Some big news came from the American Humanist Association the last week in February and I think that this is very important for our members to think about and reflect on, especially since we are a chapter of the AHA and are in constant contact with them. The AHA announced the addition of a Social Justice Coordinator and to “affirm and celebrate humanismísm’s commitment to social justice advocacy”. Sincere Kirabo, who is a humanist activist and writer, has taken this new role on and, from what I’ve read about him, he will do a fantastic job.
“I am proud to stand with the American Humanist Association to advance awareness of humanism and social justice, as well as to foster the growing diversity within the humanist movement,”said Sincere Kirabo, social justice coordinator for the American Humanist Association. “Humanism’s dedication to critical thinking should not just be applied to matters of religious faith and supernaturalism but also to racism, sexism, and other harmful prejudices within our society that impede progress.”
The leadership at HSGP would agree, myself included. Also, from the same article, “As humanists, we must ensure that this one life we have is characterized by justice and egalitarianism for all,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Humanists have long stood for social justice, but are seeking to more directly tie our progressive philosophy of life in alliance with racial and ethnic minorities, women and LGBTQ people.” Roy said that to emphasize the purpose of this addition to their leadership.
I am quite hopeful that we will develop a long and healthy relationship with Sincere and grow even more as a Humanist organization. If you would like to read the rest of the article, click here : AHA Social Justice Coordinator
I would like to point out, for any that aren’t already aware, that the leadership at HSGP started a commitment ourselves, which I referred to as an initiative, at the beginning of 2015 to not only increase awareness of the same social justice issues but, hopefully, to more fully diversify our membership. The Sunday morning meetings last year featured two women of color, one who is a scientist who came to speak to us about living in a simulated Mars habitat, which was an incredibly interesting talk by the way, and the second was Sikivu Hutchinson, a black Humanist, Feminist, activist, author, educator, public speaker, and a significant leader of secular conferences including the Secular Social Justice Conference held in Houston, Texas at the end of January. Her talk was about topics highlighted in two of her books, “Godless Americana” and “White Nights, Black Paradise”. She focused on the continued and pervasive racial and gender bias in the United States, especially in the justice system. I have come to have a tremendous amount of respect and affection for her as a result of that day and our series of correspondences.
During the year we also discussed racism, white privilege, and related topics in our Inquiring Minds discussion group, our book club (they reviewed “Godless Americana”), our Humanities Project (they did readings from selected personal accounts of former slaves), and our Ted Talks discussion group. There is also a concerted ongoing effort to bring awareness to our Facebook Group. And, although we didn’t delve into it very much, we did also touch on gender bias, particularly as directed towards transgender people and one of our own, James Fuchs, gave an extremely informative talk at the beginning of this year with an introductory lecture and discussion on transgender topics titled “Trans* 101”. James also has his own very nice website, including links to podcasts entitled “A Queer was Here” which are also quite informative. His website can be found here: James Avery Fuchs
I was recently reminded that “everybody has biases”, which is true since our perception of the world comes from much of our environment, most notably those closest to us and those we identify with, but also through any and all information sources such as the news media, TV shows, music, books we read, our education system, and more. Much of our bias, therefore, is unconscious (although some people are quite vocal about it) and it is often difficult to bring awareness of someone’s bias when it’s something that has been with them for most of their lives. There’s the challenge and that’s why we are doing the best we can to help raise awareness to our members. We may all have biases, but those that are harmful to others are not consistent with Humanist values and are, therefore, something that we would be better off in many ways if we actively address. In collaboration with our new Social Justice Coordinator at the AHA, maybe we can find more effective and positive ways to accomplish this.
This is an ongoing project but is certainly not our only focus. We are also working on, and talking about, the issues of homelessness in the U.S., income and wealth disparity, efficacy of government systems, the trend of violence in the U.S. and many more social justice issues. And of course we still strive to enlighten our members with talks about the latest scientific information, history, secularism and politics, and much more. Yes, even music. Our Program Director, Al Wendler, continues to bring us fantastic topics and our swelling membership is partly due to that, as well as all the other great activities that we have every year. We are doing quite well indeed!