Saturday, October 22, 2011

Listen to the podcast on Atheist Talk radio Now!

Why do all the world's major religions have patriarchy and the enslavement of women at their core? 

And why everyone who cares about equality and liberation for women should fight against the shackles of religion:
Religion, Patriarchy, and Sexual Repression

Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 3:10 PM | 0 comments

"I will join Cornel West and Carl Dix…"

A letter from a youth organizer who was part of yesterday's civil disobedience to stop "stop & frisk."  It was read at a program at Revolution Books in NYC on Oct 19th.

Dearest family, friends, and supporters:

On October 21st I will join Cornel West and Carl Dix in a civil disobedience action targeted at stopping the illegal, unconstitutional "Stop and Frisk" policy by the NYPD. 600,000 stops and frisks per year; 1,900 stops per day; 85% of which are Black and Latino; we're talking about a policy implemented by the NYPD that deliberately absolves 4th Amendment rights from whole sections of the population, and criminalizes an entire generation of youth because they "fit the description." This is the other end of police brutality, the pipeline to prison—the slow, relentless obliteration of entire communities.

...Although the experience of being a Black male informs my decision, I am not doing this because of some personal vendetta against the police, or even because I am directly impacted by this more.

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 2:14 PM | 0 comments

The New Jim Crow just met the new Freedom Fighters

just received this statement from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

From Up Against the Wall to Up in Their Faces . . .
A Movement has begun to
STOP "Stop and Frisk"
The New Jim Crow just met the new Freedom Fighters

On Friday afternoon in Harlem people stood up and said "Enough!" to our youth getting jacked up and humiliated every day by the NYPD's Stop and Frisk program. Cornel West, Carl Dix, Rev. Stephen Phelps, Rev. Earl Koopercamp and 29 others were arrested in a non violent civil disobedience action blocking the doors at the 28th NYPD precinct in Harlem. Hundreds came out in support including a contingent from OCCUPY WALL STREET which endorsed the action the night before.

700,000 youth will be stopped and frisked in NYC this year. This is the first step in a pipeline that has locked 2.3 million in prison. People movingly testified to their experience of being degraded and humiliated and treated like criminals just for being Black or Latino. Those who have had to live with the fear that these "routine" stops can result in your death if you dare to ask what right the police have to stop you - were able to feel what it's like to not just have to take it. Because these 33 protesters put their bodies on the line to act – while 100's of others stood with them, supporting and bearing witness – you have to say it was a beautiful day for the people.

Time to Get Organized and Fight to Win

A movement of resistance was born today but now it's up to you to help take this forward. We are calling you to step up and be part of what is needed to stop this!

Release and Drop the Charges Against Noche & Jamel

#1: The police singled out 2 youth organizers of the protest, Noche & Jamel – releasing all the other protesters but them. One of these youths is a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem whose purpose is to prevent law enforcement from violating the peoples' rights and brutalizing them under the color of authority. The first thing in building this movement: Demand these young fighters' release and donate funds for their legal defense.

#2: Come Sunday, October 23, 2011 to the IMPORTANT "GET ORGANIZED" MEETING to organize the next action and the movement to end mass incarceration, ST. MARY'S CHURCH, 2:00 PM, 126th Street between Old Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.

When Cornel West and Carl Dix began this movement they wrote: “If you are shocked to hear that this kind of thing happens in this so-called land of freedom and democracy - and it does happen all the damned time . . . you can't stand aside and let this injustice be done in your name.”

Yesterday was just the beginning. This will continue and spread until stop and frisk is stopped!

That requires you. Join or be part of the next action – first one neighborhood, then the next. Spread the word. Donate funds. To be a part of stopping this injustice join the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Call us at 973.756.7666 or email to

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 2:00 PM | 0 comments

"Why I Am Getting Arrested Today" by Carl Dix

Statement from Carl Dix before yesterday's arrest in Harlem - appearing in Huffington Post

Like most Black people in this country, I will never forget my first encounter with the police. Like most Black people in this country, it was not a pleasant experience. Before I take you down that memory lane with me, let me say up front that today I am joining arms with Cornel West and others to voluntarily land myself in the custody of the police. We are conducting non-violent civil disobedience at the 28th Police Precinct in Harlem, New York to put a Stop to the NYPD policy of "Stop & Frisk."

.... An undercover man ran up from behind and tackled me. Next, he decked me. He said someone had been robbed and I "fit the description." It soon became clear what "description" he was talking about. He and other cops had also stopped a 40-something year old who was 5'6" with a full beard. I was only 13 years old, no facial hair yet, and six feet tall. The only thing we had in common was our Black skin and our stylish trench coats (which, again, everybody was wearing).... read more

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 1:28 PM | 0 comments

"Herman Cain, Booker T. Washington, and Barack Obama"

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Herman Cain, the "Black conservative" candidate for President, calls to mind Booker T. Washington. Washington was promoted as a "responsible Negro" by the powers-that-be—and was actually the darling of open, aggressive white supremacists—during the period of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, because Washington insisted that Black people should not fight their oppression but should work to "better" themselves by accepting and working within their horribly oppressed conditions. Cain today, in this era of New Jim Crow and supposedly "colorblind" oppression, is treated as a serious political contender, and is a favorite of the—yes, racist—"Tea Party," because Cain acts the part of a 21st century Minstrel Show clown, posturing and proclaiming: that he made it all by himself...that America is the greatest country, and there are no racist barriers, no racist oppression to be angry about...And if you don't have a job and aren't rich—blame yourself.

And then there is President Obama, who uses his "blackness" to help enforce and "justify" the "modern-day" enslavement of the masses of Black people, along with the deepening divide between the haves and have-nots, the violation of the environment, the robbing of the future from the youth, the wars, torture and assassinations, and other abominations carried out by the ruling class of this country, and its machinery of violent repression, death and destruction, all around the world as well as "at home."

