Tag Archives: essay

April 2021 Call for Submissions

2020 was HumanistFreedoms.com’s first full year of operation. We enjoyed publishing articles promoting and celebrating humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

Please follow our website, share articles with your friends and help us grow. At the end of February, we’ve had almost half of the views we had for all of 2020! You can help!

Now for 2021 we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share! We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021
  • Leadership Within The Humanist Movement
  • Humanism and Secularism
  • Humanism and Human Trafficking
  • Digital Humanism
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism Behind the Mask: Maintaining Respect and Compassion During the Pandemic
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons From 2020
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Humanism and Architecture
  • Book Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

Humanists – Where Are You?

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published in other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was published by San Francisco Bayview.

According to hiphophumanism.com, “Hip Hop Humanism is a not a new form of Humanism. It has always been a part of Hip Hop. Why? Throughout the years Hip Hop as brought all types of people together. It has been a platform for the people to express themselves through art and skill. Telling their stories, our stories and the stories that we refuse to be ignored. We embrace all Humanist, because we want humanity better for us all, not for all of us except… It is an all inclusive culture initiative that uses art to speak to the self that rational ideas can be reached. We believe the creative aspect of Human beings is the essence of our humanity. It is the secret weapon of our consciousness. We may be rational intelligent and morally structured beings, but we are primarily sentiment beings so where we feel, laugh, cry, dance and love lays the greatest opportunity for making Human connections. It is the realm of the creative self where we find meaning, while rationality and integrity are the traits more equipped to address the search for purpose.….” (learn more on hiphophumanism.com)


By: Jay Rene Shakur

Humanists – Where Are You?

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values – be they religious, ethical, social or political – have their source in human experience and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny. – from The Humanist Magazine

When I first heard about humanism, I wanted to research everything about it. I’m not the type of person to just jump on the bandwagon. I like to know what I’m getting myself into and know it well enough that I can support it wholeheartedly.

The more I learned about humanism and what it stood for, I realized that I was a natural humanist from birth. 

From as long as I can remember I cared about other humans just because I cared. It didn’t matter what they looked like or where they came from, I always had a heart for humanity and for the care of others.

As I continued to think more about it, I realized that hip-hop music artists who first began the craft were also humanists. They often talked about their neighborhood and giving back to it and they wanted to uplift people and give them knowledge and support for the simple fact that we were all brothers and sisters of the human race.

When I started Hip-Hop Humanism, it was based on what I believed humanism to be – supporting the betterment of humans as a whole as well as individually.

I wanted to give back in any way that I could by creating grassroots programs for children and promoting hip-hop artists that were about positivity and uplifting the human race. 

And it continued to grow. It grew into social justice and rightfully so. As a humanist I feel totally inclined to get involved in what is going on in America. It was surprising to me, however, that when I looked to my left and right, I was the only humanist there.

I expected to see humanists more involved, not only on the ground protesting but through literature of some kind, making some noticeable contribution. 

Now, if this literature exists, I have yet to see it and I would love to. However, as much as the humanist stands for, I expected to see all of us out here in the forefront. I expected to see humanism as a major leader and household name in the fight for social justice.

For what is going on in the United States, why wouldn’t humanists be the ones to really help aid this problem?

As humanists we aren’t in it because of a person’s race or their gender. It doesn’t matter their class or how much money they have in the bank. What matters is that they are human. 

As humanists we care about our fellow man, woman and child and do our part simply for them. It’s compassion and it’s love. It is human decency.

Reflecting on the ultimate demise of many Black Panthers, Bobby Seale sums up the goals of the party, goals which speak to a universal humanist agenda:

“We need activists who cross all ethnic and religious backgrounds and color lines who will establish civil and human rights for all, including the right to an ecologically balanced, pollution-free environment. We must create a world of decent human relationships where revolutionary humanism is grounded in democratic human rights for every person on earth. Those were the political revolutionary objectives of my old Black Panther Party. They must now belong to the youth of today,” said Bobby Seale, quoted by Anthony B. Pinn in “Anybody there? Reflections on African American Humanism,” published in 1997 by the UU Humanist Association.

Why have I seen no humanists out here? Where is everyone? 

Did I learn to believe that humanism is something that it isn’t? Has everyone forgotten? 

Or maybe I am supposed to take the lead and make it become what it’s supposed to have already been.

