In a nutshell, no. But there aren’t many of us BMEers who regularly attend Skeptics in the Pub, certainly not from what I’ve seen, and yet again I find myself asking why. I wrote about this before, and despite being given the chance to run my own Skeptics in the Pub, and have a greater say in the speakers that are chosen, or the format of each event, there are always more upbeat things to discuss than raising awareness of BME issues at a social event. Like autism, government cuts to the science budget, and the traumas of getting sued for libel in the UK.
My personal opinion on the whole matter is that skeptics do not care about the colour of someones skin (white, black, brown, it doesn’t matter). If we reach out to people, then that’s enough. I was pretty shocked however, when nobody bat an eyelid when I corrected a VERY prominent skeptic for calling Simon Singh, Sid Rodrigues and myself black. It seems that they care so little about the colour of someones skin that it extends to not caring about the distinction between different ethnic backgrounds, and that lack of effort was not, on that occasion, greatly appreciated.
And why would skeptics feel the need to bother with BMEs? We make up just 8% of the population, most of us adhere to a religion, we do not shape mainstream opinion (many of us are at the receiving end of it), we are not the champions of the re-enlightenment and we will not be expected to be so anytime soon. There is no desire to schmooze and schmaltz with us because we won’t make you any money or boost your online ratings.
I’m really sorry about this rant and I don’t mean to come across as a bitter racist (some of my best friends are white ) but we skeptics deliberately choose to hold our events in places where BMEs don’t feel comfortable and any sycophantic placations are little more than empty rhetoric.
If skeptics are really serious about engaging with the public, then I’d recommend we tone down the attitude, encourage people we disagree with to speak up, and at least make an attempt at encouraging a more diverse audience/readership. So far all I’ve seen is people talking about it.
PS I’d like to affirm the first sentence: I do not think skeptics, or indeed the vast majority of any people, are racist. Except racists, who are very racist a lot.