From Booker T. Washington to his "successors" today...from second-class servant of the system to actual or wannabe's all about perpetuating a capitalist-imperialist system based on exploitation and oppression—committing countless crimes against humanity.

The masses of people, and humanity as a whole, must and can do better.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 1:03 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Historic Non Violent Civil Disobedience TOMORROW to STOP "Stop & Frisk" -- Be There, Spread the Word!!

From “Up Against the Wall” to
Up In Their Faces

On October 21st at 1 pm be at the State Office Building in Harlem as:

Cornel West, Professor, Author, Public Intellectual
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party
Rev. Stephen Phelps, Interim Senior Minister of Riverside Church
Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, Rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church
Debra Sweet, National Director of World Can't Wait
Rev. Omar Wilks, Union Pentecostal Church
Prof. Jim Vrettos, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Elaine Brower, Military Mom and World Can't Wait

Commit Non-Violent Civil Disobedience to STOP “Stop & Frisk”

The New York Police Department is on pace to “Stop & Frisk” over 700,000 people in 2011! That's more than 1,900 people each day. More than 85% of those stopped are Black or Latino, many are as young as 11 or 12, and more than 90% of them were doing nothing wrong when the police stopped, humiliated, brutalized them or worse.

Everyone knows it is wrong. It is illegal, racist, unconstitutional and intolerable! But THIS FRIDAY people are putting themselves on the line to STOP IT. This is the beginning; this is serious; we won't stop until Stop & Frisk is ended.

Join the non-violent civil disobedience – OR – BE THERE TO BEAR WITNESS & SUPPORT!


Friday, October 21

1pm Rally at Harlem State Office Building

1:30 March to NYPD 28th Precinct at West 123rd and Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Endorsed by:
Rev. Luis Barrios, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Herb Boyd, journalist, author, Harlem NY
Brian Figueroux, Esq.
Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
Nicholas Heyward, Father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr. who was killed by police
Sikivu Hutchinson, author
Lawrence Lucas, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church
Cynthia McKinney, former Congressperson
Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center, Greenville, SC
Bill Quigley, Loyola Law New Orleans
Mark Taylor, Princeton University
Sunsara Taylor, writer Revolution Newspaper and World Can't Wait Advisory Board

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network: PO Box 941, New York, NY 10002
stopmassincarceration(at)  * 973.756.7666 *

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:25 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why are Carl Dix, Cornel West, Rev. Phelps, Rev. Kooperkamp, Rev. Wilks, and Prof. Jim Vrettos Getting Arrested on Friday?

To put a STOP to the slow genocide of mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth and others -- and the constant harassment, humiliation, discrimination and brutality of the NYPD's "Stop & Frisk" program which is carried out 1,900 times every single day here in New York City.




Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 1:22 PM | 0 comments

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time to Intensify Outpouring of Resistance -- by Carl Dix

from Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Interview with Carl Dix about October 22, 2011

Time to Intensify Outpouring of Resistance

The following is from an interview done on October 11 with Carl Dix:

Revolution: Going into NDP, what is it about the situation today you would like to highlight in terms of both the ongoing and accelerating police murder and brutality as well as the need for people to manifest resistance against that?

Carl Dix: This is the 16th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. We formed this group [October 22nd Coalition] because there was an epidemic of police brutality and police murder that needed to be resisted on a nationwide level. And that brutality, that repression, that criminalization, has not only continued, it has intensified. I mean, look at the 2.3+ million people incarcerated in the U.S. And this has been really targeted at especially Black and Latino people. The police brutalizing and even murdering people has also intensified. In Chicago, as of last month, the police had shot 47 people, including people in situations where there was no claim by the police that the people had done anything wrong. But none of the police have been charged with crimes or disciplined in any way for shooting, maiming and even in cases of killing innocent people. Then you have things like the death penalty. The Troy Davis legal lynching very graphically brings that to the fore. Here you have a man who was railroaded into prison based on evidence that was concocted by police. And the Troy Davis case is really a concentration of how the criminal injustice system treats Black and Latino people, in terms of people being thrown into prison on the flimsiest of evidence or no evidence at all, given long sentences, or even given the death penalty.

So all of these things are going on. They’re intensifying. But then the other part of the situation that’s very important and that’s very heartening is the way in which there have been significant acts of resistance. A very important one has been the hunger strike of the prisoners in California. People who are locked down in special housing units that amount to torture chambers, kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades, denied human contact. These conditions meet the definition of torture, as far as international law is concerned. These prisoners organized a hunger strike beginning July 1 that involved 6,000 people. The California authorities made a show of negotiating with people and the hunger strike was suspended on July 21. But then when the prisoners saw that the authorities weren’t making any real changes, the hunger strike was started again on September 26 and has involved up to 12,000 prisoners. That’s a very important example of resistance. As well as the response to the Troy Davis lynching. We weren’t able to build the kind of resistance that could have stopped his execution, but there were large numbers of people all around the country and around the world who signed statements, marched in protest, and then marched in outrage after the murder of Troy Davis by the state. And you saw both large numbers of the oppressed who were saying, they’re trying to kill us. But then you also saw people from diverse backgrounds, people from the middle class, white people, who were seeing this, shocked, but also outraged that it was happening, and joining in the resistance. And this is very, very important.

Revolution: I know you’ve been part of an effort around putting a stop to Stop and Frisk, a call has been put out, and there are some efforts leading into NDP to build resistance, to actually stop Stop and Frisk. 

Dix: The call to stop Stop and Frisk was issued by Cornel West and me and it came out of a strategy session back in July which discussed how to take the fight against mass incarceration to a new level.

