How the Atheist Community Can Reach Out to Hispanics

This is a guest post by Manolo Matos. He is one of the hosts of Podcast Ateorizar and can be found on Twitter at @manolomatos.

***

I recently attended a talk by PZ Myers at Murray State University. It was titled: The Inescapable Conflict Between Science and Religion. The talk, as you might expect, was really good, but that is not exactly what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about one of the questions that caught my attention after the presentation. A student asked, “How can we attract more African Americans to our group and have a more diverse atheist community?” PZ answered the question by saying: “Ask the African Americans in the audience and they might be able to give you a better answer than mine.”

Over the past year, there has been an increased concern about the lack of diversity in the atheist movement. I am Puerto Rican and an atheist, and following PZ’s advice, I am going to address this concern regarding my minority group, the Hispanic community. Some of the arguments might apply to other minority groups, and some might not.

Realize that atheist groups are all different in their composition and there is no such thing as a panacea to fix the “problem.” In the case of the Hispanic community, there are subgroups within it and this makes the issue even more complicated. Because the Hispanic community is comprised of many countries and cultures, we have to take into consideration this diversity.

If you want a short answer to the question of how to attract the Hispanic community to atheist groups I’m tempted to say two things: good food and good music.

If you want a longer answer, though, allow me to point out a few things that could help your group be more open and understanding of Hispanics:

  1. Understand our cultures. We don’t expect you to know the most intrinsic details of each country’s culture, because in some cases, we don’t even have that knowledge ourselves. What we would like is some general understanding of Hispanic culture. Not all Hispanic atheists are former Catholics and not all Hispanics like hot and spicy food. Some Hispanics (like Puerto Ricans) are U.S. citizens because of being a U.S. territory, some speak Portuguese (Brazilians), etc. If you lack the knowledge of a specific country or culture, not making the mistake of generalizing will suffice. Also, familiarize yourself with Hispanic and Spanish atheist writers; there are many and their work has been translated into English.
  2. Try not to use the term “America” to refer to the U.S. I know it’s widespread and most of the rest of the world uses the term, but most Hispanics find it offensive. We constantly see atheists from the United States using the term “America” to refer to the U.S. especially in conferences abroad, and many Hispanics consider it arrogant. America, to the rest of the people that live in the “New World,” means from up in Alaska, down to Patagonia in Chile/Argentina. Using the term America to refer to the U.S. will alienate most Hispanics and they will feel it as a rejection. Atheists are usually very specific with terminology and definitions, and being specific with this particular term can determine how welcoming Hispanic atheists will feel.
  3. Most Hispanics are living a double life. Hispanics that came to the U.S. to live are still very attached to their country of origin. Most Hispanics speak a language outside their homes and another in their homes. Besides the activism aspects of atheism, like promoting separation of church and state, they are also interested in other social aspects like racism, undocumented workers, and immigration. It’s worth pointing out that immigrants are constantly changing the religious/non-religious makeup of different countries. Being aware of these demographic shifts can make us feel more welcomed.
  4. Discrimination is not foreign to Hispanics. Hispanics and atheists in the U.S. are both groups that are discriminated against. You could say that that common experience unifies us in a sense. I believe Hispanics tend to feel welcomed in atheist communities, partly because atheists know what it’s like to be considered an “other.” I have heard atheists in the U.S. say that Hispanics tend not to want to be open about their atheism because they would prefer not to be a “double minority.” Two things about that: I am a double minority and I have no issues with it. Also, once we are in one minority group, adding another makes no difference. I have friends that are “triple” or “quadruple” minorities. One of the moderators of my podcast is gay, atheist, and Hispanic, and he has no issues about it. If there are Hispanic atheists who would rather not add other minority categorizations to their lives, I have yet to meet them.
  5. Understand nonverbal communication between cultures. Hispanics, in general, have less personal space than Americans. Hispanic culture is usually warmer and less distant than Anglo culture. We speak with our hands, hug all the time, greet friends with a kiss (in some countries, like Spain, we use two kisses), and touch you when we speak. Obviously, this could make some people feel very uncomfortable, possibly even threatened. Especially after all the issues with sexual harassment in the atheist community, it’s important to avoid confusing these gestures for ill intent. Most Hispanics who have been in the U.S. for a while recognize the difference and act accordingly, but Hispanics who have been in the U.S. for a short period might not recognize this.
  6. There will always be subgroups in large communities. In the same way that you have subgroups in politics or society, you will always have subgroups in the atheist community (like Hispanic American Freethinkers). This is something the atheist community in the U.S. has to accept and understand. It’s important to point out that longing to be in Hispanic-specific atheists groups is not a rejection of the atheist community as a whole. Most atheists will participate in both and will feel part of both. It’s just nice to be able to speak Spanish and spend time with people who share our heritage.
  7. Integrate the Hispanic community into atheist conferences. In the same way that we are more aware now to include female atheist speakers when we plan conferences and gatherings, we also need to include members of other minority groups in speaking panels and activities.
  8. Do not obsess about diversity. Diversity is important and we want to include everybody in our community, but when we obsess about it, we usually obtain the opposite results. Talking all the time about how “it’s great that you’re here because we need more of you” will most certainly put people on the spot and make them feel like they are outsiders (or “tokens”). Diversity is desirable but it must be organic. We can increase diversity by following the recommendations I just laid out, but when we focus excessively on increasing diversity, the majority will get tired of the subject and the emphasis will push minorities away.

