For the fifth year, Black Skeptics L.A. has partnered with the Freedom From Religion Foundation on BSLA’s First in the Family Humanist scholarship fund. FFRF has granted the organization $20,000 for four awards to outstanding secular students of color through its Forward Freethought Scholarship fund. This year’s winners are Justin Fajar (Dartmouth College), Kitty Anne Dubuisson (MCPHS University), India Quick (Fayetteville State University) and Jalyn Williams (Albright College). Each recipient will receive $5000 apiece to support their college education and expenses.
Justin Fajar, Dartmouth College
I’m a humanist/agnostic because we can’t tackle big issues like God and the afterlife in simplistic ways. If there is a God how can we, as humans, possibly understand a being like God. If there is a god that is all-seeing and all-powerful I would have so many questions, like why can’t he intervene during major harmful events like slavery and genocide. The concept of God is too complex for us to have a major dependence on. And it’s no reason to fuel such hatred. That hatred is why I decided to take action and try to foster a safe and loving community in my high school. After years of struggling with my sexuality I took it upon myself to let other people know that they are safe, and that they are valid especially since there was a lack of LGBTQ+ acknowledgement in the first place. Along with a few of my friends I founded a GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) at my school, it’s my main source of participation at my school and it’s the closest to my heart. During those meetings we discuss important LGBTQ+ issues, and we foster a space where anyone can be themselves. And it shows that anyone can take a stand and fix an issue in their community.
India Quick, Fayetteville State University
When I hit my teenage years, I had been doing what many teenagers do, rebelling. My parents wanted me to be smart but not too smart, strong willed but not too strong willed. They wanted me to be who they imagined me to be and never really gave me much of a chance to choose who I wanted to be
and what I wanted from life. Each time they tried to stifle me, they claimed that it was done out of love, and each time I disobeyed them, they threw bible verses at me. I started to learn about the horrible things that the religions of the world had done. There is so much blood covering the Christian religion’s name that it is almost nauseating. People kill in the name of God, and somehow everyone is okay with this knowledge. These people are willing to kill and then claim to be good people or to love all. There are many issues in every community and I want my generation to finally start fixing society’s past mistakes. I know that there is a large amount of hate in every community, but the communities that I want to start addressing issues would have to be the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community. The LGBTQ+ community holds a large issue with
transphobia, gatekeeping, and prejudice. We all should be working together to ensure people never have to fear to fall in love. Our work would pay off if we stop disrespecting each other and start making sure younger people in the LGBTQ+ community will feel safe enough to come out. The Black community also has a huge issue with homophobia, transphobia, gatekeeping, colorism, self-hatred, religious discrimination, and plain disrespect towards black women.
Jalyn Williams, Albright College
Shunning and shaming people because they are different than you seems par for the course with religion (or at least with religious subculture). I have my own morals and that’s what I use to guide me through life. My mantra is “do no harm, take no shit.” I think that what we do on Earth while we are still here should be to improve our lives and the lives of others rather than doing sort-of-kind things in an attempt to get into a cushy afterlife. Religion is often used in arguments against working to combat climate change. Religious fanatics believe their higher power is responsible for the rising temperatures and climate phenomena. Because of this, there is a lot of apathy when it comes to environmental issues. Environmentalists who want to mitigate anthropogenic effects on the Earth’s climate are seen as trying to “play God.” Living in urbanized neighborhoods for my whole life, I see many of the adverse effects that the changing climate has on low-income citizens. Many people have respiratory problems like asthma and stargazing is impossible in some areas. Weather extremes have become the norm. Current projections say that we will run out of potable water by 2040 and that we will diminish fossil fuels reserves within the next 150 years. It is important that people work to change the way they live today and advocate for stronger environmental regulations.
Kitty Anne Dubuisson, MCPHS University
As a humanist, my values are about being ethical, bringing out the best in others, and advocating for our most basic rights. As a Haitian woman, with Africanoid features I identify with many minority groups, I suffer in their pain, disparities, and sadness. I also identify as an immigrant, a community that is heavily divided, outcasted, and suffers from a lack of resources. Many immigrants escape mass genocides, natural disasters, wars, and the unfathomable. These people have managed to escape a sort of agony just to end up in a different kind of nightmare. It has been made worse due to the new administration. Recently many homes, including mine, have turned into a potential target for ICE raids. It no longer can be called a home. Many are afraid to leave because of the unknown; unknown of what might transpire while they are gone. Many of us are categorized into one word. Immediately labeled and, like a person’s gender, it becomes a part of our identity. With that label, we stop being human. Suddenly each word that comes out of our mouths feels like it must be a declaration of innocence. Of humanity. I am an activist for human rights for everyone, so I consider myself an outspoken ally for the LGBTQ movement, the BLM movement, and the Womanist movement. My journey to truth brought me to humanism. I hold many of these values to be my truth. Belief in God becomes problematic when people solely rely on God to make changes without fighting for equality themselves.