The support of the humanist thought is needed in the social justice fight. We are everywhere – from all occupations and walks of life. 

Who more to understand the plight of mankind and care about it with no agenda but for the upliftment of humans for humans? That’s what I understand humanists to be. 

Was I wrong? Well, if I was wrong, dear old humanist, please be prepared for a revamp of what we do.

Signed,

The New Humanist

Jay Rene, founder of Hip Hop Humanism, documentarian and wife of imprisoned writer Kwame Teague, can be reached on Instagram at @thejayrene, by email at hiphophumanismhr@gmail.com and online at www.hiphophumanism.com.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:
  2. https://sfbayview.com/2021/03/humanists-where-are-you/
  3. www.hiphophumanism.com
  4. https://graylinemiami.com/blog/miamis-wynwood-art-district/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Humanist Canada 2021 Student Essay Contest

Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada, a national voice for humanism in Canada has announced the return of its (third annual) student essay contest for 2021. With thousands of dollars in prizes (for both English and French language essays) and a far more open field, this year’s contest design is far more inclusive and inviting!

You may want to spread the word!

The 2021 contest deadline has been set as May 21, 2021 and the organizers have provided a Frequently Asked Questions page for those who may have questions.

In 2020, Humanist Canada had a designated theme (Religion and Humanism in Education) that students were asked to write upon. On the current announcement there does not appears to be a theme. Instead, the organizers have provide the guidance that recommended topics include:

  1. Humanism and society (e.g., religious schools, blasphemy laws, climate change, etc.)
  2. Humanism and well-being (e.g., sexual and reproductive healthdying with dignity, etc.)
  3. Another Humanist issue (e.g., issues discussed in Humanist International’s Freedom of Thought report https://fot.humanists.international/countries/americas-northern-america/canada/)

This seems to be sufficiently broad to encourage any number of submissions – particularly in light of the uniquely-worded definition of humanism that appears on the contest FAQ page: “Humanism is a dynamic way of life that is guided by rational thought, inspired by music and art and motivated by ethics, compassion and fairness.

One of Humanist Canada’s suggested themes for the 2021 Student Essay Contest

Another change in the competition since 2020 appears to be who the competition is open to. In 2020, Humanist Canada stated that “We welcome Canadian high school students to submit their strongest ideas, thoughts, and arguments to us.” For 2021, the competition seems to have been opened up with wider eligibility criteria:

  • Anyone enrolled in a Canadian educational institution/ Canadian citizen studying abroad
  • Junior Category: 17 years old and younger on May 21, 2021
  • Senior Category: 18-25 years old on May 21, 2021

In addition, the competition expects to award prizes in each of two streams – English and French. Wow! Talk about opening up the field.

There is a contest submission form on the Humanist Canada website. This is a sweet opportunity for some talented students to earn some much-needed tuition money or to launch themselves on a writing career!


About Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada (HC) promotes education and awareness of humanism. We are a resource for secular groups and causes across Canada. We support the advancement of scientific, academic, medical, and human rights efforts.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.thefire.org/get-involved/student-network/
  2. https://www.humanistcanada.ca/programs/essay-contest/faqs/
  3. https://www.humanistcanada.ca/programs/essay-contest/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

MARCH 2021 Call for Submissions

2020 was HumanistFreedoms.com’s first full year of operation. We enjoyed publishing articles promoting and celebrating humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

Please follow our website, share articles with your friends and help us grow. At the end of February, we’ve had almost half of the views we had for all of 2020! You can help!

Now for 2021 we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share! We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021
  • Leadership Within The Humanist Movement
  • Humanism and Secularism
  • Humanism and Human Trafficking
  • Digital Humanism
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism Behind the Mask: Maintaining Respect and Compassion During the Pandemic
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons From 2020
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Humanism and Architecture
  • Book Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

February 2021 Call for Submissions

2020 was HumanistFreedoms.com’s first full year of operation. We enjoyed publishing content which promoted and celebrated humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

Now for 2021 we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share. We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021
  • Leadership Within The Humanist Movement
  • Humanism and Secularism
  • Humanism and Human Trafficking
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • At Home with a Humanist: Stories from the Lockdown
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism Behind the Mask: Maintaining Respect and Compassion During the Pandemic
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons From 2020
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Book Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

January 2021 Call for Submissions

2020 was Humanist Freedoms first full year of operation and we enjoyed publishing content which promoted and celebrated humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

Now for 2021 we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share. We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021
  • At Home with a Humanist: Stories from the Lockdown
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism Behind the Mask: Maintaining Respect and Compassion During the Pandemic
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons From 2020
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Book Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

Essay: The Five Allegiances

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published in other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was published on Manuel Garcia, Jr.’s personal website as well as CounterPunch in December 2020 and is republished with the author’s permission.