The addition of minority groups can enrich the atheist community and bring forth new ideas about how to work on the issues we all care about. Hispanics know, for example, what it’s like to not have separation of church and state. We know what it’s like to have the government pay religious schools millions of dollars to handle public education (and indoctrinate children in the process). We know what it is like for the government to have a concordat with the Vatican. We also know what can be done to change this and keep religion and government separate.

Latin American countries have been fighting the encroachment of religion into the government for centuries. In many cases, we have managed to build a wall of separation between the two. The Hispanic atheist community in the U.S. and in the world is growing and we are focused on building more secular societies. It is simply common sense to join forces, bring together the atheist community in the U.S., and make this movement a global force to establish secular societies. A secular society will not only help reduce discrimination against atheists, but also the bullying of smaller religious groups by the religious majority. It’s a goal that would benefit everybody and requires the cooperation of our diverse community.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • NotTHATguest

    Hello, Hispanic atheist here, though I no longer live in the U.S. Great post, I just wanted to add that the element of religion as an integral part culture is very strong in Latin America, particularly for Catholics. When I openly declared that I was no longer Catholic my mother saw it not just as a rejection of religion but of my culture, my nationality, my roots. In South America, up to 95% of a country’s population is Roman Catholic in name at least, it is the default position. It is ok to not go to church, but to break away from THE Church?! Gasp!
    It was difficult, but she’s stopped pushing the subject. I don’t think she knows I’m an atheist though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    I learnt something today, Point #2. I will be making an effort to be more detailed in my comments from now on.  I agree that it is an important point, and can enhance the movement in a positive manner. 

    • Tim

      +1.  I had no idea about point #2.

    • Pedro Lemos

      It´s not much of an issue to me, but I find it weird, actually, how US people are always saying America, as if the term covered only the US. If people ask me if I was American, I would have to say yes, being Brazilian.
      “North American” is also a little weird, as it encompasses canadians and mexicans too. Some brazilian authors started using the term “estadunidenses” wich would roughly translate as Unitedstatians. It´s long, sound weird, but it´s more specific. I guess it´s only a matter of getting used to.

      • José Reyes

         In Spanish we DO use “estadounidense.”

        • Pedro Lemos

          Oh yeah, that´s right. I guess we only recently incorporated the term to portuguese…

    • Baal

       I also was unaware.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      I think that ship has sailed.  

