“Playing the Victim”: Oppression and a Catch-22

“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.”

In the recent comment thread here on Examples of Racism in Atheist/ Skeptical Communities?, ischemgeek made this comment. It was so perfect, and so succinct, that naturally I have to muck it up by expanding on it and gassing on about it.

When people talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, xenophobia, classism, ableism, etc. — we often get caught in a particularly nasty Catch-22, beautifully summarized above. If we don’t talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry… nobody will know about it, and it can and will be ignored. In fact, many people will assume that this particular form of oppression and marginalization and bigotry is now a thing of the past, and doesn’t even exist. If a certain amount of progress has been made in a certain area — sexism, for instance — many people will act as if the problem is entirely behind us, and we don’t have to worry about it, or think about it or, Loki forbid, change our behavior.

But if we do talk about this oppression and marginalization and bigotry? We get accused of “playing the victim card.” We get accused of making up the marginalization, or exaggerating it, or going out of our way to look for it, or twisting innocent events to frame them in this narrative of victimhood, or trying to manipulate people into giving us our way by scoring sympathy points we haven’t earned. And not at all coincidentally, this once again results in the marginalization being made invisible: ignored, treated as if it either flat-out doesn’t exist or is too trivial to worry about. [Read more…]

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 .

Race and Inclusivity — A To-Do List

Atheist A scarlet letter black backgroundIf we want the atheist/ skeptical communities to be more inclusive and more welcoming to people of color — what, specifically, can we do about it?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This post has a different comment policy than my standard one. It’s at the end of the post. Please read it and respect it. Thanks.

At the Secular Student Alliance conference earlier this month, the organizers did something really smart, something I’ve never seen before. At the lunch on Saturday, they had cards on the tables with discussion topics, topics that had been announced ahead of time in the conference packet — so you could pick which table to sit on, based on what you wanted to talk about. Not all the tables stuck to their topic… but ours did, and I’m really glad we did, and I want to report on the conversation.

I sat at the “Diversity — Minorities” table. And we had an excellent conversation. We talked about how, as difficult and painful as our community’s conversations about gender and sexism have been, at least we’ve been having them — in a way that we haven’t been, nearly as much, about race. The community has done a lot more work on gender diversity than we have on racial diversity, and we’re a lot further along in making practical progress. We talked at this lunch about some of the reasons this might be. (Some ideas floated: Our society is often racially segregated, and white people can ignore race in a way that men can’t ignore gender. Also, liberals and progressives often see race as a minefield, and are often scared to even talk about it for fear of starting a fight, opening old wounds, or saying something stupid.)

We talked about some of the obstacles to increasing racial diversity and making people of color feel more welcomed in the atheist movement. And we talked about what specific, practical action items people could take — individuals, local groups, national organizations, thought leaders, etc. — to improve this situation. I wanted to share that list, and talk about it, and solicit other ideas.

Here’s the list of action items we came up with:

* Speakers — invite more people of color as speakers, at conferences and for individual speaking events. (Here’s a list of prominent atheists of color, many of whom do public speaking. The list also includes organizations of atheists of color, some of whom have speaker’s bureaus or can put you in touch with speakers.)
* Don’t be afraid to talk about race. (This one is HUGE.)
* Do joint events with groups/ organizations of people of color. (Examples: speakers or discussions groups on the history of freethought among African-Americans, or the golden age of science in the Arab world.)
* Support appropriate events hosted by groups of people of color, such as service projects. Don’t just ask them to co-sponsor your events — ask them what events of theirs they’d like your support for.
* Don’t glom onto people of color when they show up at your group or event. (People of color sometimes say that, when they show up at all- or mostly-white atheist groups or events, they’re swarmed by overly friendly people who are SO DELIGHTED that a non-white person has shown up, in a way that’s overwhelming, and that’s clearly directed at their race. Don’t do this.)
* Don’t expect individual people of color to speak for their entire race.
* Listen to people of color — actively.
* Get your “Race and Racism 101″ on Google or at the library. Don’t expect people of color who come to your group or event to bring you up to speed.
* If someone calls you on your stuff — apologize.
* If someone calls you on your stuff, and you don’t agree — don’t immediately get defensive. Think about it, ask questions, take some time before you respond. “I’m not sure I agree, but I thank you for bringing it up, I need to think about this” can be your best friend.
* Don’t assume people of color are religious.
* Co-protesting – show up at protests about racism, and about issues that are strongly affected by race, such as economic justice or the drug war.

