IAF Book Discussion Group, Session 2017.04 – The New Jim Crow

The IAF Book Discussion Group is an ongoing effort to provide interesting intellectual conversations for members of IAF and other interested parties on texts and topics relevant to the Secular perspective.

For this session the group will conclude with our exploration of the text “The New Jim Crow” by renowned author and social justice advocate Michelle Alexander.

The reading schedule for session three is as follows –

April – Chapters 4, 5 & 6 (to page 261)

After this series on social justice, we will spend the next three or four sessions focusing on fiction again after which we will tackle a text on philosophy/psychology.

For session 1, please be prepared, if possible, to present things from the reading assignment that stood out for you so that we can gain a good cross-section of individual perspectives where the reading is concerned. Consider questions of content, such as passages that stood out for you or particular facts you found interesting that you might want to explore further. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions about concepts and ideas that are new to you.

The conference room that has been reserved at Kirkendall Public Library has a maximum capacity of 20 so RSVP early to get a seat. Social time will be available from 6:30 to 7 PM if you want to come and just chat before the discussion begins. We’ll see you there. 🙂

You can read about the book by going to the primary website for the title HERE.

If you prefer, though, here is a brief synopsis of the title from the same –

The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: An Afternoon of Art vol. 3

Have you ever been in a position where you were just noticing something for the first time despite the knowledge that you’ve walked by or driven past it countless times beforehand? What about an old movie? Ever noticed something new in the film despite having watched it countless times over the years? If so, then you know what it is like to be surprised by something new.

Leaving that aside for the moment, in the past many of us have seen more than a few believers use spurious arguments to justify their positions, whether in the social arena, the political or the educational. As an example, just recently, a tenured U.S. Senator (who shall remain un-named) spoke to his supporters about the Johnson Amendment and made a promise to them which implied that pastors could be arrested for violating the rules that forbid politicking from the pulpit. As anyone with a clue about Separation of Church and State knows, this is patently false. The Johnson Amendment only calls for violators to be stripped of their non-profit status.

However, these types of assault on reason will go on as long as the political religion that allows for ‘Alternative Facts’ exists. And now that we, as Secularists, are forced to live in the era of ‘Alternative Facts’, where opinions can now be treated as certainties despite the inherent fallacies they may contain, we must take every opportunity to educate ourselves on the hidden truths that lay behind every agenda that may affect our lives. Learning to see the ‘hidden’ in art is a good way to acclimate our brains to this model of thinking.

Come join us for a tour of the various exhibits the Des Moines Art Center has to offer on Saturday, April 15th as we explore the hidden in art and the revealing of these wonders. Of note at this time is an exhibit called ‘Alchemy: Transformations in Gold’, currently on display in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery, which explores the many facets and uses of a rare and precious metal. This exhibit closes on May 5th so be sure to explore a truly interesting display of items swimming in gold while you can. 

For more on this exhibit and other features, visit the main website here<a>.</a>

We will meet at the Art Center at 1 PM and tour the galleries and grounds until the Center closes at 4 PM. Afterwards, if people are willing, we can find an eatery or meeting place close by to discuss our observations and reflect on the experience we have just enjoyed. Feel free to bring a note/sketch pad with which to record your observations while touring the gallery. Everyone is reminded to observe Art Center policy with regard to conduct. The receptionist at the front desk will be able to explain the rules of the Art Center and gallery attendants will be on hand to further explain these rules should any issues arise.

Admission is free for all patrons but the Art Center does appreciate donations to it’s general fund. Feel free to contribute as you see fit by leaving a donation, no matter how small, in the box provided just inside the main entrance. Or consider becoming a member of the Art Center by purchasing an annual membership. We hope to see as many of you as possible.

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IAF Sunday Meetup

This is our regular, weekly, Meetup. Please come and join us for an interesting discussion on a variety of issues.

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IAF Sunday Meetup

This is our regular, weekly, Meetup. Please come and join us for an interesting discussion on a variety of issues.

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IAF Sunday Meetup

This is our regular, weekly, Meetup. Please come and join us for an interesting discussion on a variety of issues.

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IAF Sunday Meetup

This is our regular, weekly, Meetup. Please come and join us for an interesting discussion on a variety of issues.

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“Religion of our Neighbors” speaker series

Faith Lutheran Church in Clive is exploring the religious diversity in Des Moines and is inviting representatives from different faiths to speak through the month of February. They have asked Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers to help them understand non-believers.
We will be speaking on our viewpoints and our group’s activities, as well as the atheist experience within our culture.
If you would like to attend this discussion, plan to be early and please RSVP so the church can prepare suitable space.

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IAF Sunday Meetup

This is our regular, weekly, Meetup. Please come and join us for an interesting discussion on a variety of issues.

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IAF Book Discussion Group, Session 2017.03 – The New Jim Crow

The IAF Book Discussion Group is an ongoing effort to provide interesting intellectual conversations for members of IAF and other interested parties on texts and topics relevant to the Secular perspective.

For this session the group will continue with our exploration of the text “The New Jim Crow” by renowned author and social justice advocate Michelle Alexander.

The reading schedule for sessions two and three is as follows –

March – Chapters 2 & 3 (to page 139)

April – Chapters 4, 5 & 6 (to page 261)

After this series on social justice, we will spend the next three sessions focusing on fiction again after which we will tackle a text on philosophy/psychology.

For session 1, please be prepared, if possible, to present things from the reading assignment that stood out for you so that we can gain a good cross-section of individual perspectives where the reading is concerned. Consider questions of content, such as passages that stood out for you or particular facts you found interesting that you might want to explore further. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions about concepts and ideas that are new to you.

The conference room that has been reserved at Kirkendall Public Library has a maximum capacity of 20 so RSVP early to get a seat. Social time will be available from 6:30 to 7 PM if you want to come and just chat before the discussion begins. We’ll see you there. 🙂

You can read about the book by going to the primary website for the title HERE.

If you prefer, though, here is a brief synopsis of the title from the same –

The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

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Planned Parenthood Book Sale Setup

Volunteer Opportunity! Come support Planned Parenthood of the Heartland as they prepare for their annual Spring booksale at the Fairgrounds 4-H building. The bulk of the work is unpacking boxes of books and arranging them on tables so please wear clothes and shoes that you can work in comfortably as you’ll be on your feet quite a bit. To find the 4-H Building, turn right from the main fairgrounds entrance off of E. 30th St and drive to the farthest building in that corner of the grounds. For security reason, volunteers are instructed to enter the building via the door on the SW corner, just to the right and around the way from the main entrance.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it out at 4:00 – just come when you can, there will be plenty to do. Planned Parenthood asks that all volunteers stay for a minimum of two hours but they understand that not everyone can meet this goal. Please do RSVP if you plan to attend so we can send a headcount to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale organizers. Thank you for volunteering!

UPDATE: Due to a scheduling conflict, the book sale has been pushed back to April 20-24.  Unboxing will occur on Tuesday, April 18th.

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