STEM Divide Youth Conference Features Amazing Scientists of Color




STEM Conf 2014 FINAL-page-0












When youth of color see scientists, mathematicians and engineers depicted in the media they rarely see people who look like them.  On Saturday, September 13th, the Level Playing Field Institute is co-hosting Bridging the STEM Divide, a mini STEM conference (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) for over 100 high school students from the South LA, Inglewood and Crenshaw neighborhoods at the University of Southern California. The goal of the conference is to demystify STEM majors and careers for students of color, as well as expose students to STEM networking opportunities, scholarships, college preparation resources, and free to low-cost programs in Los Angeles. With over 20 faculty, students and professionals of color volunteering during the event, the conference is designed to support, motivate, and empower low income students of color to pursue STEM studies & careers at four year universities and beyond. Bridging the STEM Divide will be held at Stauffer Science Lecture Hall on USC’s main campus.  The conference will feature esteemed USC Physics professor Dr. Clifford Johnson as keynote speaker.  The Women’s Leadership Project is one of the lead organizers.

Featured speakers include:

Dr. Stacey Finley, USC Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Jarvis Sulcer, President LPFI, Nuclear Science & Engineering

Brandon Bell, Microbiology, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Devin Waller, Planetary Geology, California Science Center

Black Women Matter: Support Petition to Remove Rapist Cop Petition

Oklahoma City Police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw has been charged with 16 counts of first degree rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, stalking, forcible oral sodomy and burglary against seven African American female victims. On September 5th Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy Henderson lowered Holtzclaw’s bail from $5 million to $500,000. Holtzclaw was released Friday after posting a cash bond and will wear a GPS monitor until his trial hearing on September 18th. Holtzclaw is a former football player and the son of a longtime city police officer. He is currently on paid leave. The victims in this case were all black women between the age of 34-58, living in predominantly poor and working class African American communities in Oklahoma’s City Northeast side. Holtzclaw stalked most of these women and capitalized on their fear of arrest to exploit, sexually assault and intimidate them. He manipulated the racist/sexist stereotype of black women as hypersexual, socially expendable prostitutes in order to keep them silent:

“According to a probable cause affidavit included in the charging documents, Holtzclaw stopped a woman walking in the area of Northeast 14th and Jordan on April 24. He located a crack pipe in her property. Instead of arresting her he allegedly took her home, forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her, making the statement, ‘This is better than the county,’ referring to the jail.

Speaking of her client’s reluctance to report the crime, one of the victim’s attorneys stated,“She was so afraid that no one was going to believe her because she’s African-American.”

This campaign of sexual terrorism by a law enforcement officer is similar to the institutional sexual assault and harassment of black women and girls during the Jim Crow era. The recent beating of Marlene Pinnock, a middle-aged African American homeless woman, by a California Highway Patrol officer, and police violence against black women in cities like New York continue to amplify the mistreatment of black women by law enforcement. Shortly after Holtzclaw’s indictment, hundreds of his supporters launched a Go Fund Me campaign (which has since been taken down) and a Facebook page to raise money for his defense and clear his “good name”. They also created a special Twitter hashtag called #FreetheClaw. Non-blacks who commit criminal acts against black victims routinely receive more lenient sentences than when the assailant is African American and the victim is white. Black women have some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the nation. We demand just and equitable treatment of the victims, full prosecution of these heinous acts of sexual violence and immediate removal of Holtzclaw from the Oklahoma City PD.

SSA Travel Grants to “Moving Social Justice” Conference

The Secular Student Association is offering travel grants to students wishing to attend our October “Moving Social Justice” conference in Los Angeles. This the first ever atheist of color conference on social justice and culturally relevant humanism and will feature panels & presentations from secular, atheist/humanist and faith-based community activists on the following:

Youth leadership & busting prison pipelining
Feminism(s) of Color & Intersectional community activism
Racism in the atheist movement and the myth of colorblindness
Confronting homophobia & transphobia in the Black Church
Culturally relevant humanism: what is it and why do we need it?
LGBTQ/Queer atheists of color and social justice

Applications available at:
Registration is open at
Find more information at

This grant application is available to students in the US only.

