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Jun 11 2012

The Uppity Negress & the O.G.s

katrina looting vs finding

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Word on the street has it that that uppity Negress/bad bitch from Black Skeptics has elicited “complaints” from a cabal of festering white men.  Last week PZ Myers reported that he and a few others had gotten an industry memo about her article “Black Atheists Rising” in the International Humanists News journal.  Since uppity Negress/bad bitch wasn’t cc’ed she can only guess how the virtual smackdown went but PZ did a good job of checking the o.g. gangstas.  In a 2000-plus word article about the social justice outreach and scholarship of non-believers of color seems the O.G.s were most riled about the Negress’ wack critique of white supremacy and scientism in the Kumbaya atheist nation.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy not far far away, the Negress attended the American Humanist Association (AHA) conference in New Orleans.  On the way to the hotel and the virtually all white conference she rolled through dilapidated segregated neighborhoods in an air-conditioned shuttle bus.  Post-Katrina the income and wealth gap between blacks and whites has become more gargantuan.  Black unemployment has skyrocketed, black residential displacement is still prevalent, New Orleans schools are hyper-segregated and charterized, and the city is no less churched than it was several years ago.  During a seminar the Negress facilitated on Culturally Relevant Humanism some of the white participants got all bothered when she introduced the alien concept of the dominant culture.  The seminar went through a variation of Peggy McKintosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” exercise in which race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability privileges are highlighted by who moves where in the room.  For example, white folk will never have to worry about their kids being Trayvon Martin.  White folk can bet that if they choose to have children they will always be able to see people of their race and/or gender represented in textbooks as authority figures and leaders in science and philosophy.  Historically, from the postwar FHA to mortgage lender Countrywide to Louisiana’s Road Homeowner Assistance Program, white homeowners have benefited from affirmative action policies that built white wealth and institutionalized segregated residential patterns.  Being of the dominant culture means never seeing it.  It means having a near religious belief that good meritocratic shit like living wage jobs, home loans, tenure, and safe communities  just come to you because you’re more enlightened, talented, disciplined, and hard working than those lazy shiftless racial others who are in church 24/7 and don’t subscribe to evolution.

During the seminar AHA development director Maggie Ardiente (an outstanding leader and the only other woman of color there) and Dr. Anthony Pinn both reflected on how they are constantly being told by whites in the “movement” that they don’t see them as people of color, don’t see their race, implicitly see them as exceptions, ad nauseum ad infinitum.  As Pinn argues in his essential book African American Humanist Principles, white American Humanism was based on the elevation of the (white) universal subject and the construction of the racial other:

European humanism and white American humanism develop under the assumption of human worth and integrity.  That is to say, these two modalities of humanism emerge in light of an assumed value and worth.  They develop as the “surface” of Renaissance and Enlightenment confidence.  Yet, for those of African descent it is a different story.  They are the underbelly of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in that the advances that shape these two periods occur in part because of the slave trade, and the overdetermination and dehumanization of Africans.  Mindful of this, one can safely say African American humanism is a reaction against modernity and its ramifications.  The ‘freedom’ upon which modernity rests…was not meant for Africans; rather African bodies provided the raw material for this freedom.” 

Radical humanism seeks to dismantle the naturalization of white supremacy as the invisible template for rational civilization.  Because the o.gs don’t have to know that being Trayvon, or Aiyanna Jones ( a 7-year old black murdered in 2010 by Detroit police as she slept in her own bed), is a 24/7 reality for black children in colorblind America.  From the time they are kindergartners to the time they are college students, youth of color are told that Western traditions reflect a universal aesthetic and cultural standard against which all other traditions are measured.  They are trained not to see that white men dominate Western art history and education.  They are socialized to believe that Western traditions reflect universal objective standards of beauty and truth.  These standards tell them what the deep complexities of authentically human experience are, rather than that of their own cultures and communities.

The “Talented Tenth”

Humanism won’t mean a damn thing in their world without the right to self-determination. It has no weight or relevance without a social and gender justice movement that demands equitable access to education, living wage jobs, housing, reproductive health and universal health care as a moral human right.  My Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) students challenge and redefine what culturally relevant humanism looks like on a daily basis through their resistance against racist sexist expectations.  At the end of the month WLP seniors will receive First in the Family scholarships from a local nonprofit for their kick ass activism and academic performance.  Students like Ronmely Andrade were never among the Talented Tenth expected to go on to college. A month ago Ronmely was headed to the military after graduation, swayed by the Marines’ relentless on-campus recruitment campaign.  A gifted speaker and presenter, she later expressed misgivings about going to boot camp and training for a career as a mechanic.  While so-called inner city schools in South and East L.A. are besieged by military recruiters the more affluent predominantly white schools on the Westside and in the Valley get the college recruiters and the A-G college prep classes with highly qualified teachers who don’t take off after two years.  In an era of educational apartheid, the Americana fever pitch of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines is unheard of on these campuses because it is a given that their students will be going on to college, not dying on the frontlines.