      I’m sorry, but this country has been called the “United States of America” and its inhabitants “Americans” for over 200 years.  And there are no other words that can easily replace the term.  This isn’t like the United Kingdom where you can call someone in England “English” or “British.”  There’s no other good term.  I’ve seen both “Usian” and “Unitedstatesian,” and neither work well.  

      Do Brazilians and Argentinians really feel that they have some common community that would be best categorized by defining themselves as “Americans?”  Does wealthy Portuguese-speaking Brazil feel kinship with poverty-stricken Spanish-speaking Bolivia?  

      When people in other countries dream of coming to America, they don’t mean Guatemala.  When people rail against the pervasiveness of American culture, they don’t mean cueca music from Chile.  When protesters refer to America as “The Great Satan,” they aren’t hating on Ecuador.  

      Love us or hate us, “American” refers to the United States.

      • Patterrssonn

        So you’re saying that we need to rename the continent because Usanians prefer that the term Americans refer only to themselves?

        Also by your argument Greeks and Norwegians should stop referring to themselves as Europeans as they have little in common.

        As a non-Usanian North American I’m not finding your argument very compelling.

        • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

           Nobody said anything about changing names. I believe you missed my point. The point is using the name of the continent to refer to one country in the continent.

          • Patterrssonn

            Are you TychaBrahe? Because that’s who I was replying to. And if so why are you using a different identity?

      • Aguz

        I think you’re missing the point. In Latin America they use the six continental division with the united America model: That means that America is just one continent with 3 parts, North, Center (including the Caribbean) and South. 
        Since they reefer to the United States as “Estados Unidos” and their inhabitants as “Estadounidenses” (Unitedstatians) is normal for them to find weird when they hear the term “America” as exclusively theirs (as oppose to inhabitant of the American continent that, I repeat, they don’t usually divide in North and South).
        This is slightly changing with the advent of the Internet, but even so you should be careful since down here it ranges to the Football/Soccer level of rage when the topic comes out (both terms are technically right but the prefer use changes from place to place) . 

      • Pedro Lemos

        “Do Brazilians and Argentinians really feel that they have some common community that would be best categorized by defining themselves as “Americans?” ”

        Right, because we don´t call people born in Japan and in Cambodia asians, huh.  Sorry to tell you this man, but America is a continent, not a single country. We don´t use the terms indicating origin because of some sense of community, it´s simply a matter of localization. 

        “I’m sorry, but this country has been called the “United States of America” and its inhabitants “Americans” for over 200 years.  And there are no other words that can easily replace the term.”

        So, that´s just the way things have always been and they´re never gonna change, right? Isn´t that the same argument people use to justify your national motto “In god we trust”? If things can be changed to better, then why not?

        But I guess I get what your point is. A language and the way it´s perceived by it´s users  is not so easy to change. It´s a living thing, if a term is gonna “stick” or not depends on many factors. We can´t just definy that today this is gonna be called “x”, and everybody starts to apply it. I know things don´t work that way.
        Language is changed over the course of the time, as the mentality of it´s users change. And I think that´s what Manolo is trying to do, plant some seeds that may bear fruits in the future.

        • The Captain

          As I said in my much longer post above… you will never get anyone to agree to change the name of this (from where I am posting) countries name. And its official name is the “United States of America”. So don’t get mad when people from her call themselves “American” and aren’t refereeing to this hemisphere. 

          As I said sorry a bunch of ignorant insensitive arrogant crap happened between 1500 through to the early 1900s, but your not going to get anyone from today in America to change the name of our country because of it. Get over it.

          Also your first example is flawed, there is no country in Asia that has “Asian” in it’s name. If there was for instance a country called the “Loosely Associated Conglomerate of States of Asia”, they could justly call themselves “Asian” even if the rest of Asia threw a hissy fit.

          • Pedro Lemos

            I most certainly wouldn´t intend to change the official name of the USA, I´m just trying to show the reason why the rest of America may think it sounds a little prepotent when US people say things like “America is great” or “America is the greatest country in the world.” Even an occasional “America is a shit.”  demonstrates a sense of exclusion (or a bad inclusion, in this case) to the rest of the americans.

