Inside of humanist circles, humanists often regard ourselves as progressive, forward-thinking, logic and science oriented, and concerned with finding equitable and pragmatic solutions to the many challenges humans face globally. Outside of humanist circles, perceptions of humanists (from non-humanists) get more complicated. In particular, humanists are often judged by how they look: disproportionately male, disproportionately white, and appearing economically stable and secure. And humanists are judged by how they act: compassionate, but perhaps a bit too self-assured that their perspective on the world is more useful than an alternative perspective.
This course has been designed for those humanists sympathetic to—or interested in learning more about—the cause of racial justice as much as for those who might be unsure of why, or how, the topic of race or the social-structural issue of racism have anything to do with humanism at all. There’s no way to tell the full story of humanism and its relationship to race within the boundaries imposed by this course. But what we’ve offered here is a series of snapshots, held in tension by the theme of humanism and race, and we think they offer insights and guidance for how humanists can make sense of one of the most vexing issues confronting us today.
by Dr. Monica R. Miller &
Dr. Christopher Driscoll
Dr. Monica R. Miller is Assistant Professor of Religion & Africana Studies and Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Lehigh University. Miller holds research interests in changing dimensions of religion in the U.S., youth cultures and subcultures, popular culture, identity and difference, and new black religious movements. Her work has been featured in a host of regional and national print, radio, and TV news outlets including NPR, The Washington Post, The Oregonian, The Root, Left of Black, and Huffington Post Live. She has presented her research at colleges, universities, and conferences throughout the U.S., Cuba, Canada and various parts of Europe. Among other publications, she is the author of Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge), The Hip Hop and Religion Reader (Routledge) with Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US (Bloomsbury) with Dr. Pinn and rapper Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, editor of the forthcoming volume, Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion: Social and Rhetorical Techniques Examined and co-editor of Codes of Conduct: Code Switching and the Everyday Performance of Identity (with Dr. K. Merinda Simmons) with Equinox Press. Miller is a Senior Research Fellow with The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS), Associate Editor of The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, Co-Founder, prior Co-Chair, and Steering Committee Member of ‘Critical Approaches to the Study of Religion and Hip Hop Culture’ (AAR), member of the international scholarly collective, Culture on the Edge, contributing editor at Marginalia (A LA Review of Books Channel), editorial board member of Culture on the Edge: Studies in Identity Formation book series with Equinox Press, and advisory board member of the Race and Rights Group at The University of Nottingham in the UK.
Dr. Christopher Driscoll (Rice University, 2014) is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies at Lehigh University. Some of his research interests include race, religion, identity, culture, and humanist and existential thought. He is co-founder of the American Academy of Religion’s Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion Group and a contributing editor for The Marginalia Review of Books. His first monograph, White Lies: Race and Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion will be published by Routledge in 2015. Find him online at shadesofwhite.org.