By: Manuel Garcia, Jr.

The Five Allegiances

“We be of one blood, ye and I” — Mowgli, in The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling

The hierarchy of the five allegiances is: nepotism, tribalism, classism, nationalism, humanism.

Family connection is the emblem of conformity with nepotism.

Group identity is the emblem of conformity with tribalism. That emblem can be: race, religion, language, ethnicity, cult bondage.

Money wealth is the emblem of conformity with classism.

National identity is the emblem of conformity with nationalism.

Species-wide identification as homo sapiens is the emblem of conformity with humanism.

Each allegiance is a strategy to gain competitive advantage over other human beings. That competitiveness decreases from extremely intense with nepotism, to absent with pure humanism.

For each allegiance, those above it are barriers to its complete success. Humanism, being the least competitive relationship between humans, is also the most stymied by the combination of: nationalism, classism, tribalism and nepotism. We see this reflected in the inhumanity of homo sapiens world society, for which deprivation there is no compelling physical nor sociological reason.

Nationalism is stymied by the combination of classist greed, tribalist bigotry and family-linked corruption; and it is slightly diluted by expansive humanist cosmic consciousness. The managers of national governments, who are too often motivated by the three higher ranked allegiances, may at times try to unite a multicultural national population with the imagery of democracy, equality, inclusion and diversity. This is particularly so when armies have to be raised for wars of national defense and foreign conquest.

Nationalism is most successful when applied through a lush and expansive economy providing a high standard of living for all. In providing secure and fulfilling jobs with good pay, and which ease the existential anxieties of individuals and gives them roles they can adopt as emblems of self worth, economic nationalism in essence pays people off to relinquish their reliance on classism, tribalism and nepotism. As the equitable economics of any nation withers, so does its mass appeal to national allegiance, and deepens its fragmentation by classist greed, tribalist bigotry and nepotistic corruption.

Homo sapiens world society is devolving through a planetary sustainability crisis, of which global warming climate change is one compelling symptom. That crisis is driven by classism — economic greed — which is exacerbated by the other allegiances except humanism. The solution for overcoming that crisis is well-known: humanism applied with reverence for Nature and All Life, and in perpetuity.

Merely stating that solution illuminates all the barriers to its implementation. Besides being structural and non-personal in the sense of nationalistic competitions and economic exclusivities, such barriers are also weaves of egotistical personal attitudes and failures of moral character dominated by selfishness and bigotry.

It is clear, from looking at the aggregate of homo sapiens world society today, that the prospects for reversing that devolutionary planetary crisis are very dim indeed. For too many people, the idea of eliminating all the old socio-economic structures along with all their personal prejudices, and replacing them with a planetary humanism of species-wide solidarity to fashion a sustainable human-with-Nature world and truly radiant civilization, is just too fearful to even imagine let alone seriously consider. Certain death inequitably distributed by relentless impoverishment is by far preferred, even though most people suffer from it. The tragedy of human existence is that most people prefer to live out their lives and die without changing their ideas even when those ideas are harmful to them.

Frustrated humanists can easily imagine a worldwide French Revolution breaking out in defiance of that tragedy, with the decapitation of the nepotistic, tribalist and classist national managements, and with the eruption of a liberating world socialist nirvana. This is like the aspirational dream of Christianity held by the millions of slaves in the Roman Empire.

But in the sad reality of our present world, could any violent outburst by the impoverished and oppressed be motivated by a globalist liberating humanism, instead of merely reactionary survivalism for family, tribe and class? What few revolutions of this type not quashed in their embryonic stages by the economic and national managers, would soon recycle the same poisonous exclusivities of former times but with a new cast of leading characters.

To transcend this pernicious eddy and actually evolve humanity out of its present decaying stagnation would require a universal enlightenment of human attitudes and consciousness. And that is an unrealistically utopian thought indeed. But incredibly, it is neither a logical nor physical impossibility, just an extreme improbability.