            The country´s name is not the issue. It´s the message that the term passes that counts. A sense of exclusivity, as if the whole continent embraced only US. The mentality that USA = America.

            And you´re kinda making my point with the asian thing. If there was a country like that and they called themselves “Asian”, the rest of Asia would certainly feel the same way that americans all over the continent feel.

            I don´t know if it´s gonna change anytime soon, but if it changed it could be a way to reach out for other communities, wich was the point of the topic.

            But don´t worry, it´s not that big of an issue, and I know it´s not made on purpose. Languages have their ways of being established, but it was asked what could be done to help reach out for other communities, so we´re just raising awareness. If black people didn´t start complaining about being called niggers, nobody would have stoped.

          • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

             The point is that America in the name of the USA refers to where they are located. For example, Mexico’s full name is “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” (United Mexican States). The same way there are other United States    

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001351447253 Amanda Hernandez

          North America is a continent. South America is a continent. The Americas are two continents. America is not a continent.

          Why *should* we change it? Outside of the Western Hemisphere when someone says America they are referring to The United States of America. While I don’t call myself an American when I’m abroad (I love the yee-haws I get when I say I’m a Texan), if I did the message would still be the same: I’m from the United States of America. I know everyone would find me a little odd if I called myself a United Stateswoman instead.

          Not to mention Canadians would have a (polite) fit if they were referred to as Americans.

          • Angel Arnal

             Huh… America is a single continent from this side of the Atlantic… We make the division as different areas of one continent, as we do with near East for the Mediterranean and Arabian part of Asia and far East for Korea, China, Japan and wherabouts, but we don’t consider it as separate continents. Those are absolutely arbitrary divisions and you can’t take them as THE way it is. That’s ethnocentrism, once more.

            From Spain at least, we consider everyone from that continent (one, not two) American, and we have some other words for the people from the U.S.: estadounidense, which is not totally correct, Mexico is also the Estados Unidos de México and they could also claim the name for them, and norteamericano, which again is not correct because Mexico (again) and Canada are also part of Norh America. Many times we say americano for short, but conscious that it’s an imprecise term.

      • Daniela

        ” Love us or hate us, “American” refers to the United States.”

         No it doesn’t. It might, in the US, or in several European countries, but not everywhere.

        I’m Mexican, I’m rarely offended when people in the US refer to their country as America or themselves as Americans. What offends me is the tone of this comment by TychaBrahe. YOU have been using America to refer to your country for centuries, and WE have been using America to refer to the continent.  I don’t expect you to stop using the term, but saying “get over it, we are the real Americans” is just offensive.

      • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

         The proper term for the inhabitants of the U.S. is American. The proper term for the country is United States of America (USA). I was referring to using “America” to refer to the country.

      • Graham Martin-Royle

        But calling someone British doesn’t refer to a nationality either, it’s just a geographic term that denotes someone from the British Isles. The UK is a bugger to be honest because, unless you go down one level to English, Scottish, etc. then there isn’t a decent term that refers to all subjects in the UK and UKer just sounds stupid. :-)))

  • Don Gwinn

    Does it help any if I call it ‘Murrica?  Because where I live, we were doing that long before it was hip.

  • Santiago

    Manolo makes very good points. I used to cringe regarding 2 but no longer. Also it took me a while to stop being so “huggy-kissy” but I got over it.

    Also, for some Hispanics avoiding being directly confrontational and beating around the bush can be attributed to cultural difference. Sometimes being too direct or blunt in the public arena can be interpreted by (some) Hispanics as disrespectful or ill-mannered. And so Anglos may interpret this as lack of conviction or commitment on their issues when that is not the case at all.