Thoughts?

COMMENT POLICY FOR THIS THREAD: This conversation is for people who already agree that increasing racial diversity is important to the atheist community and the atheist movement, and who think positive action should be taken to improve the situation, and who want to discuss how to go about that. If you want to debate this core proposition — if, for instance, you think the atheist movement should be entirely race-blind, and that paying any attention at all to race and racism is itself racist — this comment thread is not the place. Read these two pieces first: Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race, and Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do — And Why. Actually read them. If, after reading them, you still think we can and should ignore race and racial diversity, please feel free to debate that question on those posts. This is not the place for that debate. Attempts to derail this conversation, away from what the problems are and we can do about them and into whether this is even a problem and whether we should be doing anything, will be met with warnings, disemvoweling, banning, or any/all of the above. Thank you.

The Reason Rally, and Why It’s Good to Keep Hammering On About Diversity

There’s no way I can do just one Reason Rally report. It was something of a life-changing event, it was almost certainly a history-changing event, and I’m probably going to keep bringing ideas I got from it into my writing for some time.

So here’s the Reason Rally Idea For Today.

Those of us who keep hammering on about diversity in the atheist movement?

We need to keep doing it.

Why?

IT’S WORKING.

There was wonderful diversity at the Reason Rally. It wasn’t ideal; it wasn’t a perfect or even close reflection of the demographics of America or the world. (I don’t think it was, anyway: I was kind of in a distracted, blissed-out haze all day, and I wasn’t out there with a clipboard ticking off demographic boxes.) But I saw lots of women there, and lots of people of color, and lots and lots and lots of young people. As if it were the most natural thing in the world. As if it were obvious that this would be the face of atheism.

This is significantly different from the demographics we were seeing at big atheist events, even a few years ago. It’s so different, I have to assume that our conscious efforts to make ourselves more diverse have been paying off. [Read more…]

Diversity and the Best Atheist Blogger Award – Please Don’t Vote for Me

So I noticed the other day that my blog was one of the nominees for the About.com Readers’s Choice Award for Best Atheist/Agnostic Blogger. “Neat!” I thought. I voted for myself. I started getting ready to post a little post announcing the thing. I noticed that Pharyngula was one of the other nominees, and gave up any hope of winning the damn thing.

Then I noticed something else: All the other nominees were white.

Hm, I thought.

Then I checked out the other Readers’s Choice Awards in the Atheist/ Agnostic categories. And as far as I can tell, all of the nominees in all the categories are white. All the books in the Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Book category are by white people (white men, actually). None of the ads in the Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Ad category feature people of color. I can’t tell for sure about Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Podcast, or Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic to Follow on Twitter — but as far as I can tell, they’re all white people. (If I’m mistaken about that, please correct me.) And none of the groups nominated — Website, Facebook Page, Community — are people-of-color focused.

This is a problem.

We’ve been talking about this a lot lately, but we need to keep talking about it, so I’m going to say it again: We need to stop making the public face of atheism primarily white, and primarily male. If we don’t, we’re going to have a self-perpetuating cycle: people of color and women won’t see themselves represented in the atheist community, and won’t feel as welcomed in the community, and won’t participate in the community, and there won’t be as many strong women and people of color to become visible faces in the community… and around the circle we go. Consciously intervening in this cycle is the only way to stop it. And doing that now, relatively early in the development of our movement, is hugely important: before the self-perpetuating cycle gets set into a deep groove of habits and patterns that are hard to break out of, and before a history of resentment and rancor has time to really set in. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Other social change movements have been bitten on the ass by this issue, again and again, and if they had a time machine and could go back and deal with it in the earlier days of their movements, every one of them that I know of would. We have a unique chance to learn from their mistakes, and to get this right early. (Not early in the movement, period — atheism and atheist activism have been around for a while — but early in the seriously visible, vocal, powerful stage of the movement.) If we deal with it now, we won’t be spending nearly as much energy dealing with it in ten or twenty or fifty years.

