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Apr 19 2014

Call to Action: Greta Christina discusses “Coming Out Atheist”!

NOW AVAILABLE!

NOW AVAILABLE!


Greta Christina’s timely, insightful new book Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why? dropped a few days ago! Black Skeptics interviewed her on the intersectional issues she addresses in the book, including the Atheism Plus phenomenon, feminism and social justice:

BS: In the book you stress the value of engaging in debates about religion with believers to encourage questioning and coming out. However, as you acknowledge, debating the validity of religious belief is only one part of the equation. For example, the vast majority of LGBTQ people of color and straight people of color are faith-aligned/identified precisely because mainstream America is racially segregated, faith (for many) is a form of cultural “home space” and social welfare resources in communities of color are extremely impacted. What further “intersectional” steps need to be taken to promote humanistic communities beyond just “coming out”?

GC: I’m surprised to hear you say that — I don’t think I did stress the value of debating with believers all that much. I mention in the book, but I don’t give it much space, and I mostly mention it because I actually advise against having those debates while you’re in process of coming out to people. I think that’s the wrong time for those debates. It is true that I think debating believers can be useful and valuable: a lot of atheists rag on other atheists for getting into those debates, insisting that they never work and are always a waste of time, so I think they deserve defending. And it can be difficult to draw a clear line between simply explaining your atheism, and explaining why you think religion is bunk. That’s one of the main reasons I talk about the topic at all. But it’s certainly not something I think everyone should do, I don’t think it’s a moral imperative or anything, and I think lots of other forms of activism are valuable.

So, with that being cleared up. The answer to your main question: Yes, for lots of people of color, faith is a home: it’s where people get social services, social support, a sense of identity and continuity and stability and history, and more. (It does seem that it can be a toxic home — that’s one of the takeaways I got from Candace Gorham’s book, “The Ebony Exodus Project,” I kept being struck throughout the book by how so many black women found their churches unsupportive and actually undermining. But it’s still a home.) So one of the biggest intersectional steps that godless communities can take is to make atheism a safer place to land for these folks. We need to look at what people of color are getting from their faith communities, and do more in our own communities to provide it. It wouldn’t suck if we did more to make some of these needs less necessary while we’re at it: to do political work on poverty and safety nets and institutional racism and so on. And no, that’s not “mission drift”: if local atheist communities can do blood drives and roadside cleanups and so on, there’s no reason they can’t do this sort of political work, too. And we need to be willing to take a hard look at the ways that we actually make our spaces unwelcoming: not just with racism of omission (e.g., failing to recognize what these folks need and provide it), but with more overt racism of commission. And all this actually does go back to the question of debates about religion: there’s not much point — strategically, poltically, or indeed morally — in arguing people out of religion if we don’t provide them a safe place to land if we succeed.

BS: What are your thoughts on “Atheism Plus”? Is it more than an online phenomenon and if so what concrete inroads are its proponents making in social justice organizing and coalition building?

GC: It depends somewhat on what you mean by “Atheism Plus.” If you mean specifically the online community that was founded a couple of years ago, I’m not actually that involved with it right now (not for any particular reason, I’ve just been focusing on other things), and I’m not the best person to ask about it. But the term “Atheism Plus” often gets used to refer to anyone (well, any atheist) who wants organized atheism to work more on social justice stuff: anyone who thinks organized atheism needs to work on making our communities more diverse and more welcoming to a wider variety of people, and anyone who thinks we need to work more on issues where secularism intersects with other social justice issues (like reproductive rights, megachurches and religious frauds preying on impoverished neighborhoods, ways that voucher funding of religious schools is undermining public education, skepticism applied to economic policies and police procedures and the drug war, etc.). And the term gets applied to anyone who thinks we need to be willing to clean our own house around this stuff: to pay attention to our own racism, sexism, classism, etc., and to work to get better around it.

If you mean that, I think we have had some success, although we sure as hell need more. When I travel around the U.S. to speak to local communities and student groups, I’m seeing a lot more diversity in the memberships and leaderships, a greater consciousness about these issues, a greater committment to taking action on them and more effectiveness in that action, than I did even just a few years ago. That’s especially true in the student groups. Whenever I get disheartened by racist/ sexist/ classist/ transphobic/ etc. bullshit in organized atheism, I try to remember that the student groups are way better about it than their elders are. When I talk about diversity with student groups, they’re almost always already on board — they don’t need to talk about “Why?”, they just want to talk about “How?” I’m not sure I’d credit that to Atheism Plus specifically, though — it’s more that this has been on a lot of people’s radar for a while, as has the pushback against it, and the genesis of Atheism Plus was a flash point for that.