    Finally, and this may just be me…even when I am an atheist and have no love for the Catholic church, an aspect of my worldview was shaped by a culture that is nominally Catholic. Some comments I see in the atheist community don’t seem to distinguish between the two. For me, that can be  a turn off. I can only imagine how some Hispanics who are struggling to abandon Catholicism to become atheist or skeptics  do feel when first exploring our community. 

    As Manolo points out, Hispanic is a very inclusive term that encompasses very nuanced sub-populations.  Excellent post!

  • enrique1012

    In my case, it wasn’t the atheist community reaching out to me. I realized through education that religion caused so much negative results to the Mexican culture. I grew up Catholic but then saw the atrocities the church did to my precious culture. I also saw what it did and is still doing to kids; that whole pedophile thing doesn’t sit well with me.

    I’ve heard some Latinos say they’re not Catholic but they go to church for the cultural experience. So maybe an Iglesia del Monstro de Espageti Volador with mariachis, calisthenics, and an after show of balet folklorico. Seriously though, I think people just like getting together to hear some good words and be festive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001351447253 Amanda Hernandez

    If they want to come, they will. How did you attract female Atheists? Did you start wearing pink? Did you stop saying ‘Get back in the kitchen’ jokes?

    I’m a Hispanic Atheist. My parents are Hispanic Agnostics. My experiences with American-born (yes, I break rule #2) Hispanic non-believers show me that most tend not to have any ties to their roots at all. I definitely don’t, my parents definitely don’t, Hispanic Atheists that I know definitely don’t. Don’t assume all Hispanics care about…well, being Hispanic.

    If you take any advice from this, take #8.

    • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

       “Did you stop saying ‘Get back in the kitchen’ jokes?”

      I wish.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Yes, much of this list seems like it would only apply to immigrants or children of immigrants, not those who are further removed from their countries of origin.

    • Drew M.

      This.

  • Roberto Ortiz

    I am Hispanic and I approve this message.

    BTW, most Hispanics are Catholic, but there are lots of Atheist and Agnostic Catholics. They don’t believe in a god or follow the teachings of the church but still call themselves Catholic.

    • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

       I was surprised to learn that in Spain they do secular baptisms. Sounds weird, but it’s just an excuse to party and be social without any religious connotation. I’m still puzzled to why would they call it “baptism”, though.

  • PegK

    I try not to use the term America to refer to the U.S.  The author, however, uses the term Americans in rule five, I am assuming to refer to people born in the U.S.  I am legitimately confused and not trying to be obnoxious.  Can someone explain?  Thanks.

    • Tim

      It puzzled me too.  But I guess it comes down to the difference between a noun and a adjective.

      (not so unusual for the two words not to match up – “Britain” exclude Northern Ireland, but some of the folks in NI describe themselves as “British”, and “dutch” and “the netherlands” or (less acurately) “Holland” are not exactly cognates. 

      • WoodyTanaka

        It’s common for USians to refer to people froom any part of the UK as being “English,” even if they’re from Scotland, Wales or N. Ireland.  (But, then again, UKers often refer to Sons of Dixie as “Yanks” so I guess what comes around goes around…)

    • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

      The proper term for the inhabitants of the U.S. is Americans. The proper
      term for the country is United States of America (USA). I was referring
      to using “America” to refer to the country.

  • Nick Best

    Subtle distinction but worth getting right: ‘Some Hispanics… speak Portuguese…’ is a logical contradiction. It should read, ‘Some Latinos… speak Portuguese.’
    Also, later in that paragraph, ‘Hispanic and Spanish atheist writers’ is almost a tautology. Maybe ‘atheists writing in Spanish and Portuguese’ would be better.

    • Patterrssonn

      9. Don’t lecture Hispanics on what you consider the proper/improper use of the word Hispanic.

      • Nick Best

        Dude, I wasn’t criticizing him personally or even his argument, I just pointed out a typo. I tried to be constructive by suggesting a different word that will make everyone happy. (You might think I’m being pedantic but it’s hardly a lecture.)
        The article correctly points out that the language of Brazil is Portuguese (good job!). I think what he is suggesting is that Lusophones might be a little offended if you assume they speak Spanish (fair enough). I’m sure it was accidental but the author kinda did just that in the same sentence. If it’s worth knowing that Brazilians speak Portuguese (I don’t think that’s too pedantic), then it’s worth choosing your words carefully, so you don’t accidentally imply that they speak Spanish.