For anyone who’s thinking, “Hey, this is just democracy in action, the top vote-getters got the top five nominations, there’s nothing racist about it,” I passionately urge you to read Greg Laden’s excellent piece, How To Make Diversity Happen, on how a selection process with no conscious attempt to be inclusive is almost always going to wind up perpetuating privilege. If you’re thinking that deliberately seeking diversity in a selection process will lower the quality of the candidates, I urge you to read Natalie Reed’s excellent piece, Thoughts from a Diversity Hire, on why diversity itself “is a qualification, a merit and a value.” (As well as on many of the other reasons why this accusation is baloney.) And for anyone who’s thinking that making a conscious effort to seek diversity is the same as advocating “tokenism,’ I urge you to read my own piece on that topics, Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity.

For the record: I’m not mad at Austin Cline, who runs the Agnosticism/ Atheism page at About.com. He’s handling this very well. He’s aware that this is a problem; he’s accepting the criticism about it with good grace and a sincere desire to fix it; he’s soliciting suggestions for how it can be fixed. That’s exactly what good people are supposed to do when something like this happens. (And on a purely practical, Macchiavellian level: That’s how you make something like this go away relatively quickly, instead of having it turn into a firestorm that eats the Internet for a week.)

But I’m just not comfortable being part of this. So please don’t vote for me. If I’m nominated again next year, and if the nominating process gets repaired in a way that makes it more inclusive, then knock yourself out. I will be happily trounced by Pharyngula at that time. But not this year. I’m pulling a Dillahunty. I’ve been nominated, but I will not run: if elected, I will not serve.

Frederick Sparks at Black Skeptics on Be Scofield, Greta Christina, and New Atheist Racism

There have been a lot of discussions about Be Scofield’s piece in Tikkun, chiding the so-called “New Atheists” for being racist and culturally imperialist because we think religion is mistaken and try to persuade people out of it.

I’m more than usually swamped for time right now, and don’t have time to get more deeply into the conversation. But I wanted to point out an excellent piece by Frederick Sparks at the Black Skeptics blog — Be Scofield, Greta Christina, and New Atheist racism — which dismantles Scofield’s piece with surgical precision, and hands it back to Scofield in neat little bloody pieces on a platter.

I especially liked how Sparks eviscerated Scofield’s out-of-context quoting of Sikivu Hutchinson’s Moral Combat, revealing that Scofield either didn’t read the rest of the book or didn’t digest its conclusions — since its conclusions are exactly the opposite of the one Scofield comes to.

If I started quoting the best bits, I’d just quote the whole damn thing. But I do want to mention this:

I don’t see an either or proposition between advocating for rational thought, where beliefs are based on evidence, and confronting issues of social justice. The idea that black people should be left alone in their clinging to Jesus due to their history of oppression smacks of just as much paternalism as what Scofield accuses the white new atheists of here.

Go read the rest of the piece. It rocks.

Atheist Arguments = Racist Cultural Imperialism?

Hey, did you know that when I try to persuade people that religion is probably mistaken and atheism is probably correct, I’m “reproducing cultural imperialism against Native Americans”?

No, really.

I don’t have time today to do a line-by-line fisking of Be Scofield’s latest screed in Tikkun against the so-called “New Atheists.” Which is irritating, since the piece targets me by name and at some length. (Or rather, it tries to target me and misses by a significant margin, since most of what it says about my opinions is wildly off-base.) Ophelia Benson has already ripped it about sixteen different new assholes, especially on the whole “New atheism = racist cultural oppression” front, so I’m mostly going to direct you to her.

