Checking Humanism's PRIVILEGE AND PULSE: An Interview with AHA Social Justice Coordinator SINCERE KIRABO.

Author:Bardi, Jennifer

SINCERE KIRABO currently serves as the social justice coordinator with the American Humanist Association. He has a background in social science and his critiques of social issues have been published in various media outlets, including the Humanist, Black Youth Project, the Establishment, and Everyday Feminism.

In May 2017 Kirabo joined the programming committee for the National LGBTQ Task Force's 2018 Creating Change Conference, the nation's premier LGBTQ-centered grassroots activist-building event. And in September he became the lead organizer for Secular Social Justice 2018, an AHA-hosted event emphasizing the insight and leadership of secular, humanist, and atheist activists of color.

JENNIFER BARDI: You've now been the social justice coordinator for the American Humanist Association (AHA) for a little over two years. Tell me about the job. How exactly does one "coordinate" social justice?

SINCERE KIRABO: I'm still in the process of discovering how to best meet the needs of misrepresented and marginalized groups within the purview of the American Humanist Association and the greater humanist community.

Since I'm the first to occupy this position, in some ways it's an ongoing trial-and-error experiment. In a nutshell, I'm responsible for designing, implementing, and organizing social justice strategy and initiatives that translate humanist philosophy into practices and outreach that center the needs of disenfranchised communities. This work also focuses on developing critical consciousness within secular humanist communities to incite action and disrupt an inherently oppressive status quo.

A key responsibility is connecting with individuals and groups subsumed within social justice movements--Indigenous activists, feminist and LGBTQ organizations, Black liberation groups, and so on. This includes developing a rapport with grassroots leaders and organizers, examining their needs, and "coordinating" ways we can collaborate, amplify each other's work, and involve the AHA and humanists in general to fight for a more just world.

The pursuit of social justice is part and parcel to humanism, so it makes sense that we're involved in the struggle.

BARDI: Do you feel humanism as a philosophy and in practice as an organized movement is addressing social justice in a significant way?

KIRABO: The humanist philosophy definitely includes both an implicit and explicit analysis and support of social justice. That said, when it comes to whether or not I think organized humanism is addressing social justice in a significant way, I would say no.

The essential characteristics of social justice activism are human responsibility, a concern for the dignity and welfare of all people, and a belief that positive change requires human intervention. These are central values that have been emphasized throughout humanism's history of articulating ways to enjoy life, to treat each other with full respect, and to remedy social ills.

Unfortunately, there's a disconnect. What's theorized to produce optimal human cooperation and human flourishing doesn't always translate into lived values or behaviors. Whether it's an innate human depravity, depravity we adopt through legacies of social, cultural, political, and economic systems that cater to some and deprive others, or whether it's some combination of the two, there are...

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