Sikivu Hutchinson

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Sikivu Hutchinson
Sikivu Hutchinson - May 16, 2010.JPG
Sikivu Hutchinson, 2010
United States
Alma materUCLA, NYU
Known forAuthor of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels, (2013) Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011) Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines) (2003)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUSC Center for Feminist Research

Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, atheist, author/novelist and playwright. She is the author of Humanists in the Hood: Unapologetically Black, Feminist, and Heretical (2020), White Nights, Black Paradise (2015), Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels (2013), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), and Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines) (2003). Moral Combat is the first book on atheism to be published by an African-American woman.[1] In 2013 she was named Secular Woman of the year[2] and was awarded Foundation Beyond Belief's 2015 Humanist Innovator award, and the Secular Student Alliance's 2016 Backbone award.

Early life and education[edit]

Her grandfather Earl Hutchinson Sr. and father Earl Ofari Hutchinson are both authors.[3][4] Hutchinson graduated from New York University with a Ph.D. in Performance Studies in 1999.[5]

Early career[edit]

Hutchinson has written articles for, The Feminist Wire,, the LA Progressive, and The L.A. Times.[6] She is a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Humanist Studies, and is part of the Speakers Bureau at the Secular Student Alliance.[6]

She has taught women's studies, urban studies, cultural studies, and education at the California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, and Western Washington University.[6] She is a co-contributor to the Black Skeptics blog on the Freethought Blogs network and a contributing editor for

Moral Combat[edit]

In her book, Moral Combat, she examines what she views as the hijacking of civil rights by the Christian Right; the connections between humanism, feminism and social justice; the importance of humanism for pre-college education; the backlash of religious fundamentalism, in the vein of the Tea Party, against progressive public policy; and the efforts of atheists of color to challenge the "New Atheist" movement, which values a narrow conception of science and disregards both social and also economic justice. Hutchinson frames her critique in the contemporary realities of working- and middle-class African-American communities which are just as steeped in the tradition of religiosity-due to capitalism and de facto segregation—as they are in the cultural trappings of the Black Church. Hutchinson highlights Nella Larsen's work as a touchstone for black feminist humanist thought. Hutchinson also explores the emergence of black atheist and freethought activism and spotlights the voices of African American non-believers from around the country.[7]

Black Skeptics group[edit]

Formed by Hutchinson in March 2010 she explained to KTYM radio the reason she formed the group was a "response to the emergent need amongst African-American non-believers to have some kind of community and interpersonal connection to each other, in real time". She believes that there is a large community of black non-believers on social media sites, but it is important for these people to find a "sanctuary from the hyper-religiosity that African-Americans are seeped in".[8] The group was featured in a May 2012 article[9] that chronicled how greater numbers of African Americans were leaving religious faith and adopting atheism and freethought.

Political views[edit]

Criticism of the Center for Inquiry's all white board of directors[edit]

Sikivu Hutchinson speaking at the Center for Inquiry, Washington, DC. in 2010.

In 2016, Sikivu Hutchinson criticized the merger of the secular organizations Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science which gave Richard Dawkins a seat on the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry. Her criticism was that both organizations had an all-white board of directors.[10]

Double standard for male/female skeptics in black community[edit]

As a black female atheist, she states that "While black male non-believers are given more leeway to be heretics or just MIA from church, black women who openly profess non-theist views are deemed especially traitorous, having 'abandoned' their primary role as purveyors of cultural and religious tradition."[11] Much of Hutchinson's work focuses on the cultural and social history of African-American secular humanist thought and its role in black liberation struggle.[12] Hutchinson's work also challenges the social conservatism of the Black Church with respect to abortion, gay rights and women's rights.[13]

Criticism of the New Atheism movement and their views related to social justice[edit]

Hutchinson has challenged the lack of racial diversity and attention to institutional racism in the secular and New Atheist movements.[14] She has championed the inclusion of anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-heterosexism in mainstream secular humanist and New Atheist discourse. She has also written extensively on the role of freethought and secular humanism in black women's liberation and gender justice.[15]

