Agnostic Atheist, But Not Interested In White Supremacist Atheism
White men who try to portray only men of colour as misogynist will bash these men and their religion/culture and call doing so being against sexism towards women of colour. And this remains a White supremacist stance. Why? Because for women of colour, it’s NEVER “just” about gender. We share the cultures with men of colour that White men bash. Further, women of colour don’t need arrogant and ahistorical White male spokespersons, ones who ignore their own misogyny and the impact of White male misogyny globally. And for women of colour, intraracial/intracultural misogyny has always been critiqued and resisted against. The idea of the White savior remains White supremacist. Obviously White Savior Industrial Complex doesn’t only appear when speaking of humanitarianism (which is not humanism, by the way).
The White men who claim to be our “heroes” are ALSO oppressors in this case. Most of all, it is hypocritical when these White men with abysmal misogyny towards White women claim to be “less” misogynist than men of colour. Whether they were burning witches in the past, engaging in scientific and medical exploration via racist, sexist, abusive and unethical practices and dehumanization of brown bodies, or responsible for the majority of rapes of women in the U.S. today (despite not seeing a day in prison for almost any them; who rapes versus who is arrested for rape is divergent and reflective of racism and Prison Industrial Complex; even who can "joke" about rape is impacted by race), their track record is shady. They fail to examine how White supremacy impacts the masculinity of men of colour, leaving a narrow space for its existence which fosters intracultural/intraracial misogyny. (Theism isn’t the origin/source of all misogyny.) If patriarchy (which itself is oppression) is defined via White supremacist terms and men of colour are denied access to certain facets of it while not being in the position to challenge the deniers, much of it manifests as intracultural/intraracial misogyny since regardless of race, women are always socially placed beneath men. Many White men also fail to examine how patriarchy is problematic regardless of race or theism. But no, some will keep pretending that White men have “evolved” past misogyny.
Men are NOT in the position to determine what is “worse” misogyny, misogynoir or transmisogyny. Only the women who experience it can discuss it in this context and even then must do so without xenophobia, racism and cultural imperialism shaping that conversation. This is about as ludicrous as Whites trying to tell Black people that racism up North is “nicer” than down South. They aren’t in the position to make that determination. This is about as ludicrous as Whites trying to tell all LGBTQ people, including Black/people of colour, that Black people are “more” homophobic.
The above White supremacist, racist, xenophobic and conditionally sexist (as they claim to be against sexism [while the critiques remain primarily against men of colour], unless it is their own or that which is fostered by White supremacy, and will respond to a woman who dissents with coded sexism) stance is posited often by many cis hetero White male atheists.
Certainly some don’t; I’ve talked to White male atheists who don’t. Their atheism isn’t about behaving as if theist privilege (which is nuanced and can’t be examined without also examining racial/gender oppression and how some theisms are privileged over others while all are privileged over atheism, but certain atheists have so much privilege via race, gender, class, sexual orientation etc., that it’s difficult for theism/theist privilege of others to truly foster oppression that they can’t overcome with other privileges) is the only privilege that exists nor is their atheism smoke and mirrors for proffering oppressive White supremacist discourse that literally is the same discourse proffered by many White theists, and ultimately is about White supremacy.
However, I’m not speaking of the ones who don’t ascribe to atheist discourse that is White supremacist; I’m speaking of the ones who do. And when anyone who isn’t a White male critiques them, the following occurs:
- Assumption of theism. The assumption is made that the person must be a theist if they do not 100% agree with this type of cis hetero White male atheist. I mean…the dissenter is a woman or a brown woman or a brown man! Must be theist!
- Demand for “evidence.” "Can you provide any evidence to support your claim?" Now from social justice discourse, we already know about this stance of the privileged. Demand “proof” from the marginalized and if not provided, use the rhetoric that if the marginalized cannot google for them and "teach" them, the facts must not exist. This is comical because it actually mimics theism. Monotheists often say that if an atheist cannot prove that their god doesn’t exist, then that god must exist. Notice the pattern. This is why some mainstream movement atheists resemble some theists to me—their rhetorical methods. Always semantic warfare amidst evangelism.
- Use coded words. They’re slick. They rarely will say “nigger” or “cunt.” But “barbarian” and “hysterics” are common word choices. We know coded language, especially as people of colour. But they’ll insult our intelligence anyway and claim that we’re delusional for recognizing the etymology, dog whistle racism and racial/gendered history connected to a word.
