#SSJCon: Feminism(s) of Color and the Secular Movement

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.

Feminism(s) of Color and the Secular Movement
Deanna Adams
Maggie Ardiente, AHA
Heina Dadabhoy, Freethought Blogs
AJ Word, Secular Sistahs
Moderator: Sikivu Hutchinson\

This session was a great one to start the conference with because it demonstrated so many of its strengths. For a movement that prides itself on challenging ingrained ideas, what we actually see is a lot of people getting shouted down the moment they say something that makes others uncomfortable. This wasn’t a comfortable panel. It included several ideas that will make people mad. It’s interesting that it takes a conference like this to allow those ideas to be aired and heard and considered.

I included my tweets and the tweets of several others to give you a sense of what people were reacting to and how. 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.

Sikivu Hutchinson opened with brief remarks about why a panel focusing on the experiences of feminists of color was necessary, despite greater attention to feminist concerns within the movement in recent years.

Then each of the panelists gave a short statement. Maggie Ardiente started by talking about the importance and difficulties of representation in leadership.

Heina Dadabhoy talked about trying to navigate a secular movement that was supposed to be far more progressive than the Muslim community she came from but shared many of the same problems.

Secular Sistahs VP Ayana Williford (stage name AJ Word) talked about the demoralizing combination of racism and apathy she’s encountered in the movement.

Deanna Adams spoke about trying to find a place where she could be a black woman atheist without being tokenized based on any part of that identity.

One note here: Adams was not advocating this as an overall good, but rather as the ground on which we should meet on those occasions we work with believers.

With the individual statements out of the way, the session moved into general discussion and Q&A. If anything, it got more frank at this point.

Here’s the video of the session. If you want to react to something in a tweet, it’s best to watch at least that portion of the video first.

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

#SSJCon: Feminism(s) of Color and the Secular Movement