It wasn’t until I joined Twitter a few years ago that I first read the words “black” and “atheist” in the same sentence. No wonder since we are the most religious ethnic group in the nation, according to writer and Black Skeptics Group founder Sikivu Hutchinson. Nonbelievers only make up one percent.
In a piece for The Washington Post, Hutchinson argues this is an issue not only because blacks face discrimination and other disparities but also because it is often the faith-based organizations that step in to assist. Black atheists receive no support, even from mainstream atheist groups.
African Americans still live in disproportionately segregated neighborhoods, with few living-wage jobs, parks, accessible public transportation and healthy grocery stores. We make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but nearly 40 percent of its prison and homeless populations. This disparity has only deepened in the Obama age.
Faith-based institutions provide resources to these poor and working-class families. They also fight racial discrimination, offer a foundation for community organizing and create access to social welfare, professional networks and educational resources. These are essential issues, and atheists of color often find themselves allied in these missions.
White atheists have a markedly different agenda. They are, on average, more affluent than the general population. Their children don’t attend overcrowded “dropout mills” where they are criminalized, subjected to “drill and kill” curricula and shunted off to prison, subminimum-wage jobs or chronic unemployment. White organizations go to battle over church/state separation and creationism in schools.
She continues that although mainstream atheist organizations have “jumped on the diversity bandwagon,” they still don’t address the specific issues that black atheists face, and when black atheists form their own groups, white atheists automatically think “separatist” group.
Clutchettes and Gents, do you agree that faith-based groups offer the most assistance in black communities, and black atheists have no resources?