GC: In the book you note that there has been an uptick in the numbers of African American participants in atheist/humanist conferences, however there is still no emphasis on social and racial justice issues by the majority of the leading atheist/humanist organizations. What can “white allies” do to help the leadership of these organizations get out of their church/state separation bubble?

You tell me. What would you like white allies to do? Seriously. I get asked questions like this a lot, and I try to answer as best I can (and I’ll try to answer you), but if you think there’s specific stuff we’re not doing that would be useful, I for one would like to hear it.

So, to answer your question as best I can. Some things I think white allies can do to shift the leadership: Speak up. Keep this stuff on our leaders’ radar. Give our leaders shit when they fail; make it clear that this is a priority for us. Give financial and other support to organizations that are doing a better job of it. Withdraw financial and other support from organizations that are seriously and consistently screwing it up. Give strokes when people get it right. Support up-and-coming leaders who are better on this stuff, and let organizations know which up-and-coming leaders we support and would like to see move up in the ranks. Give financial and other support to organizations that are specifically dedicated to this intersectional stuff (like Black Skeptics, to pick just one example completely at random).

And I think it might be useful to frame some of these other social justice issues as church/state separation issues. Attacks on abortion rights and access, religiously-inspired bullying of LGBTQ kids and teenagers, defunding of public schools for voucher funding of religious schools, abstinence-only sex education — these are church/state separation issues. We need to make that clearer. I keep hearing these fears about mission drift, fears that organized atheism is somehow going to drift into areas that have nothing whatsoever to do with religion or secularism. But nothing I’ve seen advocated by the social justice crowd looks like mission drift to me. It’s all in the wheelhouse of atheism, humanism, skepticism, secularism, and making safe homes for a wider variety of non-believers. It’s not like we’re trying to get funding for model railroad societies or something.

BS: In the book you use the phrase “women and people of color” often, however white women have a privileged position and power base in American society relative to women of color. In the atheist and humanist movements this has been reflected in the emphasis on sexual harassment, sexist language and sexist discrimination without a corresponding emphasis on the specific ways queer and straight women of color are marginalized, criminalized and shut out of leadership positions. Do you see the need for more feminist humanist dialogue across the racial/class divide?

GC: Absolutely.

I’m certainly not going to harsh on anyone for fighting against sexual harassment and assault in godless communities, and against online harassment and abuse and threats against feminists in the godless communities, and other major firestorm issues. I think this stuff is important, and I don’t think social justice is a zero sum game. But just as atheism in general needs to focus more on the needs of atheists who aren’t white, feminists within atheism need to focus more on the needs of atheist women who aren’t white.

Generally, I do like to see this framed, not so much as “Why are you focusing on (X)?,” but as “Why aren’t you also focusing on (Y)?” I think when people are volunteering time and energy and money on something they’re passionate about, and they get ragged on for doing it because we’d rather see them do something different, it tends to just be demoralizing. As a writer, this is one of the many thousands of bees in my bonnet: I write about stuff I care about, and I hate it when people say, “Why are you writing about atheism and feminism and fashion and sex when people are dying in Darfur?” And if we get too deeply into the “my issues are more important than yours” thing, I think it eventually takes us down a rabbit hole, where we’re going, “No! We have to work on slave labor in China! Female genital mutilation! The AIDS pandemic in Africa! State-sponsored torture!” Pretty much no matter what issue we’re working on, a case could be made that some other issue is more important. (In my opinion, if we seriously evaluated the ultimate value of different political issues, then every single political activist should stop everything we’re doing right now and work nonstop on global climate change — if we don’t fix that, then game over, end of civilization, nothing else any of us are doing will matter.) I think, ultimately, people need to do whatever activism gets them excited, and I don’t like trying to talk them out of that excitement by telling them that the thing they’re excited about is trivial. But I do think we can work to get people get excited about different kinds of activism than the ones they’re currently engaged in — including activism about race and class. And I think we can get people excited about the ways that the activism they’re already doing intersects with the activism we’re trying to get them to care about. That certainly happened with me: I wasn’t focusing nearly as much on this stuff until the last few years. And it’s happening with a lot of other writers and activists.