And what we determined coming out of that strategy session, was that there was a lot of work being done to expose this—Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, is a very important work in that vein. And different groups have come together to spread some of that exposure and to work in various ways, either through the courts or through lobbying in the political arena to try to deal with the horrors of mass incarceration.

But we thought that a missing ingredient here is determined mass resistance. And in particular we felt the situation was analogous to the late ’50s and early ’60s in the struggle against Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror where a lot of people were being weighed down by these foul and very overt forms of oppression aimed at Black people. But then other large sections of people were not so aware that this was going on. And some of those who were aware bought into the explanations and justifications for it. And what was required to create a situation where things could be changed was a beginning small number of people stepping out and engaging in dramatic resistance. With the Freedom Riders, the students who started the sit-in movements at the lunch counters and other places like that, and there weren’t a lot of them to start with. But they took very determined action, they stood up in the face of repression and delivered a message to the whole country and the world, that we’re not going to take this anymore. And that determined action was a spark that spread throughout the country and launched a powerful movement against the oppression of Black people.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:59 PM | 0 comments

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sparkling Clean Occupation Continues!

A big beautiful shout-out to all those who scrubbed and cleaned Zucotti Park last night and the more than a thousand folks who showed up starting at 6 am this morning to refuse to be evicted by the police!

An absolutely beautiful challenge to the totally illegitimate authority of the police, the mayor, and the whole state behind them.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 7:59 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Eviction for Occupy Wall Street -- Get Down There to Support

I got the following email from Revolution Books: 

Hello friends of Revolution Books,

We received the following emergency call, today.  We feel that those that have been inspired by Occupy Wall Street would want to know about this.

Whatever happens on Friday, we invite you to Revolution Books on Friday, 7 pm., to discuss the significance of the day's events.

In addition, on Friday night, Revolution Books is making space at the store available for people wanting to discuss and prepare to take out "BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian" and Revolution newspaper to several Occupy Wall Street events on Saturday, including the march for the "October 15th Global Day Of Action " 


Tell Bloomberg: Don't Foreclose the Occupation. 

This is an emergency situation. Please take a minute to read this, and please take action and spread the word far and wide.

Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum, with occupation actions now happening in cities across the world.

But last night Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD notified Occupy Wall Street participants about plans to "clean the park"-the site of the Wall Street protests-tomorrow starting at 7am. "Cleaning" was used as a pretext to shut down "Bloombergville" a few months back, and to shut down peaceful occupations elsewhere.

Bloomberg says that the park will be open for public usage following the cleaning, but with a notable caveat: Occupy Wall Street participants must follow the "rules". 

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that they will move in to clear us and we will not be allowed to take sleeping bags, tarps, personal items or gear back into the park. 

This is their attempt to shut down #OWS for good.


1) Call 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK if you're out of town) and tell Bloomberg to support our right to assemble and to not interfere with #OWS. 

2) Come to #OWS on FRIDAY AT 6AM to defend the occupation from eviction.

Occupy Wall Street is committed to keeping the park clean and safe - we even have a Sanitation Working Group whose purpose this is. We are organizing major cleaning operations today and will do so regularly. 

If Bloomberg truly cares about sanitation here he should support the installation of portopans and dumpsters. #OWS allies have been working to secure these things to support our efforts.

We know where the real dirt is: on Wall Street. Billionaire Bloomberg is beholden to bankers.

We won't allow Bloomberg and the NYPD to foreclose our occupation. This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic.

Revolution Books / Libros Revolución

Labels: , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:29 PM | 0 comments

Marlene Winell, Margaret Downey, Staise Gonzales, and myself at the Texas Freethought Convention/Atheist Alliance of America

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 9:48 PM | 0 comments

Hidden Camera Expose on "Crisis Pregnancy Centers"

Check out this damning exposure of the bullshit told to women at the many, many crisis pregnancy centers throughout the country (many of them peddling straight up medial lies and funded by the government).

Labels: , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:20 PM | 0 comments

Revolutionary Prisoner responds to BAsics 3:16

This is one of a series of letters from "those the system has cast off" responding to a challenge issued by Bob Avakian.  Here is the link to many more responses from prisoners, youth, and others:

TX, Sept. 12, 2011

Dear Revolutionary Family,

I first started getting into trouble with the law when I was five or six and I’ve been in jail, on probation or parole, or “at large” for the past fifty years; I learned early this system holds no hope for me nor should I hold any hope for it. And yes, I’ve tried to play it straight and follow the rules, but you know the game is rigged so there must be a steady percentage of losers in order for the “house” to stay afloat. I have “Enemy of the State” tattooed across my breastbone because I came to realize I’ll never be one of the lucky few Bob Avakian spoke about in BAsics 1:11 who manage to slip through the meat grinder of this capitalist system.

I have come to believe Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party are the only true friends of we who are forced to live beneath the belly of the beast. Everyone else blames us for our circumstances: We don’t wear our pants at the proper height, or our hair’s too long (or too short)- all these hoops we must agree to jump through in order to succeed in life- and these are all excuses why we failed and the system didn’t. And it’s all a pack of lies!

Read more »

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:43 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are Corporations Corrupting the System… Or is the Problem the System of Capitalism?

The following is a rush transcript, slightly edited, of a talk given by Raymond Lotta on October 7 at Occupy Wall Street in New York City:
My name is Raymond Lotta. I am a political economist and writer for Revolution newspaper. And I promote the new synthesis of communism of Bob Avakian.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a great and momentous event. It is a fresh wind of resistance. We're protesting multiple outrages of this system, not just one. Occupy Wall Street is throwing up big questions about the source of these outrages and how to bring about a radically different and better world. And it's created space for us to talk about all this! So I'm really happy to be here with you
My brief talk here is titled "Are the Corporations Corrupting the System, or is the Problem the System of Capitalism."

