privileges that Anons have also had to contend as the “moralf*gs” began to outnumber the “oldf*gs”. Doesn’t mean the dudebros liked it when (from their privileged perspective), “their” movement was “co-opted” to focus on real problems instead of more Desu.

    I caught some flack for ending that post by calling for expanding the subject of sexism in the movement from conferences (where it seemed to be getting dragged down in minutiae that only those who attend such events find generally compelling). In fact, I said it seemed classist to focus so singularly on the problem as it pertained to such a tiny slice of the atheist movement. It wasn’t to change the subject, but to expand it to the intersection of privileges which enable all forms of bigotry to take root and perpetuate themselves.

    I worry a little that once again by framing racism in movement atheism as a diversity problem for events and conferences and professional atheists on speaking tours is misguided. Greta’s first few items in the list post focused on such events, as if the atheist movement revolved around speakers. It does not nor has it ever — the professional atheist circuit is no more representative of atheism than the 4chan /b/oys are of skeptics. We are a naturally diverse and global group — no doubt there are more of us than we think, if only we can reach them.

    I think it should be much more broadly framed as calling-out the bigots in our midst in a big and public way — sure including at events, but not primarily at events. Then maybe, just maybe, we can steer this movement — as the moralf*gs steered Anonymous — toward a more complete humanistic ethos.

    The easy step was realizing how many of us don’t believe in gods and gathering in force. The hard part is going to be doing something good with our numbers.

    Greta, as always, you have been a trusty guide in these matters. Thanks.

  58. says

    It is racism every single time an atheist tells us not to worry about race because of it being a social construct, because of course that means it isn’t real and we shouldn’t worry about it. Color-blindness is racism just as much as Jim Crow racism is.

  59. says

    (Sorry for the two posts — the last one was Meta, this on is On-Topic.)

    I’m a white male math guy raised the rural West, so the privileges are laid on thick, here, and other white males easily let their guard around me — so I can attest to the fact that racism is not just alive and well, but experiencing a resurgence, in general.

    Since moving around the country a few times, however, the atheist racists IRL are few enough, and it’s a bigotry that’s ashamed of itself. Really I can only think of one guy, and he’s not a movement atheist type; he’s a 4chan slacker and applied math geek. He once wanted to tell racist jokes and I shut him down hard. The word I would use to describe him is “naive”, and he’s likely to stay that way, because he has a sheltered worldview and likes it, not because he’s part of an organized faction of racist atheists bent on undermining the movement.

    He’s also incidental and periphery, and will remain so by his own choice, and by the choices we make to be clear that we aren’t like guys like him.

    Other than that one guy, every other atheist I’ve known have been straight-up anti-racist, even when they were sexist pigs.

    I suspect there are a great many more minorities and women stuck in pews because religious leaders have long preyed on disadvantaged groups for the depth of devotion that false hope can lure. We can make movement atheism more welcoming to these folks by loudly and publicly calling out bigots in our midst every time — and before anyone else can point out an apparent hypocrisy.

    We have a lot to prove, like it or not.

  60. says

    Greta, I was very happy to see your video, did not know you, but when I saw his words about: Why do atheists have so much anger. I found fantastic his words were well employed, congratulations on this blog, congratulations on your initiative, I’m from Brazil and its spread this incredible work, hugs!

  61. ik says

    “If you’ve seen or experienced racism in atheist communities – please comment on my blog. Some ppl think it isn’t real.” -Greta Christina

    If you’ve seen or experienced examples of vaccines causing autism – speak up. Some ppl think it isn’t real. -typical crank

    So glad we’re the enlightened ones.

    Data > anecdotes

    No. This is a difference. The question is merely ‘Does racism exist in atheist communities’. More than one or two anecdotes indicate that it is. We are not looking for some vague correlation, or any kind of correlation at all. And besides, we do have the statistics that most of us are white.

    “stuff about eugenics”
    SO tired about eugenics being used as an excuse for racism, especially because it means that it is forever associated with racism even though there are not any really valuable racial differences.

  62. Carl says

    At my local group for a time there was actually somebody who I’m pretty sure is a white supremacist. Way too much social darwinism for my taste.

  63. JanaTheVeganPiranha says

    As a mixed race woman, I have received far more sexism than racism. I am aware of the cause of most of this- I’m “white enough”. This makes me feel sick, and I wish I could scrub the stupid off my skin.

    Entitlement is a sick disease, and rather than treating it, or mocking it, we outright REWARD it.

    Never underestimate the power of ridicule. If it works, your target was in fact a racist. Laugh AT them, not with them- they have not said anything funny. Don’t be ashamed to look at them straight faced and asked “They still make dinosaurs? I didn’t know”. or “When were YOU planning to join the Common Era?”

    These emotional cripples are inexcusable- regardless of “education”, background, etc- and it has to stop. There’s no such thing as polite discussion about why one person is not as good as another. The very concept violates human decency.

  64. says

    I have to say, I’ve witnessed it once or twice but can’t provide specific examples right now. Anything I do offer is simply anecdotal evidence. The best and most realistic proof you could offer is screencaps from pages or forums. However, if people are going to be extremely skeptical, they could say that the screencaps were shooped. While it’s great to be skeptical, I think it creates a dangerous precedent to outright deny that racism can possibly exist in atheist communities. The two things are not in any way connected, really.

    There’s a FB page called “I do things for the lulz”, on which all the admins claim atheism. They post a lot of racist stuff, but it is essentially a troll page, so it’s probably not the best example. The fact remains, though, that they are atheists spreading racism. In that respect, it at least shows that yes, atheists are just as capable of racism as anyone else.

  65. says

    Jay, racism and sexism are so commonplace as to be unremarkable… if you’re their targets. If you’re a white dude, you have the privilege of not seeing them.

    As for “humility,” maybe the hyperskeptical white d00dz who keep gaslighting the rest of us with “Nothing’s wrong, calm down” should get some.

    Oh, and google is your friend.

    Avicenna:

    …while bitching about men of colour.

    Not cool.JanaTheVeganPiranha:

    These emotional cripples

    Uhhhhhhhhh. No.

  66. ik says

    Karl Kanadi:
    Less on blaming & accusing, more on persuading & solving.
    Calling out and shaming bigots is part of solving the problem.

    It can be, and is certainly effective. However, I think that with SOME types of racism esp. the more non-inclusive types, social compliance will be very effective.

  67. raatrani says

    Getting back on topic…

    I’m a white, cisgendered straight female, living in Southern California and am very active in our local Reddit social group. Many of the members of our group are both non-religious/atheist and non-white, so I’m fortunate to have such a diverse group to observe. While we aren’t really “movement” per se, we do all frequently discuss religion and impacts to community, occasionally volunteer our time for social projects, etc. I guess our group is more “tangential” than actual “movement”, but the examples bear out.

