Blackout Secular Rally: Atheism Makes Minority Inroads

In yet another sign of how the American secular demographic is emerging – in terms of both raw numbers and organizational commitment – the first-ever rally featuring nonbelievers of color is scheduled for later this month in New York. The Blackout Secular Rally takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, July 27, at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens.

The event was inspired by last year’s Reason Rally in Washington, says Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers, a co-sponsor of the celebration along with Black Atheists of America. The Reason Rally drew over 20,000 nonbelievers from all over the country to the National Mall on a rainy March day, showing a solidarity that had never before been demonstrated by America’s atheists and humanists.

“We thought it would be a great idea to have a similar event," Thomas told me in a recent interview, adding that the Blackout will be a chance to showcase both the growing numbers of secular minorities as well as pro-secular speakers and performers who may not be well known outside the African-American community.  

The notion of “coming out” as atheist, agnostic, or humanist has been an important part of the modern secular movement, and it is getting traction in minority communities as well, Thomas says: “There are now more atheists of color making themselves more visible.”  

The Blackout is also an opportunity for seculars of color to network and find support, she said, which is especially important for minorities who are faced with heavily religious communities. The idea, she explained, is to "help people understand there is nothing wrong with questioning religion, being open about atheism."

Like everyone else, minorities are increasingly aware of knowledge and scientific advances that raise questions about religious truth claims and validate skepticism, Thomas said, and other factors, such as religious scandals, have also caused many to question traditional faith. As such, her group wants those doubters to know they aren’t alone. “It is important for us to be more visible in order to create better communication and help our communities,” she said.

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

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