Black Skeptics/POCBF Statement on Ferguson & Our Hate Mail

Black Skeptics Group & People of Color Beyond Faith condemn the actions of Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. We would like to extend our condolences and well wishes to the family and friends of Michael Brown, and we stand in solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson and elsewhere. Given the recent events in Ferguson it is imperative that systemic inequalities pertaining to policing and white supremacist policies are closely examined and redressed. We are very concerned about the militarized response of police to peaceful protests from those who seek justice for communities that have had a long history of police suppression, racial segregation and discrimination. We at Black Skeptics Group recognize that communities of color are over-policed and underserved.  We join the community in calling for a timely and transparent investigation into Brown’s death as well as potential criminal prosecution of Officer Wilson.


Carl Roberts
0 approved
Submitted on 2014/08/21 at 9:43 pm | In reply to

Keep on killing each other you Black racist.


The Moeller
0 approved
Submitted on 2014/08/25 at 5:31 pm

Stop making this a racial issue. You blacks riot before getting any facts. If you want to be taken seriously, start acting like a human being. No doubt we need to address these killings, but to turn this into a racial issue, which is what you always do, is absurd. I just fired a man, black man, for showing up to work drunk, stealing money from my drawers, and giving away hotel rooms. He claimed it is because he’s black. Get over yourselves.


Confederate Cash
0 approved
Most niggers know, as stupid as tbey are, that your long winded mouthy hitrionics are pure anal sucking antics.
Ask any useless nigger in the South, and there are millions, what they would be today, if they didnt have the White Privilege of being the descendants of hard working slaves. Niggers today dint have a clue, and neither do you siviku, of what an hobest days work is. Thats niggers cannot live with out free schools, healthcare, abortions and food stamps.

Nat’l Moment of Silence for Victims of Police Terrorism




“Come out on Thursday, August 14, 4 PM PST/7pm EST to join us for a national vigil to commemorate all those who have become victims of police brutality and terrorism in the US. These vigils will happen simultaneously around the country to seer the names of those slain by the state into the national conscience.

These are peaceful gatherings of friends in the same location to pay respects to victims. You’re allowed to gather together in small groups, peacefully… If you encounter police and are asked what you’re doing, inform them that you and your friends are gathering to remember friends of yours that passed away. If they ask you to move along, you can ask why they are requesting it and when it became against the law for friends to gather together in public.”

List of cities and locations can be found here


In Solidarity w/Ferguson sick of your colorblind bullshit

White America:

Michael Brown.

The young man was on his way to college the next day.

Yet he was brutally executed by fascist police state thugs in occupied territory and left to bleed in the street like a dog.

He did everything that white America claimed he should do to keep from being branded a savage and was murdered in cold blood.

White people this will never ever happen to your children.  White women this will never (see below) ever happen to your little girls.

Don’t come on here with any racist colorblind bullshit platitudes.

Michael Brown












Aiyanna Jones

Aiyanna Jones


Aiyanna Jones, murdered for sleeping while black, Detroit PD, 2010





Margaret MitchellMargaret Mitchell, murdered for walking while black, LAPD 1999










Tyisha Miller

Tyisha Miller, murdered for being incapacitated while black, Riverside, CA PD 1998

BSLA’s 2014 First in the Family Humanist Scholars!

High dropout and push-out rates, mass incarceration, skyrocketing college fees, diminishing financial aid opportunities, lack of mentors, first in the family status:  these barriers to college access are especially acute for undocumented, homeless, foster care and LGBTQ youth of color.

Black Skeptics Los Angeles proudly announces our 2014 First in the Family Humanist scholars and thanks all the generous donors* who made these awards possible.  Scholarship awards will be given on August 16th  at CFI Los Angeles.  We extend special thanks to Atheists United and the Freedom from Religion Foundation who generously gave $1000 each.

