Humanist Action for Black Lives

For 400 years, violence and oppression have been the law of the land in the United States. For those who aren’t born white, the term “united” is a cruel irony. We are now, and have always been, a nation bitterly divided. These divisions are not equal, nor are they just. Existing while Black puts one…

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Promoting community and solidarity among black nonbelievers

National Day of Solidarity for Black Nonbelievers

Because such a large percentage of the black community is highly religious, black nonbelievers find themselves in a minority within a minority, with scarce opportunities to connect with other black skeptics and freethinkers. In addition to that, there’s a lack of outreach and support for black nonbelievers in the wider freethought community, a group with a lot of work to do when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness. In response to these problems, Donald Wright created the National Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers.

Celebrated the fourth Sunday of every February, the National Day of Solidarity promotes community among black nonbelievers. According to Donald, “DoS has been organized as a way to counter the religious voice that all too often serves as the lone voice of black consciousness and experience. These gatherings will promote fellowship and the pursuit of humanist strategies to solve the problems facing humanity—especially those affecting the black community.”

To learn more about the Day of Solidarity and how you can get involved, visit these links:

  • The official Day of Solidarity blog has information about events taking place in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, and Los Angeles.
  • Check out the Day of Solidarity Facebook page.
  • Mandisa Thomas, one of FBB’s newest board members and the founder and president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., wrote about the Day of Solidarity for the Friendly Atheist blog.
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Not Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Black Atheists, Urban America

Sikivu HutchinsonBy Sikivu Hutchinson
Editor of blackfemlens.org

Late Saturday afternoon, like clockwork, the street corner preachers on Crenshaw and King Boulevard in South Los Angeles take to the “stage.” Decked out in flowing robes and dreadlocks, they fulminate into their mikes about the universe, God’s will and “unnatural” homosexuals to a motley audience waiting for the next express bus. Members of the Black Israelites, they are part of a long tradition of performative religiosity in urban African American communities. This particular corner of black America is a hotbed of social commerce. Kids who’ve just gotten out of school mingle jubilantly as pedestrians flow past fast food places, mom-and-pop retailers, street vendors, and Jehovah’s Witnesses hawking Watchtower magazines. The Israelites have become a fixture of this street corner’s otherwise shifting tableaux. Exclusively male and virulently sexist and homophobic, they are tolerated in some African American communities in part because of the lingering visceral appeal of Black nationalism.

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Announcing the Winners of the 2020-21 Heart of Humanism Awards!

FBB gives the annual Heart of Humanism awards to recognize sterling service from Beyond Belief Network (BBN) teams, as well as individuals who make extraordinary contributions to compassionate humanism. 2020 presented enormous challenges to humanists striving to making an impact in their communities. We faced dual obstacles: heightened need and unprecedented changes to how we…

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Interview: Sikivu Hutchinson, Humanism at Work Speaker

In anticipation of this year's Humanism at Work conference, to be held in Boston on July 25, we are interviewing some of the people who will be speaking there. Up now is our Keynote Speaker, Sikivu Hutchinson. Her speech is entitled “Colorblind Lies and Meritocracy Myths: Moving Secular Social Justice” Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral…

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BSLA helps at-risk youth attend a four-year college

Foundation Beyond Belief selected the Black Skeptics of Los Angeles’ First in the Family Scholarship Fund to receive a Small Grant last quarter. BSLA shared this report about how the grant will be used to help at-risk youth attend college.

Black Skeptics of Los Angeles’ First in the Family Humanist scholarships will be awarded to four youth from the South Los Angeles area in July 2013.  Homeless, undocumented, foster care and LGBTQ youth are eligible to apply.  These youth are historically underrepresented in the four-year college-going population and face considerable obstacles in college preparation, financial aid, retention and graduation.  According to the Institute for College Access and Success, foster care youth who age out of the system are especially vulnerable to incarceration, homelessness and unplanned pregnancy.  Across the board, students who are the first in their immediate families to go to college and don’t have support systems to build personal confidence and academic readiness are at greater risk of dropping out.  BSLA has partnered with teacher-resource providers like Melanie Andrews, Angela Rodriguez, and Shirley Van der Plas of Washington Prep High School; Debbie Wallace and Diane Schweitzer of Gardena High School; Tabitha Thigpen of King-Drew Medical Magnet; and Marlene Carter of Dorsey High School. It is largely because of the efforts of these unsung teachers, mentors, health providers, and scores like them that homeless, foster care, undocumented, and LGBTQ seniors make it to college.  The BSLA scholarship fund is designed to address high drop-out and low college-going rates in South Los Angeles schools (according to the Los Angeles Unified School District annual “report card,” Washington Prep has a 44% graduation rate and Gardena has a 52% graduation rate, far lower than the district average).

The scholarships will provide under-represented students with funding for books and other supplies, in addition to room, board, transportation expenses, and assorted tuition fees.

The support of secular allies is an important step toward making secular, atheist, and humanist social justice organizing visible in communities of color where there is little to no history of an activist non-believer presence. Foundation Beyond Belief provided a $1,000 grant to the initial fundraiser for these scholarships last quarter.