BS: What impact would you like your book to have within the “activist” atheist community?

GC: Is this a trick question? :-)

The main impact I want the book to have is the obvious one — I want more atheists to come out to more people, and I want for that coming out process to go better for more people, with better results. I think coming out makes atheists’ own lives better: when I was researching the book and reading the hundreds of coming-out stories for it, I was struck by how overwhelmingly positive people are about it. Even if they had a hard time at first with their families and communities, it usually turned out mostly well over time; they often had less of a hard time than they’d thought they would; they often found other closeted atheists among their friends and family who they had no idea about; and even the ones who did end up alienated by the people they care about still think coming out was the right decision, and are still happy they did it. And all of that was true across color lines, gender lines, class lines. Of the hundreds of coming-out stories I read, literally just one person said they regretted having done it.

I think coming out makes atheists’ own lives better — and I think it makes things better for other atheists. The more we come out, the less alone other atheists will feel, the less stigmatized atheism will be, and the less strong a hold religion will have. Coming out makes it easier for other atheists to come out — and it makes things easier on other atheists who really don’t think they can come out safely right now. And of course, coming out is how we organize. It is a hugely powerful political act: that’s been true for LGBTQ people, and it’s true for us. Of course I recognize that it’s harder for some people than others — for reasons of race and ethnicity, economic class, culture, gender, geography, as well as simply for reasons of personality and people’s personal situations. I certainly don’t encourage anyone to come out if it’s going to seriously screw up their lives. But I want every atheist who wants to come out to be able to do it — and I wrote this book to help make that happen. I want to help atheists come out. I want other atheist activists to help atheists come out — and to give them a safer place to land when they do. I’m hoping that this book makes that work easier. I think that it will.

Apr 15 2014

Support the 2014 First in the Family Humanist Scholarship Fund

Last year, Black Skeptics Los Angeles (BSLA) spearheaded its First in the Family Humanist Scholarship initiative, which focuses on providing resources to undocumented, foster care, homeless and LGBTQ youth who will be the first in their families to go to college. Responding directly to the school-to-prison pipeline crisis in communities of color, BSLA is the first atheist organization to specifically address college pipelining for youth of color with an explicitly anti-racist multicultural emphasis. We were pleased to receive the support of individuals and organizations in the secular community.

If current prison pipelining trends persist the Education Trust estimates that only “one of every 20 African American kindergartners will graduate from a four-year California university” in the next decade.

With your support, we hope to award at least four youth $1000 scholarships to assist with their books, tuition, housing and other living expenses. Last year’s scholars went to UC Riverside, Cal State University Long Beach, Babson College and El Camino College and are thriving in their first year in college!

Apr 08 2014

Abortion Rights Emergency! Nat’l Speak-outs/Webcast & Protests

April 11 & 12th: Abortion on Demand & Without Apology
From Stop Patriarchy: Abortion rights are in a state of emergency, and headed for disaster. Already, women in this country who cannot access safe abortions are attempting to self-abort by inserting sharp objects in their vaginas, taking pills, asking their boyfriends to beat them up, and more. Others are being forced to bear children they do not want. This is the future for women everywhere if this war on women is not massively resisted and defeated.
WE MUST ACT TO STOP THIS NOW!
Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement.
Join Sikivu Hutchinson, Carol Downer and others at the emergency speak-out in Los Angeles on Friday, April 11:
7pm at United University Church
USC Campus, 817 W. 34th St., Los Angeles
AROUND THE COUNTRY, tune into the LIVE national WEBCAST:
Friday April 11, 7-9:30pm EDT
Abortion Rights Emergency WEBCAST
Host a viewing party and tune in wherever you are at StopPatriarchy.org
In New York City: Advent Lutheran Church, 93rd & Broadway, 7-9:30 pm
Speakers include:
Dr. Willie Parker, award-winning doctor at the last abortion clinic in Mississippi
Sunsara Taylor, writer for revcom.us/Revolution newspaper, leader of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and initiator of StopPatriarchy.org
Merle Hoffman, CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, which has provided abortions and other health services to women since 1971
Donna Schaper, Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church, on her own abortion and why we must defend this right
Marge Piercy, poet, novelist, memoirist, via video message: “It was a time when falling in love could get you killed.”
Louise Bernikow, author, historian, long time activist
Bill Baird, reproductive rights pioneer who was jailed eight times in five states in the 1960s for lecturing on abortion and birth control
David Gunn, Jr., son of first abortion doctor to be assassinated, via video message
Testimony from:
Susan Cahill, owner of the Montana abortion clinic that was destroyed and closed on March 3, 2013 about how this is an attack on all women
Dr. Susan Robinson, one of only four doctors in the U.S. who openly provide late-term abortions; featured in the acclaimed documentary After Tiller
True stories of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade
More to be announced.
Saturday, April 12th: PROTEST!
RAISE BLOODY COAT-HANGERS* AND BREAK THE SHACKLES OF WOMEN’S ENSLAVEMENT
In NYC:
2pm: Gather at NW corner of 49th St. & Fifth Avenue
3:00 pm: Procession to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and silent protest
In Los Angeles:
1pm: Santa Monica Pier & Ocean Ave.
2:15pm – March through 3rd Street Promenade
Check StopPatriarchy.org for protests in other cities or to plan your own.
Silent protests at institutions behind the war on women that raise bloody coat-hangers (representing the fate of women when abortion is illegal) and shackles (representing female enslavement). After an hour, break the shackles and pledge to resist until we defeat and reverse these attacks and win the full liberation of women.