Ronmely is an agnostic from a Catholic background and works long hours at Jack in the Box to help support her family.  She is a natural born leader who exudes a steely poise and control in front of student audiences that are often hostile to hearing about sexual violence from assertive young women of color.  I have been an admirer of her fierceness ever since she came into the program.  When I was her age no one ever came to our classrooms to talk to us about sexual violence or sexual harassment.  Even though many of us were being sexually harassed or assaulted daily by peers, predator teachers and relatives there was no engagement with the role this played in our sense of self-image and life expectations.  There was no feminist youth movement to address misogyny and internalized sexism in communities of color.  Criminalized as un-rapeable ho super-sluts women of color weren’t true victims of sexual violence.  It was accepted that they should remain silent about their victimization, lest they be smeared as uppity castrating bitches detracting from the “real” issue of the brutalization of men of color.  In a recent blogpost on reproductive justice 12th grader Brenda Briones writes, “I have heard many Latino fathers brag about their promiscuous sons. I have never heard a Latino parent brag about a promiscuous daughter. In accordance with their Catholic or Christian beliefs, ‘good daughters’ are expected to stay virgins until marriage. This double standard makes boys think that young women are sexual objects that can be used to prove to the world that they are ‘true players.’ When we as a community, uphold these views, we tell young women that their value is rooted in their sexuality and not their talents or intellect.”  A talented writer with a high GPA, Brenda will be attending a community college in the fall because she is undocumented and does not qualify for federal financial aid.  In her experiences with college counselors WLP program coordinator Diane Arellano reports that undocumented high school students like Brenda are often explicitly told that there is no college path for them.

This year, with Diane’s guidance, Brenda and her fellow WLP students started an AB540 group to advocate for undocumented youth on their campus. Drop-outs, racist push-out policies, transfers, and incarceration winnow the numbers of 9th graders who eventually graduate. Next week during their graduation they may sit on a football field that is only two thirds full; bad uppity “bitches” ready for their lifelong battle with the O.G.s.

75 comments

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  1. 1
    Mattir

    I really enjoyed hearing you at Women in Secularism, and as a longtime resident of a majority-minority county with a serious storefront church concentration, I enjoyed and learned a whole lot from your book. I am very sorry that random racist assholes sought to have the White Male Authority Committee™ smack you down for daring to speak out about secular humanism and racism. Keep speaking out. I’ll try to keep learning.

    1. 1.1
      blackskeptics

      Thanks, Mattir I appreciate it.

  2. 2
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Go Team Uppity Bitches!

  3. 3
    Atheist Antagonist

    I fully agree with the tackling of racism. As a Born-again Fundamentalist Christian, I have always agreed with race equality, and work with international students on a regular basis. I am also married to a Chinese Indonesian, though my origins are British/German/Filipino. One thing to challenge that gave the white supremacists 200 years age to excuse their slavery is the thought that there are levels of races. The Hindu religion would also encourage this through teaching about caste systems.

    Traditional Christian beliefs counter the White Supremacist beliefs as the Bible in Genesis always taught that every race came from a common ancestor, Adam and Eve. They lived in a common area in teh Mesopotamian region until the tower in the City of Babel was established. Hence, there is no room for racism in the Christian Church, though a variety of bigoted and white supremacist views held by mainstream Anglo Saxon culture of the era.

    I was encouraged by reading about the ‘Human Genome Program’ conducted by a prominant US State Department, which set out to prove that there is no consistent pattern of genes distinguishing one race from another. This proves that race discrimination and prejudice needs to be combatted at the ground level in the writings of news media, in school education, and in traditional beliefs taught by mainstream society. Please read the link below regarding the Human Genome Project:

    http://www.nowpublic.com/world/human-genome-project-announces-race-does-not-exist

    As a Christian, I say ‘hallelujah’, as too many so-called ‘Christians’ have not followed the teachers of their master, Jesus. In all the New Testament writings about his life, He interacted with groups his own people, the Jewish race, ignored. For example, Jesus interacted with women, Africans, Samarians, tax collectors (hated by the Jews for working for the Roman oppressors), prostitutes, poor and rich. He is the true example for so-called ‘Christian’ white-supremacists, and shows that any race need not formalise barriers between others of another skin-colour group.

    1. 3.1
      fredericksparks

      “Traditional Christian beliefs counter the White Supremacist beliefs as the Bible in Genesis always taught that every race came from a common ancestor, Adam and Eve. ”

      This is a gross oversimplication. The Bible also talks about descendants of certain people being cursed because of the actions of the ancestors. Provided great justification for slavery by descent

      “As a Christian, I say ‘hallelujah’, as too many so-called ‘Christians’ have not followed the teachers of their master, Jesus. In all the New Testament writings about his life, He interacted with groups his own people, the Jewish race, ignored. ”

      then there’s the foreign woman whom he told “I came here to serve the people, not the dogs.”

      But I’m glad you’re anti-racism

      1. antigodless

        Hello fredericksparks,

        Thanks for your reply. The question of slavery in the Old Testament. If you notice, it was 70% Israelite people who were slaves and God protested against it. Often slavery was a result of more powerful nations taking over, and was a result of decisions by kings. God wanted to be Israel’s leader through the judges, and so slaves NEVER existed in Israel at that time. But, the people of Israel wanted a king so the country could be ‘like other nations’ and God relented to their persistent request. Their only kings that had slaves were countries that volunteered to be ones, or was willing to work for them. See King Solomon, King David, and Joshua. When King Solomon’s son tried to use force, a civil war occurred and the willing ‘slaves’ were given freedom.

