I recently asked one of the women who I sent to TAM this year to write down her experience so I could share it with you. It is really difficult to figure out if you are actually making a difference when you do various outreach activities such as fundraising for a grant program. I was able to count the number of women (15) who could attend the event but did it affect anyone? Did it change lives? Did it matter? Should I do it again next year or just go find a hobby?
In the words of Ayanna:
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending TAM 9 in Vegas, thanks to the generous efforts of Amy Davis Roth and her donors. TAM was truly a life changing experience. I had never been in the company of so many skeptics, at one time. The workshops were a huge eye opener. I learned a lot on a variety of topics, ranging from the universe to cognitive dissonance. I even developed new ways of evaluating some beliefs that I held.
TAM served as a forum where skeptics could freely exchange ideas using logic and reason to support their claims. Despite whether the parties agreed or disagreed after the discussion, we all were making plans to share drinks later that night. (Of course, we did not spend the whole time debating. There was plenty of time dedicated to partying.)
Skeptics are constantly challenging the status quo. As I looked around, I realized that these people are precisely the type of people that help make the world a better place. These individuals, however, hardly ever receive recognition for their efforts.
I recently started a program called Science Cubed under my organization -Black Atheists of America. The program seeks to strengthen the critical thinking skills of our youth. Too often, many of us are comfortable with students providing the right answer instead of focusing on how they arrived at the answer. I hope to see the next generation engaging in conversations similar to the ones I experienced at TAM.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. I can’t thank Amy enough for this experience. I will certainly be attending next year!
CEO & President
Black Atheists of America, Inc.
Yay! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us, Ayanna! It really does help put into perspective the fact that I was able to directly affect someone. Sometimes it seems so abstract. I hope your program is a HUGE success and I really am honored that I could help inspire you in a some way and do indeed hope to see you again soon!
Now, my question to all of you who are reading this is the following:
For the past few years I have been choosing a different charity to support each year. I do this by raising money for the charity or non profit by making and selling my artwork. One year I raised money for Doctors without Borders and the next year I chose the American Cancer Society. Next, it was the women’s grants and the JREF. What do you think I should do this coming year? Should I continue the women’s grant program for TAM since it was so successful or should I focus on a different area? Should I instead help raise money for an animal shelter or help with homeless problems or promote family planning clinics or something else entirely? Are women’s grants to skeptical and science events important enough or are there more pressing issues in our society that we need to focus on?