Dr. Tony Pinn Explains How to Attract African-Americans to Your Atheist Group

At the Secular Student Alliance conference this past summer, Rice University Religious Studies professor Dr. Anthony Pinn spoke about how to attract African-Americans to your atheist group. Of all the topics discussed at the conference, reaching out to minorities was arguably the most important:

Any favorite moments? Leave the timestamps in the comments for everyone else!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    The most significant advice I saw came at around minute 9:30, where he talks about coming to students of culture with previous knowledge about the history and contributions of secular and humanist African Americans, so that not only is it understood that you are actually interested in the topic, you relate it personally to them.

    Another detail is that the video is half as long as it seems to be.  The second half is some sort of glitch, with the same talk repeating but much lower volume and no video.

    I would disagree with him that you aren’t going to reason people out of their beliefs, since there’s plenty of evidence that many people do get reasoned out of their beliefs, even though it is a long journey. But I do agree with the context in which he made those remarks, which was to concentrate a little less on the theists and a little more on the atheists who lack a community.

    I wish he had addressed the question starting at 29:50, where the young woman talked about the inevitable awkwardness of trying to relate to someone with a very different cultural context and the unholy (ejem) terror many white people suffer that they’re going to “say the wrong thing”, be unwittingly offensive or simply clueless and drive people away, and how that impedes open conversation. The upshot of his answer is “get over it” and while I think you do need to step up and be ready to fuck up, a few working tips on how to recognize and rectify when you’ve gone in the wrong direction would have been nice, if there are any.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have time to watch the whole video but I plan to.
    I’m a mix of a lot of minorities: female, African-American, and lesbian. I guess I’ve been lucky in that my experiences in my atheist community have been positive. No one has made a big deal out of me being one of the few females at the gatherings and no one has made a big deal out of me being the only black person. I guess I’m used to being in the minority and it no longer bothers me. I really like the sense of community I get from the atheist community and I feel as if my race doesn’t matter. I’d love to hear the experiences of other African-American atheists/agnostics/freethinkers/humanists/etc.

    • http://www.bblss.org Miki

      I’m female, black, and bisexual and I can also say my experience in atheist, ethical, and humanist groups/communities has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I really believed it was going to be watermelon and fried chicken.


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