Of course, people are right to be outraged by what the corporations and banks do.

* Look at what BP did in the Gulf of Mexico last year: It was responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

* People are right to be outraged by the banks which profited off financial operations that resulted in millions being evicted from their homes. And when Goldman smelled the rot of subprime lending, they moved into food commodity futures—contributing to the rise on global food prices and greater hunger and starvation for millions in the Third World.

* You know, Steve Jobs just died and he's being eulogized for his "pursuit of the dream of perfectionism." But there would be no Steve Jobs, there would be no Apple—without a global network of exploitation. I'm talking about a corporate supply chain managed from the Silicon Valley. I'm talking about contract manufacturers like Foxconn that assemble the iPhone and iPad in China—at factories where people are forced to work 60 hours a week, where they are poisoned by hazardous chemicals, denied basic rights, and where workers in desperation have committed suicide.

read the rest...

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:38 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who did I meet at the Texas Freethought/Atheist Alliance of America Convention?

Lots of interesting people!

I met a slightly older white guy who wanted my thoughts on why there were so few women in his local atheist group. While I didn't feel in position to definitively answer, we discussed some of the factors in society and within his group that could lead to that situation. In the course of this, however, he told me the following story. He was walking past the University of Texas, Austin with his young son. A fraternity was sitting on bleachers they had set up in front of their frat house. Every time a woman would walk by they held up numbers to “rate her.”

It is hard to find words to describe how damaging this must have been to the women walking by. Or to convey the degree of entitlement and dehumanization of women that is revealed in these young men's thinking. At the same time, this is just bringing to the surface and making explicit the way that women are always being looked at by huge numbers of men every time they step out their door. This is extreme and cruel and humiliating, but it is also just a matter of degree worse than the routine catcalling, elevator-eyes, and talking-to-women's-breasts that goes on every day. All this is totally unacceptable and urgently needs to be revolted against.

To his great credit (and to my great pleasure), the man telling me this story said he stopped and spoke really loud to his son. “Son,” he said, “If you ever want to know what an asshole looks like, there's a whole bunch of them right there on display.”

I met a young Black man who had never attended an atheist event before. He came because he was friends on FaceBook with Sikivu Hutchinson and wanted to hear her speak. He explained that he hadn't “come out” as an atheist to his friends or family yet. He feared their reaction and explained that there weren't any other atheists among his immediate community. There was also a hysterical, although also rather painful, discussion between him, a couple older Black folks, and myself over how to handle atheist dating.

He explained that nearly every date he'd ever been on ended as soon as he told the woman he was an atheist. The older guy in the conversation (who I really enjoyed talking to overall) gave him some terrible advice (it included dishonesty and an attempt to appeal to a woman's most materialistic side), but the woman in the conversation cut through that very quickly and with a firmness. We teased and laughed over the situation, but the truth remained that it is not easy and can be lonely to be an atheist. We live in an extremely atomized and alienating society where finding real human connection and closeness based on something other than surface superficiality is not easy to begin with. Finding that as an atheist in an overwhelmingly Christian community only compounds the problem. (The same thing goes for folks who are progressive or radical or revolutionary.)

Without attempting to downplay the difficulties above, there is an absolute baseline of being honest with the people you are meeting and getting to know. There is NOTHING good that can come of trying to hook up with or forge a relationship with someone you don't respect enough to be honest with. There is no relationship worth having – not a friendship or a romantic relationship – that is not based on mutual respect and equality. Further, if they don't know where you are coming from and what you want out of life – then you will never find anyone who is actually attracted to you on the right foundation. Too often dating and relationships are treated as some special “separate realm” from our overall life's pursuits and world outlook. Like, “Over here is what I am about... over there is someone I am trying to date and what I am looking for in a relationship.”

People should live their lives fully and be as open as possible in the world about what they think needs to be different and they should act on it – and in the course of that they will find others who share similar interests, or are intrigued by and open to hearing about those interests. Dating, starting a relationship, and falling in love are not just automatic outgrowths of “shared interests,” there is a unique process and chemistry involved that goes beyond shared interests. But, all that ought to be on the foundation of shared convictions and principles. And, relationships and love are things that develop, need to be worked at, and transform over time – through a lot of learning and struggling through differences and challenges. This is what gives them richness and real closeness. This is not always easy (and this world throws up all kinds of barriers and obstacles to people being able to connect with each other on the basis of equality and mutual respect, especially all the many ways that social attitudes reflecting the oppression of women manifest – including on very intimate and personal levels) – but it is only possible by being honest, open, and above-board.

During the panel on “Diversity in the Movement” I commented that I don't think atheists should think of ourselves as an identity group that is just fighting for acceptance. What people think is not the same as whether they are born male or female, Black or Latino or white, on one side of a border or another, or whether someone is primarily attracted to one gender or another, etc. Everyone can change how they think and we all ought to repeatedly throughout life as we learn more. Further, while we should oppose bigotry against atheists, the main harm caused by religion is not the bigotry against atheists. It is the way that it enslaves and shackles people's minds and keeps them slavish towards their own oppression, instead of being able to consciously understand the world and transform it in their interests. Anyway, afterward Woody Kaplan gave a brilliant example illuminating this perspective.
James Byrd

Matthew Shepard
He recounted the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Matthew was tied to a fence and tortured and then left to die in Wyoming because he was gay. That same year, James Byrd – a Black man in Texas – was tied to the back of two white people's truck and dragged to his death. Kaplan pointed out that while atheists are really not accepted in public office and this is a problem, there is no comparison to this kind of violent oppression still facing by Black people and gay people (and I would add women and immigrants, among others).

