Re: [bostonatheists] Is Slate Magazine Right that Sexual Harassment is Rampant in Our Ranks?

From: kenneth a. t.
Sent on: Friday, August 9, 2013 11:54 AM
Zac, I appreciate that encouragement.
I'm commonly talking about my experiences with racism. As they are relevant to the conversations that I'm having. And doing so with as many women as I'm able to.
As these are moral and ethical issues, the women I'm speaking with, are more than welcome to contribute their relevant experiences, with race, gender, sex, or class. I'd go further that, I also have problems with sexual bias being used against me, by both men and women. As do some other males that are consciously aware of what's going on in their social environments.
Having such problems identified, validated, and then solutions strategized for, can be a complex power struggle. Where by some participants can be hesitant to be contextually honest.
There is not only one's personal experience there is also larger social measures, that sometimes, correlate to the personal experiences.
Finally I'd write that it's my experience that most of the women that I meet both in private, and public, are dodging this conversation with me. And are much more in need of encouragement than me. There are positions that women have been in that they have acted as if they have become so comfortable with, ( whether they are empowered, or disempowered), that the changing of which, seems so discomforting that they have been unwilling to engage with me in discussion on this. However, when that willingness presents itself, let the conversations begin.
Be well, and best regards, Ken.
 

From: David Hession <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, August 8,[masked]:45 PM
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Is Slate Magazine Right that Sexual Harassment is Rampant in Our Ranks?

Kenneth, I would encourage you to ask some female friends (Hispanic, white, black, whatever) about their experiences with sexism and you'll find they're not at all abstract. I think open discussion of all prejudices and biases are important and one doesn't necessarily detract from the other. 

Zac, 
I had a somewhat similar experience at a stop that Richard Dawkins did promoting "the greatest show on earth." I spoke with a reporter about my atheism and even other atheists in line thought I was crazy for speaking openly about it. I think it comes back to Dr. Dawkins insistence that more of us take a cue from the gay community and "come out." Attitudes changed about LGBT people very quickly once they came out in large numbers. Atheists need to do the same and demystify the whole thing. 

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 8, 2013, at 6:25 PM, Zachary Bos <[address removed]> wrote:

I appreciate your saying as much; and I'd appreciate any suggestions you'd have for making our group of atheists as welcoming as possible to persons of all races.

Or is it naive of me to think there are easy remedies, just off in the wings, waiting to be implemented by People Of Appropriately Heightened Consciousness, to the problem of racial homogeneity and self-segregation? 

On second thought, don't answer that. That's me being neurotic and overly self-aware. It's a vice. Let me just say: I'd appreciate it if you'd say more about your experiences, and share more of your perspective, on this matter. 

I invite any members of color or other minority status, to do the same.

*

Something that seems relevant: On that day when the POTUS was in Boston at the memorial service following the bombing, I was hanging out with some nice folks outside of the church. We were all strangers, but we were getting along. A mother had her daughter there, 5 years old maybe, who had a sign she had written with crayon: "I love the Boston PD." Real cute, and everyone was taking photos, and I'm taking people's cameras so they can all be in the photo, and I'm joking around with a grandmother, and we're all doing pretty okay on a day that could otherwise have been a spectacle of grimness. And as more people come up to the edge of the crowd, we wave them over to our little knot of people on a street corner, we introduce ourselves and ask about their lives, where they study or work or live, if everyone they know is okay after the explosions, we are all acting a little friendly. I'm one of the few white people in our little sector of the crowd, but I'm feeling pretty much at home, as I felt more at home when I lived in Dorchester than when I lived in Coolidge Corner -- I grew up in a neighborhood in urban New Jersey where whites were not in simple majority. 

This reporter comes over, asks if I'm "that atheist guy", I say I guess so, and we step away from the crowd for a few minutes so he can do an interview with me for his radio show (I wasn't not expecting him -- the Boston Atheists and the SCMA had issued a press release that morning, and this guy was one of several media personnel who had made plans to come speak with us at the event.)

Now here's the thing. When we finish up I go back over to the corner we're I'd been hanging out, and now no one is talking to me -- no more smiles, no more jokes, the older woman wearing the OBAMA teeshirt was now deliberating looking away from me, the mother of the little girl with the crayoned sign was holding her shoulders so she couldn't be seen by me. Just like that, I'm shunned. It honestly took me a few beats to figure out why. It's because the reporter had identified me by creed, "atheist", so now I'm not someone these good people want to interact with.

It was disorienting, this episode of exclusion. But it was minor, and fleeting. It's easy for me to walk away from, because there are really few places in my life where I encounter anything like real discrimination. 

I'm not connecting this incident to any larger theme of identity bias, or comparing it to the far greater forces, misogyny, and racism, that hold sway in our society. I'm sharing for the sake of sharing. And I invite others in the group to do the same. 

I'm glad we're opening up this kind of dialogue on the list.

- Z


On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM, kenneth a. thomas <[address removed]> wrote:
To me the charge of sexism is mystical, and unspecified, esecially in the atheist community.
And as a black male, I especially find the charge of sexism a tactical diversion from racism, especially that racism aimed at black males.
Very best regards, Kenneth A. Thomas.




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