    One of the things that stands out to me is a more institutionalized/cultural racism rather than overt, personalized racism (I probably wouldn’t even be aware of it if not for the sexism kerfuffle, as it exposed me to many different voices, many of them now all on FTB).

    The best example I can give is that any time a non-white member of our group identifies as non-religious, it’s actually seen as a sort of novelty. The reaction is almost patronising. One time in particular, a dark Hispanic friend of mine outed himself in a conversation between mutual friends and friends of friends on Facebook, in which the white atheists seemed surprised that he was a non-believer, and some actually commented on it by saying that they’d assumed he was Catholic, and how does his family respond to it, if they even know. His response to that was fantastic, an incredulous retort along the lines of “Dude, I’m an Engineer”, as if they ought to have assumed the opposite given his profession, and “is it any of your business what my family thinks?” in response to the invasive personal questions. I remember thinking to myself that the sense of entitlement shown by the white commenters was telling.

  68. says

    Most recent memory was hearing about phenomenal secular rapper should not act ‘hip hop’ when he performs at the Reason Rally. In other words, do not use profanity during his performance. Apparently though, having a PIANO and a EUROPEAN ACCENT lends credibility as Tim Minchin wasn’t CENSORED AT ALL, during his profanity laden performance.

    Greydon has helped piqued the interest of many in science and doesn’t walk around with pants sagged around his ankles. Also, his fanbase is predominantly white. Did the Reasn Rally powers-that-be think Greydon’s lyrics would elicit behaviors that would be considered uncouth??

  69. CommanderTuvok says

    “If you’ve seen or experienced racism in atheist communities – please comment on my blog. Some ppl think it isn’t real.” -Greta Christina

    If you’ve seen or experienced examples of vaccines causing autism – speak up. Some ppl think it isn’t real. -typical crank

    So glad we’re the enlightened ones.

    Data > anecdotes

    That basic rule of skepticism is often ignored by Greta and others at FreeThoughtBlogs. Depends if it “fits” their agenda or not.

  70. says

    @CommanderTuvok

    There’s a difference between skepticism and denialism. I think some of you need to learn that before you wander into discussions like this.

  71. Stevarious says

    Has really nobody mentioned that atrocity of a billboard put up in Harrisburg, PA back in march? “Slaves, obey your masters”.

    If I hadn’t already had a great deal of experience with the racist, bigoted homophobes that seemingly make up the vast majority of the central PA area atheists, I’d be inclined to chalk it up to ‘insensitivity’.

    Alas, I know better.

  72. Stevarious says

    @xenologer

    There’s a difference between skepticism and denialism. I think some of you need to learn that before you wander into discussions like this.

    He didn’t ‘wander in’, he’s a well known sexist bigoted troll.

  73. ATHEISTAGNOSTIC says

    Hi, I’m the operator of Atheists & Agnostics on Twitter. Some of you may also remember the old Atheists Agnostics Skeptics & Humanists on MySpace I co-directed back in the day. I was very disappointed in Greta’s response to our discussion Wednesday on Twitter. The last time I was accused of “hyper-skepticism” it was by a 9/11 truther (or maybe it was a homeopathy adherent). In any event, I’m not surprised that she saw the discussion as not having gone well. It broke down into white atheists making accusations of racism and atheist persons of color (like myself) trying to come up with solutions to the problem of increasing PoC’s at atheist events and in the community as a whole. The only racism in the discussion was from one other white atheist woman accusing me of being a self-hating Latino, ironically the only real racism I’ve experienced from another atheist.

    Skepticism is not a cloak of righteousness we can slip off when our ideologies become more enticing. The fundamental reason for this is that such is necessary to identify the actual problem. The question was never can some atheists be racist (unfortunately Greta’s chosen to move the goalposts here), but was always is such so significant that it explains why PoC are visibly absent from events (and the community as a whole) or is something deeper. It’s clear from the comments that it is not the former. Tragically, these comments are not uncommon (far less than I thought there would have been) than in many a workplace which are far more integrated than our conferences. If every white atheist was on his or her best behavior, there would still exist far more messy barriers, including:

    Major non-racist cultural differences between whites and PoC
    Major differences among PoC
    Major differences within ethnic groups (ex. Japanese vs. Chinese or Puerto Rican vs. Mexican)
    The near absence of multilingualism
    The dependence of AA and Latinos on churches for social and financial support
    The prejudices among PoC towards atheism (to many Central & South Americans, atheism = Communism)
    Real problems in education for many PoC

    These are real barriers that require real solutions. I leave it up to the readers to see who has more accurately reflected our discussion on Twitter. Regardless, I’m still a big fan of Greta’s and hope that non-white atheists & agnostics will take up the charge and help address the challenges ahead.

  74. says

    I’m a black atheist and have never experienced any racism at secular gatherings. I have however had people treat me like bigfoot because black atheists are so rare. I don’t get overly up in arms about things said online.

  75. says

    And uh, can we stop with the always trying to find reasons to be victims? Sexism, racism, veganism, etc. That’s all these blogs seem to be about, who’s going to play the victim card this week. If we act as humanists and leave all the isms to the unreasonable, we’d be much better off. I can make anything seem racist if I was looking for it. I don’t look for it and quite frankly just don’t see it in the secular community. Me being temporarily uncomfortable is not the same as racism and the same applies for the other isms people get emotional about. Lets be the reasonable people we claim to be and not the dramatic victimist we seem to have become.

  76. says

    I hate to backseat moderate, but it kind of seems to me like the purpose of this thread is for people to give their personal experiences with racism in atheist communities.

    I realize that there are a lot of people posting who have a serious problem with letting anybody who has experienced racism say so, and I’m real sorry for you and Imma let you finish, but you’re derailing and it’s rude.

    Even aside from the whole rest of the internet, Greta herself has all sorts of other posts for people to go to if they wanted to debate whether racism is still a real thing in any broader cultures or in any atheist subcultures, so I suggest all y’all derailers go where your denialism is at least germane denialism.

    Unless of course your point is to keep the actual topical discussion from happening because it makes you uncomfortable to hear how our communities actually feel to some of the people who might otherwise participate. Seriously, though, if that’s the deal then at the risk of being a dick, y’all kinda blow.

  77. Stevarious says

    Shorter evolvedthinker:

    I’m not affected by racism, so everyone should stop talking about it!

    Nobody forced you to read this article or comment on it.

  78. says

    “Nobody forced you to read this article or comment on it.”

