Women of Color Beyond Faith: Freethought, Feminism and Social Justice
Editors: Sikivu Hutchinson and Kimberly Veal
Historically, women of color have been more religious than white women. According to the Pew Research Survey, at 87% and 85% respectively, African American and Latino women represent the largest and most committed group of believers in the United States. Women of color have long used the church as a vehicle for political organizing, coalition-building, social uplift, and personal growth. For many women of color, faith plays a huge role in therapeutic healing and emotional restoration. Bucking male dominated patriarchal institutions such as the Black Church, the Catholic Church, and Latino Pentecostal denominations, women of color have assumed leadership roles in faith-based movements. Progressive religious traditions have informed women’s resistance to and complicity with the dominant culture; often providing a means of redressing the effects of racism, white supremacy, segregation, and economic injustice. The absence of alternative secular spaces and sites of political agency in communities of color is directly related to race, class, income, wealth, and geographic inequities. Because of these factors, secular community organizing has not been an avenue that women of color could pursue in any significant numbers. Consequently, there is very little documentation of early women of color freethinkers, atheists or humanists in the U.S. What little scholarship has been done focuses narrowly on the Harlem Renaissance and, to a far lesser extent, the civil rights and Black Power movement eras. While the work of Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, and Alice Walker offer rich insight into the world view of African American humanist women writers, Larsen and Hurston have virtually no contemporaries in either academia or the literary world. Nonetheless, women of color have emerged as some of the strongest voices in American atheism. This anthology will offer an important corrective to this lacuna. Going beyond basic questions of the challenges women of color non-believers face, it will articulate a vision of humanist social and gender justice that is firmly situated in the politics of anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, and anti-imperialism. The essays in this collection will address some of the following questions:
1. How do feminist and humanist social thought converge?
2. What is the historical scope of women of color secularism?
3. What are the historical tensions between white/European American feminism and women of color feminism, especially as they pertain to humanism and secularism?
4. How do women of color secularists coalition-build across lines of race, gender, sexual orientation and religion?
5. What tensions exist between women of color feminism, the Black Church, the Catholic Church and other religious institutions?
6. How can humanism be made culturally relevant and what does humanist education look like in K-12?
7. How can secular and humanist pedagogies redress institutional heterosexism and hetero-normativity?
8. What role do freethought, humanism and/or atheism play in articulating lesbian/same gender loving and queer women of color subjectivities?
9. What role do humanism and secularism play in reproductive justice in communities of color?
10. How can a humanist stance inform struggles against economic injustice and racial segregation?
ABSTRACT SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 30, 2013
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