But there are a few things here that leaped out of the screen and lodged into my brain like a grain of sand, and I won’t be able to rest until I can coat them with the pearls of my wit and wisdom, and get them the frack out of my system.

Okay. First of all.

When Greta Christina says that religious people should be actively converted to atheism or Dawkins likens religion to a virus that infects the mind they are effectively saying “we know what’s best for you.”

No.

I am not saying that I know what’s best for you.

I am saying that, on this particular question, I think I’m correct, and you’re mistaken. [Read more…]

Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity

When a list of Top Five atheists doesn’t include any women, you’ve got a problem.

When a list of Top Five atheists doesn’t include any women — and the creator of the list says it’s because he didn’t want to include any “tokens” — you’ve got a bigger problem.

You may have seen the Atheist of the Year contest at the Examiner, created by Staks Rosch of Dangerous Talk. There’s been a fair amount of discussion about it, largely because — in a year when discussions and debates and controversies about sexism have dominated the atheist community — there was not one woman on the list. Rosch has been widely criticized for this… but instead of simply acknowledging that this was a problem and promising to do better in the future, he’s decided to double down. He’s defending his decision: saying that he considered some women for inclusion in the list, but he didn’t deem any of them worthy, and he didn’t want to include one just to have a “token.”

A token.

His word. Used eight times, in a 677-word post. Ten, if you count the title, “Tokens or No Tokens.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Ophelia Benson has issued a masterful takedown of this whole “token” idea, and exactly why it is so grotesquely insulting. Awesome pull quotes:

Doesn’t everybody know by now that it’s a tad insulting to attach the words “a token” to the words “black” and “female” automatically like that, as if it were simply obvious and universally acknowledged that a black and a woman couldn’t possibly be qualified?

Or to put it another way…what a rude dismissive contemptuous entitled thing to say. Newsflash: it is not the case that there are no black atheists or female atheists or black female atheists who are good enough to be nominated as Atheist of the Year. It is not the case that any black or woman so nominated would be a worthless talented zero who was nominated solely as a “token” of good will. It is the case that implying otherwise is deliberately insulting.

What infuriates me even more about this whole thing is that Rosch is citing me as a supporter of “tokenism.” I shit you not. Quote, from his recent post defending his decision:

In the comments section [at Blag Hag], Greta Christina made a case for the token nominee and that is something I will have to consider next year.

Shame on you, Staks.

At no point did I advocate making a “token nominee.” What I advocated for was taking gender into account when considering your nominees. That is absolutely not the same as making a “token nominee.” “Token” implies that the nominee is not actually qualified, but is being included solely for their gender (or race, sexual orientation, etc.). Here, exactly, is how the Blag Hag exchange you’re referring to took place:

You:

My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may? I seriously would like to know.

Me:

DangerousTalk: Take gender into account. Because — among many other reasons — there is virtually no way that you can genuinely be gender neutral. We are all influenced, even if unconsciously, by sexism, including the tendency to see what men do as more serious and important than what women do. And as a result, women don’t get promoted as serious participants in society… and as a result of that, we don’t see what women do as serious… If we don’t make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women, this vicious circle will continue forever. So please, yes, in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work.

(Ditto people of color, LGBT people, etc.)

Tokenism is not inclusivity. Inclusivity means (okay, gross oversimplification here) being aware of your own biases (conscious and unconscious), and being aware of the biases of the culture you live in (conscious and unconscious), and being aware of how these biases become self-fulfilling prophecies, and making a conscious, pro-active effort to overcome them. Tokenism means patronizingly including one member of the marginalized group in question, without regard to qualifications, and without any real attempt to make deep-rooted change either in yourself or in society.

Shame on you for equating them.

Atheists of Color – A List

Sikivu HutchinsonHemant MehtaDebbie Goddard

Ayaan Hirsi AliHector AvalosAnthony Pinn

Jamila BeySalman RushdieArundhati Roy

David SuzukiMaggie ArdienteSimon Singh

Charone PagettDan Barker Taslima Nasreen

Donald WrightMina AhadiSanal_Edamaruku

So here it is, as promised — a list of prominent atheists of color.