        Secondly, when Jesus stated about the woman being a little ‘dog,, he was replicating what his Jewish culture stated about Non-Jewish people at the time. Like Americans being called a ‘Yank’ by other countries. A trendy term in that era. He in fact granted her request and complimented her for her great faith when she responded humourously, while he was testing her willingness to accept his help. Doesn’t mean he was racist – and the positive outcome she received from him indicates his great respect for her.

        1. Dan L.

          Often slavery was a result of more powerful nations taking over, and was a result of decisions by kings. God wanted to be Israel’s leader through the judges, and so slaves NEVER existed in Israel at that time.

          You need to re-read Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Or are you saying that all the commandments regarding treatment of slaves were just technicalities and not actually used because there was no Hebrew slavery?

          Secondly, when Jesus stated about the woman being a little ‘dog,, he was replicating what his Jewish culture stated about Non-Jewish people at the time. Like Americans being called a ‘Yank’ by other countries. A trendy term in that era.

          So it’s totally different from a Muslim calling a Jew a “pig” or “monkey”? Yours is one interpretation. Certainly you must concede that it’s not the only possible interpretation. Perhaps you can even concede that it’s not even the most plausible interpretation.

        2. fredericksparks

          your response betrays a stunning ignorance of the contents of your own holy book

      2. Verbose Stoic

        Do either of you have the chapter and verse of this? I tried to do a quick Google search for it and came up mostly with this comment …

        1. Forbidden Snowflake

          Depending on what you mean by “this”, it’s either Genesis 9:20-27 or Matthew 15:21-28.

          Incidentally, I didn’t know this before; it’s easy enough to google.

          1. Verbose Stoic

            Thanks, it was the Matthew one I was looking for.

            I needed more context to get that quote; it doesn’t really say what’s said here in the way it’s claimed …

          2. Forbidden Snowflake

            I see it as pretty close to what was said here. Sure, Jesus eventually grants the woman an exorcism [isn't the bible silly? :)], but first he makes it very clear to her that as a Canaanite, she and her needs are of lesser importance to him.

    2. 3.2
      Winterwind

      The Hindu religion would also encourage this through teaching about caste systems.

      Yes, White Massa Christian Sahibji! We sure do believe there are different levels of races. We also burn our womenfolk, bind their feet, spray them with acid and beat them constantly. We also sacrifice good Christian babies and drink their blood while dancing before elephant-headed idols with sixteen arms. All part of our religion! What we racist darkies need is to be civilised by Narnians Christians wielding peaceful Christian guns and tanks, teaching us the superior loving ways of the White Man’s God Aslan Jesus, preferably at barrel of a gun.

      It’s funny how in a comment claiming you were anti-racist, you managed to excuse and brush aside all of European Christianity’s history of justifying slavery, war, racism and genocide, and arbitrarily decide that only the positive aspects of Christianity were “real Christian teachings,” but slander the entire religion of Hinduism as racist.

      Do you know anything about Hinduism, Islam or Buddhism, beyond what you learnt in your Sunday School lectures and Evangelical magazines about the Sadly Misguided Religions of the Mysterious East and How They Desperately Need the Perfect Religion of Jesus? Do you know anything about the strong anti-caste traditions within Hinduism, centuries if not millenia old, for example the story of Krishna’s childhood? Do you realise that the varna (“caste”) system maintained by Brahmin orthodoxy is not the entire religion of Hinduism, any more than Roman Catholic traditions are all of Christianity? No, why bother learning about sadly misguided pagan religions that aren’t Christian.

      I suppose you also believe that when Christians invaded Palestine and slaughtered Jews and Muslims, that had nothing to do with Christianity. But when Muslims invaded Palestine and committed their own slaughter, that was proof that Islam is a violent, evil religion.

      I don’t even have the stomach for this. You seriously need to educate yourself. You seem to be pretty divorced from reality. I mean, you seem to think that all Jews hated Gentiles before Jesus came along and taught everyone not to “set up barriers based on skin colour”. A gross oversimplification, one of many you made. In fact Jews, like most tribes, considered their culture superior, but they relatively frequently intermarried with people from other tribes. If you read your own holy book, you’ll see that Abraham’s wife Hagar was Egyptian, Moses’ wife Zippurah was described as a Libyan (African) with dark skin, Ahab’s wife was a Phoenician Baal-worshipper, and Esther was married to a King of Persia. This was long before your hero Jesus came along and supposedly taught everyone to hold hands, reject racism and sing Kumbaya.

      Anyway, you seem to think that the tower of Babel was a true story, so I’m not sure there’s any point arguing history with you.

    3. 3.3
      Jesse

      As a Jew, anytime I hear a Christian say their religion is all about equality I have to laugh. I mean, Christians have made it their business to wipe us out for 1,500 years. Y’all succeeded in making Yiddish culture disappear from Europe, so points for that.

      Yay equality. I guess us heathens get to be equally dead.

      Listen, if socialists have to own Stalin, then I hope I don’t have to tell you who you gotta own.

      More to the point, the Bible at many points explicitly justifies slavery. Paul for starters, but the part where you know, it talks about the sons of Ham? Remember that?

