Resources to think about: black atheists

In the aftershow this weekend, a caller asked why there aren’t any black hosts of The Atheist Experience. As we discussed, this isn’t an act of deliberate exclusion. Over time, hosts come forward who are active members of the group and have an interest in representing the community in this way. For whatever reason, there are not very many regular black ACA members. For starters, the 2010 census shows that 8.1% of Austin is black, compared to 11.8% in the rest of Texas and 13.1% of the whole country. For another thing, it’s pretty well documented that African-Americans believe in God at a much higher rate than the general population.

We often get calls asking us to explain this last point, and we are hesitant to speculate about it to blatantly, since there are pitfalls of white people speaking for the black community. I did rattle off the names of a few well known black atheists that I am aware of. One name that came up was Ian Cromwell, a black atheist blogger at The Crommunist Manifesto. Word got back to Ian and I wound up in a brief chat with him last night. Ian mentioned that it may not necessarily be helpful to cast blame on us for not having black hosts, for the reasons I mentioned above. But also, he said that it should be easy for the caller to just google answers to the question of why there aren’t more black atheists.

I told him I don’t know where to find these resources myself, so Ian helped me out by offering up some links for me to check out. I have, and they’re worth reading.

Anyway, check them out. Knowledge is good. It’s also worth mentioning that we have an upcoming plans for Matt to have an on air discussion with David Tamayo, who spoke at the American Atheist convention about encouraging atheism in minority communities.


  1. dk says

    Hello fans of the atheist experience, my comment is not on the topic but i think many would be interested i just discovered the episodes missing from the archive OLD EPISODES——-YOUTUBE SEARCH——- ATHEIST EXPERIENCE PILOT/OR 98 THE CHANNEL IS AAJOEYJO 🙂

  2. davidct says

    Perhaps the fact that until recently, new minorities coming to Sunday brunch were greeted by a board member who was known for his bigoted comments helped to keep the numbers down. Since most members of the inner circle rarely attended this event, they can be forgiven their ignorance. The inner circle at the ACA involved in media production is not particularly welcoming to new people. The reputation of the ACA is almost entirely due to YouTube viewers. Core membership has shown essentially no growth.

  3. says


    Sorry for the delayed response, but I did want to address your comments. I’m aware of the individual you mentioned in your comment, and I spoke to him about this on a number of occasions. He’s not intentionally racist or sexist, but as we all know, intentions aren’t magic. He said some absolutely head-up-ass ignorant things that, I’m sure, turned people off to the ACA.

    I haven’t been a regular attendee at the Sunday brunch for the last year, but I’ll see what I can do to remedy that. For a while there, I was attending most Sunday activities – brunch, studio, after-show dinner – as well as happy hour on Thursdays. It’s not possible to sustain that level of activity with a volunteer organization while holding down a demanding full time job and spend time with family. I can’t be everywhere at once, but I’ll see if I can adjust my schedule so that I can attend more brunches.

    Thanks for your candid comments.