And, since it seemed relevant — here, also, is a list of organizations of atheists of color, and atheist organizations predominantly focused on/ participated in by people of color.

If you’re helping to organize an atheist conference, and you want your conference to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re an atheist writer or activist, and you want your quotations/ citations/ blogroll/ etc. to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re simply part of the atheist community/ movement, and you want to be more familiar with the work of a wider range of atheists, a range that’s more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? Hopefully, this list will help.

(Note: In case you’re not already aware of it, here, in a similar vein, is a large list of awesome female atheists, compiled by Jen McCreight at BlagHag.)

A couple of quick notes before the list itself. First, and very importantly: This is a work in progress, and I’ll be updating it regularly. So please feel free to make suggestions. If there are people who aren’t on this list who you think should be, or people who are on the list but you think shouldn’t be (because they’re not self-acknowledged atheists, for instance) — or if there’s information on the list that’s inaccurate or incomplete — please let me know, either in the comments, or by emailing me at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com. And if you yourself are on this list and want me to either remove you or correct/ update your information, please let me know.

(Important note: If you make suggestions of people who should be included in this list, please don’t just tell me their name! I need their name, the URL for their blog/ website if they have one, and a SHORT list of credentials: books, blogs, publications they write for, achievements, etc. If you only give me their name, I have to do a bunch of Googling and editing, and it’ll take longer to get them in.)

Second: This is not intended to be a list of famous atheists of color throughout history. That would certainly be a useful project — but it’s not this project. This is meant to be a list af atheists of color who are alive and active now.

Third: I do not want to get into an argument here about why we need this list, or how we should just be color blind and ignore race altogether. In a perfect world, maybe we wouldn’t need it. We don’t live in a perfect world. Among other things, well- meaning people can unconsciously perpetuate racial bias without intending to… and we need to take conscious action to counter this unconscious tendency. If you think the atheist movement doesn’t need to make a conscious effort to be more inclusive, then please read these pieces:

Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race
Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do — And Why

And if, after reading those pieces — not skimming them or reading the titles, but actually reading them — you still think we don’t need to make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of people of color, then please make your arguments ON THOSE POSTS. Not here. Comments here arguing that we don’t need this list will be disemvoweled or deleted. This post is for people who will find this list useful and informative, and/or who want to make suggestions about keeping it accurate and up to date.

Finally: Yes, I’m aware of the ironies and potential pitfalls of a white person compiling and publishing this list. Most obviously and most seriously, I know that it’s problematic for a white person to be the “gatekeeper” of a list like this. Any time a list like this gets compiled, decisions have to be made about who to include and who not to include… and I get that it’s problematic for a white person to be the one making those decisions. If a list like this already existed, compiled by a person of color, I’d just link to it and publicize the hell out it. But I asked a whole bunch of people of all races if they knew of such a list, and nobody did… and the general response was, “Yeah, that’d be useful, someone should really do that, HINT HINT.” The general sentiment seemed to be that it would be really, really good for a list like this to exist on the ‘Net, and that I should just go ahead and do it already.

So I’m dealing with this potentiall pitfall in two ways. One: When in doubt, I’m erring on the side of inclusion. I did decide against some people whose names had been suggested (mostly bloggers who haven’t updated in months, plus some people who don’t seem to self-identify as atheist). But for the most part, if I was on the fence about including someone, I went ahead and included them.

Two, and much more importantly: For this post and this post only, I am relinquishing copyright. If you want to copy this list and re-publish it on your own blog or forum or website or whatever — and you want to add to/ subtract from/ make changes to it as you see fit — please do so. I’m not only okay with this: I actively encourage it. In fact, if you do so, please tell me about it, and I’ll link to your list here.

(Other lists, from people who have taken me up on this offer:
Lists of Atheist/Agnostic Contacts You May Not Have Considered, at The Word Of Me…)

So here it is, as promised — a list of prominent atheists of color.