Elizabeth Hernandez, CSU Monterey Bay (Gardena HS)

Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth is a foster care youth and has been active in Gardena’s Gay/Straight Alliance, Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Cinco De Mayo committee which helps Mexican American women go to college.

With a lack of education my classmates have low self-esteem…they target who they feel are the ‘weak’ students, including special needs students, homosexual students, even students of the same ethnicity…(So) Being a humanist is easy for me through supporting our GSA and being vice president of the SADS group to stop violence and create a safe environment for everyone on campus.”



Tiare Hill, El Camino College (Gardena HS)

Tiare Hill

Tiare Hill

Tiare is a foster care youth and a member of the Women’s Leadership Project and aspires to be a journalist.

“Through the things I have seen in my community there are numerous problems in our criminal justice system that must change. It is known to a lot of people that the police are racist against African Americans.  I would like to become a television news anchor who reports on issues like these and government policy.”








Freedom From Religion Scholarship Award:

Kelvin Manjarrez, El Camino College (Gardena HS)

Kelvin Manjarrez

Kelvin Manjarrez

Kelvin has been a volunteer for Reading Partners Los Angeles and a translator in the 2014 primary election.  He identifies as an atheist and aspires to be an English professor.

I have always been passionate about our educational system.  A wise man once said that: ‘Humanity’s greatest fear is the unknown’.  This accounts for contrived religions of all sorts, a simple explanation to the unexplained…Citizens who are better educated can better distinguish between right and wrong.  This, in turn, generates understanding and unity amongst different groups of people who would have otherwise segregated, fought and killed one another.  It is of no coincidence that some of the brightest minds in history have been social activists as well as advocates for a better pedagogical system: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse Tyson, just to name a few.”


Returning Scholars: Mini-scholarships for outstanding community service

Jamion Allen, El Camino College (Washington Prep HS)

Jamion Allen, BSLA scholar

Jamion Allen, BSLA scholar


“The Black Skeptics first in the family scholarship had a big effect on my first year of college coming from an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles.  I’m from a single parent home and by receiving this scholarship I was able to pay for books, scantrons and extra-curricular items and succeed in my first two semesters…I think there would be a great impact if more students could receive this scholarship.”





Hugo Cervantes, UC Riverside (King-Drew Med Magnet)

Hugo Cervantes

Hugo Cervantes speaks at Atheists United

“My first year at UCR is finally over and I’m glad that I have still been in contact with you Ms. Hutchinson.  You are extremely inspiring to me to be as dedicated to marginalized youth as I pursue my own dreams and hope to do the same as you one day. My first year was fantastic! I’m planning to remain an English major and double major in Art History. I’m ecstatic to say that I will be assisting Professor Jennifer Doyle in an art project with Noa Bustamante in the fall. Professor Doyle has offered me a volunteering position at “Human Resources, HRLA’ for the summer. So it’s exciting that this summer I will be able to gain some gallery/museum experience so for next year I can apply to the bigger museums in the city. I know I wouldn’t have been able to be exposed to these opportunities if I hadn’t attended UCR and that was made possible by the First in the Family scholarship.”




*Donor List & Community Supporters

Atheists United

Freedom from Religion Foundation

D. Frederick Sparks

Amelia Pergl

Helen Kahn

Donald Wright

Cheryl Purnell

Mollie Knute

Bethany Monsted

CW Westlund

Perde Williams

Lachlan Monsted

Daremy Butler

T Battistelli


Rebecca Watson


SD Theiss

Michelle Kothe

Reality Enthusiast

Alvin Greene III

Veronica Berglyd Olsen

JE Beck

Kelsey Hazzard

Derrick Pates

Matthew Love

Nicole Eveland

Don Sisler

Steve Schlosnagle

Jennifer Taylor

Greta Christina


Black Atheists of Philadelphia’s HIV Testing Day Outreach

Philly1 Philly2

By Jennifer Taylor

When Kimberly Veal of the Black Freethinkers Radio Show informed the listening audience of a cooperative outreach plan for Black Skeptics Group and Greater Than AIDS to participate in promoting awareness and free on-site testing during National HIV Testing Day in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC I was interested in participating in this important event as a representative of the freethought community in Philadelphia.

