NPR recently did a nice piece about how secular students are finding their place on college campuses. They interviewed Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard; Debbie Goddard, spokesperson for the Center for Inquiry; and Mark Hatcher, founder of the Secular Students of Howard University.
I especially loved this segment discussing African-American Humanism:
Michael Martin: And can I ask you though, Debbie, of all your sort of various identities, do you ever feel like being African-American and being a humanist are ever in conflict in a way that you find difficult to resolve?
Debbie Goddard: I find other people tell me so. But I grew up in a very African-American neighborhood. However my mother is from Trinidad and so my black identity was different than that of many people around me. I didn’t grow up on soul food. I grew up with Caribbean food. And I’ve talked to other people who have a Caribbean background who have said the same thing. That we need to kind of expand our idea of what it means to be African-American sometimes.
How true is that.
I was at a wedding over the weekend — the groom was someone I knew from my family’s Jain community.
When making smalltalk with another guest, I was asked if I had gone to a recent temple event that the groom had attended.
I responded: “Nope… I’m not a Jain anymore.”
I think he nearly spit out his drink.
It felt awesome to say that. And liberating, too.
Another former-Jain also told me he was now an atheist.
Debbie’s words work in our case, too. Just because I’m Indian doesn’t mean I’m religious in any way. The more people who can come out and admit it, the easier it is for everyone after us.