Is it possible for us as individuals to increase that probability? Based on a realistic view of the long arc of human history the clear answer is “no,” despite the numerous temporary blooms of localized enlightened society that have occurred during the lifetime of our homo sapiens species. But it is depressing and dispiriting to live with that “no” dominating one’s thinking. The mere fact of having been born entitles you and every other human being with the right to enjoy a fulfilling life with a liberated consciousness, the right to seek achieving your full human potential.

One can seek that fulfillment along the simultaneous parallel paths of supporting a family of whatever kind, caring for others through both personal and societal means, creative immersion in arts, sciences and craftsmanship, and championing global socialist humanism by both intellectual allegiance to it and personal engagement with it in the political and societal arenas you are a part of, at whatever level. Ultimately, the course and fate of humanity is the sum total of the courses and fates of the individual lives comprising it, and the greatest impact we each can have on helping to steer that great stream is made by the quality of the choices we each make regarding the conduct of our own personal lives.

Achieving a morally enlightened personal fulfillment in no way guarantees the morally enlightened success of any subgroup the homo sapiens species — your family, your tribe, your class, your nation — and least of all of humanity as a whole; but it helps! And living with that as personal experience is very satisfying indeed.


Manuel Garcia, Jr. is a retired physicist who blogs at https://manuelgarciajr.com on “energy, nature, society,” like on global warming; plus idiosyncratic poetry. During his working career he designed many experiments in high power, high energy and explosive energy physics. His orientation is rationalist, leftist, Zen and humanist.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:
  2. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/16/the-five-allegiances/.
  3. https://manuelgarciajr.com/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Essay: Secularism – a vision still not fully fulfilled

Ray Argyle

When I was a schoolboy in British Columbia we began our day by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I accepted this small duty as a normal ritual of the classroom. Then, two things happened. First, I asked one of my classmates to give me some evidence for the truth of stories in the Bible. He insisted they were true, but could offer no support for their veracity. Second, two members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect arrived at my home one Friday after school. I was home alone. These emissaries had a powerful story and I was willing to hear it.  

Over the weekend, I plunged into the literature they had given me. I was caught up in the exhilarating evangelism that Jesus Christ supposedly taught and that his apostles practiced. On Monday, I returned home from school anxious to resume my religious reading. Perhaps five or six hours of secular boyhood, or an instinctive scepticism about most of what my elders told me, brought everything into focus. I came to the jolting decision that all I’d been told or read over the weekend was not believable.

Photo of Ray at Bishopsgate courtesy Ray Argyle.

Later, as I examined more closely religious practices around the world I also learned about Secularism, a practical system that fulfills the idea of separation of church and state by removing religious control of public institutions – the schools, courts, government, and all public endeavours.

While growing numbers in Western countries are content to live outside the church, most people of faith also support Secularism for its contribution to social order and its hands off attitude toward religion. But Secularism’s future, like the struggle to achieve it, is subject to the dynamics of public opinion and the pressures of social change.  The most relentless opposition to Secularism stems from the polar opposites of Christian evangelism and Islamic extremism, one seeking to restore religious values to the public realm, the other engaged in terrorism to advance its interests. Mix these conflicting ingredients and the result is a contest of which no one can predict the outcome.

George Jacob Holyoake, a radical English social reformer and atheist, invented the word Secularism in 1851, propagandized its message, and struggled to raise the moral standards and material conditions of his countrymen. Yet for some unknowable reason, Holyoake has virtually vanished from history, unheard of by the public. There is no mention of his name in one of the most eminent of books on Secularism, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age.

In order to bring Holyoake the recognition he deserves, I have written his first modern biography: INVENTING SECULARISM: The Radical Life of George Jacob Holyoake. It will be published in Spring 2021 by McFarland & Co., USA.

George Jacob Holyoake was born in Birmingham, England in 1817 and died in Brighton, England in 1906.  Notwithstanding his origins in the nineteenth century, Holyoake was a man for the modern age. His vision encompassed ideals of social justice that would become universally accepted nearly two hundred years after he first expressed them.  Through a long, controversial, and conflict-filled life, marked by as many mistakes as triumphs, he was in the vanguard of almost every struggle to improve the lives of ordinary people – public education, the co-operative movement, freedom of the press, trade unions, women’s rights, and universal suffrage. He was hailed after his death as “one of the men who fought for and won for Englishmen that freedom of speech which we take as a matter of course today.” For a man largely neglected in popular history, he played a transformative role in the evolution of modern life and the rise of democratic rule in Britain and the West.