    Nobody forced you to read my comment and respond to it. I’ve noticed that it’s not normal here, but it’s not a requirement to agree with the sentiment of the group. I’m sick and tired of all the dramaqueenesque behavior and this desire to be victims. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll come up with a thread code of conduct which mandates comment section agreement only.

  79. Greta Christina says

    And uh, can we stop with the always trying to find reasons to be victims? Sexism, racism, veganism, etc. That’s all these blogs seem to be about, who’s going to play the victim card this week.

    evolvedthinker @ #83: If you, personally, have not experienced significant racism in the atheist community, then that is good news and I’m happy to hear it. But your personal experience is not universal. Lots of people have experienced it or seen it first-hand. Read the comments in this thread.

    People are not looking for reasons to be victims. People are trying to solve a real problem. The fact that you have not experienced this problem, or have not experienced it much, does not mean that it doesn’t happen or that it isn’t real.

    And the reason I’m collecting these stories is not because anyone is “trying to find reasons to be victims.” I’m collecting these stories because there are lots of people who want to deny that these kinds of incidents take place. It is not “trying to find reasons to be victims” to say that there is a problem and to ask that it be addressed.

    If you don’t want to discuss examples of racism in the atheist/ skeptical communities, and instead want to debate whether this is a serious problem that the atheist community should be addressing, please read this piece, and this follow-up, and then — if you still think we shouldn’t be paying attention to this — make your case there. But people here want to tell their stories, and they want to do so in a place where their experiences won’t be ignored or trivialized simply because they’re not universally shared. Thank you.

  80. Greta Christina says

    ATHEISTAGNOSTIC @ #81: I obviously disagree with you about the nature of the Twitter conversation. But I hate meta-debates, and I don’t think hashing that out will be interesting to anyone, including me. I want instead to focus on content. Specifically, this content:

    If every white atheist was on his or her best behavior, there would still exist far more messy barriers, including:

    Major non-racist cultural differences between whites and PoC
    Major differences among PoC
    Major differences within ethnic groups (ex. Japanese vs. Chinese or Puerto Rican vs. Mexican)
    The near absence of multilingualism
    The dependence of AA and Latinos on churches for social and financial support
    The prejudices among PoC towards atheism (to many Central & South Americans, atheism = Communism)
    Real problems in education for many PoC

    I absolutely agree that these are important factors in why the atheist community is so predominantly white. My point — among others — is that too many white atheists either ignore these factors, or throw up their hands and say, “Look at all these cultural factors keeping PoC in religion or making it hard for them to come out as atheists — there’s nothing we can do about that, we might as well give up and not bother.” And that is not okay.

    My point is that we have a strong tendency to say that this should be a one-size-fits-all movement — and that this size should be the size that it already is, a size that comfortably fits white, straight, middle-class, college-educated, cisgendered men. My point is that, when we ignore these factors that keep PoC in religion or make it hard for them to come out as atheists, and don’t work to adapt our community to address these factors, that is a form of racism.

  81. ischemgeek says

    This is likely OT, but I have to point out to evolvedthinker and others who don’t think racism is a problem: If Greta didn’t ask for personal experiences of racism, wouldn’t you then use the fact that there are ‘no’ accounts of it as evidence it’s not a problem?

    Seems you’re making a catch-22: if people talk about it, they’re trying to be victims, but if people don’t talk about it, it doesn’t happen.

    As a final note: as a white person in North America, I’m pretty insulated from racism. My post is about stuff I’ve observed as a white person in my interactions, not stuff I’ve been victim to personally.

    Just sayin’. My privilege is that racism doesn’t affect me directly that much. I can’t really “try to” be a victim of racism, except in the white-supremist “affirmative action is reverse racism!” sense. And yet I can still draw up general categories of most common racist things I’ve encountered – in other words, it happens enough that I can categorize it. If you haven’t experienced it, that’s great, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

  82. thetalkingstove says

    I’m sick and tired of all the dramaqueenesque behavior and this desire to be victims.

    Look at the list supplied in post #7. Do you think this is ‘dramaqueenesque’ or is this real racism that the atheist/freethought community should be combatting?
    And this tactic of dismissing people reporting discrimination as just wanting to be victims is horrible. Its just an unfounded assumption about their motives because you don’t like hearing them talk. It’s no better an argument than “shut up, crybabies”.

    Apparently though, having a PIANO and a EUROPEAN ACCENT lends credibility as Tim Minchin wasn’t CENSORED AT ALL, during his profanity laden performance.

    Actually, just to be a pedant, he’s Australian-accented. But the point on being white and therefore his language being acceptable certainly stands!

  83. says

    lol @thetalkingstove…dammit! you’re right, Tim is Australian lol revising my earlier statement: apparently if you have a piano and an AUSTRALIAN accent, profane language is more easily digested! ;)

  84. says

    For me, not overt racism as much as a “talking down to” attitude from white atheists when issues of race come up. Sort of the racial version of “mansplaining” if you will. “No no, you only feel that way because X, and if you were more rational you would understand that your feelings are wrong” when what they mean is “if you were more white”.

  85. says

    ATHEISTAGNOSTIC:

    The last time I was accused of “hyper-skepticism” it was by a 9/11 truther (or maybe it was a homeopathy adherent).

    Do you really think the existence of racist speech and attitudes contributing to a lack of diversity in the atheist community is anywhere near as unlikely as the orchestration of 9-11 by the CIA or the vindication of homeopathy? For homeopathy to work it would require our entire knowledge of chemistry and physics to be revised. For atheists to be racist just requires them to be average human beings. Which is the null hypothesis?

    The only racism in the discussion was from one other white atheist woman accusing me of being a self-hating Latino, ironically the only real racism I’ve experienced from another atheist.

    Are you sure that was racist? Maybe it was a “cultural difference”? I’m sceptical that such an exchange took place. Screenshots or it didn’t happen.

    Tragically, these comments are not uncommon (far less than I thought there would have been) than in many a workplace which are far more integrated than our conferences.

    The difference being that I have to put up with my coworkers even if I hate them, because I need to eat. Many of my friends and family hate their coworkers and endure their office politics because they need to keep their jobs. I don’t need to participate in the atheist community. I don’t get paid to do so. If I feel belittled and disrespected at work, I suck it up. If I feel belittled and disrespected around other atheists, I choose to spend my time elsewhere.

    Major differences among PoC
    Major differences within ethnic groups (ex. Japanese vs. Chinese or Puerto Rican vs. Mexican)

    What are these “major differences” between PoC or within ethnic groups that will prevent them from associating with each other? I volunteer as a tutor for refugee children, who are Afghani, Burmese, Sierra Leonean, Sudanese etc. Most of the time they get along with each other.

