Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Matter To Humanists

Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Matter To Humanists July 9, 2015
(Image via Phil Roeder.CC)

One of the most frustrating things as a Black Man, a person of color who happens to be an atheist and humanist, is to hear the colorblind argument — especially from many of my secular friends.

I want to be colorblind too, but that’s not the world I live in. Ask the cop that pulls me over if he sees my color, or ask the person that follows me around in the store if my shade is the source of her shade. By ignoring my experience, you deny my reality, and although I really want to be in a world where color isn’t relevant, that’s simply not real. I’ve written about the disparities between the rates of incarceration, police brutality, over-policing, and the legal over-processing of people who look like me. Yet even with the preponderance of evidence, I still get dragged into an unfair argument of equivalences or relativism.

Why does it have to be only “Black Lives” that matter? Why not all lives?

I use the distinction of Black because someone created the distinction of white. And even though it was created before either of us, the systems used to keep us apart and promote one distinction over the other still exist. You may not like or accept the term white privilege, especially if you haven’t experienced economic privilege, but you still have the unspoken advantage of whiteness in America. That’s very hard to deny.

This failure to address the disparity is also one of the reasons we fail to move the Atheist or Secular needle in the African American community. Even as the Pew Survey showed a rise in the rate of Atheism in the general population, the African American population experienced no statistically significant change. On the forefront of today’s racial Civil Rights movement, I am still joined by many of the churches and religious leaders (both black and white) who do acknowledge the concept of race as real. And as much as I’d like to argue the role of religion in both justifying and implementing the system of inequity, sometimes you just need to put your disruptive feet on the street and demand change.

Foundation Beyond Belief
Foundation Beyond Belief

If you’re a Humanist, there is a reason #BlackLivesMatter right now and a reason you should listen. If you’re a Humanist and aren’t paying attention to what is happening to other Humans or the inequality and suffering that exist for them, you’re doing Humanism wrong. Focusing on white only aspects of Humanism makes you a white only Humanist, which by that distinction doesn’t really make you much of a Humanist.

My friends over at the Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) have put together a short video on why it should matter to you. This year’s FBB Humanism at Work Conference will focus specifically on the issue of Black Lives Mattering. Tickets are still available. Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson is the Keynote Speaker this year and 50% of the proceeds from this event will go to Community Change, Inc. a charity working directly on anti-racism education and advocacy.

And if you’re still unclear as to what privilege is, I’ve included a popular clip that’s making its rounds in social media. I think it has helped some of my friends understand it. Perhaps it might help you.


Pretty cool meme is available on the FBB Page:

Image courtesy of FBB
Image courtesy of FBB
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