April has been quite the busy month. In addition to proudly accepting the 2022 Irving and Anabel Wolfson Award (presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester), I just returned from the 2022 American Atheists convention held here in Atlanta over Easter weekend. I must tell you that it was a most welcome return to larger in-person events, and it was wonderful to see so many good friends and new faces. And it was also great to see so many BN members in attendance this year; it is a great sign of future engagement to come.
However, there was a not so pleasant aspect to the weekend festivities. In addition to some Christians descending on the convention (which resulted in mixed interactions), there was a firestorm on social media that resulted from my talk at the convention titled “How to Address White Supremacy in the Secular Community (And What to DO About It).
The gist of the talk was to explain White Supremacy by definition, how fellow nonbelievers of all stripes MAY be upholding it in various ways, and what we all can do to keep it from permeating our movement. Which is improving in many ways, however it was worth revisiting as a topic of discussion given my work in this community.
The talk was well received by the convention attendees, however American Atheists tweeted a slide that listed the ways White Supremacy may be upheld. And it did result in some reactions, all from people who weren’t in attendance. There was even a call to for American Atheists to “rebuke” me, and for their members to pull their support for the organization.
Perhaps the most virulent response came from David Silverman, the former President of American Atheists who was terminated in 2018 due to several allegations, including sexual assault. In this YouTube video, he berates me personally and BN as an organization. He also gives his own version of why there aren’t many people of color in the Secular community, among other things.
I will not respond in kind to his claims. However, I am compelled to say a few words to you, who are our members and supporters.
Silverman did not just attack me and BN, he also attacked YOU. It has been through your support that we have been able to reach thousands of people, including many Black atheists who never knew there was direct support. Our existence has led to a thriving working relationship with our fellow secular organizations, the National Museum for African American Culture, the Religious Freedom Center, and many others. It is also how we have produced our own events, including the Women of Color Beyond Belief conference (along with Black Skeptics and the Women’s Leadership Project) and BN SeaCon, where so many people who attended felt welcomed and learned a great deal from our featured speakers.
Quality has always been at the heart of BN’s work, so while social media numbers are important, they don’t completely determine the measure of our outreach. And I a very proud of the work that me and my team has done and will continue to do.
And with this in mind, I hope you will continue to support BN. In fact, that is the best way to counter this negativity that is coming our way. I truly thank you all, and American Atheists for their fortitude and making sure that their conventions are an enjoyable experience for all in attendance.