There were tons of other fascinating people I met over this past weekend. A young woman who had gotten sucked very deeply into the world of conspiracy theories through that horrible film Zeitgeist. She described getting out of it being comparable to trying to get out of a cult. An older Black man who was in the military and then a school teacher who was told by family members that he couldn't really love his grandkids because he didn't love god (WTF!). He was undeterred, but think of what this actually reveals about the way in which those other family members love those children. They only love them because they love god? So, they don't really care for the kids otherwise? An anthropology professor who was as angry as I was about the biodeterminism that was preached by Michael Shermer about the supposedly “genetic” basis for men preferring large breasts (this is total BULLSHIT and perhaps the subject a future blogpost). She thanked me for saying something about it in the women's panel (a lot of people thanked me for this) and then gave me a list of titles to check out from her own field of research. And lots more folks... including a ton of good-natured non-god-fearing Texans.

Okay – that is just a small flavor. To everyone I met, thanks for taking the time to talk. Please do stay in touch. Either in the comments section – or via email: sunsara_tour (at)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:16 PM | 1 comments

Monday, October 10, 2011

Diversity (and Black people specifically) in the Atheist Movement

This second installment off the recent Texas Freethought Convention takes off from a panel called "Diversity in the Movement" which I was part of together with Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and Secular America, Jason Torpy of Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, and Rich Rodriguez, of Rational Response Squad. There are many dimensions to diversity, but this installment will focus on Black people.

The conference as a whole was kicked off by an excellent talk that PZ Myers gave on mutants. PZ, as he is prone to do, made an entertaining and invigorating sport of scientifically refuting creationist bullshit. Almost like a bonus track, he threw in several scientifically rigorous lines of refutation of Spiderman and other comic books.

At a certain point, PZ explained that neanderthals interbred with early humans in Europe (after these early humans left Africa). As part of discussing mutations and how we are all mutants (be very afraid!), he explained that everyone with European or Asian background had some neanderthal DNA woven into our make-up. On the other hand, Africans and African Americans don't (I am sure this is not totally true as most Black people in this country have some European DNA at this point, but the main point he was demonstrating was valid and fascinating).

However, when PZ asked Black people in the audience to raise their hands – part of his engaging speaking style – there was a very long pause as everyone looked around the auditorium... searching... searching... searching for anyone Black. Finally, a young woman way in the back stood up, waved her hand and took a bow.

Now, it turns out there was more than one Black person in the room. But not very many more. This was rather shocking, and in some ways a very important lead-in to the "diversity" panel.

Sikivu Hutchinson & me
at Texas Freethought Convention

While I appreciated everyone's comments and perspective on the panel, I was especially pleased to be sharing the stage with Sikivu Hutchinson. I very much enjoyed (and recommend) her book. I interviewed her for Equal Time for Freethought and you can listen to it here.  She brought alive the reality of the New Jim Crow that confronts Black people; mass incarceration, institutional racism, and a white supremacist power structure. She spoke as well to the degradation and oppression of women, the assault on women's right to abortion and the special demonization of Black and Latina women who get abortions.  

I highlighted a quote from Bob Avakian's Away With All Gods that, "Oppressed people who are unable or unwilling to confront reality as it actually is, are condemned to remain enslaved and oppressed."  Most oppressed people are still denied any real scientific education or exposure to atheism and this is something atheists must take much greater responsibility for changing.   It is a form of profound disrespect for people to think they are too stupid to come to understand the way the world actually is and to fail to struggle for them to take up science and unchain their minds from religious shackles. At the same time, there is tremendous oppression and crimes – from police brutality to mass incarceration to the assault on women's reproductive rights and beyond – that everyone needs to be coming together to fight and to build a movement for revolution to get rid of once and for all.   This fight should include both religious and atheist people.   I posed a different synthesis – of militant atheism but also of not making atheism a dividing line; instead making the fight against oppression and exploitation the dividing line (which actually divides both atheists and religious folks sharply, but in a much more favorable way in terms of bringing about a much better world in this world, the real world, the only world there is).

During the Q&A, one man posed that he wasn't sure that the right questions were being asked. Rather than ask, regarding Black people, "Why don't they come to our events?" and then having Black people always ask, "But why don't you take up our issues?" white atheists ought instead to support Black atheists in taking atheism to Black people.

I want to share my answer to this.

While there is importance to Black atheists fighting – and being supported in their efforts to fight – for atheism among Black people, it is profoundly wrong to equate "them" coming to "our" events (speaking of "them" as Black people and "our" as if all of us at an atheist convention primarily identify as "white atheists") with the notion of Black people insisting that "we" take up "their" issues.

The oppression of Black people is NOT "Black people's issue." The oppression of Black people is woven into the fabric of American society.  "There would be no United States as we know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth." (1:1, BAsics, from the talks & writings of Bob Avakian).  After that, it was Jim Crow and generations of racist terror in which every Black person lived under an active death warrant. It may or may not have been carried out, but it was always there and every Black person knew that any white person could accuse them at any time and they could be lynched, or wrongly imprisoned and sent to a chain gang (an incredible and important book, Douglas A. Blackmon's  Slavery By Another Name), or for no reason at all. Today, it's the New Jim Crow. 1 in 9 young Black men is in prison. Prisons institute widespread torture – by standards of international law (things like years and decades of isolation! – something California prisoners are currently hunger striking against), rampant police brutality and murder, the worst education, the worst health care, and the largest transfer of wealth out of the Black community in history through the recent mortgage crisis.

The retrenchment, in new forms, of the longstanding oppression of Black people in the U.S. is one of the great moral questions of this era. If this is not "your issue" then you are not leading a moral life. There is NO EXCUSE for white people (or other people not of African descent) in this country to treat this like someone else's problem.

To underscore further the problem with the kind of thinking reflected in the question posed, a bit more...

