Does Atheism have a Problem with Racial Minorities?

Oh you bastard, I fuckin’ hate pikeys.
– Gorgeous George, Snatch

Atheists agonise, a lot, over who and what we have as part of our movement. I’ve already talked about the perceived women/feminism problems in the previous blog but another issue that people wring their hands over is he lack of racial minorities in the atheist movement, particularly prominent within it.

Frankly, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is awesome enough to count for a hundred of anybody, but it is noticeable that here are less people of a non-white disposition and, being a broadly socially liberal bunch atheists worry about that.

Does it mean we’re racist?

No, it does not.

The society that we’re a part of though IS still racist, however much that’s decreasing over time. The long term effects of racism are still being felt even today in certain demographics and the subcultures of many racial demographics are sufficiently different, in a broad demographic sense, that what we’re seeing is a reflection of broader issues. Not an issue with atheism or atheists.

Racial minorities TEND to have less access to education, particularly at the higher levels. We know education and relative wealth are strongly correlated with atheism, even if it’s not causal we’d expect to see less atheists amongst a less educated and more impoverished demographic. Unfortunately this is generally true of many racial minorities.

Religion has often wormed its way into these communities. Religion may not be necessary for comfort in hard times, but it has been used that way. Religion prays upon the weak and desperate and racial minorities often place a much higher cultural value on religion either related to their home culture or to its place in drawing and keeping the community together.

It is a shame that we do not have more minority faces to speak out, but it’s not something we should agonise about. It’s no our fault, it’s a reflection of wider society and it’s NOT the problem or question that we – as atheists – are concerned about.

Give it time, it will change.


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