    Is this going to be something like “Chinese people hate Japanese people because of the rape of Nanking”? Or “Chinese people use hanzi while Japanese people use kanji”? It’s funny how you’re sure that prejudice from the white majority is not a factor contributing to the lack of diversity in the atheist community, but you seem convinced that prejudice or “major differences” between ethnic groups is a factor. Why the difference? Why give the majority a pass and lay the blame on us?

    Real problems in education for many PoC

    That’s true, and gnu atheists are disproportionately drawn from well educated and scientifically literate backgrounds (also a classism issue). If you’re working two jobs to make ends meet and lack the time to read widely or the money to travel and attend conferences, that’s going to prevent you from participating. However, there are a substantial number of PoC who are in that educated category, and we’re still underrepresented.

    I come from a so-called model minority (eeeeewww) background. I’m an Australian of Malaysian Indian background and everyone in my family has at least an undergraduate degree. My parents both have their Masters, and doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, etc. abound in my extended tribe. Education isn’t a problem for me. I am interested in secularism, humanism, separation of church and state, scientific literacy, and lots of other issues that the gnu atheists discuss. However, I’m pretty disheartened when it comes to attending a meeting or participating actively.

    A few years back when I was excited about being an atheist, I loved reading the richarddawkins.net website and forums (before the much-reviled and alleged fraud Josh Timonen closed them, obviously). Sally Strange linked to a post above where I talked about my experience:

    I regret leaving because it was a great place to read some interesting scientific articles and hear some very intelligent commentary. However, as time progressed, the most vocal commenters began to toxify the environment with their unchecked bullshit and privilege. They insisted that feminists, anti-racists and so on were just woolly-headed irrational thinkers, because sexism and racism no longer exist in the glorious West (such maladies only exist in backward countries populated by brown people with Arabic names, see Professor Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima”).

    Several times I saw threads in which Skeptical Dudebros announced that feminism was just another baseless religion, because sexism no longer existed in the West or was greatly exaggerated. While they could understand women in foreign (read: Muslim) countries being feminists, American and European women already had the right to vote and own property! That proves there’s no such thing as sexism, so American women are just whiny irrational bitches. And why do we need to attract more women? I don’t even see gender! All our leaders are men because they’re just better than women are, based on merit. (Gee, I wonder why women are underrepresented in the atheist community. I guess women are just less rational than men. It has nothing to do with the fact that the most vocal members of the atheist community are basically a nerdy old boys’ club.)

    I saw similar threads in which White Skepticdudes declared that it was an empirical fact that racism no longer existed in the West – after all, black people aren’t lynched any more, and Barack Obama is president – so therefore there was no need for “Black Skeptics” or anti-racism or whatever. In fact, black people are the ones who are racist for wanting special “Black Skeptics” groups to themselves! White Skeptics don’t even see race, that’s how progressive they are! Racism doesn’t exist, it’s all in our imaginations, and if we just stop talking about it, it’ll magically go away. People who bring up racism are the racist ones. (Gee, I wonder why people of colour are underrepresented in the atheist community. I guess minorities just lack the brainpower to be skeptical. How sad.)

    It must be nice to pretend racism doesn’t exist. It’s a bit harder for me, because when I was at school (just a few years ago) I had people calling me “black bastard”, “nigger”, “curry”, “Gandhi” at least once a week. Some of them bashed me. Perhaps they hadn’t yet received the memo that racism doesn’t exist any more?

    I waited for somebody to call these idiots out on RDF, but they never did. So I had to do it myself. And whenever I tried to say that, you know, maybe racism does exist, and some people don’t see it because they have the privilege of belonging to the majority, I was attacked for being irrational and hysterical. And suddenly I was now the racist one, for suggesting that white people in the West might not understand institutional racism because they don’t experience it directly and in-your-face the way the rest of us do.

    It had degenerated into a bunch of privileged dudes having an intellectual circle-jerk over how they were more rational than everyone else, especially dirty Muslims, women and brown people. They insisted that religion was the most evil thing in the world. Was that really true, I wondered? Personally, I have been hurt much more by racist people than by religious people. If they’re going to fight against one but not the other, are they really making the world a better place? And what about other issues like sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, poverty, social injustice… the list goes on. If you’re going to fight against religion claiming that it’s evil, but pretend every other bad thing doesn’t exist, and even actively engage in racism and misogyny yourselves, then why the fuck am I even on this website?

    Here are some of the kinds of comments I saw in the forums or main site:

    * Every mention of Islam: We need to stop or slow down Muslim immigration to Western countries. And maybe deport some Muslims. They are building mosques and spreading their faith. Islam is the most evil religion in the world. Christians are wrong but they aren’t so bad. Muslims want to convert or kill everyone. They want to marry our nine-year-old daughters and behead us.

    * But I have friends/family who are Muslim and they aren’t like that: Taqiyya, taqiyya! They’re lying, it’s part of their religion! See, I know Arabic words, so I know what I’m talking about!

    * Every mention of Creationism in Turkey: Hahaha! What a backward country! And they think we’ll let them join the EU! Dream on, Turks! You’re not part of Europe and you’ll never be European. Sux2bu

    * Mecca: Nuke it from orbit. I know it sounds horrible, but we’re in a war. They started the jihad. Wake up, West! We need to defend secularism before they cunningly migrate into our countries and have lots of Muslim babies.

    * Every mention of religious fundamentalism in an Islamic or Hindu country: Wow, Muslims and Hindus are so backward. It makes you appreciate living in an historically Christian country. We need to stop being politically correct and tell it like it is. It takes courage and originality to say that brown people are savage, violent, backward primitives. They need the West to teach them how to behave decently. Yeah, I went there, bro.

    * Every mention of African Christians exorcising witches: Wow, Africans are so backward. I’m not sure we can blame Christianity for this, because real Christians are nice like my Uncle Fred. It’s their Africanness that makes them so ignorant and dangerous.

    * Here’s a paper suggesting that sub-Saharan Africans have low IQs. Let’s debate it! It would explain why black people are so socioeconomically disadvantaged. Name one African philosopher!! See, they’ve contributed nothing to civilisation!

    * Here’s a paper suggesting that Maoris have a gene that makes them more violent than whites. It would explain why they’re overrepresented in jails in New Zealand… handily ignoring colonisation… and here are some pictures of ugly Maori gangsters.

    * We shouldn’t let people into our country unless they believe the same things I do.

    * Tribal Africans look more like apes than white people do. Africans look more like our ancestors because Africa is where the human race originated.

    * Feminism has gone too far in the West. It’s another religion!! I should be allowed to make sexualised comments about women all the time because Evolution made men want to maximise their reproductive opportunities. My ancestors didn’t care about women’s feelings, so why should I?