Holyoake came to the idea of Secularism after enduring hardship, persecution, and imprisonment as a social missionary for capitalist turned reformer Robert Owen and his Socialist utopian movement, the Society of Rational Religionists. After a Christian upbringing, George Holyoake fell into atheism with the imprisonment of a friend for blasphemy and his own arrest for a speech in which he declared he no longer believed in such a thing as a God. Convicted of blasphemy, Holyoake reflected on the conditions of English life during his six months in the Gloucester County Gaol. He came out convinced of the need for a new social order that would release the individual from the grasp of enforced religious doctrine.   

Upwards of one hundred countries now affirm support for Secularism. The United States has functioned as a largely secular state despite a continuing presence of religiosity in its public life; the United Kingdom, secular in many respects, retains an established church with appointed bishops in its House of Lords, religious schools, and a monarch who is head of both the church and the state.

Canada, nominally secular, recognizes “the supremacy of God” in its constitution and provides public funding for Roman Catholic schools. Quebec’s bans on the wearing of hijabs by public sector workers in positions of authority may go too far, in the opinion of many. British-controlled India adopted Secularism for its promise of harmony between Hindus and Muslims, a hope that has receded under the long-reigning Modi government.

Religious belief is in free fall everywhere in the West. People of no religion (the ‘nones’) account for 52 per cent of the population of England and Wales, and one-quarter of the population of the United States and Canada. Only 12 per cent of Britons are affiliated with the Church of England, down from 40 per cent in 1983. France is on the verge of becoming majority secularist, along with the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia. China pays lip service to Secularism but uses its atheist ethos to oversee its Christian citizenry and oppress its Muslim minority.

In contrast to these trends, Secularism finds itself in a state of siege in many countries. Christian evangelists in the United States are pushing to have their religious ideas enacted into public policy in fields as diverse as health, education, foreign aid, and law. President Trump‘s attorney general has openly declared war on Secularism and hundreds of millions of dollars of COVID aid have been transferred to churches, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In Turkey, long the most secular Muslim country, the famed Hagia Sophia, a museum since 1935, was recently reestablished as a mosque. Three states that were once secular – Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan – have enshrined Islam as their official religion.

Meanwhile, Islamic fundamentalism uses the blunt force of terrorism to attack rival faiths and the infidel idea of Secularism.  Secular states must respond to the pressures of twenty-first century migrations and the accommodation of non-secular traditions.

George Holyoake looked beyond his own time, confident that “Secularist principles involve for mankind a future.” It would be a future of moral as well as material good, offering an infinite diversity of intellect with equality among humanity, and “all things – noble society, the treasures of art, and the riches of the world – to be had in common.”  His was a vision of a Secularism that rises above sectarian differences or economic rivalries, and places universal opportunity, and individual freedom, in the hands of all who inhabit our rich and beautiful – but endangered – planet Earth.  It is not too late for us to fulfill his vision.


Journalist, consultant, author and inveterate traveler — that sums up the busy life of Ray Argyle. He shows no signs of slowing down. Ray has worked as a journalist, publishing executive, and communications consultant. He’s the author of five biographies, two political histories, a memoir, and a novel of Victorian Canada.

Ray was born in Manitoba and educated in British Columbia. He pursued a career in journalism, working for newspapers, a wire service, and a radio stationHe founded Argyle Communications Inc., a communications consulting firm, now merged with the Environics Group. Ray has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ont., and the Scarborough (Toronto) Board of Education. He is the only Canadian to have been elected a Fellow of the International Public Relations Association. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his “contributions to Canadian life.” More at www.rayargyle.com


The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Ray Argyle: Portrait of George Holyoake by Sarah Watson.

Op/ED ESSAY: Racism still exists today because of our failed education systems

Christopher DiCarlo

This article first appeared on www.nationalnewswatch.com on July 1, 2020 and is re-published with permission of the author.

The reason why #BlackLivesMatter exists, or the civil rights movement needed to take place, or the Underground Railroad was created, or for that matter, why racism in all of its forms has ever existed, is because billions of people have failed to learn and then teach the truth regarding the common descent of all human beings.

