Fifth place — BIPOC essay contest: Davina Boison 

Davina Boison

In the name of humankind

FFRF awarded Davina $1,500.

By Davina Boison 

To my Southern praying grandmother, 

You know better than anyone the crippling and self-demoting effects of things like inequality and racism. You’ve seen firsthand the lives taken away from your brothers and sisters under the all-knowing premise of an invisible God. It was you who immigrated to America from a country over 6,000 miles away. You, who, with a tenacious heart, laughed in the face of adversity and made your dreams come true. You then raised grandchildren, who, with that same fervent spirit, now plan to change the world. But, even with all this, you still credit your accomplishments to a man in the sky. 

I want you to know that I am still that same granddaughter. And the darkness that people around you, and sometimes even you, associate with atheists and other freethinkers of the world, is a facade and a lie. 

I am a humanist. 

Now, Grandma, breathe. You’re probably praying profusely right about now, and maybe even in tongues. But you and me, Granny, we’re not all that different. The light that exists in you hasn’t dimmed in me because of this, and if you just let me explain, I’m sure you will be able to see how my true calling in life can still exist without a dependence on a holy trinity. 

Humanism is a philosophical belief that stresses the importance and ability of all humans to succeed. To me, it means that we humans are responsible for our successes and failures in life, but we should all strive to be better. Some of the greatest things we have in life are thanks to human strength and tenacity and all too many times that praise goes to a God. The rationale that drives the humanistic view and its optimistic realism fell in line with my own views despite growing up in a strict Southern Ghanaian Christian household. In you, and the surrounding elders of the church, I saw an overdependence on a God and his son. I witnessed praise being shouted upon to a figure in the high heavens and not the people down on Earth who worked tirelessly to make that feat possible. Quite simply, it was the lack of appreciation for the changemakers right here that had me questioning God-based religion at such a young age. 

Ironically, the event that ultimately sealed and confirmed my stance was that final time leading our church’s Vacation Bible School. Things like compassion, change and the common goal of wanting better for others worldwide was not a God-based mission but a human-fueled one. 

You remember when you said you could “start seeing the light in me?” It was a few weeks after my revelation and when I started working with the PHS for their environmental campaign and doing STEP mentoring. After that day, I realized it was religion that was holding me back. You used to always say, “God will take care of it in the end.” But there were many times when God did not. There were times when action would have outworked even your strong faith. 

Grandma, humanism is the fuel and gas for change. It’s not a crooked unreliable cross to lean on or some half-hearted second attempt at salvation. It’s not even a system that asks anything of its believers, but, yet, most people can’t fully commit. It was humanism, after you, that taught me to believe in myself and others, and I hope one day that more of our people can say the same.

Davina 19, is from Glen Allen, Va., and attends the University of North Carolina. “In high school, I started my own nonprofit hair braiding organization to help young wide-eyed girls throughout my community, volunteered with inner city kids, graduated with a 4.2 GPA, all while working two jobs,” Davina writes. “My goal is to become a physician or business powerhouse first, then become a health administrator who bridges the lines between cultural decency and public policy to provide world-class health care to patients from all over the world.”