    * Black Skeptics? Diversity?? What is this politically correct bullshit?? We don’t need to specially cater to PoC. If they’re not turning up to our meetings, it’s because they’re not rational like me, bro.

    * The other day I met a pretty girl and it turned out he was a transsexual. Why do these people do so much damage to their bodies? I don’t understand, it makes me sick. Isn’t it a mental illness? Let’s have a debate!

    * Homosexuality is not evolutionary adaptive. Should society tolerate it or try to cure them? Let’s have a debate!

    * “Are you guys racist? Let’s have a debate!” How dare you! That’s offensive! Some things shouldn’t be debated.

    * I hate vegetarians. They’re a religion. “I’m vegetarian for non-religious reasons -” Today I specially slaughtered a chicken and masturbated over its bloody corpse while thinking of YOU. Because I’m RATIONAL and you’re a STUPID VEGAN BITCH.

    If I only heard these comments online I wouldn’t care. As someone who experienced a lot of racism and homophobia growing up (and still occasionally does), I don’t feel comfortable around people who pretend I’m making things up, or actually make discriminatory comments themselves. A lot of the mainstream online atheism discussions are dominated by a particular demographic: white, hetero, young males who lack maturity and believe that if they haven’t seen discrimination, it doesn’t happen. Because they’re right about religion, they assume that they’re right about everything else. They’re not willing to put themselves in other people’s shoes and consider other experiences. Sometimes they’re only interested in atheism because they get a kick out of being contrarian and rebellious, and because being a “rationalist” gives them an opportunity to feel superior. They certainly don’t care about social justice or other issues. This is part of the problem with building a community around a negative belief like “atheism” as opposed to, say, humanism. This is why the “atheist community” is inevitably going to keep splitting into subsets of atheists who have similar values – like those who care about racism and sexism, vs. those who don’t.

    I’m willing to work with other atheists on issues that we have in common like church-state separation, scientific literacy, secularism and so on. But I don’t really feel at home in the atheist community and it’s not part of my identity. When it comes to the issues that affect me deeply, like racism and homophobia, the atheist community doesn’t have my back. And why should they? I have to rely on myself or go to other places to get the support I need.

    I just want to thank Greta Christina for using her prominent voice to raise these issues. She’s already been through the backlash over her stance on sexism, and now she’s sticking her neck out for an issue that doesn’t affect her directly.

    Thanks. I appreciate it. And because of people like you, there will be more people like me in your movement in the future. Sadly I probably won’t be one of them.

  86. says

    @Winterwind

    You are now officially my hero. I honestly cannot give you enough kudos for that response. It was nothing short of spectacularly eloquent and it brilliantly conveyed your message. Well said doesn’t even come close.

  87. ik says

    That’s really pathetic. I wonder if they forgot about freaking Ataturk and his secularism. OR for that matter the way that the Ottoman Empire prevented people from revolting everywhere by means of religious tolerance. Or the fact that Islam forbids coercive conversion. It’s not terribly unlike Christianity though it seems to have more really horrible conservatives with more power at the current time. Turkey is actually kind of cool, I think.

    Not to mention that IMO we should be skeptical of ASPECTS of feminism et al, but these idiots have ruined that for us.

  88. Yasu says

    WWYD has many examples of such social behavior and it is interesting to think about such things.

  89. oolon says

    I see some people are criticising the question as not being sceptical – anecdotes and all. I’d criticise it because it is meaningless – what is ‘the atheist community’? Its a global group of people from totally different backgrounds and cultures so it is ridiculous to assume there *should* or *should not* be any particular property other than they identify as not believing in supernatural agents. Even that is up for debate as I’m a level 6 on Dawkins scale and some like Hitchens said he was a 7.

    The undercurrent I don’t personally like in any of these questions about ‘The community’ is that it is somehow assumed because we are all incredibly intelligent to have come to the earth shattering conclusion that there is/probably no god(s) that we are ‘enlightened’ and immune from prejudice. After all is that not the basis of prejudice itself? Assigning non-existent positive properties to your ‘community’ or group whether it be men, white folk or whatever while de-humanising and assigning negative properties to the ‘others’ outside of your group?

    So to answer your question I’d say yes – also in other news – bears shit in the woods and the Pope is a catholic.

  90. adamgordon says

    I’d criticise it because it is meaningless – what is ‘the atheist community’?

    You clearly have not been around here for very long.

  91. says

    @Greta,

    I’ve read this blog and there is NOT some overly racist element in the secular movement. There just isn’t. Anecdotes aren’t facts. Assuming that the low numbers of minorities is due to racism is not fact. I’ve noticed that facts/evidence don’t seem to matter. So a couple people feeling uncomfortable is racism? Really? Look, I’m sure the secular community has it’s share of racists as does every other group in the world but is it an epedemic or even a minor issue? No, it isn’t. This drive to find victims for everything and generate an epedemic out of one persons or a few peoples unsubstantiated claims is wasteful. I’m saying this as an individual that has no agenda on the matter. I’m black and atheist. I’ve experienced racism, I’ve seen it and dealt with it directly and until somebody can provide actual evidence that it is occurring in the secular community with some type of frequency, I’ll continue to consider blogs like this as victims hunts. It’s a waste of time. We should be promoting positive humanism not looking for wedge issues to exploit. People are free to post their “stories” as you state but I’m free (as in freethoughtblog) to state my opinion on the matter. If not, then change the name of the blog.

  92. oolon says

    @adamgordon

    You clearly have not been around here for very long.

    Yup, so what’s the point?

  93. Greta Christina says

    I’ve read this blog and there is NOT some overly racist element in the secular movement. There just isn’t. Anecdotes aren’t facts.

    If that’s the case, then your anecdotes aren’t facts, either.

    What evidence would you accept that would convince you? There is ample evidence that racism exists in the world at large. It would be an extraordinary claim indeed to say that it doesn’t exist in the atheist community. And if you can dismiss the stories being told in this comment thread and elsewhere as “a couple people feeling uncomfortable,” then I don’t know what to say to you.

  94. Greta Christina says

    …what is ‘the atheist community’? Its a global group of people from totally different backgrounds and cultures so it is ridiculous to assume there *should* or *should not* be any particular property other than they identify as not believing in supernatural agents.

    oolon @ #98: Right. And all gay people have in common is the fact that they like to have sex with people of the same sex. And all African-American people have in common is their skin color. Would you argue that these communities are also ridiculous?

  95. ATHEISTAGNOSTIC says

    @GretaChristina

    Thank you for the constructiveness of your response. There are several problems with your assessment that I see would impede the progress you’re attempting to make.