 

Apr 08 2014

Black Feminism & Atheism: A Talk at Pitzer College

Pitzer talk

Black women who refuse to remain silent about sexism, misogyny, patriarchy and religious control are deemed to be race traitors.  Girls of color learn very early on from the Black Church that allegiance to boys and men of color supersedes their allegiance to themselves.  They learn that there will be no “My Sister’s Keeper” initiatives to “save” them, nor will national attention be given to the epidemic rates of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and HIV/AIDS contraction and criminalization that put every black community in jeopardy.  In her landmark novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston describes Black women as “de mules of de world.”  It is a cautionary truth voiced by the grandmother of Janie, the novel’s lead character.  Janie’s grandmother is a deeply religious woman and former slave who is the moral pillar of her life.  Janie’s struggle to self-determine has become a classic symbol of Black women’s struggles to exercise power, control and agency over their own bodies and destinies in white supremacist capitalist patriarchal America.

As a freethinker and religious skeptic, Hurston nonetheless understood the seductions of god for black people in a nation where their humanity is still (sitting up here with the first Black president) violently contested in the 21st century.  So any appraisal of Black women’s relationship to atheism or humanism must begin with this seeming contradiction.

Apr 01 2014

Thank God for Abortion: What’s At Stake for Black Women

By Favianna Rodriguez

By Favianna Rodriguez

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Thank “God” for abortion.  More specifically, thank the Christian god, the vengeful omniscient one that white anti-abortion terrorists ritually invoke to justify the murder, mayhem and fear they inflict on thousands of American women in the name of Jesus.

At each of the two clinics where I gratefully got abortions in the 1990′s lone white men were stationed outside with bloody signs of fetal apocalypse.  As white men protesting in predominantly black and brown communities their presence was unchallenged, their bodies unhindered by the policing and criminal surveillance that all people of color in the public sphere face.  This was the high water mark of Operation Rescue, the radical anti-abortion group which laid the groundwork for the current wave of anti-abortion militancy.  Then, as now, mainstream pro-choice activists ceded the moral high ground to the anti-abortion regime, wavering between whether to frame abortion as a matter of personal choice or as an inalienable right.  It’s a legacy that has had grave consequences for intersectionality as the “post-feminist” trope of sluttish immoral women recklessly using birth control and abortion has become legion in American political discourse.

As a black atheist already damned to a smokin’ Christian hell it’s gratifying to know that the Christian god has failed to completely prevent women from exercising their basic right to self-determination.  But the Christian soldiers, fascists and terrorists of the American right have doubled down with hundreds of new restrictions on birth control, abortion and clinic access which have the most insidious implications for poor and working class women of color.  In Texas, Mississippi and Montana, clinic closures, vandalized clinics, restrictions on abortion physicians and providers and the GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid further jeopardize the socioeconomic sustainability of communities of color. These attacks, concomitant with the Supreme Court’s pending decision on right wing retailer Hobby Lobby’s “religious freedom” challenge to the Affordable Care Act, could gut the rights American women have taken for granted for decades.