Black people don't owe any atheist organization their participation. I believe it would be very good if more Black people were atheists and if more Black atheists were involved in atheist organizations and activism. It would be even better if more Black people and more atheists (and the two are not mutually exclusive) were getting into the movement for revolution and transforming themselves in the course of coming together to transform the world. But this would be good because it would benefit Black people as a whole and humanity as a whole. That's why it's important. Not because Black people have an obligation to atheists organizations.

On the other hand, everyone on U.S. soil has a responsibility and a moral obligation to fight against the not-merely-historic but present-day-reality of profound and systematic oppression of Black people in the U.S.A.

Troy Davis was just recently legally lynched:  Overwhelming evidence of his innocence. 7 out of 9 witnesses recanted. No physical evidence linking him to the crime. A million people worldwide petitioned for a new trial. Thousands protested. Former prison wardens called for the Georgia prison officials to refuse to participate in the execution.  Former FBI Chief William Sessions called for commuting Davis' death sentence.  But Troy Davis was murdered by the U.S. State. I feel like screaming as I type. This is everyone's responsibility.

Okay, fine – a lot of white people (and frankly, a lot of immigrants from every part of the world) are kept ignorant of this reality.   But, you who are reading this – and those of you who had enough heart and interest to attend the diversity panel over the weekend – it is not acceptable and there is no excuse for remaining ignorant.  Follow the links in this article. Read up. Learn. Here is an excellent place to start, a special issue of Revolution dealing specifically with, "The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of this System and the Revolution We Need."  

“The young man was shot 41 times while reaching for his wallet”…“the 13-year-old was shot dead in mid-afternoon when police mistook his toy gun for a pistol”… “the unarmed young man, shot by police 50 times, died on the morning of his wedding day”… “the young woman, unconscious from having suffered a seizure, was shot 12 times by police standing around her locked car”… “the victim, arrested for disorderly conduct, was tortured and raped with a stick in the back of the station-house by the arresting officers.”

Does it surprise you to know that in each of the above cases the victim was Black?1

If you live in the USA, it almost certainly doesn’t.

Think what that means:"
* * *
Another point that I want to highlight was a comment from Naima Washington during Sikivu Hutchinson's presentation later that day. She said a number of things, building off much of what Sikivu spoke to about how Black people are viewed still in animalistic terms. Naima spoke to how Black people have been viewed as able to tolerate higher levels of pain, able to work harder without fatigue, and in other ways being physically predisposed to enslavement. She detailed how these myths continue in myths, including through myths of innate athletic super-prowess. (An important aside, Dorothy Roberts recently exposed how Black people are systematically prescribed significantly fewer pain-killers for the same medical procedures out of prejudices and assumptions about Black people.)  Then, at the tail end of her remarks, Naima commented that, while she is concerned about the number of people of color in the room, she is more concerned with the number of people of conscience.

Excuse my religious language, but A-Fucking-Men.

The participation of Black people (and other oppressed people) matters. It matters a lot. But even more – and frankly as a foundation to whether there will be an increasing basis for attracting and involving Black atheists – is whether there is a foundation of conscience. Once again, and as a conclusion to this entry, there is no foundation of conscience that does not include a firm stand against the oppression of Black people as "everybody's" issue.

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 6:25 PM | 2 comments

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Atheist Alliance America & Texas Freethought Convention – Shout Outs!

This past weekend has been the joint convention of the Texas Freethought Convention and the Atheist Alliance America in Houston, Texas. Somewhere around 700 people attended this conference – a very impressive and positive development in any place at this time of dangerous Christian fascism within the U.S. and rising fundamentalism throughout the world. But come on now: Everyone knows it is even more impressive, and positive, if this many people turn out for atheism and secularism in Texas! Rick Perry, get the fuck out of the way!

Over several years of traveling and speaking nation-wide, I have always been struck that progressive people, radical people, revolutionary people, and atheist people in Texas really have to be bold and courageous. Certainly, one of the very best parts of attending the convention was getting to know and learn from the impressive number of atheists and freethinkers who came from all over Texas. This included many who came on their own, who had never been to a gathering of atheists before, and who might not even be open with their families and friends about being atheists.

So, before anything further: a heartfelt shout out to all the atheists and reality-based people who took this step for the first time!

Also a shout out to those who spent many hours of many weeks of many months organizing this conference. Special appreciation to Staise Gonzalez (President of Houston Atheists), Paul Mitchell (President of Texas Freethought Convention), and Nick Lee (President of Atheist Alliance America). Also, Angelo who moderated all three panels I was on and to the volunteers who got my powerpoint running (sorry, I didn't get your name but THANK YOU). Obviously, to everyone else who made this thing come together – I know there were a LOT of you. Thanks.

As at any conference, I wasn't able to catch every panel or plenary. Nor do I feel that the most interesting post from me would be an attempt at a round-up of the whole weekend.

Instead, over the course of several installments: a few highlights... some reflections mainly on questions that came up in the panels I was part of... as well as in my conversations with participants... and an invitation to continue the dialogue.

Tomorrow: "Diversity (and Black people specifically) in the Movement"

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 5:32 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Speaking in Houston - October 7 and 8!

Hey everyone!

This Friday and Saturday I’ll be speaking at

I’m on panels on both Friday & Saturday, including a talk called
The Emancipation of Humanity
and a World Without Gods;
A Revolutionary Perspective

if you're in Houston area...hope to see you there!

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:31 PM | 0 comments

Challenging People to Think: Activism for Atheism

[Originally published in On The Issues Magazine - fall issue on activism]

by Sunsara Taylor

People generally think of activism as something you do. But activism aimed at changing how people think is equally important. There is, after all, a profound connection between what people think, as well as how people think, and what they are willing – or not willing – to do.

