March 29, 2012

An Open Love Letter to Black Atheists, Freethinkers, Skeptics and Generally Awesome Humanoids

This post was inspired by listening to a brief Living After Faith podcast about the Black Atheists after-party at the Reason Rally. These thoughts/feelings have been with me for as long as I can remember and aren’t atheist-specific, but I wanted to get them out of my head and onto the interwebs.

But first of all, about the podcast, they were interviewing rapper Greydon Square who performed at the after-party. I wholeheartedly agree with Greydon’s observation that “Lyrics are powerful. Rhyming is powerful. It’s poetry.”  Well-written lyrics in any form give me chills. Some of the best lyrics I've heard have been through rap. (And shitty-ass lyrics come in many forms too, lol.) I encourage people to not hate on/write off one overall genre of music. Open your mind. Find the artists that speak to you and let yourself get caught up in their flow.

Moving on. The following may seem really kiss-assy, but I don’t mean it that way. These are very real sentiments, so I hope it comes across as such. So here goes. I have immense respect for people of color (black and otherwise) because I am very aware (though I cannot know experientially) that the obstacles many of these people have faced -- and are facing -- are formidable. As a white woman, I presume that there are many privileges that come my way without my even knowing it… probably someone who is not white could quickly point out to me what those things are, and please feel free to in the comments of this post if you care to raise our awareness. (Granted, as a woman in general I have my own obstacles, but am I so crazy-grateful to be living in a reasonably -- I know that’s debatable/subjective -- non-oppressive place and time thanks to the brave women and men who have come before me to promote the causes of feminism.)

I have a general framework that helps me empathize with my fellow human travelers. (Try not to get too hung up on the specifics of the analogy here...  hopefully my overall point will come through.)  Imagine your birth as a starting line. Ideally, each one of us would get to start at the same place. But that’s just not how it is. Due to countless factors such as a person’s geographical location, race, family’s socioeconomic status, genetics and place in history, some people get to begin way ahead of the line, some people way behind. It’s bullshit to look at someone who has only gotten to Point C on the line, and maybe you’re at Point M, and say to them “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, bucko!” (Of course, there are some people who are simply not utilizing the resources that are actually readily available to them -- see Frederick Douglass quote, but even then you don’t know all the details about what’s going on with that person, so be very slow to pass judgment.)  That fellow human may have had to start life way behind the starting line. Maybe their Point C is a COLOSSAL ACCOMPLISHMENT because they’ve had to come so far. Maybe your Point M isn’t all that impressive because you got to start at Point L to begin with. THIS is one of the many reasons I respect my beautiful, melanin-enhanced counterparts so much. People in “underdog” races (squirrel moment: I want to research at some point what the hell “race” even means since we’re all just humans… Is it simply a term to help categorize groups into generic buckets?) are often those who unfortunately have entered life, through no fault of their own, way behind the start line. I can’t “get it” experientially, but please know that I see it… that I see you… and that I aim to live my life in a way that helps break down these starting-line disparities for future generations.

With love and respect,
The melanin-impaired, can’t-tan-to-save-my-life-thanks-to-my-Western-European-gentic-mix, Disillusioned Drew

p.s. I went to a small Christian high school in the Chicago suburbs where there was only ONE black person out of all four grades. Crazy, I know, but this is the world I grew up in. She had a great attitude about it though. She made these little business cards that said “Black People Anonymous” (I know that I still have mine somewhere, but couldn’t find it for this post). It said something about the person receiving it having the spirit of a black person even if their skin color did not reflect this. Love it. :-)

“Frederick Douglass didn’t become free ‘til he prayed with his feet”
– Greydon Square, Special Pleading lyrics

March 22, 2012

Did you get a card from me at the Reason Rally? If so, stop everything and read this NOW.