Pro-death, anti-abortion public policy and protest are a form of race, class and gender warfare disguised as religious morality crusades to “protect” innocent “babies”.  Challenging the abortion as “black genocide” billboard campaign mounted by right wing foundations a few years ago, reproductive justice activist Loretta Ross said, “We decided to have abortions.  We invited Margaret Sanger to place clinics in black neighborhoods.  We are part of the civil and human rights movement.  We protected the future of black children, not our opponents.”  Despite their high levels of religiosity, a solid majority of African Americans support safe and legal access to abortion.  And African American women have the highest rate of abortion amongst all groups of American women.  The reasons are not mysterious—black women are disproportionately poor, under-employed, single and living in highly segregated communities with limited health care access which have borne the brunt of the economic depression.  Due to slavery and the violent legacy of Jim Crow, black women have a history of coercive control over their reproduction.  Thus abortion is an essential right in a white supremacist capitalist economy that neither supports nor values women of color and their children.

For black women, the radical push for abortion on demand is not an abstract concept.  Abortion on demand cannot be separated from the conditions of racial apartheid that black women find themselves in, especially vis-à-vis the wealth gap and the criminal justice system.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 20 2014

Moving Social Justice Conference: October ’14 CFI-Los Angeles

BSLA Scholars, Members & Community

BSLA Scholars, Members & Community

Last year, the Black Skeptics Group, a 501c3 organization, was the first atheist organization to address educational inequity in communities of color with our First in the Family Humanist scholarship for undocumented, foster care, homeless and LGBTQ students.  Over the past three years we’ve also sponsored STEM education, prison-pipelining and youth leadership outreach to highlight the challenges confronting youth of color in under-resourced high poverty schools.  In 2011-2013 we collaborated with faith organizations, schools and nonprofits to amplify the connection between humanism, anti-racism and social justice.

Yet neither organized atheism nor humanism have ever addressed social, economic, gender and racial justice from the perspective of communities of color.

Given that deficit, in October of this year, Black Skeptics’ People of Color Beyond Faith network— in conjunction with the Secular Student Alliance and African Americans for Humanism—will sponsor a “Moving Social Justice” conference at CFI-Los Angeles.  Going beyond the narrow scope of “atheist good” versus “religion bad”, the conference will feature panels, presentations and strategy sessions on the following issues:

  • What political voice should people of color non-believers have in a national and global context in which the racial wealth gap has become gargantuan, increasing numbers of Black and Latino youth are being imprisoned and fewer have access to a college education?
  • What coalition-building needs to be done between activist non-believers of color and progressive faith institutions in our communities?
  • How can the under-represented issues of queer and LGBTQ youth of color (who have the highest rates of homelessness in the U.S.) be addressed beyond mainstream single variable paradigms of “coming out” and same sex marriage?
  • What does a humanist feminist of color agenda look like given the European American feminist orientation of most freethought scholarship and activism in the U.S.?
  • How can atheists of color effectively challenge homophobia and transphobia in the Black Church and other faith institutions?
  • What is the connection between economic justice, community development and culturally relevant humanism?

Moving_Social_Justice_Conference_flyer_

Panelists include:

Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes, Mercedes Parra Foundation

Sikivu Hutchinson, Black Skeptics Group

Meredith Moise, Creative Heart Mission

Anthony Pinn, Rice University

Raina Rhoades, Black Freethinkers Network

Kimberly Veal, Black Freethinkers/POCBF

Donald Wright, Houston Black Non-Believers

 

Info: [email protected]

 

Mar 16 2014

Who Wants to be A Rocket Scientist? Race, Gender and the STEM Divide

By Sikivu Hutchinson

From The Humanist

Criminal.  Gangbanger.  “Baby daddy”.  Drug dealer.  Ball player.  Brainstorming recently about the psychological impact of media images with a group of African American ninth graders in my Young Male Scholars program, these caricatures were the primary images they associated with black men.  White men were identified with images of power, leadership, entrepreneurship, intellectualism and heroism, i.e., the stuff of scientific invention and discovery.  Bucking the stereotypes, a few students in the group have expressed interest in becoming civil engineers or game designers.  Yet, at every turn, the messages they receive from the dominant culture about who has the capacity to succeed in STEM are insidiously clear.

