This week, Rissy and Bethany are joined by the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Mandisa Thomas. Bio: Mandisa Thomas is the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, Mandisa was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black Nationalism, and Islam. As a child she loved reading, and enjoyed various tales of Gods from different cultures, including Greek and Ghanaian. “Through reading these stories and being taught about other cultures at an early age, I quickly noticed that there were similarities and differences between those deities and the God of the Christian Bible. I couldn’t help but wonder what made this God so special that he warrants such prevalence in today’s society,” she recalls. Mandisa has a number of media appearances to her credit, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and JET magazine. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Boards for American Atheists and the Reason Rally Coalition, and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Coalition for America. She also is an active speaker, and has presented at conferences/conventions for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Secular Student Alliance, and many others. As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., Mandisa works to encourage more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. “The more we make our presence known, the better our chances of working together to turn around some of the disparities we face. We are NOT alone.” http://www.myajc.com/lifestyles/religion/every-day-sunday-atheism-rises-nonbelievers-find-one-another/xsKDGVgIgfAXzEoMQdX66K http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/28/living/black-atheist-confession/index.html https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-challenges-facing-atheists-in-the-u-s/ https://www.wabe.org/atlanta-atheist-wants-erase-stigma-black-community/ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/accordingtomatthew/2015/10/angry-christian-outburst-shows-why-its-hard-to-be-a-black-atheist/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B0SuDwlilU http://www.blacknonbelievers.org Twitter: @mandy0904, @BNonbelievers This show is part of the Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative.
Marissa Alexa McCool is a podcast host, author, columnist, LGBT-rights activist, speaker, and stage performer whose goal is to speak out, speak loudly, and bring visibility to LGBT issues.
As host of the Inciting Incident podcast, she begins conversations on difficult topics in current events. In addition to many different interviews, such as with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, Dan Arel, Matthew O'Neil, Noam Chomsky, Chris Kluwe, Dr. Bruce Kuklick, P. Andrew Torrez, Esq. , Tim O'Neill, and Alison Flowers, she hosts individual topics and conversations about LGBT rights, transgender visibility, suicide and mental health awareness, and the myths of PC Culture. For instance, her podcast hosted a Survivor of the Paris Terror Attacks, A Suicide Survivor Who Became a Motivational Speaker, and A Comedian Who Also Debates for Social Justice. Inciting Incident averages 30,000 downloads a month, and has a global reach, with 46 percent of the audience outside the United States.
McCool writes a blog, a column, and has authored seven books, including The PC Lie: How American Lives Decided I Don't Matter, and False Start: A Novel. The blog goes hand-in-hand with the podcast, but discusses issues on a more immediate level. She’s used it recently as a way to shine light on the everyday experience of a transperson on a personal level as well as societal, which was also the main idea of her book The PC Lie. Chris Kluwe, former NFL star and LGBT activist, wrote the foreword, and several others like Andrew Torrez and Eli Bosnick contributed pieces to the book she wrote in the immediate post-election atmosphere. Her book was recognized in newspapers such as The Daily Pennsylvanian. False Start is a fictional work detailing life in a small conservative town, coping with mental illness, and LGBT representation under those circumstances. She won a 2014 Keystone Award for Excellence in Journalism and won the 2015 Audience Choice Award for her film Permanent Solution, focusing on the struggles of suicide survivors.
Due to her work, she has been invited as a guest on a wide variety of podcasts. These include ones with with an LGBT focus like The Gaytheist Manifesto, PolyAskery, and Bi Any Means, as well as those aimed at current events and social justice, such as Zachrilege Cast, Doubting Dogma, In the Cut: By the Daily Pennsylvanian, God Awful Movies, and many others.
An activist in the LGBT community, she's focused on being present to help with difficult questions to personalize and rationalize the issues that transpeople face. She was cast in two different productions of The Vagina Monologues, and was the first-ever transgender person in 17 years to appear in UPenn’s V-Day production of the show. She has spoken and performed improv at the Tekko convention in Pittsburgh for three years running, has been invited to various Pride festivals including this year’s Utah Pride, and will be one of the many guests to attend ReAsonCon3 in Hickory, North Carolina. Future appearances have been scheduled in Florida, Vermont, California, Illinois, and the list of states is likely to continue to grow. Marissa’s main goal is to bring awareness and visibility to all LGBT people, especially those marginalized within the transgender community because of the recent bathroom bills attacking their rights to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
McCool will host her own live event in July for The 100th Episode of Inciting Incident and will host Chris Kluwe, Gaytheist Manifesto, Opening Arguments, and Puzzle in a Thunderstorm, LLC as her main guests. This event will take place in the 1000-seat Carlisle Theater in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and has been referred to as a mini-convention by Andrew Torrez.
Marissa has been lovingly nicknamed “The Purple Amazon” for her bright purple hair, “Superqueer” affectionately for her openness about her identity and sexuality, and most notably, “the badass mistress of the podcast and written word universe” by the fine people at Utah Outcasts. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two children and will graduate university this spring of 2017.