Humanism and Anti-racism – some examples
Here is a list of humanists who have been actively involved in anti-racism and some suggested works (some recent some more historical)
James Baldwin, American novelist and activist
See The Fire Next Time and other works
Video clip: www.facebook.com/watch/?v=260083205058947
Richard Wright, author
See Native Son (fiction)
Ta Nehisi Coates, author and journalist
See Between the World and Me
Contempt as a virus (essay)
Kenan Malik, writer and lecturer
In The Meaning of Race (1996) Malik ‘throws new light on the nature and origins of ideas of racial difference. Arguing that the concept of ‘race’ is a means through which Western society has come to understand the relationship between humanity, society and nature, the book re-examines the relationship between Enlightenment thought and racial discourse, clarifies the nature of scientific racism, and presents a critique of postmodern theories of cultural ‘difference’.’ [Google Books]
Adam Rutherford, How to Argue with a Racist
Adam Rutherford is a geneticist and author. How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality takes aim at pseudoscientific arguments used to justify racism and racial stereotypes, both historically and today, using biology – and socio-economics – to challenge the harmful use of racist tropes presented as fact.
Watch: How to Argue with a Racist
Some other info on humanists and anti-racism
John Amichi, Patron of Humanists UK
Video clip for schools: Not-racist v anti-racist: What’s the difference?: www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zs9n2v4
Asa Philip Randolph, Civil Rights leader
Asa Philip Randolph was a civil rights leader who campaigned for racial equality in the workplace. He organised the March on Washington in 1963 at which Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech.
‘This condition of freedom, equality, and democracy is not the gift of gods. It is the task of men, yes, men, brave men, honest men, determined men.’
First Universal Races Congress
The First Universal Races Congress took place in London 26-29 July 1911: the first ever conference of its kind. The Congress sought to challenge racial divisions in the light of social and scientific understanding, pre-dating comparable efforts by international bodies such as UNESCO by four decades. Developed from an idea suggested by Felix Adler at a meeting of the International Union of Ethical Societies (a precursor of today’s Humanists International) in 1906, the Congress was principally organised by Gustav Spiller, drawing attendees from across the world.
W.E.B. du Bois
Lifelong anti-racist activist and writer on racial inequality. Castigated the Church for its role in upholding racist ideals and institutions (e.g. slavery).
Einstein drew on his own experience of anti-semitism to decry racism. During the 1930s and 1940s, while living in America, Einstein joined civil rights organisations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Crusade Against Lynching (ACAL), acting as co-chair for the latter, and lobbying for federal anti-lynching legislation alongside its founder Paul Robeson. In a commencement address for the historically black Lincoln University, he described racism as ‘a disease of white people’.
A.J. Ayer was Chairman of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in Sport
‘In case of fire or shipwreck no one stops to inquire into the intelligence quotient, the character, or (one hopes) the social status or racial origins of those whose lives are at stake, in order to give priority to those of higher standing. At such times all are treated as equal, preference being given only to those least able to help themselves. But we have yet to learn that what is good in emergency is no less good in everyday life.’
More can be found on the Humanist Heritage website: https://heritage.humanists.uk/