In a recent article in The New Yorker, esteemed physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson reminisced that he’d been advised to pursue sports instead of science by one of his high school teachers.  Far from being a throwback to a bygone “less enlightened” era, Tyson’s experience is the norm for many African American students in the U.S.’ re-segregated schools.  While Tyson is widely revered as an icon of science literacy in humanist and atheist circles, there has been little to no humanist or atheist critique of the legacy of segregation that informs STEM inequities.  For many humanists of color who live in communities where black and Latino youth are being relentlessly pipelined into prisons—redressing educational apartheid overall is more critical than the mainstream secular emphasis on creationism and school prayer.

Stanford University professor Linda Darling Hammond has dubbed the deep race and class divide in American public education the opportunity gapRead the rest of this entry »

Mar 04 2014

Atheists Support L.A. Pastor Facing “Tribunal” for LGBT Advocacy

Seth Pickens

Seth Pickens

By Sikivu Hutchinson, From Religion Dispatches

On Sunday morning I went to a church service for the first time in decades.  I was there as a community member to support Pastor Seth Pickens of Zion Hill Baptist church in South Los Angeles.  A few days before, I’d received an urgent plea from Teka-Lark Fleming, publisher of the local Morningside Park Chronicle newspaper, encouraging progressive black folk to show up at Zion Hill in support of Seth’s pro-LGBTQ stance.  After publishing a column entitled “The 10 Reasons I Love LGBTQ folk” in Fleming’s paper, Pickens came under fire from church officials.  The controversy erupted on the heels of internal criticism he’d received for performing a marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple last year.

Zion Hill is a vibrant mini-community within a predominantly African American and Latino community that has been ravaged by the economic depression.  Each week, the church houses health and fitness classes, an AIDS ministry, financial literacy workshops, block clubs, support services for the disabled and a credit union.  Over the past three years, Pickens has even been a supporter of “interfaith” dialogue with my Black Skeptics Los Angeles organization, opening the church’s doors to our community forums on atheism, black secular humanist traditions and civil rights resistance.  I’d first met Pickens when I was exploring the grounds of the church with my then toddler daughter.  After greeting me and introducing himself, he’d asked if I belonged to any of the local congregations.  When I told him I was an atheist, the first words out of his mouth were not, “Why?” but “I respect that.”

After the success of our atheism roundtables, I attempted to organize another community forum entitled “Confronting Homophobia in the Black Church” at Zion Hill with Pickens’ support.  However, shortly before the date of the event, he called to say church officials were giving him static and that we’d have to cancel it.  Now, with the publication of his article in the Morningside Park Chronicle, church officials are demanding that he face a “tribunal” and respond to a laundry list of questions on homosexuality and biblical morality.

The controversy at Zion Hill is emblematic of a national climate in which traditional black churches are increasingly being challenged on their homophobic policies.  Nonetheless, the rhetoric that homosexuality is a white European phenomenon artificially imposed on African descent peoples is still a recurring theme in some black churches.  Recently the ATLAH church in Harlem made headlines for a viciously homophobic marquee sign equating homosexuality with whiteness.  And terrorist anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Nigeria (sparked and endorsed in no small part by the anti-gay crusades of white American evangelicals) has heightened the stereotype that both African and African descent people are inherently more homophobic than other groups.

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, “African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic or racial group to identify as gay and transgender.” Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 18 2014

Why Sikivu Hutchinson’s Latest Book Is Relevant To an Angry Romani Ex-Muslim

by Maryam Moosan-Clark

In Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels, Sikivu Hutchinson takes us on a roller coaster ride through the different, interacting forms of underprivilege that affect People of Color in the United States, past and present. Throughout much of the journey, despite giving numerous examples a minority person can relate to, she maintains a measure of intellectual distance necessary for proper analysis. This changes on the final pages where she shares one historical and two personal experiences of loss (one still bearable for someone who is a parent, one not) which make everything discussed in the book suddenly and painfully concrete. Godless Americana is thoroughly researched and properly sourced, which is not a given for an activist book and should make the lives of racism denialists somewhat harder. Sikivu’s mastery of language, alternating between intellectual and activist, makes for a very captivating read, especially considering the sobering nature of its content.