      And your assertion that in the Judges period there was no slavery in Israel is simply wrong. Did you miss the relevant chapters in Deuteronomy and Leviticus? Or, for that matter, Judges? All three make copious references to slavery and the proper treatment of slaves.

      I mean, even at the level of a literal reading of the Bible there’s a basket full of fail.

      Sorry, I just get so sick of the “No True Scotsman” argument.

  4. 4
    Winterwind

    We got your back, Ms Hutchinson.

    1. 4.1
      Winterwind

      Keep digging ditches
      With your Harrises and Hitches
      My badass bitches will put you in stitches

      She’s a trailblazer, hotter than a quasar
      Ain’t nothin gonna faze her
      She spits words sharper than Ockham’s Razor

      Y’all can call her anti-Science
      But she’s a scream of defiance
      Against white supremacy
      Theories of Relativity
      And false objectivity
      Ain’t gonna end my captivity
      The futility of this life in chromaticity
      (Are we doing this again?)
      Must be serendipity

      Let me school you, son
      You have a PhD
      But you ain’t got eyes
      To see
      You can only surmise
      What it means to be me

      So someone started a schism
      Cos she said ‘scientism’
      You ain’t never find a prism
      Big enough to unweave THIS rainbow, boy
      Ain’t no pot of gold at the end

      Just a place in the stars above
      Where Reason meets Love
      Logic meets Proof
      And Beauty meets Truth

      It’s time you went the way of the Reptilians
      A mass extinction’s coming, K-T, Permian
      Your age is over, your reign is done
      And now it’s time for our day in the sun

      Now here’s the truth, and you can’t touch it, son
      The First Horsewoman’s Sikivu Hutchinson
      Shaking your foundations, tremor tectonic
      And when the blast comes, it will be atomic

      1. SallyStrange

        YES!

      2. Anthony K

        +1!

        1. Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

          I’d like to add another +1 to that. Fantastic.

      3. Sethra

        Well said!

      4. blackskeptics

        Awesome poetry/wordplay Winterwind! Thanks much

      5. niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

        Fantastic!

      6. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

        That was magnificent.

      7. otrame

        oh, HELL YESSSS!!!!!

      8. Xanthë, Amy of my threads

        Winterwind is the poet
        And now we all know it :-)

  5. 5
    Sethra

    Kickass. Thank you, I’ve learned a lot from your posts.

  6. 6
    ik

    Just wondering. With this sexism, sexual assault, you mentioned,etc. Is it PoC victimising other PoC or white people victimizing PoC? Or some of both?

    I am a little worried about the scientism thing though. It’s really easy to fall into the genetic fallacy.

    So much of this makes me so said. I just want to gather my kind and all go back to Europe, but that’s not practical.

    1. 6.1
      SallyStrange

      Some people say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I disagree.

      Just wondering. With this sexism, sexual assault, you mentioned,etc. Is it PoC victimising other PoC or white people victimizing PoC? Or some of both?

      First of all, that’s something more suited to looking up in scholarly articles about the subject. Hutchinson’s anecdotes are not going to provide a definitive answer. What, were you waiting for her to whip out some peer-reviewed studies for you? That’s called doing your homework and it’s rather rude to expect someone else to do it for you.

      Second of all, what the hell difference does it make?

    2. 6.2
      Alyson Miers

      Just wondering. With this sexism, sexual assault, you mentioned,etc. Is it PoC victimising other PoC or white people victimizing PoC? Or some of both?

      The everyday sexual harassment and assault that women and girls have to face all the time usually takes place between members of the same racial group.

      Now, sexism is a much bigger cultural system, particularly the intersection between racism and sexism. That’s where this comes in:

      Criminalized as un-rapeable ho super-sluts women of color weren’t true victims of sexual violence. It was accepted that they should remain silent about their victimization, lest they be smeared as uppity castrating bitches detracting from the “real” issue of the brutalization of men of color.

      This has to do with the interaction between white-dominated (“mainstream,” if you will) American culture and marginalized black and Hispanic communities. The idea of women of color as hypersexualized and therefore impossible to rape owes a lot to Eurocentric culture which portrays people of color as sub-human. Then we also have the justice system’s response (or lack thereof) to sexual violence against women of color, which goes well beyond questions of who the perpetrators are.

      Why do you ask?

  7. 7
    Aubergine

    I’m white and I cannot express how valuable it is to hear your voice. Thank you.

  8. 8
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    White men complain to other white men. Everyone into the fort! Scary black wimminz iz makin’ obsurvayshunz! Noes!

    It irks me to no end that even seemingly reasonable people do this. An immediate defensive reaction is one thing – maybe the “offended” white guy will realize later that what was said is true, and then pay attention to wrong assumptions, thinking, and behavior in the future, and behave in corrective social, economic, and political manners. But to write a letter and send it to a bunch of other white male atheist notable sorts complaining and asking them to address the the problem child (i.e., highly intelligent adult Black woman) is beyond ridiculous. WTF? Is this person, like, five years old?

    Failure analysis indicates an horrific cascade of multiple privilege fails. Wow.

  9. 9
    Anthony K

    As a white, male, atheist, I’m learning to shut up and listen.

    But permit me to say that was awesome!

    Shutting up, listening more now.