The truth, simply put, is this: We are all African. The scientific evidence for this claim is overwhelming. The evolutionary sciences have unequivocally demonstrated that every human on this planet descended from common ancestors in Africa. If you want proof – and I would expect that you would demand it – there’s an overwhelming amount of it.[1]

The truth of the fact that we are all indeed, African, is not open for choice; it is simply a scientific fact regarding the common ancestry of our human origins. If other beliefs, or feelings, or systems of belief stand in the way of accepting this scientific fact – whether they be religiously motivated or not – we need to recognize that such biases should have no direct affect regarding the fact that every human who has ever existed is related.

In 2005, I was fired from an Ontario university largely for teaching: “We are all African.” I had no idea those four words could get me in so much hot water in the academic communities. But they did. And they shouldn’t have. And it is because of the failings of our education systems at all levels, that the average person does not even know that we are, indeed, all African and hence, related. If we had taught critical thinking skills from kindergarten to grade 12, through all colleges and universities, and made it accessible to all businesses and professions, we would all know and accept this fact.

But we don’t teach critical thinking at these levels; and hence, here we are witnessing protests that need not happen had we all been better educated; for inherent within the critical thinking skill set is the understanding and application of scientific reasoning. Through the use of scientific reasoning, anyone can accept our African heritage as a fact. This, in turn, can allow us to better understand why racism is an extension of evolutionary traits involving xenophobia. The term xenophobia means ‘fear of foreignness or foreigners’. In biology, this translates to “better safe than sorry”. It creates a level of discrimination between species as to which other species might be considered predators or in any way harmful or detrimental to their survival and reproductive abilities. However, humans evolved with an emergent consciousness which allows us to better understand and function within complex social systems. Once levels of familiarity are reached between our species, the level of xenophobia or fear becomes reduced, and a peaceful level of cohabitation can occur. As a member of the mammalian animal species, humans have been naturally xenophobic and have been evolving from our primate ancestors for millions of years. Over that time, our conscious capacities have allowed us to move beyond basic survival strategies to develop complex societies. But again, to know this, requires humanity to be educated in the evolutionary sciences and to accept that we are the last surviving hominid lineage that originated in Africa and over tens of thousands of years, have populated this entire planet.

And now the hard part: Are we ready to accept these facts globally (or even nationally) and, as a consequence, understand their entailments?

For if we can accept our common heritage, then it becomes obvious that what we call ‘racism’ is not only a misnomer – for no races actually exist between humans – but that discrimination against any human on the basis of their physical or phenotypic traits is irrelevant in our attitudes and treatment of them. This is the type of information the entire world needs to know, understand, and accept. For if we can accept this information as true, then it reduces considerably the logic, the actuation, and the perpetuation of inequitable treatment based on such physical traits.

Can we all accept that every human on this planet is related and that all of our ancestors originally lived in Africa?

For if we can all accept this as true, then maybe it will become just a little more difficult to hate, to hurt, and to discriminate. Our education systems are failing us on a number of levels. But we can change this; and in so doing, we will deal far better with issues like racism because our youth will be far better informed.

If you want a better world – teach critical thinking.


Christopher DiCarlo is a philosopher, educator, and author. He often teaches in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Toronto (in Scarborough) and the Life Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is also a lifetime member of Humanist Canada and an Expert Advisor for the Centre for Inquiry Canada.


