“Navigating Conflict in the Movement, Part 1”, Callie Wright and Ari Stillman on Atheists Talk

The secular movement is no stranger to conflict. It never has been, though it does have a tendency to treat each new round of conflict as a fresh problem with no precedent and the potential to rip apart a fairly healthy, growing movement.

Recently, such a conflict swept up Callie Wright and Ari Stillman of the Gaytheist Manifesto podcast, and they had some solid thoughts on managing conflicts like these. This Sunday, they join us to talk about it all, the good, the bad, and the ultimately irrelevant.

Then, join us again next week for part 2 of this discussion with another guest with a slightly different perspective.

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Continue reading ““Navigating Conflict in the Movement, Part 1”, Callie Wright and Ari Stillman on Atheists Talk”

“Navigating Conflict in the Movement, Part 1”, Callie Wright and Ari Stillman on Atheists Talk
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“The Intersection of Humanism and Social Justice Work” on The Humanist Hour

This week, we revisited the AHA conference in Chicago in May for some practical advice.

The concept of social justice is enjoying a renaissance. That doesn’t necessarily translate into action, however. Even people who support social justice may find themselves uncertain how to put their principles into practice. They may be unsure what is needed from them.

At the American Humanist Association’s 75th Anniversary Conference in Chicago this year, Sincere Kirabo, social justice coordinator of the AHA, moderated a panel on this problem. Diane Burkholder, co-founder of Kansas City Freethinkers of Color; James Croft, outreach director of the Ethical Society of St. Louis; and Randall Jenson, executive director of SocialScope Productions, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ and gender documentary projects, discussed the practical impediments to social justice in the humanist movement and our broader society. They talked about the needs we don’t see and the solutions that allow us to put our time and money where our mouths are.

This panel also had a Q&A session that is not presented here. This can be heard in the full panel video on the American Humanist Association’s YouTube channel.

You can listen to the podcast here.

“The Intersection of Humanism and Social Justice Work” on The Humanist Hour

Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory”

I wasn’t going to write about Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies and their Hugo Awards slate this year. I was just going to enjoy Uncanny Magazine‘s win for Best Semiprozine and Naomi Kritzer‘s win for Best Short Story with “Cat Pictures Please“, because it is a weird and wonderful thing when people I know win awards for work I like. I was going to enjoy the success of a fiction slate swept by women, three of whom are women of color and one of whom didn’t write in English, because the WorldCon should look more like the world than it generally has. I was going to enjoy looking at a slate full of winners of serious quality, because I like this genre, and I get tired of defending it from charges it is only pulp (mmm, pulp).

I was going to do all that, which is plenty. Then I looked at the numbers in the nomination long lists (pdf, de-Puppied numbers at the bottom of this post). I noticed something important.

There is one thing you should know about Vox Day, assuming you can’t avoid him altogether. Well, one thing aside from him being alt-right before the alt-right was identified as a thing. One thing aside from him being such a secure sexist that he has to declare the inferiority of women whenever anyone will listen. One thing aside from his self-published fiction being just sort of tedious and fascinated by its own fascinations.

That one thing is that he always declares victory.

As schticks go, it’s not terribly impressive. It’s a lot like those people who look at science, scrinch their foreheads at the math, and pop out some late-night, freshman-who-took-one-philosophy-class deepity about “But what if the world is really…?” If your musings aren’t falsifiable, you’re not going to impress a scientist with your depth of thought. If you claim everything is a win condition, we all know you’re just not prepared to lose.

This year, Vox Day lost badly. Continue reading “Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory””

Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory”

Saturday Storytime: Trip Trap

Sometimes you fight the monsters. Sometimes you are the monster. Sometimes you fight anyway, as in this story from Kevin J. Anderson and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

“My brother says you’re a troll, ’cause trolls live under bridges. You’re living under a bridge,” the girl said. “So, are you a troll?”

Yes, he was, but she didn’t know that. In fact, no one was allowed to know that. “No. Not a troll,” he lied.

She smelled tender, savory, juicy.

“Come closer.”

The girl was intrigued by him, but she hesitated. She was smart enough for that at least.

Skari squeezed his eyes shut and drove his head back against the concrete abutment of the bridge. Again. The pain was like a gunshot through his skull, but at least it drove away the dark thoughts. Sometimes it just got so lonely, and he got so hungry here. He’d been thinking about eating children, tasty children . . . thinking about it altogether too much.

With a crash through the underbrush, a boy came down the embankment. Her brother. He looked about nine, a year or two older than the girl. Both were scrawny, their clothes hand-me-downs but still in much better condition than Skari’s. The children did have a raggedness about them, though, a touch of loss that had not yet grown into desperation. That would come in time, Skari knew, unless he ate them first.

Next to his sister, the boy made a grimace and said with a taunting bravery that only fools and children could manage, “I think you’re a troll. You smell like a troll!”

