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Black Non-Believers of Chicago: Interview with Kimberly Veal

Kimberly Veal is the Co-Host of Black FreeThinkers Radio and President of
Black Non-Believers of Chicago.  Kimberly is focused on community outreach and scholarship.

BS: What led you to create the Black
Non-Believers of Chicago group?  What are
some of the initiatives the group has undertaken and what has been the response
of the local community?

KV: I created the Black Non-Believers of Chicago
group because there is a lack of representation in the local community.  In order to combat negative stereotypes about
non-believers, it is imperative that we become solutions based and
visible.  BNOC will officially launch January 2012.  There has been interest
and we want to make sure that we utilize all resources available.  We would like to pioneer some programs and
support national programs that need local representation.  Some of the initiatives that will be undertaken
are working with organizations that focus on support, HIV/AIDS outreach, food
distribution, technology training, education, and scholarship.  We anticipate the initial response to be one
of curiosity.

BS: What are some of the unique challenges that you personally have encountered as a black female non-believer?

KV: One of the unique challenges that I have personally encountered with believers is not being accepted as a non-believer,
because it is expected that I conform to the stereotypical image of a black woman.  This stereotype includes me being
a faithful and dedicated member of some church with pleadings to God & Jesus coming out of my mouth every other sentence. One of the unique challenges that I have personally encountered with non-believers is being constantly asked why we have ‘black’ as a part of our name.  I would
like to believe that the freethought community, as a whole, would be more supportive of minority freethinkers/non-believers and encourage our growth.

BS: Some of the most outspoken black atheist humanist activists and thinkers are female. What do you think accounts for this
dynamic?

KV: This dynamic seems to be prevalent in many areas.  I am not quite sure why there isn’t more male
representation.  However, I would encourage them to speak up and make their presence known. 

BS: If you identify as a feminist/womanist what is the connection between black feminism/womanism/gender justice activism and
humanist atheist activism?

KV: Ironically, if you speak with certain members of the black community about racism, you will hear many opinions.  However, if you bring up sexism, you will
hear crickets and see tumbleweeds rolling. In my opinion, this is due to the religious indoctrination.  Many women have been subjugated and convinced
that they are subservient to men in compliance to their religious ideologies.  Education and retooling is needed regarding
sexism and its detrimental impact on those who experience it.  The connection between black
feminism/womanism/gender justice activism and humanist atheist activism is the
tearing down of the status quo and patriarchal concepts and structures that
have been built by religiosity.  When one is enlightened and accepts that many of the ideologies that they have been
indoctrinated with are rooted in fallacies and lies, it should stimulate one to examine ALL that they have been taught.  In
turn, this should encourage one to level the playing field and uphold one another as equals.

BS: I recently traveled to Houstonfor the Texas Freethought Convention.  I could count the number of African Americans on two hands.  What are
some of the major obstacles to making issues that communities of color care about visible in the white-dominated secular movement?

KV: Some of the obstacles, in my opinion, are a lack of communication and cultural differences.
It is imperative that both sides make a concerted effort to work together to facilitate programs, informationals, and interests that appeal to
all.  Communities of color, in general, have not always been afforded opportunities that some others may enjoy.   Therefore, our focus tends to be geared more
towards social justice.  Rudimentary issues need to be address and rectified.

BS: The Black Freethinker’s show has developed a loyal following amongst black non-believers searching for an outlet for their
issues and concerns.  What are your future plans for the show?

KV: Our future plans for the show include broadening the base audience.  This includes supporting and reaching out to the youth and young adults in the
freethought community and encouraging them to voice their opinions and concerns.  We are also planning to expand to other media outlets to diversify our outreach.  We have a few surprises coming up next year, so we encourage people to continue listening.

BS: What kinds of collaborations would you like to see amongst black non-theist groups on a national level?

KV: The kinds of collaborations that I would like to see nationally would be support groups, conferences/retreats, media blitzes,
and outreach to the local communities.   We can make tremendous strides if we worked collectively to help each other and
the community at large.  There are a lot of people who have great talents that could be beneficial to the advancement of
the freethought community.

Comments

  1. Upright Ape says

    Ms Kimberly,
    Best of luck with what you are doing. I don’t know if ypu saw the study which said even rapists are more trusted than atheists-seriously. Your work is indispensable for improving the standing of freethinkers among minorities which will benefit all of us.
    Thank you.

    • blackfreethinkers says

      Upright Ape,

      Thank you so much for your well wishes. We must work to dispel those irrational views that many believers have. It is the load least traveled, but it must be done.

      Thank you,

      Kimberly

  2. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Hey, great interview. I’m interested in this show you mentioned – is there a podcast or something along those lines?

  3. Chile, Puhleez says

    I’m praying for you all. Any unbelief is of no consequence to God. Any unbelief will NOT delay the final return of Christ. I am truly sorry you’ve allowed bitterness to take root, and feel the need to take others to hell with you.

    May God have mercy on you All.

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