INDIVIDUALS

Robert Affinis, founder of the freethought apparel line Affinis Apparel, creator of the “Revolution in Photography” project
Mina Ahadi, founder of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims (Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime) and the International Committee against Stoning
Jim Al-Khalili, professor of theoretical physics, science broadcaster, President of the British Humanist Association
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel and Nomad, activist, politician, founder of the AHA Foundation
Tariq Ali, historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, commentator
Norm Allen, author of African American Humanism and Black Secular Humanist Thought, editor-in-chief of Human Prospect: A Neo-Humanist Perspective, secretary of Paul Kurtz’s Institute for Science and Human Values, former head of African Americans for Humanism, blogger at Black Skeptics
Anti-Intellect, blogger at Black Skeptics, Twitter personality (@Anti_Intellect), gay activist
Maggie Ardiente, director of development and communications, American Humanist Association; editor of Humanist Network News (AHA’s weekly e-zine)
Diane Arellano, blogger, Black Skeptics
Homa Arjomand, coordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada
Hector Avalos, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University, speaker/ debater, author of The End of Biblical Studies, Strangers in Our Own Land: Religion in U.S. Latina/o Literature, Se puede saber si Dios existe? [Can One Know if God Exists?], and more
Siana Bangura, blogger, The Heresy Club
Donald Barbera, author of Black But Not Baptist: Nonbelief and Freethought in the Black Community
Dan Barker, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation, author of several books, including Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists and The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God
Jamila Bey, atheist comedian and journalist
Reginald Bien-Aime, founder, Haitian FREE Thinkers, blogger at Haitian Atheist
Peach Braxton, videoblogger, The Peach
Naima Cabelle, atheist activist and member of Washington Area Secular Humanists
Ed Cara, blogger at The Heresy Club, comedian, actor
Ian Cromwell, musician and blogger, The Crommunist Manifesto
Bree Crutch, founder, Minority Atheists of Michigan (@MinorityAtheist)
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, founder, Maharashta Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samitee (Superstition Eradication Committee)
Heina Dadabhoy, blogger at Skepchick, speaker
Sanal Edamaruku, author and paranormal investigator, founder-president of Rationalist International, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, creator of The Great Tantra Challenge
Afshin Ellian, columnist for Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad and Elsevier; blogger; poet; law professor at University of Leiden
Mike Estes, Atheist Coalition of San Diego; public speaker
Reginald Finley, founder of Infidel Guy radio show
Walter O. Garcia-Meza, board of directors, Hispanic American Freethinkers
Bridget Gaudette, director of development for Foundation Beyond Belief, blogger at Freethoughtify, co-founder of Secular Woman, speaker (@BridgetGaudette & @freethoughtify)
Hemley Gonzalez, founder, Responsible Charity
MercedesDiane Griffin, blogger/ activist, founder /president of the Mercedes Parra Foundation for Women and Girls
Debbie Goddard, director of outreach at the Center for Inquiry, speaker, head of African Americans for Humanism
Jacques L. Hamel, Scientific Affairs Officer with United Nations, international science and technology policy expert
Mark Hatcher, founder of Secular Students at Howard University
Heather Henderson, podcaster at Ardent Atheist podcast, podcaster at Skeptically Yours podcast, lead female singer in Penn Jillette’s NoGodBand
Sundas Hoorain, blogger, The Heresy Club, political activist, human rights lawyer
Stanley Huang, Taiwanese-American singer, known for the song/ album “Atheist Like Me”
Sabri Husibi, speaker, Tulsa Atheist Group
Sikivu Hutchinson, writer and editor, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and Secular America, editor of BlackFemLens.org, Senior Fellow for the Institute for Humanist Studies, blogger at Black Skeptics
Leo Igwe, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Nigeria
David Ince, a.k.a. Caribatheist, blogger, No Religion Know Reason
Sam Jackson, Assistant Campus Organizer and Group Starting Specialist, Secular Student Alliance
A.J. Johnson, writer, speaker (@HappiestAtheist)
