I am exhausted. I am frustrated, and I am tired of being frustrated. I am afraid, and I am tired of being afraid. I am hopeful, but I am tired of having hope. I have black sons, a black husband, black friends, brothers, cousins, and a nephew. I worry about them constantly, but I am also strongly connected to all of them through our faith in Baha’u’llah and his teachings. I feel firmly that the Baha’i Faith is for them and me.
The essential role that Baha’is will play in the unification of the nation and the planet is deeply rooted in my spirit. As Bahai’s, we believe in the oneness of humanity, and we understand that race is not real. It is a social construct designed to divide and disproportionately distribute power based on a hierarchy of skin color with white being at the top and black at the very bottom.
The Faith is for me, supports me, sees me fully, and sees the contributions that people of African descent will make in the spiritual awakening of the world. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Bahai’ Faith, once compared black people to “the black pupil of the eye surrounded by the white. In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.”
Abdu’l-Baha, his son and the center of his covenant said of black people: “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.“
Yes, the promise of Baha’u’llah is clear. But what about people? Do my fellow brothers and sisters see me? Is my value, purpose, and essential vision clear to them? In many ways, sadly, I feel that it is not. This country’s dominant materialism and white supremacy have established, governed and regulated every major institution in this country including but not limited to, healthcare, education, politics, economics, criminal justice, social welfare, housing, religion, media, and employment.
Are people who mean well immune to these values, biases, prejudices, and discriminatory practices? Of course not! We have all been raised on these values and biases and they insidiously seep into our subconscious and manifest themselves in our beliefs and behaviors. Only through constant self-reflection and examination can we begin to root out this poison and restore the health of our souls.
“The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.”
Consciously, as a Baha’i, I recognize the oneness of humanity. We all wish for peace and unity. But unity and peace are dependent on justice! The justice step is one that society seems to eagerly skip because it challenges us to act and to rise up in the face of inequity. We want to high-five at the finish line without running the race.
Baha’u’llah said, “The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.”
In his book, the Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah also says:
O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
I ask well-meaning people who have had so much compassion for injustice across the world to not stand silent in the face of continued domestic terrorism against their fellow black citizens. Too often, I receive pushback that I should be loving. I am constantly questioned or admonished about my approach to discussing the constant revolving door of murder that men, women, and children in my community are experiencing. Why is this?
If black people are the pupil of the eye, don’t people think we see things clearly? Don’t they understand that we know more about our experience in this country than they know about our experience in this country? I ask myself, how can my friends and family members watch in silence? I am hurt when I see their social media feeds, highlighting their food or their dog’s activity while the blood of black people boils in our veins and pours into the street.
Do they think our skin is a weapon? I am starting a campaign to promote unity through justice by recognizing our full humanity by proclaiming that Black Skin Is Not a Weapon!
Do people think standing in black skin alone, legitimizes the slaughter of children, women, and men? Is it a crime to have black skin? Is it not an attack of our livelihood to attack our actual lives? Is there ANY circumstance where our vision, experience, and lives will truly matter enough to stand unapologetically in solidarity with me?
According to Baha’u’llah, according to my faith, black lives have always mattered. Humanity recognizing this fact — that black lives matter – will happen. It may not be today. It may not be in my lifetime. But it’s inevitable.