Bi Any Means Podcast #150: Black Women vs. Christianity with Deanna Adams

My guest for today is Deanna Adams. She is a co-organizer for Black Lives Matter Houston, and has an essay called “Black Women and Christianity: A Historical Perspective Part 2” in Karen Garst’s upcoming book “Women v. Religion.” Today I have Deanna on the show to talk about her life, her work, and about racial justice and humanism in general.

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Even Humanists Can Be Racist — My Latest for Splice Today

Last week, a white Yale student named Sarah Braasch called the police on black student Lolade Siyonbola for falling asleep in the student dorm common room. Siyonbola broadcasted the entire incident live on Facebook, and the story quickly went viral. Reporters immediately started looking into Braasch’s background, and found something disturbing: although she’s a humanist, she has a history of racial insensitivity.

In 2010, Braasch wrote an article for The Humanist about how she was assigned to defend slavery for a middle school debate, and won after bringing up the fact that some slaves didn’t know what to do after being freed. “[I]n the land of the free,” she argued, “who are we to tell people that they can’t be slaves if they want to be? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be free? Who are we to tell someone that she has to be regarded as fully human? It doesn’t matter that the alternative to slavery, which would mean walking away from everything one had ever known to recreate life anew without any resources, was regarded as healthier and more dignified. It was still the individual’s choice to make.”

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #149: Secular Activism with Debbie Goddard

My guest for today is Debbie Goddard. According to her bio, “Debbie Goddard is the outreach director at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY. She is also the director of African Americans for Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with progressive issues and LGBT activism.” Today I have her on the show to talk about her life, her work, and about secular activism in general.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #46: Scientific Racism and Atheist Movement Drama

On today’s episode, we’re going to first talk about the recent debate between Sam Harris and Vox writer Ezra Klein about Harris’ interview with Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous book The Bell Curve. We’ll talk about what both Harris and Murray got wrong, and go a little bit into the science behind intelligence and genetics. For the second half of the show, we’ll talk about how stress from all the atheist movement drama led me to a suicidal episode last week, and whether or not being part of the movement is worth it.

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Dodge Ram’s Super Bowl Fail

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. Another over-hyped football game, another excuse for Americans to pig out, another bubble gum pop halftime show full of cheap thrills, and another parade of commercials promoting the American Dream through gross commercialism. Now it’s time for everyone to gather around the water cooler to talk about this year’s celebration of American capitalism.

This year’s Super Bowl commercials were the usual collection of hits (Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rapping, David Harbour’s Tide ads) and misses (Bud Light continuing to try to make “Dilly dilly” a thing). One commercial that got people talking was Dodge Ram using an old Martin Luther King Jr. sermon to sell trucks. On the surface, everything looks good: a montage of teachers, soldiers, barbers, and first responders serving their respective community while Dr. King says, “You don’t have to know the theory of relativity to serve.” However, given the context of Dr. King’s legacy, the commercial is an ultimate failure.

Americans like to remember King as a neo-liberal hippie-dippie “Let’s love everyone” kind of person. He may have preached nonviolent resistance and dreamed of a world where his children would be judged by their character instead of their skin color. However, history has watered down Dr. King’s radicalism in order to make him more palatable to the general public, ultimately molding him as the Respectable Negro prototype.

For example, during the Baltimore Uprising of 2015, many white commentators rung their hands and said, “Martin Luther King wouldn’t have wanted this.” It’s true that King didn’t condone the race riots of the 1960s, but he stated publicly he could not condemn them either because “a riot is the language of the unheard.” In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he condemned white moderates for constantly telling him, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” (even though now white moderates use King’s nonviolent resistance example to perpetuate respectability politics). And in his 1967 speech “The Three Evils of Society,” King reminded listeners that “capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”

Interestingly enough, the sermon that Dodge Ram used for their ad, “The Drum Major Instinct,” has something to say about advertising:

Now the presence of this instinct [to join the crowd] explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it.

Of course this is nothing new. Capitalism has a history of using yesterday’s revolutionaries as today’s marketing gimmicks (Che Guevara shirts, anyone?). Hell, as we’ve seen with Kylie Jenner’s tone deaf Pepsi ad, marketers can even use today’s fight for liberation to sell products! If the French Revolution occurred today, I have no doubt Coca-Cola would put guillotines on their cans in order to make a profit.

I can only imagine what next year’s Super Bowl ads have in store. Malcolm X selling shampoo? A Taco Bell commercial starring a hologram of Sylvia Rivera? Angela Davis driving a Ford? The possibilities are endless at this point, and that’s what scares me.

A State of Contradictions — My Latest for Splice Today

In front of the Talbot County courthouse in Easton, MD are two monuments. The first is a statue of Frederick Douglass, the great civil rights leader born right here. The second is a memorial of the Talbot Boys, members of the community who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. These are monuments commemorating the legacy of a man born into bondage, who was viciously beaten for learning how to read, who eventually escaped from his shackles, and who dedicated the rest of his life to liberty and human rights, and another dedicated to the memory of those who fought to keep men like Douglass in shackles. To know Maryland is to understand the symbolism of these two monuments standing side by side.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #40: Shithole Skeptics

Today we do another news round-up episode, with the majority focused on Trump proving once again he’s a racist scumbag. We also talk about the “Fire and Fury” book, Oprah and Goop peddling more pseudoscientific woo, and why the ever living fuck skeptics are now rushing to Jerry Sandusky’s defense.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #128: How to Win an Election with Andrea Jenkins

My guest for today is Andrea Jenkins. According to Wikipedia, “Andrea Jenkins is an American policy aide, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is known for being the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Jenkins moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. Starting in 2018, Jenkins will represent Ward 8 on the Minneapolis City Council.” And today I have the privilege of interviewing her.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #119: Latinx Secular Politics with Juhem Navarro-Rivera

My guest for today is Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera. According to his official bio, “Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera is a political scientist with expertise in Latinx political behavior and in secularism and politics. He writes about the intersection of secularism, race, and politics in his blog The LatiNone and cohosts The Benito Juárez Experience, a podcast on politics, society, and culture from a secular Latinx perspective. He is author or coauthor of many articles on secularism, politics and race in the United States. He works as managing partner and political director at SocioAnalítica Research. Dr. Navarro-Rivera earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.” And today we’re going to find out more about him and what he does.

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