In particular, the belief in god and the specific content of the world's major religions constitute huge shackles on people's minds and, as a result, on their behavior. Every major religion is highly oppressive, especially toward women. Religion has led people to take actions that are harmful to humanity; religious faith interferes with rational thought, and, religion frequently stands in the way of people's willingness to throw themselves into the struggle for liberation in the actually existing material world.

This, then, is the story of how, in the course of my revolutionary struggles – I am a communist revolutionary -- I came to activism on behalf of atheism.

Seeing Holes in the Cloth

I didn't come from an atheist background. Actually, I grew up a deeply believing Christian. As a little girl, I even read my Bible at night to my stuffed animals (so concerned was I for their eternal souls).
Religion interferes with rational thought

My Christian convictions initially dampened my own activism. I can remember the feeling of profound disorientation that arose when I first defended an abortion clinic in North Dakota back in 1995. I had longed to stand up in support of abortion doctors since the assassination of Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola in 1993. But at my first clinic event, I was confronted by Father Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, on the other side of the barricades. I didn't know of all the ways he had whipped up an environment that led to doctors being killed; all I saw was his white collar, a symbol, which, to me, conveyed absolute moral authority. His presence on the other side and his direct challenge to me -- including through the use of the scripture -- shook me deeply.

Afterward, I struggled for months to sort this out. This process eventually led me to cast off belief in Christianity and in god altogether. I found no material evidence for the existence of god, although most people are indoctrinated with and surrounded by religious belief. Believers say that they accept the idea of god on faith, but there is tremendous historical evidence that every myth about god is man-made.

I became more outspoken about atheism as I saw how believing in things that one doesn't understand is not harmless: it interferes with rational thought, keeps people ignorant and causes real suffering.

For example, while organizing resistance to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years, I frequently encountered Christian fundamentalists who were convinced that George W. Bush had been chosen as president by god. The fact that Bush had lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was irrelevant to these fundamentalists because, they insisted, he was acting on higher truths than those of mere men.

People's religious beliefs also keep them from taking effective political action, even in the face of screaming outrages. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I made several trips to New Orleans. Residents of the Ninth Ward shared stories with me of being trapped in the floodwaters, discovering deceased loved ones upon return and wondering what had become of their still-missing neighbors. However, more than a few of these residents disregarded my suggestions of resistance against the government's criminal response because, they insisted, the real cause of the hurricane was their own sinfulness.

Of course, there are many people whose religious beliefs motivate them to struggle against injustice. I have worked with and learned from many of them over the years. I certainly don't think belief in god should be a dividing line in the fight for a better world.

At the same time, the content of the major world religions -- Christianity no less than any other -- is horrifically oppressive. The Bible was written by human beings who lived in patriarchal, slave-owning, agrarian societies before the development of science. Consequently, the Bible is saturated with the ignorance and prejudices of their times. For example, the Bible insists that women obey their husbands as the lord (Ephesians 5:22); that homosexuals be executed (Leviticus 20:13); that disobedient children be stoned to death (Matthew 15:4), and that slaves obey their masters (Ephesians 6:5). Upholding these Bible myths is upholding enslavement and oppression, and is very harmful to real people in the world today.

Beyond the harmful content, taking things on faith stands in the way of seeking to understand the real world causes for why things happen and the real world possibilities for radical change.

Exposing People to A Different Way

My activism for atheism involves explaining what atheism is -- many people around the country have never been exposed to atheist thinking at all. I engage in panels and debates at university campuses, in community forums or on the radio. In 2009, I appeared on a Black talk radio station in Atlanta. Some callers debated me fiercely over scripture, others felt they had the space to announce their own atheism for the first time, but almost everyone thanked the host for bringing them a perspective they'd never heard on Black radio before. At times, my advocacy on atheism taken me right into the thick of religious zealots. In 2006, I attended a stadium rally of tens of thousands of Christian youth who were preached to by Navy SEALs, Franklin Graham and George W. Bush himself (via a letter). I went with a group of revolutionaries to learn more, to write about it and to directly challenge the youth to get out. Much to my surprise, in the middle of the event, my face was projected onto the huge JumboTron screen that showed a television debate I'd done with the group's leader, Ron Luce. Suddenly, my anonymity disappeared and I felt the "battle cry" crowd look at me as the personification of the devil. Still, just in the last month -- all these years later -- I received a copy of a letter from someone who met us at that rally, had since broken with fundamentalism and now wanted to do something better in life.

In championing atheism, I am not merely giving people new information (as important as that is). I am challenging people to think with a different method. I prod them not to follow someone just because of the person's claimed religious authority and not to accept things on faith. Instead, I want people to evaluate things based on evidence, to ask questions (including about what I am saying), to seek answers in the material world and to put their energies to transforming this world. "Oppressed people who are unable or unwilling to confront reality as it actually is, are condemned to remain enslaved and oppressed," wrote Bob Avakian, author of Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World. I seek not merely to "balance" my commitment to "unchaining the mind" with my commitment to "radically changing the world," but to working for the best possible dynamism and mutual reinforcement between those two interrelated missions.

I came to the fight for atheism as part of my larger commitment to the liberation of humanity through communist revolution. My approach of engaging people around atheism differs from that of other activists who are building political resistance but insist that any debate over religion just "gets in the way." It also differs from those who are single-minded about atheism and look down on those with religious faith as if they are stupid or have no insights.

Fighting the attacks on women driven by Christian fundamentalism

Taking up the fight for atheism has especially strengthened my ability to fight for the liberation of women. When I stand in defense of abortion clinics, whether in Mississippi or Colorado or elsewhere, I see pro-choice people, particularly young women, go through the same kind of disorientation that I felt when I first heard "my" bible used against me. I am able to help them see that they are up against human authorities -- both the patriarchal humans who wrote the Bible and the patriarchal humans who are wielding it to terrorize doctors and shame women -- not up against the "word of god." Not everyone casts off her belief in religion, but a seed is planted, and the young women feel a weight lifted to have this question addressed head on.