Many of the patterns discussed in Godless Americana can be transposed to the situation of islamized minority cultures such as the Khorakhane Romani people, but also in part to Non-Arab, Islam-colonized nation states. To understand this, some context is required. As Sikivu points out, many white non-believers renounce their former faiths on purely intellectual grounds. Often, the same insight in a minority person merely leads to closet Atheism where, for reasons of social acceptance, one remains a member of the dominant religon in name. An additional impetus is usually required for such a person to come out as an Atheist (capitalization intended). The most common ones are socialist political views, the causes of women, gender and sexual minorities, and anti-racism. For myself, and interestingly also for the other Ex-Muslims in our immigrant freethought group, it was the latter.

At some point, I had to admit however reluctantly that the purportedly liberating, universalist, anti-racist religion I had been raised in was actually a racist, colonialist political ideology that promoted Arab supremacy and immunized itself against opposition by also being a religion. I realized that Turkish and to some degree Persian people had managed to bend the ideology to acquire a privileged position in the same way white Europeans have adapted Christianity to their needs. It was this racial hierarchy, which works to the detriment of my people, that ultimately convinced me of the necessity of Atheism. Godless Americana treats white supremacism and the Christian religion as separate but interconnected phenomena. Whereas in the Islamic world, Arab political and cultural imperialism are blended into one, the collection of causes and effects is ultimately the same. The most important commonalities are discussed below.

While this is not explicitly stated, Godless Americana shows how more than two centuries after slavery forced the transition from extended to nuclear families, African American culture has yet to recover from it, and this is one of the many factors that negatively affect the lives of women. Among the Romani people, this transition is in various stages, depending on whether it was or is driven by slavery, genocide, or migration. Most of the time, however, it happens as involuntarily as it did for African Americans. Unlike white people, for whom this was a gradual process over more than a century, our two peoples have had very little time to adjust. This disproportionally affects women, to whom the responsibility for family work traditionally falls, and it leaves broken homes and dysfunctional families in its wake.

Sikivu repeatedly highlights the proprietary relationship between a white master and the body and produce of his other-race bondwoman as the archetypical form of racist-sexist exploitation. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 16 2014

Black Children Slaughtered: Mistrial in the Murder of Jordan Davis

By Carl Dix

The case of Michael Dunn, the white man who murdered 17-year-old Jordan Davis after arguing with him over the loud music Davis and his friends were playing in a gas station parking lot, shows once more why we need to make revolution to get rid of the capitalist system that has subjected Black people to brutal oppression since the first Africans were dragged to these shores in slave chains. Sixty years ago it was Emmett Till. Two years ago it was Trayvon Martin. Now it’s Jordan Davis, another Black youth murdered by a white man out to put Black people “back in their places.”

While the jury convicted Dunn of secondary counts, THEY DID NOT REACH A DECISION ON THE MURDER OF JORDAN DAVIS!!! ONCE AGAIN THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR: BLACK YOUTH-ALL BLACK YOUTH-HAVE TARGETS ON THEIR BACK. Dunn’s defense came down to saying any white person has the right to kill any Black person he or she feels is a threat to them. And the jury did not contradict that!

By not convicting Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis, Amerikkka is declaring, once again, that Black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect. How long are we going to put up with Black people being gunned down, or lynched, by racists and by the police? Nothing short of revolution is needed to uproot the white supremacist capitalist system that is responsible for these racist murders. And as part of getting to the point when it’s time to make revolution, we have to powerfully come together against these outrageous injustices…These murders have been going down too damned long. They must be stopped, once and for all.

Let’s look at what really happened. After picking a fight with the youth over their music, Dunn fired 10 shots at their vehicle while the youth sat in their car, killing Jordan Davis. Dunn even continued firing after the youth were driving away from the gas station, fleeing for their lives! The youth called the police right away, but Dunn drove back to his motel with his fiancé, took his dog out to “go potty” and ordered pizza for dinner. He got in the car the next day and drove almost 200 miles to go back home.

Again, everybody-Black people, white people, people of all races and backgrounds, everybody who has an ounce of justice in their hearts-needs to take to the streets in outrage over the failure to render justice for the murder of Jordan Davis. Our cry must be JUSTICE FOR JORDAN DAVIS! And this cry must be continued into the Day of Outrage and Remembrance for Trayvon Martin on February 26. And carried on till we end these outrageous murders, the white supremacy out of which they spring and the whole goddamned capitalist system that is responsible for this and many other horrors inflicted on the people.

Color of Change “Black Lives Matter” petition on Stand Your Ground and Jordan Davis.

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