    1. 9.1
      Physicalist

      +1

  10. 10
    Mike de Fleuriot

    If one can show that a certain action is invalid, then the correct thing to do is to change that action until it is valid. This is an accepted method of correction. But to the quote I want to mention.
    “They are socialized to believe that Western traditions reflect universal objective standards of beauty and truth.”

    If it can be show which of these traditions does not represent this universal objective standard, then that tradition has to be changed, and all thinking rational people would accept the change.

    Shouting that change is needed without describing what change is being talked about really does not move the conversation forward. It gets you noticed, that is true, and can lead to changes after further investigation, but there is a short way.

    As a person living in post apartheid South Africa, I do not find many white folk yearning to take up the lifestyles of the black South Africans, the opposite is true. Because the western traditions have greater value to people of all colour.

    If one disagrees with the above, then show a non-western tradition that is worthy of replacing a western tradition and include reasons why it is of more value.

    Do I need to say that equality is important and everyone must be raised up to an equal level?

    1. 10.1
      SallyStrange

      I think you’re conflating “beauty and truth” with “running water and electricity.”

      This “black South African lifestyle” — what is it? Did black South Africans invent it? Or is it a legacy of colonialism and white supremacy?

      Have you asked yourself these very basic questions yet?

      1. Crys T

        What Sally said. Times infinity.

      2. Mike de Fleuriot

        I am talking about the primitive kraal based lifestyle that was around before and during the invasion of the white people.

        So yes, black South Africans “invented” it, and I see no conflation as you put. I am talking about what people consider to be benefit themselves. The quote I used seemed to suggest that because the west made a thing, non-western people should not accept it because it is from the west. This seems to me to be a method by the non-western culture to hold back the non-western culture because they have no ownership in the development of the goods in question.

        Only when all people ignore the colour of their own skin, will they succeed as humans.

        1. A nym too

          I think you’ve taken the wrong turn. Stormfront is over that way —>

        2. Stephen

          “… seemed to suggest that because the west made a thing, non-western people should not accept it because it is from the west …”

          You’ve misinterpreted that bit: the suggestion is that a thing is not automatically better just because it has a western origin. Not quite opposite of what you suggest, but pretty darn close!

        3. SallyStrange

          Primitive kraal lifestyle? So, you ARE conflating “truth and beauty” with “running water and electricity.”

          If you don’t understand why that’s stupid, then I’m afraid there’s little hope for you.

          1. Gen Fury

            Oh Lourde, a clueless, privilege-soaked white south african male. Let me get my smelling salts to get over the shock of my surprise – this is a rare species,after all. It’s not like I see this every. Fucking. Day.

            Listen, cupcake, I am a white south african woman and I can catagorically state that what you are saying is bullshit.

            In fact, not only is it bullshit, it’s harmful bullshit.

            People can start “ignoring the colour of their skin” as soon as what the playing field is level, and here in this rainbow nation of ours, that “level” isn’t even on the horizon yet, bra. We whiteys still benefit from the racist policies of the past, from the fact that you probably grew up in a house to the fact that you probably went to a decent school to the fact that you probably had proper transport to said school and didn’t have to walk kilos or try to do homework at candlelight in a sink shack with no heating, after attending schools where they only speak your second, third or even fourth language where teachers are naming a crayon “flesh” coloured when in fact its colour is so far removed from the colour of your flesh… (I could go on, but I’ll stop here) – – and that these same things are still true for your children today, if you have children. Do you think this is the case for the majority of black people?

            If not, why not?

            So the field is FAR from level, much as it would be more comfortable to deny that. Until then, “just ignore the colour of your skin already (you over-sensitive people)” is just another way of keeping the less privileged silent and compliant.

            I mean Jesus, we (the white people) gave “them” (black people) electricity, running water, and we gave up on Apartheid, gave them the whole country, why can’t they just be fucking grateful and stop whining about the past? It’s not like that anymore, after all! Apartheid is gone and we’re all very sorry, can’t we just move on now? I mean, isn’t that what you are really saying?

            So no. Just no.

            And what exactly is wrong with the “kraal” lifestyle per se? What is it about the “kraal” lifestyle that makes it so much worse than any other “lifestyle” or the “western” lifestyle that automagically makes it so much better than everything else?

            Much more importantly, hotshot: Where are the black south africans who are queuing to enter the “kraal” lifestyle by absolute free choice because that’s what’s preffered instead of the only choice they have, thanks to centuries of exploitation and abuse and oppression?

            That’s right. Nowhere. Because most of those people are still stuck in abject poverty and have no other choices than to make do with what the land offers and whatever they can to survive, one day at a time.

          2. Gen Fury

            YOINKS! My reply was to the cupcake Mike de Fleuriot, not the inimitable SallyStrange! Stupid nested comments, you foiled me yet again!

          3. Kate from Iowa

            That you, Petra (Gen)? How are the babies? *waving from IA* (if not, please disregard)

            (oh, and sorry for the derail!)

          4. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

            Not me, but it made me smile on a day I sorely needed it to know that there’s someone else like me around ZA.

    2. 10.2
      Dan L.

      If it can be show which of these traditions does not represent this universal objective standard, then that tradition has to be changed, and all thinking rational people would accept the change.