On the flip side, I struggle for the atheist community to put more energy into fighting the attacks on women driven by Christian fundamentalism. After giving a talk on this subject at an international atheist conference, women thanked me and shared their stories of abortion. One young woman burst into tears as she explained that even though she grew up pro-choice and been active in the atheist movements, she'd never heard anyone say that abortion was okay. She had begun to feel like there must be something wrong with her for never having felt remorse about her abortion.

People who are atheists can do more to open people's minds. For one thing, they can come "out" about it. Many people have never met an atheist and are denied the opportunity to consider it for themselves.

Atheists can challenge people to confront the passages in the Bible or other religious texts that command injustices. Ask, "Would the world be better, or worse, if those commandments were followed?" It is not an insult to challenge people to cast off beliefs that are not founded in reality; it is an insult to think that anyone is incapable of coming to understand the material world without the lens of religion.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:25 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Raymond Lotta at Occupy Wall Street with the Constitution of the New Socialist Republic of North America (Draft Proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party

Labels: , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:38 PM | 0 comments

Major March Occupy Wall Street -- Arrests Have Begun, Horses Out, Police are NOT part of the 99%

Tonight a righteous march of the Wall Street Occupiers -- as well as students who walked out, unions, and many folks who have either never protested or not in some forty years.  Reports now coming through that the police have begun to arrest.  For what good fucking reason?

Read the quote below -- the role of the police is to serve and protect this system that rules over the people...

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:36 PM | 0 comments

"The role of the police..."

Labels: , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 7:24 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Occupy Wall Street -- Mass Arrest and Yet the Masses Keep Coming...

It is now confirmed that some 700 people were arrested yesterday in a protest by the Occupy Wallstreet crowd. It sounds like the police consciously led people into a situation where protesters would be penned in and mass arrested. This is similar to what was done by police in other mass arrest situations, particularly in Minneapolis during the last Republican National Convention.

One arrestee who got out of jail sometime in the middle of the early morning hours told me about how she was held after being arrested on a city bus which had been commandeered by police. It sounds like the police planned a mass arrest – that is why they took ten or more vans from Rikers Island. But it then sounds like they went even bigger than they had prepared for in their arrests – so they commandeered city buses.
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:27 PM | 0 comments

Sunsara Taylor at SlutWalk NYC Yesterday

Yesterday was a beautiful outpouring of women, men and trans folks against rape, sexual assault, sexual shaming, and violence against women.  Much more to be said -- but here is a quick video from me along the march route.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:21 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Today: Slutwalk NYC, Troy Davis funeral, & Occupy Wallstreet

Today was a long and busy day.  It was also a day that brought to the surface mass outpouring around some of the critical crimes of our time.

Thousands of women and men marched against rape and shaming of women and women's sexuality in NYC's Slutwalk.  This was a great thing to be part of.  Beautiful people pouring out.  Infuriating stories being shared.  A lot of pride and defiance and positive attention from onlookers.

Troy Davis's funeral was held and according to CNN over 1,000 people turned out.  This state lynching must never be forgotten.  It is so important that so many turned out for his funeral.  This must be only the beginning.

#OccupyWallstreet continues.  Today over 500 people were arrested.  It seems also that they were entrapped.  The tactics by the police -- appearing to direct people one way only to then cut them off, surround them, and the arrest them -- seem modeled off the way the police entrapped protesters in Minneapolis during the last RNC.  In other words, it does NOT appear to me like just a mistake or misunderstanding.  Now, many of those protesters are still in the clutches of this unjust state.  At the same time, this could draw forward much broader resistance.  When you stand strong in the fact of an attack, you can come back stronger and with more people joining you.

More to come...

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:45 PM | 0 comments

The Thing About Slutwalks... and a World Without Rape

On the occasion of today's Slutwalk in NYC -- I am reposting this piece I did on Slutwalks. Its also available at:

by Sunsara Taylor

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'll admit, when I first heard about Slutwalks I cringed. I hate the word slut. It is too hateful. Too bound up with shaming women for their sexuality. Too linked to the deep trauma experienced by millions of women and young girls every single day. Too much part of the cultural DNA that says, "She deserved it," or, "She was asking for it," or, "She's dirty," or, "You little cunt whore."

To get even more specific, for me the word "slut" was too indelibly linked to a girl named Kelly. She transferred into my junior high school in the middle of the year. She was ridiculed and outcast in that kind of mean-girls way that reduces a young woman to an invisible, despised zero for absolutely no reason except to make others feel like maybe they exist. And really, what could be more lonely and humiliating for a junior high girl than standing in front of a whole cafeteria filled with uproarious laughter carrying your lunch tray from table to table being told that every empty chair is being saved for somebody, anybody, who isn't you?

But, Kelly had big breasts and so a table full of boys called out to her and pulled up a chair. All it took was for her to sit down just that first time.

To be honest, as the weeks rolled on and the rumors rolled with them, I have no idea which—if any—were true. I do know there were parties with lots of drinking where the girls still wouldn't speak to her and the boys would lure her into bedrooms. I also know that a young girl seeking acceptance and desiring some means to explore their own budding sexuality in this highly repressive society can get caught up in—and even, at times, take initiative in—all sorts of behavior that is degrading and demeaning to herself in a very deep and lasting way.

But most of all what I know is that Kelly became someone who wasn't seen by anyone in that entire school as an actual human being. No, Kelly was a "slut."

Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:08 AM | 1 comments

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from