An Open Letter to Members of the Secular Community re: the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers
I'd like to begin by thanking everyone who supported the second annual National Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers and particularly the Day of Solidarity co-sponsors:
- Black Skeptics of Los Angeles led by Sikivu Hutchinson
- Black Non-Believers, Inc. led by Mandisa Thomas
- Black Non-believers of Chicago led by Kimberly Veal
- African Americans for Humanism led by Debbie Goddard
- Black Atheists of America led by Ayanna Watson
Much appreciation to the organizers in each city where an event was held that took on the responsibility for planning and hosting DoS events in New York City, NY; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Philadelphia, PA; Orlando, FL; Atlanta, GA; Kansas City, MO; Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Sacramento, CA.; Los Angeles, CA.; and Houston, TX. They all did an excellent job.
Many thanks go out to organizations which also posted articles and promos about the Day of Solidarity: American Atheists, the Friendly Atheist, Black Skeptics, African Americans for Humanism, Black Non-Believers of Atlanta, Black Atheists of America, the Hispanic Freethinkers of Virginia, Humanist Institute, Institute of Humanist Values, Humanists of Houston, and Houston Atheists.
Ms. Kimberly Winston of the Religious News Service did an awesome job researching and preparing articles highlighting the Day of Solidarity, the African Americans for Humanism's billboard campaign as well as presenting an outstanding overview of past and present atheists in the black community. These articles can be found either in print or online in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Sojourner website as well.
Black Freethinkers invited me to speak on their internet radio show about the Day of Solidarity along with many other issues of importance to our community. Ms. Charone Pagett of WRFG radio station in Atlanta, GA as well as Mr. Scotty Reid of Black Talk Radio both invited me to speak on their radio shows about the Day of Solidarity. I am grateful for the generous supporters in the media as well as for the experience of working with them.
A very special thanks goes out to the National Committee for Day of Solidarity: AJ Johnson of American Atheists; Frank Anderson who helped to plan the event in Chicago, IL; Monica Jones who spearheaded the event held in Philadelphia, PA; Naima Washington of Washington (DC) Area Secular Humanists and American Atheists, and Sikivu Hutchinson with the Black Skeptics of LA who also worked to plan an event in Los Angeles.
While the Day of Solidarity was a success, it is clear that many groups and individuals in the secular community didn't support it, and of course, that is their right. However, I am very optimistic and welcome dialogue on this and any other issue. But, the fact remains that many of the events that took place on the Day of Solidarity were either planned and/or attended by many black nonbelievers who aren't active in the secular community. Until very recently, even "out" black atheists weren't particularly challenged, inspired, or motivated by the organizations and activities taking place within the secular community. The Day of Solidarity initiative is unusual because it challenges nonbelievers to engage in activism, reach out to other nonbelievers, and to independently create an event celebrating their freedom from religion! For many who either helped to plan and/or attended the Day of Solidarity, Sunday February 26, 2012 would have been their first, but hopefully not their last, step towards activism.
The critics of the Day of Solidarity may simply need more information about its purpose and we'd be happy to provide it. Others may wonder why the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers excludes everyone else when in fact it's an idea whose time has come! It's an opportunity to help unite an isolated and fragmented segment of the secular community as well as a chance for our allies in the secular community to stand in solidarity with us. Those of you who are not African Americans but decided to attend an event have all given favorable reports. In fact, rather than issuing complaints about exclusion, I've had phone calls and e-mails from white atheists expressing appreciation for the Day of Solidarity; they all said they felt welcomed at the events and enjoyed themselves.
A survey recently went out to many people in the secular community, especially those who supported the Day of Solidarity. If you haven't received a survey, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to return your survey by March 10th. The surveys will be used to generate a full report on the responses to the Day of Solidarity. That report will be distributed throughout the secular community including to those who completed a survey. Beyond evaluating the Day of Solidarity events, the survey will be useful in helping to gather ideas in terms of what we need to do in order to get more people involved in the community and to determine how we can best work together. To continue this discussion or for more information, please send an e-mail to email@example.com, and/or visit the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers Facebook page. You can also contact the co-sponsors.
What we need in the secular community is more support from each other; more collaboration with each other; and more opportunities to work together as equals. The Day of Solidarity needs more co-sponsors, more cities filled with Day of Solidarity celebrations that are planned, supported, and attended by all groups and individuals in the secular community. These things and more can happen, and we look forward to having more opportunities to engage in activism throughout the year. Come out and join in!