Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti

My guest for today is Rajani Gudlavalleti, racial equity trainer and board member of the Foundation Beyond Belief. Here’s what her bio says: “Rajani Gudlavalleti is a second-generation, South Indian-American queer humanist woman residing in Baltimore, MD. Rajani works at the intersections of social justice, public health, and the legal system, providing contract and consulting services as an organizer, evaluator, trainer and writer. Currently, she is a community organizer for the BRIDGES Coalition for safe drug consumption spaces in Baltimore City, and a facilitator with Baltimore Racial Justice Action. Rajani co-founded Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity in February 2015, and explores her multiple intersecting identities on her website, charmingly-hyphenated.com.

In March 2016, Rajani joined the board of Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) bringing with her over a decade of experience in social justice work. FBB provides humanists opportunities to engage in service work, such as volunteerism and giving, and advocates for compassionate secular action throughout the world.” So today we’re going to get to know Rajani and all the stuff she’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #104: BC Humanist Association with Ian Bushfield

My guest for today is Ian Bushfield, executive director of the British Columbia Humanist Association. According to his bio, “Ian Bushfield was the first Executive Director for the BC Humanist Association and lived for two years in the UK where he worked on campaigns with Sense About Science. He has a background in physics and non-profit management and grew up in Alberta. In 2017 he joined the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Board of Directors.” So today we’re going to talk about Ian’s background and find out everything the BC Humanist Association is doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #103: Nazi Punching, Tone Policing, and Racism and with Ashton P. Woods

Returning to the show today is Ashton P. Woods. He is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Houston, and is the co-chair of the Black Humanists Alliance, which we talked about the last time he was on the show. Today we’re going to talk about some recent stuff going on with tone policing, free speech, and racism.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast” on Spreaker.

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Okay, Fine, I’ll Weigh In On The Nazi Punching Debate!

First, let’s define what I mean by “Nazi.” I’m not talking about just your typical run-of-the-mill conservative, or even anyone who disagrees with me. I’m talking specifically about the Alt-Right. Just go to any of their Twitter accounts, and you’ll see things like “Protect white purity,” “White genocide is coming,” and “1488.” If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a Nazi.

Now when it comes to punching Nazis, it’s complicated. As a humanist, I prefer nonviolent resistance. I’d much rather show up to protest, vote the bastards out of office, and write articles that debunk all the Alt-Right stands for. I’m not a dude-bro classical liberal a la Dave Rubin, but I do think one of the best ways to combat hateful speech is with more speech. By that I mean I don’t believe in just letting the magical Free Market of Ideas naturally take care of things; I believe in standing up and screaming, “That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard in my life!” That’s why I write and do my podcasts.

Having said that, though, I know that if a group of Nazi punks come after me and try to beat the shit out of me, a well-thought out argument isn’t gonna save my happy ass. If they start swinging, I’ll swing back. That’s not vigilantism; that’s just self-defense.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, can we actually work on resisting the Trump regime?

Why I’m No Longer a Social Justice Warrior

On my first post here on FtB, I wondered out loud if I was a Social Justice Warrior. Many things have happened since then–conversations, fuck-ups, emotional breakdowns, the election, etc.–and I’ve changed a lot since then. One of the major changes is that I am no longer a Social Justice Warrior.

I’m a Social Justice Mage!

Like many people, once I discovered the Dark Lord cursed our land into making everyone believe we live in a free society while the marginalized still get trampled on–which was around the same time I realized I’m queer and trans–I grabbed my sword and decided to fight back. I fought against every troll I could find, but the trolls ended up being stronger than me. I even attacked a few peaceful citizens who weren’t trolls. I had more battle scars than victories.

That’s when the Mages found me.

They took me in and taught me all their secret spells and ancient wisdom. They taught me that trolls often disguise themselves as genuine seekers, and there’s a spell that can help me identify who is a troll and who is just a confused human. They also taught me that not everyone can be a warrior; only those who  have the strength and proper training can do battle. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help. In fact, Mages help battle the Dark Lord’s trolls in special ways, whether it’s teaching secret magic to warriors (who have to go through a vetting process first), or hitting the trolls with surprise magic attacks.