Advocate of humanist vision without discriminatory social hierarchies[edit]

Hutchinson subscribes to a radical Humanist vision that eschews religious and social hierarchies of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability status because they undermine the universal human rights and self-determination of oppressed peoples. For communities of color, radical Humanism reinforces the cultural legitimacy, visibility, and validity of non-believers of color within the context of a white supremacist, heterosexist, patriarchal, economically disenfranchising ideological regime that equates morality with Abrahamic religious paradigms and beliefs. Radical Humanism rejects the notion that there is only one way to be black or Latino, and that women and the LGBT community are marginal and morally aberrant.[16]

Advocate of secular humanism and its ideals[edit]

Hutchinson has argued for the articulation of a Culturally Relevant Humanism based on secular social, racial, and gender justice that eschews notions of colorblindness and post-racialism, focusing instead on the lived experiences, cultural knowledge, social histories and social capital of diverse communities She has argued that the racist and white supremacist objectification of women of color as hyper-sexual "Jezebels" has made African American and Latina women especially vulnerable to paradigms of femininity that emphasize self-sacrifice and obeisance to conservative Christian mores. Hutchinson has written that the heterosexist ideal of the "sacrificial good woman" of faith straitjackets women of color and effectively contributes to high rates of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and HIV/STI contraction in communities of color because masculinity and femininity are viewed as oppositional to each other.[17] Hutchinson considers her activism in the humanist sphere to be inextricably bound to the other identities.[18]

African Americans for Humanism billboard featuring Sikivu Hutchinson and Zora Neale Hurston

Billboard campaign[edit]

In 2012 Hutchinson was featured in a national billboard campaign of prominent black non-believers launched by African Americans for Humanism. She was paired with author Zora Neale Hurston, a folklorist of African-American culture who wrote of being a skeptic in her essay "Religion."[19]


  • White Nights, Black Paradise. Infidel Books. 2015. ISBN 0692267131.
  • Godless Americana. Infidel Books. 2013. ISBN 978-0615586106.
  • Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Value Wars. Infidel Press. 2011. ISBN 978-0578071862.
  • Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines). Peter Lang Publishing. 2003. ISBN 978-0820455860.


  1. ^ "Black atheists matter: how women freethinkers take on religion". Big Think. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Secular Woman Membership Awards". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "Earl Hutchinson Sr., 100; Considered Oldest Black American to Pen Memoirs". Los Angeles Times. February 17, 2004. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  4. ^ "Books by Earl Ofari Hutchinson". Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Joseph, May; Fink, Jennifer (1999). Performing Hybridity. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 254.
  6. ^ a b c "Sikivu Hutchinson | Secular Student Alliance". Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  7. ^ Edwords, Fred (March–April 2012). "The Hidden Hues of Humanity". The Humanist. 72 (2): 29–30. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  8. ^ "Introducing The Black Skeptics Group". April 8, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  9. ^ "More African-Americans leaving religious faiths". University of Southern California. 14 May 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  10. ^ #AtheismSoWhite: Atheists of Color Rock Social Justice by Sikivu Hutchinson, Huffington Post, January 26, 2016
  11. ^ "Moral Combat: Interview with Dr Sikivu Hutchinson « Echoes of CommonSense". Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  12. ^ Hutchinson, Sikivu. "Good, Without God". The New Humanism. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  13. ^ Alexander, Michelle. "Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (9780578071862): Sikivu Hutchinson: Books". Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  14. ^ "The White Stuff". Daylight Atheism. December 7, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "Beyond The Sacrificial Good Woman: Black Feminism and Freethought". The Feminist Wire. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  16. ^ "Queer Youth of Color Beyond Faith". The New Humanism. 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "To Be Atheist, Feminist, and Black". RD Magazine. February 3, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  18. ^ Cameron, Christopher (19 June 2018). "Five Fierce Humanists: Unapologetically Black Women Beyond Belief". The Humanist (July / August 2018). American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Announcing the We Are AAH Campaign". Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.

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