    • Pedro Lemos

      I think that what he meant by hispanic in these sentences was not the literal meaning of the world, but the way americans see the hispanic community in the country.
      Being a brazilian myself, I doubt any american would look at me and think “there goes a portuguese speaker brazilian, not a hispanic”. I lost count of how many times people tried to adress me in spanish when I visited Boston and New York, because I looked like a latino, so I probably must speak spanish.
      I´m not saying people should have the obligation to know what language you speak, but it shows that at some level there´s a mentality that below Texas, everybody must be the same and have the same cultural traits.
      (Though some general culture could do some good too. Heck, some americans think Brazil´s capital is Buenos Aires…).

      • Pedro Lemos

        *meaning of the word*
        (how the hell do we edit these posts?)

      • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

        It’s that the skin tone matches.

        When my Hungarian mother, will her sallow skin and black hair, visited Mexico in the 1960s, everyone addressed her in Spanish because she looked vaguely like the locals.  My blond-haired white father who had studied Spanish was spoken to in halting, broken English even after he had addressed people in Spanish, because he looked Anglo.

        If you walked into a room in New York and encountered a group of white business people, wouldn’t you assume they spoke English?  If they were visiting from Germany, how would you know that?

        • Pedro Lemos

          Yeah, I know what you mean, and I´m not saying it´s a bad thing. I know people do it with the best of intentions some times. Hell, if I walked into a room in Brazil, saw some guys that resembled chineses and knew how to speak chinese, I would probably assume they were chinese, and adress to them in that language. Even though they could be japanese, coreans or vietnameses.

          What I meant is that the more you know the differences and cultural traits of each group, the bigger your chances to reach out for them.

          (Though, in New York, I probably wouldn´t assume anything. I think the language I heard less there was english. There were people speaking chinese, arabic, spanish, french, everywhere, but english… of course, what I visited most were touristic attractions…)

  • jdm8

    In the case of #2, US or United States might be considered ambiguous as well, because translated to English, Mexico is formally United States of Mexico. One argument I’ve heard for the informal America  as a reference to the USA is that the USA is the only country that uses America in its name.

    • Patterrssonn

      Usania?

      • jdm8

        Interesting, I hadn’t heard of that one before.

        • Patterrssonn

          I thought I’d just made it up but acc to wictionary, someone coined it in 1971.

      • Wren Combs

        How do you pronounce that?

        • Patterrssonn

          You-sane-ee-a?

    • SabsDkPrncs

      Same thing, I live in the UAE, which is the United States of Arabia or United Arab States.  When I tell non-western people that I’m from the United States they aren’t sure what I mean, because they associate the term with the local people (which we westerners call Emiratis).  So I don’t know what to do.  Maybe it’ll be a “know your audience” kind of question, that won’t be settled until aliens over take the planet and force us to use a single language (so potentially never).

  • Ibis3

    #2 is a problem, because in both Canadian and American English, America/American is usually used to refer to the US alone. Just as Hispanic people bristle at what they see as a more encompassing term being applied to the people and culture of a single country, Canadians (at least) bristle at the term being applied to them because it’s not acknowledging that they are a distinct country with their own culture. Whichever usage you adopt, you’re going to end up upsetting someone.

  • The Captain

    I just spent a week in Mexico City and had the argument about #2 several drunken times with my local and some Chilean friends at pubs. And I hate to tell you this but I learned from those drunken good natured arguments is that #2 will never happen. 