In many ways engaging with White male atheists who do this is worse than the often labeled Tea Party-style overt racism. It’s subversive cultural warfare. It’s elaborate gaslighting. It basically becomes a game of semantics and theory meant to erase our experiences and existence as people of colour (and White women also) unless we 100% ascribe to any position they proffer. I’m not interested in this game.
Though I identify as an agnostic atheist, I’m not interested in atheism alone. It literally means little alone. It’s simply the rejection of: practicing religion, organized religion as a tool of the State and of the existence of deities. (And actually, usually the definition only means the last part of the previous sentence.) I’m interested in how this connects to a greater ideology that is anti-oppression, for all, which most definitely includes challenging racism and White supremacy. Without the latter, the former is simply nothing at best or can become a White supremacist tool to facilitate oppression at worst.
I’m more interested in deconstructing White supremacy anywhere it appears. Theism or atheism as the place it appears is of less consequence. And when White theists tell theists of colour that they must ignore their race and the truth of their experiences (and to not do so is “racist”) to make Whites comfortable and then White atheists adopt the same goal towards atheists of colour—using different rhetoric but the same goal—the issue isn’t “god.” The issue is White supremacy. It’s rarely about “god,” these conversations about theism, ironically. Even recently a White atheist suggested to me that Black and other atheists of colour congregating is “racist.” (So…Black Skeptics of Los Angeles is a “racist” group?) The rejection of White domination and acceptance of communal cultural support is not “racism;” it’s self-preservation.
Cis hetero White male atheists who adopt these stances and take an almost theist-like approach to atheism where someone like Richard Dawkins becomes their “pastor” and they save Twitter searches with his name to attack anyone who disagrees (I find this odd; I will never do this for anyone famous) truly remind me of some theists who are more concerned about protecting a Ted Haggard, Pat Robinson, Eddie Long or Creflo Dollar figure than any actual belief system. The common link between theism and atheism for some people isn’t only White supremacy and capitalism but also tunnel vision loyalty to a rigid amount/types of ideas and/or persons. It’s a part of America’s “team” culture and “us vs. them” culture. This is always a problem.
And it’s not that religion should be safe from critique. I critique it. A lot. But critique itself isn’t always discourse for understanding. Critique itself isn’t always about a desire for change. And those who critique from incredible positions of privilege and/or power should examine if their critique is really about standing with the oppressed or about facilitating oppression. Nuanced critique of the privileged from the oppressed cannot “oppress” the privileged. It might actually save the oppressed’s lives. Conversely, shallow critique of the oppressed, from the privileged—critique that reinforces status quo—is a form of oppression.
Most atheists of colour aren’t looking for a White massa to run a collective atheist plantation. So the White men that I’ve described here can keep Dawkins. I’m good over here with Black free thinkers and humanists of the past like Frederick Douglas, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, and Florynce Kennedy, living legend humanists like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, active Black atheist feminist scholars like Sikivu Hutchinson and the atheists of colour that I talk to via Twitter/Tumblr/offline. I promise, I’m already good over here.
It’s genuinely odd to me that I can’t put “atheist” in my Twitter bio, not because of Black (Christian) theists (who I’ve also critiqued though I love our shared Black culture, still) but because of the cis hetero White male atheists that I’ve described here. I don’t want them contacting me, ever. I feel physically ill talking to them and I’m certain that diving into a pool of maggots is more pleasant. Whether Black/of colour or White, only atheists (and theists) with a commitment to justice or interested in evolving into someone committed to justice, not White supremacy (or other isms), are who I want to talk to. Not all talking is genuine discourse for understanding, and self-care is primary to me. I truly understand why some people no longer identify as skeptic or are opposed to Dawkins and the like.
I’m an atheist and the satirical tweet in the screencap below still made me chuckle.
I don’t have the time for this White supremacist form of atheism, especially via circular arguments and online harassment. It is about as pleasurable as seeing Zimmerman’s smile in the courtroom or watching the Rodney King video. I honestly find street harassment (which I vehemently despise) more pleasant than talking to these type of atheists. I don’t want them around me. I don’t want to debate. I don’t want to even have 140 characters of conversation with those who ascribe to it. I want to be left alone.
(Oh, and if this describes your atheism, don’t bother reblogging the post with your 2500 words about how racism doesn’t exist, how White supremacy whether facilitated through atheism or theism doesn’t exist, how any discourse not shaped by evo bio or evo psych isn’t scholarly, or how you actually “care” about sexism globally yet only critique any faith tied to marginalized people via race and will call any woman who doesn’t agree out of her name. I’m not interested. Post *your* thoughts on *your* own blog. Please.)