Skari leaned forward, lurched closer to the edge of the shadow, and the children drew back, but remained close, staring. “Methinks you smell yourself, boy.”

Rather than hearing the threat, the boy giggled. “Methinks? What kind of word is methinks?” He added in a singsong voice, “Methinks ‘methinks’ is a stupid word.”

Skari grumbled, ground his teeth together. His gums were sore. He picked at them with a yellowed fingernail. No wonder witches ate children. It was sounding like a better and better idea to him. His stomach rumbled. Continue reading “Saturday Storytime: Trip Trap”

Saturday Storytime: Trip Trap

#SSJCon: What’s Race Got to Do With It?

This is part of my coverage of the Secular Social Justice Conference this past January in Houston. I raised money to get me to the conference to report out because conferences like these cover topics that are rarely talked about in the movement. I also raised money to get Josiah Mannion to the conference to take photos. You can see his full conference photoset. If you appreciate the work we do, we’re also raising money cover a portion of our costs to do the same for the Women in Secularism conference in September. You’ll find a donation button at the end of this post.

For the last session of the first day, we all came back together in the main auditorium for a very large panel discussion on race and intersectionality.

What’s Race Got to Do With It? Racial Politics and Intersectionality in the Atheist Movement:
Frank Anderson, Black Skeptics Chicago
Georgina Capetillo, Secular Common Ground
Alix Jules, Dallas Coalition of Reason
Sincere Kirabo, American Atheists
Jimmie Luthuli, Secular Sistahs
Juhem Navarro-Rivera
Vic Wang, Humanists of Houston
Moderator: Daniel Myatt, BSLA

This is the panel I think should be required viewing for anyone in the movement who talks about “echo chambers” and “political correctness” in the movement. I have never seen a panel this wide-ranging or willing to explore possibilities at another secular movement conference. When was the last time you sat through an argument on the pros and cons of revolution? You can watch the session for yourself at the end of this post. If you do, however, you’re going to forever know “SJWs can’t abide disagreement with their ideas” for the lie it is.

Photo of panel with Georgina Capetillo in focus in the foreground.

Photo of panel with Juhem Navarro-Rivera and Jimmie Lithuli in focus in center.

Photo of several people in the audience at the panel.

Darrin Johnson tweeting from the audience.
Darrin Johnson tweeting from the audience.

Photo of Alix Jules laughing on the panel.

Photo of Juhem Navarro-Rivera speaking on the panel.

Black and white photo of Frank Anderson listening during panel.

Large crowd photo of audience during the panel.

Gordon Maples live-tweeting from the audience.
Gordon Maples live-tweeting from the audience.

Photo of Vic Wang speaking during the panel.

Our videographer, capturing the Q&A.
Our videographer, capturing the Q&A.

Seriously. That’s where we left the panel. Do we tear it all down and rebuild–something? So if you’re interested in hearing real, substantial disagreement among advocates for social justice, watch the panel.

Want to support this kind of reporting out from Women in Secularism? We could still use a little help to get there:




#SSJCon: What’s Race Got to Do With It?

#SSJCon: LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color

This is part of my coverage of the Secular Social Justice Conference this past January in Houston. I raised money to get me to the conference to report out because conferences like these cover topics that are rarely talked about in the movement. I also raised money to get Josiah Mannion to the conference to take photos. You can see his full conference photoset. If you appreciate the work we do, we’re also raising money cover a portion of our costs to do the same for the Women in Secularism conference in September. You’ll find a donation button at the end of this post.

The second session of the day also consisted of two panels. Choosing was so difficult. Josiah took pictures in the “LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color” session. I covered the economics session, since I felt my background would be more useful here.

LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color and Social Justice
Diane Burkholder, Kansas City Freethinkers of Color
Ashton Woods, HBN
Brandon Mack, Rice U
Moderator: Debbie Goddard

Unfortunately, there has been no video posted from this session. I’d been waiting for it, hoping to catch up. At least the majority of Twitter coverage happened here, because this is all the record we have. Continue reading “#SSJCon: LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color”

#SSJCon: LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color

“Juhem Navarro-Rivera on Changing Demographics and Changing Politics” on The Humanist Hour

This week, I spoke with Juhem Navarro-Rivera about how the changing face of the U.S. electorate is changing our political landscape. This was originally going to be a shorter interview, paired up with my talk with Alix Jules about racial resentment. In both cases, we ended up having more material than fit in an hour show.

There is a significant portion of the U.S. electorate this year who seem determined to “take back their country”. It’s rare, however, that these people are willing to explicitly state who they want to take the country back from. In reality their political fears reflect a voting population that is less white, less male, and less religious than it has ever been before.

