Skeptics Movement and Inequality

I found this an interesting read, an Op-Ed by Kavin Senapathy.

At a moment when racist pseudoscience is making a disturbing comeback, skeptics shouldn’t shy away from talking about race — and we can’t afford to overlook the white privilege among our own ranks.
Meanwhile, scientific racism — the idea that there are biological differences between so-called races, often paired with a notion that the white race possesses superior intellect — has made a disturbing comeback, in tandem with the resurgence of white nationalist groups. This revival of racist pseudoscience has prompted widespread alarm in the scientific community, including a 2018 statement from the American Society of Human Genetics that denounced attempts to use genetics to “bolster bogus claims of white supremacy.”
Two years ago, in an inept attempt to address the issue, CFI published a special issue of Skeptical Inquirer: “A Skeptic’s Guide to Racism.” The issue, penned exclusively by white men, demonstrated CFI leadership’s woefully shallow grasp of how racism works.

Add to that, Kavin mentioned Steven Pinkard didn’t mention the lack of diversity at CFI. There’s two mistakes there. White men really shouldn’t be writing articles on racism, at least not without a minority as part of the writing of the article and with alleged lack of diversity that would make writing such an article even worse, IMO. I do think CFI is getting better in that the face of humanism, skepticism, and free inquiry isn’t just a bunch of old white hair men anymore. CFI is including women more, like Julia Sweeney, but minorities are another thing.

The Board’s response revealed a stunted view of the issues it purports to hold dear. CFI’s core mission is “the challenging of pseudoscience both in general and in its role in the making of public policy,” the Board wrote. “Where issues are the direct product of religious or pseudoscientific prejudice, such as LGBTQ rights, reproductive health, and climate change denial, CFI has a public role to play,” it added, omitting any mention of racial injustices fed by racist pseudoscience.

This brings up an interesting question, especially in light of Black History Month… Why not racial injustices too?

Despite my differences with CFI, I still believe that the skeptics movement can be a force against white supremacy. Done well, skepticism is “nothing very esoteric” yet a “burden” — as Sagan put it — of arming ourselves with the “elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge.” Questions pertaining to race shouldn’t be an exception to that rule. If we skeptics refuse to contextualize issues in terms of race and other demographics, it will only hinder our efforts to address other forms of pseudoscience. For instance, underlying some groups’ distrust of the medical establishment is a fraught history of racial, gender, and class disparities. Acknowledging that history is essential to changing attitudes toward vaccines — a cause that CFI and the broader skeptics community have championed for years. Indeed, the exploitation of racial minorities’ anxieties by anti-vaccine groups has become a matter of growing concern.

Racism is among the most pressing pseudoscientific threats of our time. But it can be deceptive, masquerading as mere inquisitiveness and even helplessness. The most insidious white supremacy doesn’t carry tiki torches of festering hatred. It comes from well-meaning people who nevertheless uphold power structures with whiteness at the top. It’s woven into the very fabric of America and its institutions.

I don’t think any institution is immune from questioning issues concerning race and if they are discriminating or are diverse.

I imagine that embracing Black history is quite a challenge for many, if not most, here. Black history is so closely entwined with the religious beliefs and practices of Blacks in the USA. I can only imagine how politically un-correct it would feel for anyone here to apply the epithets reserved for white Christians to Black Christians.

I learned about the site and its Black History page while watching an episode of Andrew Wommack’s daily TV show. A link to the first of ten 30-minute interviews with the Bartons on the mostly unknown contributions Black Americans made to the founding and development of the USA:

I found it extremely interesting and educational. Revealed in the interviews is that Woodrow Wilson’s American history book - I can’t remember if it was Division and Reunion or History of the American People or both - simply wrote Blacks out of our history, marking Wilson as a racist. And there is much more such as the fact that the Republican Party of South Carolina was founded by a Black man. “The Republican Party of South Carolina was established during [Reconstruction] and controlled the politics of South Carolina throughout Reconstruction. Democrats mounted increasing violence and fraud at elections from 1868 through the period, in an effort to suppress the black and Republican vote.”

Atheism will become even more White than it already is thanks to people like Kavin Senapathy.

Not that it needed any help!

While the religious slant maybe true, it’s really not that difficult to understand why they accepted the White man’s religion. 1. it was forced upon them by the the slave owners. 2. they were promised freedom, if they were a good little slave, after they died and went to heaven. And today, they have another one for modern day people. I forget the name of it, but it’s really lame. The thing is, not all Black people are religious. There are black atheists and I can name some.

Jeremiah Camara, who has “Slave Sermons” Check them out. You may learn something from him.

Rational Warrior, who’s videos you can all see on YouTube

Greydon Square- a rapper you can find on YouTube

Facebook even has a group called Black Atheists.

