By Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi, Osun State University, Nigeria
Sikivu Hutchinson’s Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels is a pointed and necessary resource for both public and academic discourses to better understand the experience of secular people of color forging visibility in the battle for social justice. Secular activists of color are rendered invisible and improbable within the community politics of religious institutions and predominately white humanist and secular institutions. These institutions response to secular activism among people of color contributes to an American consciousness which mythologizes authenticity and denies the complexities of the human condition. The measure of a sole authentic story is mired in notions of religious practice, racial stereotypes, intra-racial conflicts over a recognizable racial self, gender discrimination, and white privilege. Hutchinson’s accounts of secular activists catalyzing grassroots humanist movements’ counters American solace in oppressive definitions of what a person of color believes.
An accessible analysis, surveys and interviews are some of the research methods utilized to animate markers of race, identity, and non-belief. Hutchinson expertly traverses cultural, religious, gender, and racial landmines to make visible the experiences of women, high school girls, and men who are, or, have the potential of becoming secular activists. Historical examples of early African American freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and first-hand accounts of Latina feminist atheists, for example, present a seldom discussed tradition of people of color and humanism. Godless Americana queries the marginality and invisibility of secularists within communities of color and within mainstream humanist communities by engaging authentic stories of race, gender, activism, and humanism.
*Now Available on Kindle!*