Juhem Navarro-Rivera is a political scientist who studies the political behavior of many of the groups within this rising American electorate. He specializes in studying Latino voters and the religious Nones. This week, he joins Stephanie Zvan to talk about the concerns and behavior of these groups, as well as the concerns and behaviors of the largely white, male, and religious voters who are resisting their participation in the political process.

You can listen to the podcast here.

“Juhem Navarro-Rivera on Changing Demographics and Changing Politics” on The Humanist Hour

#SSJCon: Finding Economic Justice

This is part of my coverage of the Secular Social Justice Conference this past January in Houston. I raised money to get me to the conference to report out because conferences like these cover topics that are rarely talked about in the movement. I also raised money to get Josiah Mannion to the conference to take photos. You can see his full conference photoset. If you appreciate the work we do, we’re also raising money cover a portion of our costs to do the same for the Women in Secularism conference in September. You’ll find a donation button at the end of this post.

The second session of the day also consisted of two panels. Choosing was so difficult. Josiah took pictures in the “LGBTQ Queer Atheists of Color” session. I covered the economics session, since I felt my background would be more useful here.

Finding Justice in an Economic System that Proclaims Financial Opportunity for All
James T. Jones, Prairie View University
Darrin Johnson, BSLA
Richard Peacock, Orlando Black Non-Believers
Twaunette Sharp, HBN
Cleve Tinsley, IV, Rice U
Moderator: Donald Wright

I’m really glad the conference ran this session. It isn’t a subject we talk about nearly enough. At the same time, I wish the session had been more focused. I understand why it wasn’t. We have to do the introductions first. We have to do a certain amount of 101-level discussion to make sure we understand the problem before we can really talk about solutions. So, really, any frustration I had with this session is really just frustration that we’re this far behind on this topic.

Live tweeters were more evenly split for this set of sessions. You’re really getting just the highlights here, but you can watch the video of the whole session at the bottom of this post. Continue reading “#SSJCon: Finding Economic Justice”

#SSJCon: Finding Economic Justice

Saturday Storytime: The Plague Givers

This story from Kameron Hurley asks whether it’s better to do the necessary but painful thing or not. I’m not entirely sure it answers its own question.

She kept her machete up. “I’m called Bet, out here,” she said. “And what are you? If you’re dressing up as Plague Hunters, I’ll have some identification before you go pontificating all over my porch.”

“Abrimet,” the shoman said, holding up their right hand. The broad sleeve fell back, exposing a dark arm crawling in glowing green tattoos: the double ivy circle of the Order, and three triangles, one for every Plague Hunter the shoman had dispatched. Evidence enough the shoman was what was claimed. “This is Lealez,” the shoman said of the other one.

“Lealez,” Bet said. “You a shoman or a neuter? Can’t tell at this distance, I’m afraid. We used to dress as our gender, in my day.”

The person made a face. “Dress as my gender? The way you do? Shall I call you man, with that hair?” Bet wore nothing but a man’s veshti, sour and damp with sweat, and she had not cut or washed her hair in some time, let alone styled her brows to match her pronouns.

“It is not I knocking about on stranger’s doors, requesting favors,” Bet said. “What am I dealing with?”

“I’m a pan.”

“That’s what I thought I was saying. What, is saying neuter instead of pan a common slur now?”

“It’s archaic.”

“We are in a desperate situation,” Abrimet said, clearly the elder, experienced one here, trying to wrest back control of the dialogue. “The Order sent us to call in your oath.” Continue reading “Saturday Storytime: The Plague Givers”

Saturday Storytime: The Plague Givers

#SSJCon: Humanism and Hip Hop

This is part of my coverage of the Secular Social Justice Conference this past January in Houston. I raised money to get me to the conference to report out because conferences like these cover topics that are rarely talked about in the movement. I also raised money to get Josiah Mannion to the conference to take photos. You can see his full conference photoset. If you appreciate the work we do, we’re also raising money cover a portion of our costs to do the same for the Women in Secularism conference in September. You’ll find a donation button at the end of this post.

After opening remarks, which I’ll cover in a post summarizing the experience of attending the conference, we split off into two sessions. Josiah took pictures in the “Humanism and Hip Hop” session, because you can’t keep him away from that. I covered “Feminism(s) of Color” for much the same reason.

Humanism and Hip Hop
Monica Miller, Lehigh University
Jason Jeffries, Rice Univ.
Xan Wright, HBN
Moderator: Tony Pinn

This was a well-attended session but most of the tweeters were in the other session. I watched the panel and added my reflections/encapsulations here to the tweets of the people in the room. Hopefully they’ll whet your appetite to watch the whole thing. You’ll find the full video of the panel at the bottom of this post. You may need to watch it more than once, because I’ve never seen anyone talking about humanist hip hop in a way that was anything less than richly dense with information and overturned assumptions. Continue reading “#SSJCon: Humanism and Hip Hop”

#SSJCon: Humanism and Hip Hop