By Mandisa L. Thomas
On July 27th, 2013, Black Atheists of America and Black Nonbelievers, Inc. presented the first ever Blackout Secular Rally in New York City. The event was a celebration of diversity in the freethought community, and the growing number of openly identified nontheists of color.
Speaker and performers for the Blackout included Jeremiah Camara, Alix Jules, AJ Johnson, Victor Harris Jr. MC Brooks, G.A. and was hosted by comedian Steve Hill. Organizations represented included American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, Foundation Beyond Belief CFI-NYC , Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS), and the Secular Coalition for America. Joy D’Avilar and David Ince from the FreethinkingIsland podcast (and the newly formed Caribbean Secular Alliance), were among those who conducted interviews with speakers and attendees, and they were able to capture the sentiments of the day – which were confidence, happiness and determination.
The Blackout also marked a first time offline event for quite a few
attendees. While many of us that are already involved in this community are well aware that there are all kinds of events for nonbelievers, there are still people who aren’t aware of them, or who may not think they would be comfortable being a minority in a predominantly Caucasian setting. So the Blackout accomplished two great feats – bringing out more nonbelievers of color, as well as exposing them to other organizations that have dedicated their support. In the words of one young lady, “(I) needed that kinship and seeing others who think like me. Had a great time, and I left feeling like I am not alone”.
There were numerous inquiries about a rally next year. Stay tuned for updates on our respective websites, www.blackatheistsofamerica.org and www.blacknonbelievers.org. With the excitement that this first rally has created, there will surely be more to come in the future.