      Wait, I think there’s something about “burden of proof” you’re having trouble with. You see, it’s not anyone’s responsibility to demonstrate that western standards are not universal, objective standards. Since there’s no real reason to think western standards are either universal or objective, the onus is very much on advocates of western standards to demonstrate that they actually are universal and/or objective. Which is impossible because no standards are universal or objective. You might have better luck arguing that specific aspects of western standards are superior in specific ways to other standards, but that’s also a difficult conversation because the standards you are using to judge the value of your standards are…duh duh duh…western standards. According to western standards, western standards are the best standards. Any surprise there?

      Shouting that change is needed without describing what change is being talked about really does not move the conversation forward.

      You seem to be implying that this is what’s going on here. I do not think so. This post is rather specific about what needs to change: the condescending attitude on the part of white humanists. The grand old men of humanism, or “O.G.s” as Ms. Hutchinson calls them, don’t realize the short-sightedness and parochialism of their perspectives on race and gender — and neither do you to judge by your comment. That’s damn specific. That moves the conversation forward. That’s a direct challenge to specific people (including you) to challenge your preexisting attitudes and beliefs about social issues.

      If one disagrees with the above, then show a non-western tradition that is worthy of replacing a western tradition and include reasons why it is of more value.

      First of all, “western tradition” is not monolithic. Many aspects of non-western cultures can be found in various movements and subcultures within western culture. For example, the Confucian family-first ethic finds a lot of expression in the Old Testament, and I think it would be hard to argue that passages like “Honor thy father and thy mother” haven’t done much to shape western culture. However, the dominant and apparently still ascendant trend in western culture is modernism, and modernism is to a certain extent anti-family.

      This is because modernism is a liberal philosophy — in the classical sense of the word “liberal”. Confucianism, on the other hand, is a classically conservative philosophy. Whether modernism’s religious faith in technological and moral progress is actually inferior to Confucianism’s emphasis on family and tradition is not something I really have space to argue right here but I don’t think it’s necessarily a difficult argue to make — except that modernism is so dominant in our culture that almost everyone judges arguments by the standards of modernism. Those standards unsurprisingly privilege modernist arguments.

      One of the oldest and still most effective arguments against modernism is that it’s the philosophy of the young and foolish, and that as one gets older one starts to see the wisdom embedded in the cultural traditions that are being unraveled by modernism. One simply cannot see the purpose of many of these traditions with young eyes, and so they seem irrational. They are actually arational — formed without rational intent, but useful and functional (and so not “irrational). And so the short-sighted modernist would like to push them aside and start fresh while the conservative understands that there’s often a great deal of social value hidden within the apparently irrational traditions of non-modernist cultures.

    3. 10.3
      Skeptic

      How about the western tradition of bombing people to bits for natural resources?

      1. Mike de Fleuriot

        There is no doubt that privilege is the ultimate advantage, but in all these protests, no matter what they are poverty among black people, sexism against women, and other “hot button” issues, the first thing is always to find who is to blame for the situation. It’s as if the ones who raise about this problem, and make a success in their life and the lives others are considered to be freaks, abnormal among those who do not make a success.

        How many people coming from a poor neighbourhood, make a success of their life and then are used as an example for those how are still struggling. What happens usually, as I am suggesting here, is that people use the reasons for the problem to say that the problem still exist. So what happened to the black girl who succeeded and ended up in Harvard? Was she lucky to be able to pull off being white-enough, or did she buckle down and work for her success.

        Generally speaking, in the modern world today, people are their own causes for the problems in their lives, and we must stop providing them with excuses to continue having those problems. To use an extreme example, it’s understandable that Tyrone did not get a job, because the whites will not employ a person with so limited an education. Yet one of his class mates, from the same apartment block ends up with a Harvard degree. Why did the whites miss out on holding her back, did she manage to outsmart the whites?

        Time to stop complaining about the problem, we know that it does exist, time to work on completing the solution. Make education a worthy thing to have. Western traditional values have more benefit than any of the primitive value systems, that is why most people who have them, do not want to give them up, and those who want them, work to have them.

        You find more people embrace such values than going the other way. That alone should suggest strongly that western traditional values are worth something.

        I had my doubts about putting this in but in for a penny…

        There are a lot of people who think like me, who are working to fix these problems. Almost all of them do it quietly, as this seems to be the most effect way to make it stick, to make the solution part of the conciousness. One of the reasons why protesters are not often engaged, is because they feel their time is better spent highlighting the problems. This a valuable thing to do and must continue, but actually fixing the problems being protested it falls to others and not them. It’s the human resources people that guide the company policy of hiring and training of people, the teachers who lead by example and education, the celebrities who show evidence that success can be done though hard work.

        Basically if you have a plan for a solution, you need to bring it to people who are able to help get it completed. Shouting it’s whitey’s fault Tyrone stands on the corner selling crack, really does not win you any friends in this struggle. We know that, to use your words, Old White Guys have fixed the system so that, that is all that Ty thinks he can do to survive, but it can be changed, just not with pissing off those who currently run things.

        1. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

          LOL. Wow, dude. You are an asshole

        2. Gen Fury

          Jesus fuck, this is some toxic shit. Read my reply to you above, Mikey, about level playing fields and whatnot.

  11. 11
    SallyStrange

    I just wanted to say that your book was one of the few I actually purchased last year, Ms. Hutchinson, and it was well worth the money. I recommend it to anyone. I hope to see you at a conference one of these days (when I’m on less of a shoestring budget).