Citations and References

  1. Barnett, Bronwyn. 2003. ‘Genetics may help solve mysteries of human evolution’, in Stanford News Service, February 19.
  2. Bar-Yosef, Ofer and Pilbeam, David eds. 2000. The Geography of Neandertals and Modern Humans in Europe and the Greater Mediterranean, Peabody Museum Bulletin 8, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
  3. Bar-Yosef, Ofer, and Bernard Vandermeersch. 1993. Modern Humans in the Leviant. Scientific American, April, p. 64.
  4. Dawkins, Richard. 1976. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (See also revised ed., Dawkins 1989).
  5. Deacon, Terrence W. 1997. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, W.W. Norton and Co. New York.
  6. de Waal, Franz. 2001. Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution, Harvard University Press,
  7. de Waal, Franz. 2000. Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  8. DiCarlo, Christopher, 2010. “We are all African: Can Scientific Proof of our Commonality Save Us?” in Free Inquiry Vol. 30 No. 4 June/July 18-22.
    • 2006 “We are all African: Four Words that can Change the World” in SIRS Enduring Issues: an eight-volume reference collection of the best articles and graphics of the year. A request for reprint from Proquest Information and Learning: the leading provider of microform and electronic information to school, academic, public, and government libraries around the world.
    • 2006 “We are all African: Four Words that can Change the World” in Humanist Perspectives, Issue 156, Spring.
    • 2004 “On the Naturalistic Fallacy: A Conceptual Basis for Evolutionary Ethics”, co-authored with John Teehan. Evolutionary Psychology: An International Journal of Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology and Behavior 2: 32-46, March.
    • 2000 Critical Notice of Anthony O’Hear’s Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation. Biology and Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 1, 117-130.
    • 2000 Abstract: “The Influence of Selection Pressures and Secondary Epigenetic Rules on the Cognitive Development of Specific Forms of Reasoning” in The Journal of Consciousness Studies: Consciousness Research Abstracts.
  9. Dunbar, Robin. 1998. Grooming, Gossip and Language, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  10. Leakey, Richard. 1994. The Origin of Humankind, Basic Books, New York.
  11. Lieberman, P. 1975. On the Origins of Language: An Introduction into the Evolution of Human Speech, New York: Macmillan.
  12. 1984.The Biology and Evolution of Language, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  13. Lumsden, Charles L and Wilson, E.O. 1981. Genes, Mind and Culture by, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  14. Mithen, Steven. 1999. The Prehistory of the Mind. Thames and Hudson, London, UK.
  15. Mithen, Steven. 2003. After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5,000 BC. Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, UK.
  16. Ruse, Michael. 1998. Taking Darwin Seriously, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY.
  17. Sakai K, Passingham RE (2006) Prefrontal set activity predicts rule-specific neural activity during subsequent cognitive performance. J.Neurosci. 26, 1211-1218.
  18. Sapolsky, Robert. 2003. ‘Taming Stress’ in Scientific American, Vol. 289, No. 3,September.
  19. Sylvester, Robert. 1994. ‘How Emotions Affect Learning’, in Education Leadership, Vol 52, No. 2, October.
  20. Tattersall, Ian. 2003a. ‘Once We Were Not Alone’, in Scientific American: New Look at Human Evolution, June: 20-27.
  21. 2003b ‘Out of Africa Again…and Again?’ in Scientific American: New Look at Human Evolution, June,: 38-45.
  22. Becoming Human : Evolution and Human Uniqueness,
  23. ‘The Mind’s Big Bang’. 2002. From the series Evolution, WGBH: Boston.
  24. Vincent, J.D. 1990. The Biology of Emotions. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.
  25. Whiten, Andrew. ‘Social Complexity and Social Intelligence’ in Novartis Found Symp. 2000, 233:185-96.
  26. Wilson, David Sloan. 2002. Darwin’s Cathedral. University of Chicago Press.
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The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Student Essay Contest

Humanist Canada

The national voices for English and French Humanism in Canada, Humanist Canada and Association humaniste du Québec, respectively, will host another essay contest this year. The theme for the Humanist Canada Essay Contest this year is “Religion and Humanism in Education” in a Canadian context. We welcome Canadian high school students to submit their strongest ideas, thoughts, and arguments to us.

The essay contest provides an opportunity for students to think critically on Humanism in Canadian society. The first place prize in each language will be $1,000. Deadline is September 30th, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern Time. There are no predefined topics. However, the bounds of the content should be relevant to the humanist community and its values across Canada.

“We are once again pleased to be able to host this forum for young writers interested in humanist themes,” Dr. Lloyd Robertson, Vice-President of Humanist Canada, stated, “This forum promotes a defence of science and reason from those who would attack it,” The full information for the essay contest can be found on the Humanist Canada website.

Chair of the Humanist Canada Essay Contest Committee and Member of the Board of Directors of Humanist Canada, Scott Jacobsen, said, “This is a rare opportunity for the presentation of the best and brightest young freethought minds the country’s high schools have to offer, in a formal academic-based competition with written essays. Any inculcation of values comes from the passing of them and providing a space for the next generations to evaluate, present, and live them. The Humanist Canada Essay Contest is one opportunity for young freethinkers to shine.”

About Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada (HC) promotes education and awareness of humanism. We are a resource for secular groups and causes across Canada. We support the advancement of scientific, academic, medical, and human rights efforts.

Contact information

Lloyd Robertson
Vice-President, Humanist Canada

Vice-president@humanistcanada.ca

Humanist Canada Essay Contest Link