McKinley Jones, president, Black American Free Thought Association (BAF/TA)
S.T. Joshi, literary critic, novelist; author of God’s Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong and more; editor of Atheism: A Reader and more
Alix Jules, chair of diversity committee on the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition for Reason
Avicenna Last, blogger, A Million Gods
Naomi Love, Secretary, Black Nonbelievers
Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer, blogger, and BBC Radio broadcaster, author of Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy, Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate, and more
Hemant Mehta, blogger at Friendly Atheist, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay
Ian Andreas Miller, blogger, Diaphanitas
Jeffrey “Atheist Walking” Mitchell, atheist street philosopher and member of Black Skeptics
Maryam Namazie, rights activist, commentator and broadcaster on Iran, rights, cultural relativism, secularism, religion, political Islam and other related topics; spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; blogger
Meera Nanda, writer, historian and philosopher of science
Taslima Nasreen, author and activist; blogger at No Country for Women
Ramendra Nath, professor and author; head of Department of Philosophy, Patna College, Patna University; author of Why I Am Not a Hindu, Is God Dead?, The Myth of Unity of All Religions, and more
First Nation, blogger, Native Skeptic
Kwadwo Obeng, author, We Are All Africans
Adebowale Ojuro, author of Crisis of Religion
James Onen, radio broadcaster, blogger at Freethought Kampala
Charone Paget, producer/host of LAMBDA Radio Report, WRFG, Atlanta; on leadership team of Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta; founder of Queer and Atheist of Atlanta
Ernest Parker, leader of African Americans for Humanism DC
Anthony Pinn, author of numerous books on humanism, head of Institute for Humanist Studies, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University
Robin Quivers, radio personality
Robert Reece, blogger, Still Furious and Still Brave: Who’s Afraid of Persistent Blackness? (@PhuzzieSlippers)
Lorena Rios, board of directors, Hispanic American Freethinkers
Bwambale Robert, founder, Kasese Humanist Primary School, Kasese United Humanist Association
Sid Rodrigues, scientist, researcher, organizer of Skeptics in the Pub
Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things and more, activist
Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, Luka and the Fire of Life, Grimus, and more
Amartya Sen, Nobel-prize winning economist
Alom Shaha, science teacher, film-maker, and writer; author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook
Ariane Sherine, creator of the Atheist Bus Campaign
Labi Siffre, poet and songwriter
Simon Singh, author, journalist, TV producer, libel reform activist
Mano Singham, theoretical physicist, blogger
Darrel ‘Reasonheimer’ Smith, author/editor, You Are Not Alone: “BlackNones”
Felicia Smith, Vice-President, Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta
Frederick Sparks, blogger, Black Skeptics
Greydon Square, atheist rapper and spoken word artist
Wafa Sultan, author and critic of Islam and Islamic theocracy
David Suzuki, scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster; co-founder of the environmentalist David Suzuki Foundation
David Tamayo, board of directors, Hispanic American Freethinkers
Red Tani, Filipino Freethinkers
Nicome Taylor, blogger, Black Skeptics
Mandisa Lateefah Thomas, co-founder and President, Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta
Harriet Thugman, a.k.a. Donnie McTwerkin, Twitter personality (@HarrietThugman)
Andrew Ti, Tumblr blogger at Yo, Is This Racist?, comedian
Xavier Trapp, blogger at The Rev Speaks, co-host of the SERIOUSLY?! podcast (@Rev_Xavier)
Kim Veal, Blog Talk Radio, Black Freethinkers
Maria Walters, a.k.a. Masala Skeptic, blogger, Skepchick
Naima Washington, blogger, Black Skeptics
Ayanna Watson, founder of Black Atheists of America
Wrath James White, author, blogger at Godless and Black
Clarence Williams, author of Truth
Donald Wright, author of The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go, blogger at Black Skeptics
Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Communications Manager, Secular Coalition for America
Zhiyah, writer/blogger, The Affirmative Atheist
Indra Zuno, stage/ film/ television actress, Mexico and USA, appeared in “The Virgin of Juarez” and “The Violent Kind”

