Center for Inquiry–Harlem’s Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers

Tagged: AAH conference / atheism / Black Atheists of America / CFI / Day of Solidarity / diversity / events / Harlem / humanism / Leighann Lord / local groups / We Are AAH

The Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers (DoS) on February 26 was celebrated with a gathering by the CFI–Harlem Monthly Discussion Group (also called the Harlem Humanists). With almost 40 people in attendance, we were very pleased to see a lot of new faces. Many were attracted by the We Are AAH ad campaign that went up in bus shelters and subway stations around New York City during Black History Month.

A significant portion of the conversation was devoted to the necessity of secular outreach specific to the African American community; the consensus was “Yes!” and "It’s about time." Hearing the diverse and yet similar stories of those of us who have chosen non-belief, and how that has affected our communal and familial relationships, evoked commiserating nods and even a few laughs. Overall it highlighted the need for this type of gathering—and perhaps more than just on an annual basis. It is vital to know that we are not alone culturally, socially, or politically.

A point of contention was whether or not this movement should be exclusive to the black community. Can an organization that included people from other ethnic groups be seen as valid, authentic, or even trusted within the small but growing black secular community? CFI–Harlem understood the DoS to be an inclusive event, perhaps because that is in line with our own history and goals. Although small in number, African American Humanists/Secularists/Atheists/Freethinkers do not exist in a vacuum. We are part of a larger secular community, and while we certainly have different cultural challenges, we also have common goals.

To speak to some of those goals, our special guests were AJ Johnson of American Atheists and Ayanna Watson, President and Founder of Black Atheists of America. AJ talked tithing, sharing her perspective on how the economics of belief has a direct impact on the viability of black people in the marketplace. Ayanna shared her organization's goals on science education and making a rational difference in the real world.

As is CFI–Harlem's tradition, our gathering was following by dinner at a Last Supper-type table of 20+ people where the conversation and camaraderie continued for several hours.

The author had to leave right after dinner to pick up her dog, a furry non-believer, from day care.

Leighann Lord
About the Author: Leighann Lord

Leighann Lord is a member of CFI–Harlem (Harlem Humanists) and is the representative of the We Are AAH campaign in New York City. She is also a stand-up comedian and blogger.