Dear DD Card Holder,

You’ll likely notice that this is but my third blog entry. What’s GREAT about that is you have been given the EXCLUSIVE opportunity to get in on the ground-floor of this REVOLUTIONARY blog by Disillusioned Drew. For just 3 easy payments of $19.99, and your firstborn child (om nom nom), your DD Membership grants you FULL ACCESS to MIND-BLOWING posts that will include compelling topics such as:

Reviews of podcasts on atheism, skepticism, coming out of religion, science, and psychology. I am a podcast (or as Jake Farr-Wharton of The Imaginary Friends Show pronounces it in his super-sexy Aussie accent “pode-castes”) junkie. I plan to do ongoing blog posts about the podcasts I love in general (and why) and also reviews/reflection on specific episodes.

Recovering from Religion. I am crazy-passionate about what this organization is doing and where it is heading. I myself have only been to one grassroots RR Meetup in Chicago thus far (and had a great time), so most of what I know about Recovering from Religion comes from hearing Dr. Darrel Ray, Jerry DeWitt, and Sarah Morehead on the podcast circuit (especially on their official podcast, Living After Faith, hosted by the insanely-awesome-power-couple, Rich and Deanna Joy Lyons). Expect effusive posts and mentions about what RR is up to. This organization is crucial for those coming out of religion like me.

Psychology. I am fasc-eeeee-nated with why we humans think and behave the way we do. SHHH...can I tell you a secret? I hope to one day have a degree in psychology and be able to integrate my profession with the atheist/skeptic/humanist movement to help others (I have several undergrad classes in psych under my belt, but I have a long way to go to get that Master's). I hope to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Marlene Winell, Dr. Valerie Tarico, and others that I have not yet discovered who share a passion to help those who are suffering from "Indoctrination Disorientation Syndrome" (trademark, Disillusioned Drew). Oooo ooo… my SUPER-secret dream would be to have a call-in podcast show with several hosts (including yours truly) where people who are transitioning out of religion could call in and we could help walk them through it. Think of The Atheist Experience but with counseling instead of Matt Dillahunty ranting (though I do love his -- and all of the TAE Team's -- rants). That would be HEAVEN for me. (“Heaven” in this life through doing what you love? What a concept!) Oh wait, but I’m godless so I must be selfish and not care about others, because there couldn’t possibly be any evolutionary reason to look out for each other. Which leads me to my next interest…

Science! Who doesn’t have crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson? Even you straight fellas (don’t deny). No, but really I’m interested in science for much less shallow reasons, one of which is that I am somewhat scientifically illiterate. Why, you ask? Because I went to fundamentalist Christian schools through high school; Schools that treated evolution like a four-letter word. Because I remember numerous times throughout my childhood when my parents would discuss at the dinner table how EVIL public schools were for teaching said evolution. With these kinds of attitudes being beat into me, it’s no wonder I know so little. In my early 20s I would change the channel if a science program mentioned (as most would, of course) evolution or the age of the universe. I was STRONGLY INDOCTRINATED to shut out information that conflicted with the young earth, Adam and Eve, talking snake (insert HI-LAR-I-OUS t-shirt link here) stories that had been drilled into me. BOTTOM LINE: I am voraciously trying to make up for lost time... which is fine because I love to learn and I never EVER want to stop learning.

Learning. If you get to a point in your life where you say to yourself, “Well, I think I’ve got it all figured out. Yup. Nothing else to know here,” I feel sorry for you. Not that people are necessarily this extreme, but I have crossed paths with many people who essentially live their lives in a way that reflects this attitude. And that’s their prerogative, but that’s not for me. I question and dig and analyze and read and think about and mull things over. It challenges me and I like it. This INSATIABLE CURIOSITY is likely one of the main reasons I finally snapped out of my religious daze. (I'll do a blog post at some point about how I unexpectedly stumbled right out of faith. I certainly wasn't looking to become an atheist, but I just started thinking about certain things a little too hard. Oopsies.)

So, don’t delay, folks! If your last name begins with A-M, add me to your RSS feed today. If it begins with N-Z, you can begin adding me tomorrow.


p.s. I will post soon about my experience at the Reason Rally which I still cannot believe I’m going to be part of in 2 DAYS when just a little over a year ago I was a devout Christian. Crazy but AWESOME!!!