Friends,

We come from far and wide, and now we are here. Our history is rich and full, with stories of discernment and resilience, beauty and brilliance, softness and strength. We, as Black people, have a way of moving throughout this world that is both unique to us, and all encompassing.

The diaspora’s hands have stretched out and now hold the entire Earth- there are traces of us everywhere. Although our stories are often hidden, if you look close enough, we are everywhere. How special is it to have brothers and sisters with stories from the whole, wide world.

Often times, blackness is solely associated with struggle. I push back against that, because that excludes so much of who we are. The narrative surrounding Black people all over the world often leaves out the strength and power of our spiritual qualities.

As a Black person, it’s all too easy to feel forgotten about, especially in religious spaces, but the Baha’i Faith teaches that it shouldn’t be like that:

O thou who art pure in heart, sanctified in spirit, peerless in character, beauteous in face! Thy photograph hath been received revealing thy physical frame in the utmost grace and the best appearance. Thou art dark in countenance and bright in character. Thou art like unto the pupil of the eye which is dark in colour, yet it is the fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world.

I have not forgotten nor will I forget thee. I beseech God that He may graciously make thee the sign of His bounty amidst mankind, illumine thy face with the light of such blessings as are vouchsafed by the merciful Lord, single thee out for His love in this age which is distinguished among all the past ages and centuries. Abdu’l- Baha, Selections From the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha p. 114

One of the most revolutionary things about the Baha’i Faith is that it explicitly addresses the station and qualities of Black people. The writings not only talk about our struggle, but also our power. They provide a blueprint for progress towards peace, and Black people are central to this plan. Abdu’l- Baha speaks to the beauty, character, and spirit of Black people with an unmatched reverence.

The Baha’i Faith teaches that we are like “the pupil of the eye.” We are gifted with true vision, the ability to see things that other people cannot. Sight doesn’t exist without receptivity, which means that we are capable of developing receptivity to things that other people aren’t. Endeavors, conversations, and organizations that don’t include us are deprived of sight.

Although my Black experience is inevitably different from your Black experience, our vision leads us to one another. When we come together, it is special, because we are special. It’s important to remind each other that we are noble, spiritual beings.

This collective sight brings us together and gives us potency. There is so much power from learning from each other and growing to see through each other’s eyes. Know that you have a lot to teach others, if they are willing to listen. Know that there is power in listening.

It can be really difficult to develop a rounded racial identity as a Black person, when so much negativity and controversy is associated with blackness. From the color of our skin and the texture of our hair, to the way we sing when we worship and express ourselves- anti-Blackness is rooted in so many of our societal structures. Moments of unapologetic blackness are often scrutinized and criticized for being disrespectful, unprofessional, or irreverent.

Through reading the Baha’i writings that address Black people, I find so much solace in a world of grief. I find hope in times when I am least expecting to be hopeful, and empowerment when I am being disenfranchised.

Our world is incomplete without the vision of the people who are the pupil of the eye. From academia to housing to art- Black people have valuable contributions to make where we have been previously long overlooked. I dream of living in a society that values what Black people have to bring to the table, and the way in which we bring it to the table.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

8 Comments

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  • Robert Green
    Mar 28, 2018
    <3
  • Debo Anne
    Mar 26, 2018
    A beautiful reminder of the value of black people and the beauty, wisdom, spirit-fullness and joy they bring to the world.
  • Karen Bermudez
    Mar 24, 2018
    Thank you for sharing and thanks for this wonderful Faith that keeps teaching us truths and more and more truths. Black people are a people who can love so easily we look beyond color race or character and with the teachings of the Faith we will find more strength.
  • Rosslyn and Steven Osborne
    Mar 24, 2018
    So beautifully well written and to the point. Yes, this is a disease that we will continue to fight and I too live for the day of respect for all. No matter who we are or from where we come we all have so much to share and learn from one another. Thank you.
  • Anne Perry
    Mar 24, 2018
    A wonderful message! Thank you! May we all learn to see and reflect nobility, strength, and discernment--and value the contributions of those of darker hued people more and more. Racism is a disease that has affected and infected us, but it is curable, and you are helping to show the way forward!
  • Alan
    Mar 24, 2018
    Experience a wonderful and exciting journey through Africa and the reality of the "pupil of the eye" as Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and Violette Nakhjavani travel nearly 50,000 miles throughout the continent visiting African Baha'i communities between 1969 and 1973. It's 600 pages, but well worth the journey! Thanks for this piece.
  • Anne Perry
    Mar 24, 2018
    A wonderful message! Thank you! May we all learn to see and reflect nobility, strength, and discernment--and value the contributions of those of darker hued people more and more. Racism is a disease that has affected and infected us, but it is curable, and you are helping to show the way forward!
  • Hughia Magnus
    Mar 23, 2018
    Brilliant!