I received a call from a representative of WeDoBigThings, an organization that fosters educational endeavors in academia and community service within urban environments. He asked if I was able to come to his place and pick him up and drive him to the Liacouras Center on Temple University’s main campus in order to deliver several packages containing both male and female condoms, informational brochures and other supplies that we would need for the National HIV Testing Day event. Once he got into the car he said, “This is really a blessing. Thank god that you came out to assist.” I responded by saying that I do not believe in a god or gods. He then stated, “Well to each his own. I went on to tell him that I organize an atheist group called Black Atheists of Philadelphia and that we care about what is going on in the community. In addition, I mentioned that I was there as a representative of this group and that my intent was to focus on the greater good and service to the community and not to promote my individual world views.

During the course of the day I worked with people from both Temple University’s School of Medicine and Health Center, WeDoBigThings, Greater Than AIDS, iROC and several other volunteers. This was the first time that these organizations had worked together in order to put on an event such as this one. At least 30 volunteers assisted and passed out information to hundreds of students and passersby on the Temple University campus. I assisted with greeting everyone that came through the door of the Liacouras Center and registering people to be tested for HIV. I also helped to escort people back to private rooms in order to be tested. One young man was fearful of being “stuck” I took the time to tell him that I was the first person that was tested earlier, the finger prick was quick and reassured him that he would know the test result in about 10 minutes. I went on to reassure a few others throughout the course of the day and assure them that the testing process was very quick and easy.

In addition, during my time there a woman came up to the table to register and offered a few of us some bible tracts. I refused. When I got back to the table from escorting the woman to a testing room, one of the volunteers mentioned that he thought that my refusal was funny. I informed the volunteers at the table that I have no need for bible tracts and that I am an atheist. One of the ladies that was sitting at the table stated that I was the second atheist that she had ever met. The gentleman at the table went on to ask me if I had ever believed. I went on to explain to him that I did believe at one time; however I no longer do so. I also stated that just as there are many denominations of religions, there are atheists with different world views who have a variety of morals and values. One thing that atheists have in common is that we do not believe in a god or gods. I went on to say that there are many atheists in the community that care about social justice issues, health-related concerns and community service and I happen to be one of many non-believers that are volunteering for this very event in other states including but not limited to: LA, Chicago and DC. I thanked them and said, “I’m glad that we were able to have this dialogue; I am very happy and proud to be working with you all today and I look forward to our [Read more…]

Atheist/Humanist Statement Condemning US Border Crisis & Nativist Attacks on Undocumented Immigrants

border crisis

As many of you are aware there is a growing human rights crisis on the U.S. border vis-a-vis the treatment of unaccompanied minors and their families.  This has emboldened nativist and nationalist activists across the country.  I’ve drafted a brief statement condemning the racist/nativist treatment of refugee and undocumented communities and included it below.  Given the lack of organized atheist/humanist anti-racist response to these issues it’s important atheists/humanists of conscience take a stance. If you’re interested in signing please see this link


The influx of Central American families and unaccompanied minors at the U.S. border has escalated into a human rights crisis which some have exploited to make xenophobic, racist and nativist attacks against undocumented immigrants and refugees.  Over the past few months, thousands of underage youth fleeing violence and instability in their native countries have been warehoused in substandard Homeland Security facilities.  According to the ACLU some have allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of border officials.  This week, angry protestors stormed and turned away buses full of predominantly women and children detainees in Murrieta, California.  These attacks will only increase, as they are part of a national climate of hatred, hostility and discrimination against undocumented individuals and their families (which are often of mixed citizenship status) and communities.  These attacks have been encouraged by the Republican-controlled House’s refusal to pass a comprehensive humane immigration bill that is informed by the progressive legacy of civil and human rights resistance forged by disenfranchised communities in this country.