    1. 11.1
      blackskeptics

      Thanks for checking out the book Sally and I’m glad it resonated with you.

    2. 11.2
      Anthony K

      Just ordered it off of Amazon. Can’t wait.

  12. 12
    Zinc Avenger

    Stay uppity. It bothers all the right people.

    1. 12.1
  13. 13
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Sikivu Hutchinson, wonderful post.

  14. 14
    upagainsttheropes

    You’re doing something right, keep up the good work.

  15. 15
    SH

    Would someone mind telling me what undocumented means? My googling is mostly turning up a movie and I don’t want to make assumptions.

    1. 15.1
      Alyson Miers

      Another way of saying “undocumented” is “illegal immigrants.”

  16. 16
    CT

    The presence of military recruiters at high schools here is ubiquitous. They are there every school day, all day. They haunt the parking lots of the local colleges. They send shit home with my boys. I want to smack them.

    We live in a poor white neighborhood with only a very small amount of people of color.

    I spent much time when my oldest was in middle school telling him to take the damn hoodie off his head and pull his fucking pants up before some asshole cop shoots him like they did the neighbors kid.

    Not every white person in the world lives this magical white person privilege. There is another class and there are a lot of us. Usually known as “white trash”, “trailer trash”, “crackers”, “hillbilly”.

    Did I like your post? Absolutely, mainly because a lot of it describes my world as well. The parts that niggled are the parts that assume all white people are like the white people you know. There is a whole underclass of white people who are not anything like what you described here. Do we have to deal with racism? no. classism, yes, racism, no. We’ll never have to fight as hard as a person of color. That is a given.

    Am I expecting people to rip my head off and serve it to the other commenters as lunch? yes. Feel free. I felt like sharing something I know that others might not. It was about white people on a black skeptic blog, so nothing less than a raking over the coals of my long dead cherokee forefathers is in order. :)<– ubiquitous smiley cuz that's how I roll

    1. 16.1
      Alyson Miers

      The parts that niggled are the parts that assume all white people are like the white people you know. There is a whole underclass of white people who are not anything like what you described here.

      European humanism and white American humanism develop under the assumption of human worth and integrity. That is to say, these two modalities of humanism emerge in light of an assumed value and worth.

      Dr. Hutchinson’s post is mainly focused on the type of humanism which is dominated by highly educated, privileged, well-off white people. Furthermore, she began with the recent group email to PZ and other similarly privileged prominent atheists to complain about her speaking up about white supremacy in atheism, but without saying anything directly to her. Therefore, her beef is with the cultural assumptions of the well-off white neighborhoods, NOT with those of poor white communities.

      Am I expecting people to rip my head off and serve it to the other commenters as lunch? yes. Feel free. I felt like sharing something I know that others might not. It was about white people on a black skeptic blog, so nothing less than a raking over the coals of my long dead cherokee forefathers is in order.

      You seem to be daring us to flame you for having mentioned white people on a black skeptics blog, but really, if you get your head ripped off here, it’s because you’re derailing the discussion.

      Also, I have some distant Native ancestors, too, but they don’t make my white privilege any less.

    2. 16.2
      Dan L.

      Not every white person in the world lives this magical white person privilege. There is another class and there are a lot of us. Usually known as “white trash”, “trailer trash”, “crackers”, “hillbilly”.

      Unless you show up to job interviews in a torn-off denim jacket with a full mullet I don’t see how this really puts you at much of a disadvantage. Put on a suit and you look like any other white person, right?

      I live frugally and wear a lot of old, threadbare clothing despite technically being a yuppie. I wear my hair long and that with the scruffy clothing makes me look like a hippie. If I didn’t want to look like a hippie I’d cut my hair and buy newer, preppier clothes. Any disadvantages I experience as a result of looking like a dirty hippie are my own fault because I chose to act and dress that way.

    3. 16.3
      Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

      Uh, google the word “intersectionality.” There are different types of privilege. One can have one and not another. I really doubt, for example, you would get stopped for Driving While White.

      Thanks, btw, for derailing yet another thread. Never mind the GLBT people who got screwed over in NC, never mind black people, CT and his fellow Southern whites are the oppressedest peoples in teh world.

    4. 16.4
      blackskeptics

      The post is on the complexities of institutional power and privilege that the dominant culture renders invisible to its recipients. All whites, regardless of socioeconomic status, are conferred with what DuBois called the “wages of whiteness” which translate into real world benefits vis-a-vis housing, wages (as reflected in gross income and asset disparities between whites and blacks), educational opportunities, criminal justice, health care, media visibility etc. relative to people of color.

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2012/03/05/what-not-
      to-say-to-radical-atheistshumanists-of-color/

      1. Setár, Elvenkitty

        I don’t think you meant to put that line break in the middle of your link O.o;

    5. 16.5
      Anthony K

      I felt like sharing something I know that others might not.

      Thanks, CT. The problem with learning about white people is that there’s so little available information about them, in books, magazines, blogs, TV, radio, film, theatre, music, painting, sculpture, video games, and when new media gets invented, it’ll probably be full of missed opportunities to talk about white people too.