    The fundamental problem here is not the way we use “America” it’s that many latinos find the very name of our country offensive. But that’s the name of our country! It’s official name is the United States of America. Now most locals shorten it to either “United States” or “America” but for us both are just as valid and neither can be “offensive” since once again… both are parts of our actual name. I’m sorry, but Latinos (and no I’m not getting into the whole “Latino/Hispanic debate, stop hating of Brazilians :) ) need to understand this is something they must learn to get over because you are asking way too much for just about all Americans.
     
    Even in your example for #2 you say “Try not to use the term “America” to refer to the U.S.” but “America” does not refer to the “U.S.” it refers to “U.S.A.”, where the “A” stands for “America”. “U.S.” is also a reference. I mean, do you really expect us to start referring to ourselves as “United Statesians”?! 

    Look sorry a bunch of ignorant insensitive arrogant crap happened between 1500 through to the early 1900s, but your not going to get anyone from today in America to change the name of our country because of it. Now lets just get back to the beer and atheism :)

    • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

      The proper term for the inhabitants of the U.S. is Americans. The proper
      term for the country is United States of America (USA). I was referring
      to using “America” to refer to the country.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    According to the logic behind #2 I should henceforth refer to my country of residence as “the Kingdom”, and not even use any name if I want to be so specific as to specify what constituent country I mean. Fuck that.

    • Aguz

      To be honest, “the Kingdom” sounds pretty badass. 

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Thank you Manolo, for this insightful and illuminating article. This issue has been on my mind lately, especially since the emergence of Hispanic people in the U.S. as a powerful voting bloc in this recent election.  I was pleased to learn that they are not monolithically conservative on social issues. For instance, exit polls found that 59% of Latino voters backed marriage equality, compared to 48% of the general public.  http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2012/11/06/exit-poll-shows-latino-voters-go-big-marriage-equality

    This gives me hope that as they grow to be a larger part of the U.S. population, there will be a significant number of them who will be atheists, or at least who will favor secular political positions.

    • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

       Thanks for the info. and the link. I wasn’t aware of it.

  • Marco Conti

    Interesting discussion. I was born in Italy but I have lived in the USA for 30 years. In Italian we call US Citizens “Americani” (or “Americano” singular) and it is clear we are not talking about Mexicans, canadians or Brazilians. Everyone south of the US are called “Sudamericani” even if they live in central America but we do have a term (and use it) for “Centroamericani” but it’s not used as much colloquially because it doesn’t really roll off as well.

    I totally understand how non US Americans may dislike the term “Americans” to refer only to US citizens, but as someone else already pointed out, that ship has sailed for at least this century. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future. But for now learning to live with the term may be the best policy to avoid unnecessary grief.

    • NotTHATguest

      In South America we call people from the USA “estadounidenses”, yes Unitedstatesians. Or when we’re being lazy we say North Americans (sorry Canada & Mexico.)

    • Daniela

       Yeah, in Italy America means the US, but when people in Spain say they have family in America, they mean somewhere in the continent, and will specify if they mean the US.

  • http://twitter.com/ateorizar Podcast Ateorizar

    Hi people. My Twitter account is wrong. It should be @manolomatos:twitter. You can also follow us on Twitter @ateorizar or join our Facebook group. One thing to keep in mind is that we post on our Twitter accounts in English and also Spanish. I hope you enjoyed the article and thanks again to Hemant for publishing.     

  • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Daosorios

    You forgot to mention Avant-Garde, a blog written by a Colombian: http://skepticink.com/avant-garde/

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    This is probably going to sound really stupid but it something that puzzles me. In the USA there is this distinction made between Hispanics/Latinos and Usaians (nope, sorry, I know American can denote anyone from the continent of America but that just sounds/looks stupid) from Europe. Yet what is the difference, after all, Portugal and Spain are both European countries and their citizens are European. Is it just to point out that these people came from Central/South America? Or is there something I’m missing?

  • Chak 47

    I suspect that Americans using ‘America’ to refer to the USA is approximately the same level of offensiveness that I feel when being referred to as an ‘Anglo’.  

