Our Work

In a global climate in which the criminalization and economic disenfranchisement of people of color of all genders and sexualities has become more acute, what role can Secular Humanism play in communities of color in the U.S.?

Black Skeptics Group (BSG) and Black Skeptics Los Angeles (BSLA) currently focuses on the following initiatives:

1) BSLA First In The Family Scholarship Awards

According to The Education Trust’s publication entitled, “At a Crossroads: A Comprehensive Picture of How African-American Youth Fare in Los Angeles County Schools”1, if current prison pipelining trends persist, only one out of every twenty African-American kindergartners in California will graduate from a four-year university in the state over the next decade. These trends are especially relevant for foster care youth, who are more likely to become incarcerated or homeless by young adulthood and have some of the lowest college completion rates among youth groups. The tragic reality is that an estimated 70 percent of the California prison population is comprised of foster youth.

In 2013, BSLA spearheaded its First In The Family Scholarship Fund which provides resources to undocumented, foster care, homeless, and LGBTQ youth of color who will be the first in their families to go to college. Responding directly to the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in communities of color, BSLA is the first atheist organization to address college pipelining for youth of color with an explicitly anti-racist multicultural emphasis. Our annual Awards ceremony takes place in August in Los Angeles, CA. Major sponsors include Atheists United, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association.

BSLA has expanded to provide two types of scholarships:

First In The Family Humanist Scholarship Award: Awardees receive up to $1,000 in scholarships to assist with their tuition, room and board, books, and other academic resources. This award is available to high school youth who live in the South Los Angeles area, and are accepted into two or four-year colleges. For more information, please click here to go to our Scholarship Application page. BSLA receives applications from outstanding South Los Angeles students who are challenging racism, sexism, homophobia, and injustice in their schools and communities. This award is made possible, thanks to the generous support of several organizations and individuals from humanist and atheist communities.

First In The Family Humanist Scholarship – Freedom From Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award: Awardees receive up to $2,500 in scholarships to assist with their tuition, room and board, books, and other academic resources. This award is available to high school youth who live in the U.S. who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist and/or secular, and are accepted into two or four-year colleges. For more information, please click here to go to our Scholarship Application page. This award is made possible, thanks to the generous support of the late Catherine Fahringer through Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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  1. The Education Trust-West, “At a Crossroads: A Comprehensive Picture of How African-American Youth Fare in Los Angeles County Schools”, published on October 8, 2014.
2) Fiscal Sponsorship and Educational Partnerships

Since 2013, BSLA has provided fiscal sponsorship of and guidance to community-based educational programs such as the Women’s Leadership Project feminist humanist mentoring program and the Young Male Scholars’ program for boys of color. Both initiatives are based at South Los Angeles high schools and serve 9-12 grade students. Students are provided with leadership development, college preparation resources, public speaking opportunities and multiracial collaboration skills. Since 2014, BSLA has also been a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign against the school-to-prison pipeline, school push-out policies and youth of color criminalization.

3) Conferences and other Speaker and Discussion Panels

Black Skeptics Group (BSG) collaborates with other organizations to organize an annual conference as well as other speaker and discussion panels both locally in the Los Angeles area and in other parts of the U.S.

Our first annual social justice conference, held in 2014, was dedicated to addressing the lived experiences, cultural context, shared struggle and social history of secular humanist people of color and their allies. The conference featured an incredible array of activists, organizers and educators from the secular and social justice communities.  This was a multiethnic, multi-regional, intergenerational gathering of atheists and religious allies of color who live, work in and/or identify with people of color legacies of resistance struggle.

Building on that momentum, the 2016 Secular Social Justice Conference will be held January 30 and 31st at Rice University in Houston, Texas.  The conference will address the lived experiences, cultural context, shared struggle and social history of secular humanist people of color and their allies.  It will focus on topics such as economic justice, women of color beyond faith, LGBTQ atheists of color, African American Humanist traditions in hip-hop, racial politics and the New Atheism and more. BSG is collaborating with Houston Black Non-Believers, the American Humanist Association and African Americans for Humanism to organize this conference.

BSLA takes part in local speaker and panel discussion events at universities and organizations including University of Southern California, Models of Pride LGBTQ Youth Conference, Center for Inquiry Los Angeles and local religious institutions that are our allies.

Please click here to go to our Events page for more information on our conferences, local panels and other events. Events are also posted on our Facebook and Meetup.com pages.

4) Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers

Founded by Donald Wright, author of “The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go”, The National Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers was first established in 2010 in response to the isolation that many Black non-believers experience in their communities of color plagued with religious intolerance and a lack of understanding about what it means to be a non-believer. Celebrated on the last Sunday in February throughout the U.S., BSLA brings together our community of agnostics, atheists, skeptics, freethinkers and secular humanists in fellowship and fun. Building on the momentum of this special day, BSLA also occasionally hosts meetups for potlucks, hiking, movie nights, music festivals, and other social events, throughout the year.

Please click here to go to our Events page for more information on National Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers events and other public events. Events are also posted on our Facebook and Meetup.com pages.

5) Volunteering at local Non-Profits

Continuing our model of fusing social justice with secular humanism, BSLA members volunteer at local non-profit organizations, such as shelters for women and children, as our gesture of community support. Our volunteer events are organized for BSLA members and guests.

6) BSLA Book Club

Our BSLA Book Club meets six times per year in a very informal setting to discuss books selected by our Educational Committee. The purpose of our Book Club is to expand our knowledge and share perspectives on topics that are central to Black identity and culture, Black history and atheism. Our Book Club is organized for BSLA members and guests.