      So I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy life to share some information about this elusive and wondrous creature. “a poor white neighborhood with only a very small amount of people of color”; wacky! Who could have imagined such a thing?

      Too bad there aren’t any blogs on FreethoughtBlogs written by white people, even whites occupying typically lower socioeconomic classes (who might have written a book on their experiences), where your comment might have been relevant.

      (Do whites understand sarcasm? David Attenborough should make a documentary. People have to know.)

  17. 17
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    Criminalized as un-rapeable ho super-sluts women of color weren’t true victims of sexual violence. It was accepted that they should remain silent about their victimization, lest they be smeared as uppity castrating bitches detracting from the “real” issue of the brutalization of men of color.

    I worked in Baltimore City for a few years, and one summer in particular at an inner-city summer program for a new high school. (The summer program was necessary because 98% of the new incoming 9th graders hadn’t passed their 5th grade math & reading exams. A million dollars and a million years would only crack the surface of that school system. *sigh*)

    The Kobe Bryant rape story broke during the summer, and I went in one day thinking it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about the intersection of racism and sexism, and the reality of sexual abuse & sexual assault that was very much a part of the lives of those kids.

    I ended up going home that day and bawled my eyes out. The internalized misogyny and self-hatred the girls displayed–the boys too, but they were dwarfed by the girls–was heart-wrenching. Over and over, despite everything I said otherwise, the girls insisted:
    *Kobe hadn’t raped her
    *If he had raped her, she deserved it
    *She knew what she was getting when she went to his room
    *She wanted it and just said rape so people wouldn’t call her a slut
    *Even if he had raped her, she should feel lucky–because she’d gotten to have sex with him

    The girls talked frequently about other examples of similar stories in their neighborhoods, how ‘everyone knew’ who the sluts were, how ‘it happens all the time, it’s normal,’ how their mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins had been raped or sexually abused too, but ‘at least they didn’t complain about it,’ and that because it happens all the time, women should just learn to ‘make the best of it.’ Oh–and make sure to get child support if they got pregnant.

    It was certainly not the first time I’d heard those things. My primary training and experience is in trauma, and I’d heard dozens of rape victims or adult survivors of sexual abuse/incest say similar things during their recovery. But it was the first time I’d heard that level of internalized misogyny from kids that young.

    I don’t think I convinced any of those kids to think differently (and even now I sometimes go over that day in my head, convinced that if I’d somehow managed to be more eloquent or been more prepared or explained better they would have understood–Magic! Social Worker(tm) to the rescue!). I still tried–I went in the next day and made a point of trying to hammer in the concepts over and over any time I had the opportunity the rest of that summer–but six weeks can’t erase a decade plus. I wish there had been some type of WLP program back then. I am incredibly glad that it exists today.

    I was very glad to hear you speak at WiS, and will try to keep up with this blog. Thank you for continuing to speak out, and thank you for teaching the young women you’ve worked with to speak out for themselves.

  18. 18
    MizB

    I am a white, female atheist who teaches at a public high school in the south. 99% of our school is black, 80% of whom live below the poverty line.

    I would *LOVE* to be a catalyst for more uppity girls of color – to provide an environment where these young women can discover their voices.

    As a privileged white woman, I’m obviously not an ideal role model, so what are your recommendations for ways to guide these girls? (and I teach 9th graders…so they are, in many ways, still girls, not women, no matter what they’re bodies look like). What resources can I tap in to, what activities, that will engage reluctant readers who have never been asked to really THINK?

    1. 18.1
      blackskeptics

      Here are four invaluable books to start with. You might want to begin by reading the essays in MSV and crafting short prompts and activities around the themes they address:

      My Sister’s Voices, by Iris Jacobs (anthology of essays by young girls of color, published by a biracial Afr-Am woman when she was in her teens)
      Twice Toward Justice, by Philip Hoose (biography on Claudette Colvin, 15 year old unsung civil rights activist)
      Sugar in the Raw (Voices of African American Girls), Rebecca
      The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
      The Dreamkeepers, by Gloria Ladson Billings (guide to culturally responsive teaching)
      Turning on Learning (guide to multicultural teaching, activities, etc)

      Great videos on self-esteem, skin color politics, and internalized racism/sexism:
      A Girl Like Me, by Kiri Davis (available on You Tube)
      Dark Girls, by Bill Duke
      The Souls of Black Girls

      I can email you some WLP prompts if you’re interested.

      1. Alyson Miers

        I saw a trailer for Dark Girls when it was first coming out and I don’t know where to find the video. Please point me in the right direction?

  19. 19
    embertine

    I adored this post, Sikivu. More uppitiness*!

    *totally a word

  20. 20
    Musical Atheist

    I learn so much from your posts, and your writing is lyrical and brilliant. I’m trying to seek information, listen, learn and not ask too many stupid questions. One quick question though, sorry: I don’t know what O.G.s are and couldn’t find a definition elsewhere on this blog or on google. Could anyone give a quick definition or just point me briefly towards more information?

    1. 20.1
      blackskeptics

      Thank you for your feedback. It means “original gangsta”

      1. Musical Atheist

        Ah, thank you.

  21. 21
    Tatiana Kush

    Wohh precisely what I was looking for, regards for putting up. “Arguments are like fire-arms which a man may keep at home but should not carry about with him.” by Samuel Butler.

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