    • Santiago

      Why do you find Anglo ofensive?

  • Doxus

    Creo que puedo escribir aquí en Español. Es más cómodo para mí, y parece
    que la mayoría puede leerlo. Sería mejor, tal vez, escribir en Inglés pero
    entonces lo leería menos personas —por lo mal escrito que estaría. Trato de
    asegurar que quien no lea lo que escribo… no sea porque está mal escrito. Que
    no quede por la forma.

    Me gusta tu artículo Manolo. No porque esté totalmente de acuerdo con lo
    que dices sino por la amplitud y espíritu de los asuntos que abordas.

    No me gusta tu “respuesta corta” a la cuestión de cómo atraer la Comunidad Hispana hacia los grupos ateos. Como chiste es buena. Pero —como después bien explicas— el asunto es bastante más complejo que “comida y buena música.” Fiesta y pachanga, como diríamos en el Caribe. Yo entiendo una respuesta corta como:
    estudio y trabajo. Si la comunidad atea en US se proyecta sólo como un movimiento
    intelectual, asunto de racionalidad… la cuestión de La verdad, entonces los Hispanos no se sienten atraídos por la melodía de esa flauta. Precisamente porque los Hispanos no vienen a este país buscando ninguna verdad. Hay varios millones de razones por las cuales los Hispanos venimos a este país… trabajo es una.
    Si los ateos entendemos las muy profundas raíces económicas y políticas de
    las religiones… y proyectamos ese entendimiento, yo creo que hay más
    oportunidades para ofrecer al Hispano un entendimiento educativo. Nuestra
    comunidad, hermano, se derrite de ignorancia. El catolicismo le ha cauterizado
    el placer del entendimiento. El Gringo piensa su individuo, y el Hispano piensa
    su país.

    El movimiento ateo es —también— un movimiento intelectual, cultural. Es una
    actitud frontal hacia la realidad natural, social e histórica. Los Hispanos
    necesitamos no una proyección intelectual sino educacional. Si los beneficios de una mejor educación general los medimos en miles de dólares al año… el Hispano levanta una sonrisa de sospechosa desconfianza. Con dinero lo han engañado muchas, muchas veces. La cultura norteamericana la vemos girar alrededor de —y adorar a— el dinero. La cultura Hispana está más centrada en la familia, el grupo humano, las personas. Tal vez por eso, cuando hablamos, nos tocamos… para asegurarnos que aún está el otro allí. :)

  • MyMelody

    I’m Hispanic, of the Mexican variety and Mestiza. Most hispanic atheists I know, do come from religious families (because those are the people who make up my community in Los Angeles), and they have to deal with a lot of frustration because of it. Mine was very traditional and religious. I’m poor and working class, and have little in common with wealthier hispanics, aside from language (which can also be different because of dialect and that my Spanish includes many native words). I’m very connected to my culture and traditions and they are very important to me.

    Something I want you all to get across, is that the term Hispanic covers a huge group of people, sometimes with very little in common.

    Look at Mexico for instance, there are about 70 languages spoked there. Your experiences and needs as a Mexican will be different if you identify as White, Mestizo, Native, Black etc. Socio-economic status is a big factor in one’s experiences. Depending on the region you are from, your culture will be very different from the next person. When Mexicans come into the US, there are more nuances to take into consideration. First and second generation families have very different experiences from third and forth. Families that identify more with their Native side (30% of Mexicans in Mexico identify as Native, btw) will have different experiences as those who identify with Mestizo, etc. Level of education also effects people’s experiences.

    Now, add all of Latin America to this. Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans etc, often have very distinct concerns from each other. Immigration might not concern one group as much as the other, and the same goes for educational gaps etc.

    What am I saying with all of this? Simply, don’t treat us as a monolith. Some of us have only a language in common, and in some cases not even that. I have Salvadoran, Bolivian and Colombian acquaintances and we all have very different cultures and experiences. I’ve met other Mexicans and we have very different cultures and experiences.


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