    First, not every problem of race is an act of racism. Looking at the list I created seems overwhelming to me (a person of color) as well, am I racist because of that? Secondly, by the standard you use, persons of color could be considered racist for not being more amenable to events of mostly whites. Now before your head explodes (just kidding), let me give you a couple of rather benign examples. I was with a group of like-minded white friends who wanted to listen “Prairie Home Companion”. I think the show is a staple of Americana…and the most boring show I can listen to and many Latinos & African Americans you can survey will concur. This is not racism. I found out later such a difference was spoofed on the “The Cleveland Show”, where Garrison Keillor tells a meandering joke to an entirely receptive white audience, with the exception of one black man who said “I hate white people.” I’ve been scolded by several white girlfriends for overseasoning their parents food when invited over. I just find it quite bland compared with what I was raised on. This is also not racism. Neil DeGrassee Tyson and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are not being racist because they’ve not made this issue a priority.

    The problem I see here is an either-or-fallacy, i.e. racism or integration. We’re going to have to learn to excel within the richness of our diversity. It is unfair to the many hard-working people at these events, and those that enjoy them, of racism without just cause. Let us look at some quantifiable efforts to accomplish our goals. For example, creating an effort within secular groups to:

    Translate atheist materials and videos
    Creating a private inner-city tutoring service in reading. mathematics and science (good grief, two of the three richest men in the world are non-believers!)
    Make forums that talk about outreach to persons of color, a staple of secular events

    You might say that both approaches are not mutually exclusive, but how willing are people to go above and beyond to do such things when approached by those calling them racist?

  96. Phil says

    101 posts and maybe 5 with examples of “oh I’m surprised you’re an atheist” for the most racist example? Not much to write home about is it.
    I think it’s fair to say atheists, according to this thread, are fairly non racist.
    Doesn’t anyone have a genuine kentucky fried racist story? Anybody? No neo Nazis? Sons of Confederate Veterans? Minutemen? Tea party? Nation of Islam?
    Somehow I don’t think many of these extremists are skeptics.

  97. reneerp says

    101 posts and maybe 5 with examples of “oh I’m surprised you’re an atheist” for the most racist example? Not much to write home about is it.
    I think it’s fair to say atheists, according to this thread, are fairly non racist.
    Doesn’t anyone have a genuine kentucky fried racist story? Anybody? No neo Nazis? Sons of Confederate Veterans? Minutemen? Tea party? Nation of Islam?
    Somehow I don’t think many of these extremists are skeptics.

    I think you missed Winterwind at @94 for a pretty substantial set of evidence.

  98. Greta Christina says

    101 posts and maybe 5 with examples of “oh I’m surprised you’re an atheist” for the most racist example? Not much to write home about is it.

    Phil @ #106: Which comment thread are you reading?

    Karl Karnadi @ #2 was told to “read books & learn english.”

    Laura-Ray @ #6 reports that a Spanish-speaking speaker at the Reason Rally was talked over by the crowd.

    Anymous Person @ #7 has been told, 1) You are very smart for a Mexican. 2) You are very pretty for a Mexican. 3) I like you Latinas because you are Latin spitfires/feisty/are just more sexual/curvy/ etc. 4) You aren’t like other Mexicans. You know, you are not lazy/ untrustworthy/ don’t value education/ overly emotional/ etc. 5) She’s just crying because those Latin folks are overly emotional. Don’t pay her any mind. 6)Are you documented? 7)So you are Hispanic? I love Latin porn!(Context: Nothing against Latin porn, but I had only just met this person.) 8) Why can’t Mexicans and Blacks be more like Asians? 9) Hey, I just met you and don’t know anything about you but *insert Mexican Maid jokes here*(That always stings a bit because I supplement my income through maid work). 10) Illegals are [insert horribly dehumanizing statement here], oh wait…you aren’t illegal are you? 11) If he didn’t want the police to profile him, why was he dressed like an illegal? 12) Debate me right now about immigration even though I just met you! 13) Hispanics and Blacks get everything handed to them. 14) No offense but Hispanics and Blacks are kind of ruining this country.

    Rebecca Hensler @ #13 reports that a commenter on Grief Beyond Belief said of Trayvon Martin, “Maybe if she had spent five minutes trying to raise a decent human being, instead of a thieving, drug using wannabe gang banger, things might have turned out a little differently…”

    SallyStrange @ #16 provides a link to Winterwind, reporting on being called racist for wanting to discuss racism.

    Danikajaye @ #22 reports on a conversation with his atheist brother in-law where he said he wouldn’t hire and Aboriginal person even if they had the exact same qualifications (or better) than a non-Aboriginal applicant, because he believed they were less evolved.

    Ani Sharmin @ #29 reports on anti-immigrant comments at the RDF forums.

    And that’s just a third of the way through the comment thread.

    If you don’t see serious examples of racism here, then I have nothing more to say to you.

  99. Greta Christina says

    ATHEISTAGNOSTIC @ #105: There is a difference between saying that someone is a racist, and saying that they have some racism. I’m not saying the first one (it’s sometimes true, but not super-often). I’m saying the second. Having some racist attitudes, even unconsciously, is nearly universal. And these unconscious biases affect our behavior. People need to acknowledge this, so we can take conscious action to correct it.

    No, people often don’t like to hear this. They often don’t like to hear that god doesn’t exist, either. Tough.

  100. cyranothe2nd says

    I was the adviser of my university’s atheist club for 2 years. I can’t tell you how many times I, as a white female, had to have the same argument over and over:

    1. People insisting biological race is a real thing.

    2. People insisting that race is connected to certain innate traits, ie that African people can run faster than white people because they are genetically predisposed towards being better athletes.

    3. Arguing against affirmative action.

    4. Arguing that POC actually oppress white people.

    I had these arguments OVER and OVER again in the years I was there. It was fucking exhausting!

  101. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @110:
    I don’t think your first two points have anything to do with racism unless the person making the argument goes on to argue that the existence of such differences justifies inequality. Anti-racism is the position that all peoples are equal, not necessarily that they are all identical.

    As I recently wrote over at Stephanie Zwan’s blog, I always cringe when people start bringing biology into discussions about the rightness or wrongness of inequality. To me anti-racism, like feminism, is first and foremost an ethical position, not an empirical claim about the precence or absence of staticstical differences between groups. I oppose discriminating against people of any group because it goes against my core values whether or not there are such statistical differences. As Steven Pinker puts it in The Blank Slate, “It is a bad idea to say that discrimination is wrong only because the traits of all people are indistinguishable”, as this seems to imply that discrimination wouldn’t be wrong after all if any innate differences should turn out to exist. If that’s not racism, then I don’t know what is.