Mandisa Thomas started a group called Black Nonbelievers:

There are articles like “What It’s Like To Be Black and Atheist”

And 8 Black Celebrity Atheists :

Samuel L. Jackson
Chris Rock
Morgan Freeman
Neil deGrasse Tyson to name 4 of those on that site.

There are many more, but @ibelieveinlogic you declared a stereotype, because just like white people there are atheists among black people.

Oh I almost forgot Debbie Goddard who works for CFI.

but @ibelieveinlogic you declared a stereotype
So, I give you a link that shows some of the many, mostly unknown, contributions Black people made to the development of this country and you accuse me of something, exactly what I don't know. And you make an unfounded and unsubstantiated claim that slave owners forced religion on their slaves. Hogwash.

I believe anyone who had actually watched any of the shows could not have helped to notice that religion was a major factor in the lives of many white and Black people at the time this country was being formed. If you want to deny that history, fine, do it, but you will be wrong. If you want to deny that religion is still a major factor in the lives of many people today, fine, do that too, but again you will be wrong. Ask yourself who were and are the most recognized Black leaders. I think you will find that most of them were and are introduced as “Pastor” or “Reverend.” Non-religious people do not get than title. Do you really compare any rapper or celebrity to Martin Luther King or any of the other major figures in Black history?

Why are you trying to turn a look at history, and Black history in particular, into a defense of atheism when atheism was not attacked or even mentioned?

@ibelieveinlogic you said,

Black history is so closely entwined with the religious beliefs and practices of Blacks in the USA.

That is a stereotype and that was the only thing I was referring too. Not all black people are religious. Slave owners also did force Xianity onto slaves.

That is a stereotype
I think it is not oversimplified or exaggerated. I think it is a fact. You should notice I was speaking of history, not persons. I don't think history can be stereotyped.
Slave owners also did force Xianity onto slaves.
While I wouldn't be surprised at anything one or a few people might do, I will have to see evidence of your claim before accepting it. You make it sound like forced Christianity was widespread; that just does not seem reasonable or logical. One of the fundamental principles of Christianity is that (unlike Islam) it cannot be forced upon anyone.

I remind you that it was against the law in some States to teach a slave how to read. Putting a Bible into the hands of a slave would have been pointless if he/she couldn’t read and it would have been expensive. I suspect most slave owners would have seen giving their slaves knowledge of Biblical principles such as all men are created equal as not a very good idea and something likely to lead to even more unrest.

I also remind you that not all slave owners were Christian. Surely you do realize that the abolitionist movement began and was championed by Christians and that the “underground railroad” was operated by Christians. I do suspect that one reason some slave owners might have allowed slaves to hear Christian teaching would have been to lessen or eliminate what the owner would have seen as “heathen” religious practices brought from Africa.

Not everyone interprets the Bible as you do. That said, an slave owner who was a Xian, and there were many because the slave owner believed it was their god given right to own others, told his slaves that if they became Xians and be good slaves, then they’d get their freedom in heaven. I don’t know where to find that evidence online for you, but it was in my African-American studies textbooks even lectured in class, albeit short. Not that it’s important, but Prof Washington (I think his first name was John) was one of my Profs and left an impression even on my sons, as well as others and all were black profs. None of them were white, so it wasn’t like I was learning from people who rewrote history (the enslavers). Now the slave sermons have turned into some other sort of preaching. There’s a name for it, but I forget it.

Not many slave owners knew how to read the Bible either. So it wasn’t that any slave read it. They were spoon fed it verbally. However, before that law was passed, some slaves did learn how to read. It wasn’t illegal for a slave to read the whole 400 years of slavery in the U.S. That said, some still learned how to read. Not everyone followed the law exactly just like they don’t today. How do you think Harriet learned to read a little? It wasn’t legal for her to even run away or have an underground railroad either, but she did a lot of things that were against the law, but she did it for a good cause.

I may know more than you think I do about the underground railroad, but here’s the thing- Episcopalians and others who were not Fundamngelicals (Lutherans, Presbyterians) were involved with the underground (as you mentioned some Xians were involved), but the Fundamngelicals were just as bad as they are today and they had little to do with it. The Xian groups who were involved were a different breed than the Fundamngelicals, just as they are today. The Episcopalians stated in 1989 (if I recall my date correctly, but the late 1900s) it is a sin to be racist. I know this because I was Episcopalian before I left the Church and lost faith. Episcopalians were very much involved in abolition, just as they are involved with women priests and women’s rights and Gay Rights and marriage today. Sso you aren’t telling anything I don’t know, it’s just you’re not telling the whole story.

Now the textbook tombs that talks about this stuff- The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature (which has Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Jacobs, and others how tell their stories)

Sadly, I can’t remember the textbook we had for the Intro course or the History courses, but the thing is, you only have part of the story. If you want to learn more there are a plethora of African-American textbooks on Amazon, some books are tomes and some not.