The Mages also taught me not to get involved with every battle. Some trolls are immune to certain magic, like Rational Argument Magic, so it’s best for either a warrior or a rogue to do the fighting. Also, magic takes time to master, so I need a lot of practice before I can do battle. In fact, sometimes the Mages have to stop me and say, “You’re not ready for this battle. Let us handle it.” It’s a bit disappointing at first, but after watching the Elders fight, I quickly realize they were right.

So yeah, if you don’t see me on the battlefields of Twitter and Facebook, it’s because I’m with the Mages learning magic. Don’t think I’m giving up the fight; I’m just fighting in my own unique way.

The Anti-Vaxx Movement: Where Pseudoscience Meets Ableism — My Latest Paste Magazine Article

In 2015, Sesame Street announced they were introducing a new character with autism named Julia. She first appeared in the 2016 digital storybook “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!” and made her official television debut on April 10th of this year. While many believe Julia will help autistic children feel less alone, some aren’t too pleased. According to the anti-vaxx website Natural News, “The rollout of autistic Julia is Sesame Street’s attempt to “normalize” vaccine injuries and depict those victimized by vaccines as happy, ‘amazing’ children rather than admitting the truth that vaccines cause autism in some children and we should therefore make vaccines safer and less frequent to save those children from a lifetime of neurological damage.” The article further claims that Elmo is “exploited as a literal puppet by the vaccine industry to push a pro-vaccine message” using “social engineering propaganda.” With its debunked claims and disturbing rhetoric, Natural News sums up why the anti-vaxx movement is dangerous: it’s based on both pseudoscience and ableism.

Read the rest here.

Is the March for Science “Playing Identity Politics?”–My latest for Paste Magazine

CN: Michael Shermer

In the wake of fake news and President Trump’s anti-science policies, organizers announced the March for Science, which will be held on April 22, 2017. “The March for Science demonstrates our passion for science and sounds a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” the official website states. “It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.” Like the successful Women’s March back in January—which had an estimated 4,000,000 attendees nationwide—the March for Science will be held in Washington, DC, along with many other satellite marches worldwide.

Unfortunately, also like the Women’s March, the March for Science is facing controversy over diversity.

Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptic Society, recently voiced opposition to the March for Science’s diversity principles on Twitter. “By making the March for Science political,” he tweeted, “it will be less inclusive & effective [because] ‘social justice’ means different things to people.” Shermer then wrote a blog post further explaining his position, claiming that society has made a lot of progress “since the 1960s … to correct the biases of the past and open the doors to more people in more fields,” including science. Therefore, as Shermer recently tweeted, the March for Science’s emphasis on diverse representation is “identity politics defining who participates in science. Science is for all.”

“He’s totally missing the point if you ask me,” says ecologist Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta. She is the Principal Scientist for the Urban Slender Loris Project, which aims to educate people about urban biodiversity and conservation by studying the effects of urban life on slender lorises in Bangalore. According to Kar Gupta, there is still a lack of women and people of color in science because of the way science is taught in schools. “The way we teach science with this very type of fixed mindset that science is not for everybody and you have to be smart enough to do science,” she says. “By saying that, we are actually chasing the students away or making students go away from science instead of being interested in science.”

Click here to read the rest.

Bi Any Means Podcast #94: Humanist Service Corps with Conor Robinson

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My guest for today is Conor Robinson, program director of Foundation Beyond Belief and director of the Humanist Service Corps. The Humanist Service Corps is an international secular humanist volunteering program that services communities throughout the world. It started as Foundation Beyond Belief-sponsored yearlong international service trip called the Pathfinders Project, and from that experience came the Humanist Service Corps. So today we’re going to learn about everything they do, plus a little bit about Conor himself.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #94: Humanist Service Corps with Conor Robinson” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #89: Women Beyond Belief with Karen Garst

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My guest for today is Karen Garst, author and editor of the book “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion.” She also blogs about feminism and atheism at FaithlessFeminist.com. Today we’re going to talk about her backstory, her book, and how religion hurts women.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #89: Women Beyond Belief with Karen Garst” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #88: The Resist Podcast with Danielle Muscato

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Returning to the show today is Danielle Muscato. She’s a trans woman and an atheist activist who is starting a new podcast called The Resist Podcast, which is focused on social justice activism to fight back against Donald Trump, fascism, and the alt-right. So we’re gonna catch up with Danielle and find out what all she’s been doing lately.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #88: The Resist Podcast with Danielle Muscato” on Spreaker.

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