    Personally I find the question of whether or not races exist spectacularly unimportant. Depending on your definition of “race” the answer can either be a trival yes or no, but either way, it should’t have any bearing on whether or not discrimination is wrong. At the very least let’s agree that it’s a scientific question, not a moral one, and we shouldn’t put a moral finger on the scales one way or the other, or we should stop calling ourselves “skeptics”.

  102. oolon says

    @Greta

    Right. And all gay people have in common is the fact that they like to have sex with people of the same sex. And all African-American people have in common is their skin color. Would you argue that these communities are also ridiculous?

    Obviously not very clear – I think the ridiculous part is saying any property *should* be expected from one of those communities. Ok so you can expect African-Americans to have some recent African descent and you can expect gay people to have certain sexual preferences. What is ridiculous is expecting African-Americans to be better at basketball or saying they *should* like fried chicken then being amazed when a sub-set appears to not like chicken at all – maybe they are vegetarians!

    So why do some people thing *atheist* = *should* not be racist? That is what I think is ridiculous – I see little to imply that such a loosely defined community would not have all the properties and prejudices of the human race as a whole.

  103. Pen says

    “Humanity is a ring species”

    I didn’t take that one too well. Still it’s the most racist thing I’ve heard in person from another atheist. I’m not counting any online stuff at the moment.

  104. says

    I quickly learned by being online in Atheist forums-have NO expectations of Atheists other than the rejecting claims of god(s) based on lack of evidence. While many of us have a semblance of an intellect it by no means mean we’re superior. The commonality is lack of deities in our lives. Some of us are idiots, racists, sexists, xenophobic, classist, homophobic etc. Believing otherwise will lead to disappointment. I don’t often come to blogs of the more well known Atheists because I choose to support those who are not as well known. This blog was an exception after viewing the discussion on Twitter.

    I challenge myself to take other people’s issues and hurts endured in the community serious. If you’re fortunate enough to have gone unscathed-GOOD FOR YOU. But for Zeus’ sake, don’t think these serious issues DO NOT EXIST-they do. I can no longer stomach the online forums-some Atheists are just as bad as the KKK, Fundie Xtians or Black Hebrews and it’s disturbing.

    Now that this post has been created, Greta-what will you do with the data? I’ve noticed…issues aren’t taken serious unless it happens to a white prominent Atheist (excluding the Atheist youth in school). How will this blog topic make a difference? I’m sincerely asking.

  105. Apxeo says

    @Bjarte (#111)
    I can grant the distinction between racialism (the belief that races have a biological reality) and racism (that there is some ranking of said “races”). That said, I do see racialism quite a bit in skeptic/atheist communities, and it still disturbs me, even though I can accept it is not QUITE the same thing as out-and-out racism. It is a very short skip from racialism to racism. Anyone who accepts racialism is vulnerable to accepting racism–they arise from the same set of misunderstandings.

    On the other hand I don’t know if skeptics are more vulnerable to this kind of thinking or just reflect the broader population. There has definitely been a popular upswing in racialist and racist science in recent years.

    I think you are (inadvertently) straw-manning cyranothe2nd by conflating race and human variation, thus basically having her say that human variation does not exist. She is not, and this is not implied in her statement that race does not have a biological reality.

    Race is an incoherent concept and can, as you note, be defined however one wants. But however you define the term, it has an insidious cultural loading. If you are going to redefine “race” as “biological population” instead of how it is popularly understood, just use the term “biological population” instead. But race, as commonly understood, is not the same as biological population, and the existence of biological populations does not in any way demonstrate the existence of races.

    I think we all accept the is/ought distinction, but I do not think it should be used to try and insulate science (or in Pinker’s case evolutionary psychology) from critique of the non-scientific assumptions of that work. If you are starting your scientific research from an assumption that biological races OUGHT to exist, then you are starting from an ideological position, (because you sure as hell aren’t starting from a good empirical one), and consequently you don’t get to insulate that position from ethical critique. Besides race has been knocked down so often and it keeps coming back–every time there is a new tool for studying human variation, it seems there is a new group of scientists going “Aha, NOW we can prove biological race exists.” At this point in history it is valid to wonder about such scientists’ ideological assumptions. “How many times are you guys going to try, and WHY do you keep trying?”

  106. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @Apxeo (#115)

    Anyone who accepts racialism is vulnerable to accepting racism–they arise from the same set of misunderstandings.

    If the only thing that keeps a person from wanting to discriminate against other races is the conviction that there are no other races to discriminate against, then that’s a far more serious problem than the actual existence or non-existence of different races, don’t you think?

    I think you are (inadvertently) straw-manning cyranothe2nd by conflating race and human variation, thus basically having her say that human variation does not exist. She is not, and this is not implied in her statement that race does not have a biological reality.

    I beg to differ. cyranothe2nd mentioned “People insisting biological race is a real thing” as an example of racism. My point was not to “conflat[e] race and human variation” or “hav[e] her say that human variation does not exist”, but to say that the existence or non-existence of such variation does not make discrimination any more or less wrong, whether you choose to call it “race” or not. You could substitute “such differences” for “races” in the first sentence of my previous post, and my argument would essentially be the same.

  107. Bjarte Foshaug says

    If you are starting your scientific research from an assumption that biological races OUGHT to exist, then you are starting from an ideological position, (because you sure as hell aren’t starting from a good empirical one), and consequently you don’t get to insulate that position from ethical critique.

    That would indeed be awful research, as would any piece of research that started from the assumtion that races ought not to exist. This is why I wrote the part about putting a moral finger on the scales.

    Besides race has been knocked down so often and it keeps coming back–every time there is a new tool for studying human variation, it seems there is a new group of scientists going “Aha, NOW we can prove biological race exists.” At this point in history it is valid to wonder about such scientists’ ideological assumptions. “How many times are you guys going to try, and WHY do you keep trying?”

    Perhaps because it hasn’t really been knocked down as decisively as some would like to think? You more or less admit that you see certain scientific findings as inherently dangerous because they make people “vulnerable to accepting racism”. I hope you agree that this is not exactly the world’s most neutral or unbiased starting point.

    I get the point about words having “baggage”, and maybe that in itself is sufficient reason to avoid talking of “races”. As I said, I don’t really care one way or the other. My main point is that the non-existence of “races” (I grant you the point for the sake of the argument) should not be our stated reason for opposing racism (as if discriminating against other people would be less wrong if races did exist).

  108. left0ver1under says

    I’m not trying to derail the thread, but one of the big problems in discussing bigotry is response versus time. People spend as much time thinking about what they read as it takes time to respond.