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Last chance to distribute your donations to these great organizations

By Cathleen O’Grady, Director of Special Projects

The first quarter of 2013 is drawing swiftly to a close, and it’s your last chance to distribute your donations among our five beneficiaries. To help you make your decision, take a look at this video for a summary of what our beneficiaries have been up to. Don’t forget to share this video (and your love for FBB) with a friend to help us reach our goal of doubling our membership!

Here’s a quick look at what our remarkable beneficiaries have been up to these past few months:

The Citizens FoundationThe Citizens Foundation, our current Education beneficiary, is a Pakistani educational organization that is a powerful answer to the religiously motivated movement against women’s education and liberty in Pakistan. TCF has an astounding 830 schools across five provinces, 115,000 students, and an all-female faculty of 5,800. The schools operate on a “pay-as-you-can” basis, allowing even the poorest of parents to afford a quality education for their children – and with a 90% pass rate in the Secondary Board Examination, a quality education is exactly what TCF provides. Because of the all-female faculty, conservative parents are more likely to allow their daughters to attend school, and TCF maintains a strict 50-50 gender ratio. It also combats the ways in which poverty can affect a child’s education, creating jobs and providing opportunities for mothers to work for TCF in a variety of roles, mentoring students in their career development, and providing health education.

Men Can Stop Rape, our current Human Rights beneficiary, has been fighting rape culture by educating and mobilizing men as allies. Their Strength Campaign encourages young men to start “Men of Strength” clubs at their schools and colleges; these are places that provide a safe, supportive space in which to discuss healthy models of masculinity. Their Healthy Masculinity campaign intends to illuminate the link between masculinity and violence in our culture by bringing together some of the foremost organizations and leaders examining the environment in which men are raised and taught to behave. MCSR’s work explores how a traditional definition of masculinity ties in with violent behavior and is creating an opportunity for the next generation of men to be unconstrained by restricting societal pressures.

LightHawk High Park Fire AerialLightHawk, our current Natural World beneficiary, partners with a wide variety of organizations to help with conservation and preservation. This year, LightHawk has been involved in rescuing endangered turtles who, unable to navigate their way out of Cape Cod Bay, end up stranded and vulnerable to hypothermia, dehydration, and a host of infections; and they have protected the first-ever harpy eagle nest discovered in Honduras, gathering information about the nest from the air. They have also flown an injured Yucatan black howler monkey (an endangered species) to the Wildtracks Primate Rehabilitation Center in Sarteneja, Belize, after she was hit by a car. After the wildfires in Colorado in 2012, LightHawk was involved in restoration efforts, flying leaders over the burned area to inform their planning efforts.

Buddhist Global ReliefBuddhist Global Relief (BGR), our encore Challenge the Gap beneficiary, partners with organizations in Asia, Africa, and the United States to combat hunger, focusing on grassroots projects that address underlying causes of hunger and poverty in a sustainable manner. They train farmers in Cambodia and Thailand in the Rice Intensification system, which greatly enhances productivity at lower costs; promote proper breastfeeding techniques in Niger; and empower women by helping them to escape the sex trade and by making provisions for women’s education and support. BGR’s goal in furthering the position of women, supporting farmers, and promoting education is to empower people in need to overcome hunger on their own.

Modest Needs, our current Poverty and Health beneficiary, is a charity that is dedicated to making small differences that mean a lot. Modest Needs raises funds for those who are scraping by, whether to help them pay for repairs to a car, medical expenses, or even just one month’s rent. By doing so, the organization aims to help people avoid the cycle of poverty and remain self-sufficient, by giving them a relatively small boost that allows them to retain their independence. In 67% of cases, those who were funded by Modest Needs go on to become donors to the program, indicating not only financial stability, but also a desire to pay it forward.

The Science Cubed Project of the Black Atheists of America (BAAm), one of Foundation Beyond Belief’s small grant recipients, furthers BAAm’s vision to support a stronger and more diverse atheist community while also supporting individuals in that community. BAAm understands the importance of supporting their community by “improving education through the promotion of critical thinking and science” and “participating in community service efforts in lower income areas.” Science Cubed is an initiative to work with motivated teachers and donate science school supplies and educational modules for learning at the high school level. The modules “are designed to teach the students critical thinking and the scientific process.” The goal of Science Cubed is to provide equal access to scientific education for all high school students.

Black Skeptics of LAFBB’s other small grant recipient this quarter is the “First in the Family” Scholarship Fund from Black Skeptics of LA, which will be awarded in June 2013 to up to ten South Los Angeles high school students of color who will be the first in their immediate family to attend a two- or four-year college. Scholarships will range from $200 to $500. These scholarships will allow historically underserved youth a greater opportunity to achieve what was not possible for their parents or grandparents, but what we at Foundation Beyond Belief feel should be possible for everyone—to have better opportunities through education. To donate to Science Cubed or the First in the Family Scholarship Fund, go to our Small Grants pages and make an additional donation, or assign your quarterly donation to “greatest need/small grants.”

Don’t forget to log in to the site and visit the “Manage Donation” area under “Manage Account.” For more information, visit our beneficiary pages for links to their websites and social media.

View a video summary of our Q1 charities

 

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