Surfed over to Friendly Atheist this morning, and he had a post up about the racial make-up of the “new” atheist movement. http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/04/24/where-are-all-the-non-white-atheists/#comments
That got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) about the ratio of white:non-white and male:female in the secular crowds that I hang out with. Mostly male (biological sex, not gender, that’s a social construct), and mostly white (pasty enough to burn quickly). I’m the only minority on the 7-person general committee of Secular Society, and only one of 2 females. It’s an improvement over last year, when I rocked up to that first committee meeting and sat down with 7 white guys (I only considered one of them cute). And let’s face it, I’m kind of white. And not in the way that Nisha insists I am when her son stares at me because he’s usually surrounded by brown people. Technically speaking, I’m yellow. I mean in the twinkie sense. In elementary school, we were the only Chinese family there until Grade 4. My best friends have always been white kids. I went to Guelph. Even here in Melbourne, where I’m surrounded by Asian kids for the first time since Chinese school, the person I consider to be my confidant is white. Still, visible minority, even if some people think me being a twinkie means I can’t pick up a pea with my chopsticks. So, atheists tend to be a minority group. I am a minority squared within a minority.
Why is it that atheists tend to be white males? Is it the only time they’re going to be oppressed? Is it because religion forms a community that women and non-white people feel the need for? Is it an in-group thing? There aren’t that many prominent female atheists, and even fewer are visible minorities. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and now Ariane Sherine (and she’s only half). You would think when religion tends to oppress women’s rights that there would be more female proponents of atheism. Or do they become part of the women’s movement, and stay with the church because it gives them a platform to speak from?