A note about Neil DeGrasse Tyson: When I was solicitiing suggestions for this list, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s name was brought up several times, by several different people. However, as I understand it, while Tyson calls himself an agnostic and a skeptic, he does not identify as an atheist, and does not want to be associated with the atheist movement. If anyone has current information showing that he does, in fact, identify as an atheist — and can provide a citation — I’ll happily put him on the list. Until then, I’ll respect his right to self-identify as he chooses. (Ditto with Ibn Warraq, who identifies as an agnostic but not an atheist.)

GROUPS/ ORGANIZATIONS/ GROUP BLOGS

African Americans for Humanism
African Americans for Humanism DC
Atheist Association of Uganda
Black American Free Thought Association (BAF/TA)
Black Atheists of America
Black Freethinkers Yahoo Group
Black FreeThinkers social network
Black Freethought discussion group, Atheist Nexus
Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta
Black Skeptics
Buddhiwadi Foundation/ Bihar Buddhiwadi Samaj (Bihar Rationalist Society)
Central Council of Ex-Muslims (Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime)
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Filipino Freethinkers
Freethought Kampala
The Grenada Free-thought Community
Harlem Community Center for Inquiry
Hispanic American Freethinkers
Hispanic Atheists of all Ethnic Groups
Indian Rationalist Association
Kasese United Humanist Association
Maharashta Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samitee (Superstition Eradication Committee)
Maharashtra Blind faith Eradication Committee, a.k.a. AntiSuperstition.org
Malaysian Atheists
Nirmukta
Secular Students at Howard University
South African Skeptics
Tarksheel Society (India)
Uganda Humanist Association

I hope people find this helpful. Again, if you have any suggestions for additions or corrections, please let me know: either in the comments, or by emailing me at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com.

Atheists of Color?

I want to compile a list of prominent atheists of color. Not in history (I might do that sometime later), but people who are alive and active now. Can you help me?

I’m getting a bit tired of atheist conference organizers saying, “We’d like to be more diverse and have more speakers of color, but we just don’t know of any!” Ditto atheist writers/ bloggers, and the people they cite/ link to/ put in their blogrolls. I do not want anyone to be able to say, ever again, “I’d like to be more diverse and not so white-centric, but I just don’t know of that many atheists of color!” In the future, whenever anyone says this, I want to be able to point them to a list. And I want other atheists to be able to do the same.

Jen McCreight has already done this with her large list of awesome female atheists. We need one for awesome atheists of color.

And no, I don’t want to get into an argument about why we need this list, or how we should just be color blind and ignore race altogether. In a perfect world, maybe we wouldn’t need it. We don’t live in a perfect world. Among other things, well- meaning people can unconsciously perpetuate racial bias without intending to… and we need to take conscious action to counter this unconscious tendency. If you think the atheist movement doesn’t need to make a conscious effort to be more inclusive, then please read these pieces:

Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race
Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do — And Why

And if, after reading those pieces — not skimming them or reading the titles, but actually reading them — you still think we don’t need to make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of people of color, then please make your arguments ON THOSE POSTS. Not here. Comments here arguing that we don’t need this list will be disemvoweled or deleted. This post is for people who want to help compile the list. Period.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony/ pitfalls of a white person compiling this list. If a list like this already existed, compiled by a person of color, I’d just link to it and publicize the hell out it. But I asked a whole bunch of people of all races if they knew of such a list, and nobody did, and the general response was, “Yeah, that’d be useful, someone should really do that, HINT HINT.” So fuck it. I’m just going to do it.

Help, please? Let me know about any out atheists of color you know of and whose work you admire. They should be reasonably prominent, and they should be open about their atheism. I need name, URL for blog/ website if they have one, and a SHORT list of credentials: books, blogs, publications they write for, achievements, etc. Thanks!