As humanists and atheists of conscience, we find this climate of demonization morally and politically reprehensible.  We categorically condemn the anti “illegal” immigrant and anti-human rights vitriol promoted by Republicans like California Congressman Darrell Issa who has called for the Obama administration to rescind its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.  We fundamentally oppose the Obama administration’s escalation of deportation on the grounds that it is inhumane, breaks up families, and exposes both undocumented and citizen youth to sexual exploitation, foster care placement, homelessness and incarceration.

As humanists and atheists of conscience, we strongly support the administration’s DACA policy, as well as regional efforts to ensure equity, access and opportunity for undocumented youth in education and employment.  We support humane efforts to resolve the refugee crisis at the border peacefully—including providing unaccompanied youth with just legal representation, immigration relief and humanitarian protection—while respecting the dignity and human rights of unaccompanied youth and their families.

Recently, the Obama administration expressed a willingness to bypass the obstructionists of the House on immigration reform.  As humanists and atheists of conscience we believe that the administration’s commitment must address the climate of racist demonization that prevails in this country, as well as equitably uphold democratic rights for undocumented and other disenfranchised communities.


Initial Signatories:

Maggie Ardiente, The American Humanist Association

Toni Achebe Bell, Black Skeptics Los Angeles

Richard Carrier, Author

Greta Christina, Author/Activist

Rebecca Hensler, Grief Beyond Belief

Sikivu Hutchinson, BSG/Black Skeptics Los Angeles

Yvonne Divans Hutchinson, Educator

Anthony Pinn, Professor and author

Amy Roth, Los Angeles Atheist Women’s Group & Skepchick

Secular Woman

Aishah Shahidah Simmons (spiritualist in solidarity), Documentary filmmaker and professor

Hilaire Sobers, Skeptically Speaking

Frederick Sparks, Black Skeptics Los Angeles

Kimberly Veal, Black Freethinkers Network/POCBF

Donald Wright, Houston Black Non-Believers

Not Just Christian Fascism: Economic Justice & the Hobby Lobby Atrocity


By Sikivu Hutchinson

The myth of American exceptionalism has always been impervious to data and empirical evidence.  Despite being the richest most prolific jailer in the world, the U.S. is fond of favorably comparing itself to Western Europe with its evil big government social welfare safety net and waning capitalist moxie.  Despite allowing Christian fascists to control its public policy it is fond of flailing Muslim theocracy while touting its status as a beacon of secular democratic rights.  Despite telling American women that they are liberated, post-feminist and beyond all that affirmative action shit, it is beholden to a medievalist court blazing a “new” trail of misogynist jurisprudence.

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is staggering in its criminal disregard for individual liberty, women’s self-determination and economic justice.  It is indicative of how much the political ground has shifted in eight years that the seemingly modest requirement that all employers be mandated to provide birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has emerged as a pitchfork clarion call for the radical right.  As commentator Sally Kohn pointed out recently on CNN, the cost of birth control meds like Plan B is prohibitive for women who are making at or below minimum wage (HL apparently funded Plan B and other contraceptives it disingenuously labels “abortifacients” before the passage of the ACA).  The absence of this coverage will have an immediate impact on their families and day-to-day livelihoods.  But this endorsement of Christian fascists cannot be separated from the broader context of GOP assaults on worker rights and racial justice.  In addition to subverting reproductive rights, the GOP has consistently opposed raising the federal minimum wage and fought tooth and nail against minimum wage increases in state legislatures like California.  SCOTUS’ ruling against a requirement that home care workers in Illinois pay union dues was another salvo in the radical right’s campaign against public employee unions like SEIU.  SEIU’s membership is fifty six percent female and forty percent of color.  Nationwide, working class and low income women of color disproportionately rely on public employee unions to fight for benefits and higher wages.  [Read more…]