    In years and decades past, mostly pre-internet, when people read a newspaper or magazine article that seemed controversial, they took time to read it again and makes sure they understood. After all, if one was going to send a letter that took days or a week to send, it was important to know that what was said was understood correctly, not misunderstood or taken out of context.

    Now, though, because of email, social media, blogs and other internet communications, a response can be sent in seconds…which is exactly how long some respondents take to think about what was said. More often than not, responses you read are kneejerk reactions, and occasionally some of it is gainsaying and outright misconstruing of the words. People don’t want to take the the time to clarify things anymore. I encountered that just the other day after I make a comment on a different FtB blog, someone assuming I meant something I never said.

    On Crommunist’s blog is a post by a guest of his, “Irrational Rationalists”. Read comment #2, which is a patient response by the blogger himself. Crommunist responded to the post looking for clarification, humourously pointing out a poorly chosen word in the text which could be mistaken as demeaning, even though it wasn’t intended to be. We need more people doing that, seeking the best instead of assuming the worst. We need those writing to think more carefully about what they’re saying to avoid misunderstanding.

    And no, I’m not suggesting that those who point out bigotry are making things up; ignorance is as plentiful now as it every was. I’m saying those who speak poorly and are unintentionally bigoted might respond better to correction than accusation…unless, of course, they’re actually proud of their bigotry and would never listen anyway (e.g. Lou Dobbs).

  109. Apxeo says

    @Bjarte. Just a clarification. I didn’t “more or less admit that [I] see certain scientific findings as inherently dangerous because they make people “vulnerable to accepting racism””. What I said is “Anyone who accepts racialism is vulnerable to accepting racism–they arise from the same set of misunderstandings.” To rephrase, if I accept racialist science, then I am vulnerable to racist science, because they share important ideological assumptions. But yes, I do consider racist science dangerous. But I also consider it empirically wrong.

    I disagree with your argument that anti-racism is only an ethical argument. I understand your concern with a hypothetical discovery-that-will-prove-racism-is-scientifically-valid. And the appopriate response to that would be based on ethics. But, for me, that concern is on a par with someone proving astrology is scientifically valid. I am not just going to hedge any bets based on that probability.

    The other reason I disagree is that it creates a NOMA situation; one in which racism/racialism gets science and empirical claims (no matter how bogus), while anti-racism gets…morality. In doing so one removes racism from skeptical consideration (which is, after all, about evidence and reason). Maybe that is the problem I have noticed with many skeptics.

    It is perfectly valid to criticise racial/racist science on both empirical AND ethical grounds. You only get so many tries before you start looking unhinged.

    N.B. I am using “race” in the usual sense, not as a synonym for population (just in case).

  110. Stevarious says

    We need more people doing that, seeking the best instead of assuming the worst. We need those writing to think more carefully about what they’re saying to avoid misunderstanding.

    Absolutely this. A huge amount of commenting on the internet is people attempting to misconstrue other peoples’ words to find the most negative or irrational reading possible, instead of honestly attempting to figure out what the the person intended to say. It gets pretty tedious after a while.

  111. Bjarte Foshaug says

    I didn’t “more or less admit that [I] see certain scientific findings as inherently dangerous because they make people “vulnerable to accepting racism””. What I said is “Anyone who accepts racialism is vulnerable to accepting racism–they arise from the same set of misunderstandings.” To rephrase, if I accept racialist science, then I am vulnerable to racist science, because they share important ideological assumptions. But yes, I do consider racist science dangerous. But I also consider it empirically wrong.

    How is this different from what I said? Off course you don’t think there are any legitimate “scientific findings” to worry about (since they are all ideology-driven), but if science ever did lead most researchers to “the belief that races have a biological reality” (your definition of “racialism”), then that would indeed make them “vulnerable to accepting racism” (which is dangerous) according to your logic. You also seem very quick to infer that the only reason anyone could possibly reach such a conclusion is that they are “starting from an ideological position” which “arise[s] from the same set of misunderstandings” as and “share[s] important ideological assumptions” with racism*, whereas the people who have “knocked down” the concept of race so often in the past are only faithfully following the facts wherever they happen to lead (because obviously there is no bias involved in thinking that certain conclusions lead to highly undesirable consequences…).

    I disagree with your argument that anti-racism is only an ethical argument. I understand your concern with a hypothetical discovery-that-will-prove-racism-is-scientifically-valid. And the appopriate response to that would be based on ethics. But, for me, that concern is on a par with someone proving astrology is scientifically valid. I am not just going to hedge any bets based on that probability.

    Again, I beg to differ. Precisely because I keep a sharp distinction between empirical (do races exist or not?) and ethical (is it right or wrong to discriminate against people based on their ethnic origin?) questions, there is no “hypothetical discovery” that could possibly prove racism (an inherently value-laden position that splits humanity into “superior” and “inferior” races) “scientifically valid” even if race (a purely descriptive term) is shown to have some scientific validity.

    The other reason I disagree is that it creates a NOMA situation; one in which racism/racialism gets science and empirical claims (no matter how bogus), while anti-racism gets…morality. In doing so one removes racism from skeptical consideration (which is, after all, about evidence and reason). Maybe that is the problem I have noticed with many skeptics.

    No, arguments for or against the existence of races both fall under the domain of science and empirical claims, whereas arguments for or against racism both fall under the domain of ethics/morality/values.

    N.B. I am using “race” in the usual sense, not as a synonym for population (just in case).

    I’m not sure whether we agree or disagree regarding the existence of race “in the usual sense” or “as commonly understood”, since I see “race” as a purely descriptive term with no built-in value-judgements or ethical implications of any kind. What is meant by race “in the usual sense”?

    A final question: Is it also sexist to accept that sexes have a biological reality (feel free to call it “sexalism” or whatever you like if you need a label to make it sound more sinister)? If not, what’s the difference?

    * I am not denying that this ever happens, but neither am I prepared to say that this is the only reason anyone could possibly come to such a conclusion.

  112. Steinmaster says

    Atheists are racists?

    So what?

    All morals are relative. Do whatever you can get away with.

    And we don’t have Free Will anyway, as Sam Harris has proven.

  113. Bjarte Foshaug says

    @Apxeo

    After a closer reading, I can see how I may have misrepresented your views, and if so I apologize. I thought you meant accepting race as a legitimate concept causes racism, when in fact you seem to be arguing that both belief in the existence of races and racism have a common cause (i.e. the same set of misunderstandings/ideological assumptions). It still remains to be shown that therefore “Anyone who accepts racialism is vulnerable to accepting racism” (emphasis added) or that “they arise from the same set of misunderstandings” in all cases.

  114. says

    Winterwind, What a fantastic response! I want to cut and paste it in the sky, or on a mountain. Or all over my station wagon and drive around Australia. Thank you.

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