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In June, as demonstrations sparked by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery began happening, a family friend texted me and my mother. She shared that she was sending her love and prayers, and she wrote, “If I can be of service in any way, please let me know! Praying the elevation of the ongoing injustice is raising awareness and moving whole people into action as allies, and working to change all of the systems and racist ideals! Love and respect you both so very much!!!”

A text message Radiance Talley received from a white ally for social justice
A text I received from a family friend.

I felt shocked after receiving this message. You see, the past few years have been a near-constant stream of news stories about innocent Black after Black person being killed by police. After each of these incidents, my heart would ache and my spirit would break because no justice was being served. Consequently, I felt hopeless because in the midst of all this injustice, it didn’t seem like many non-black people cared.

And then came this family friend’s text message. It made me reflect on how saying we believe in the oneness of humanity is not enough. Acknowledging that we are one human family also requires supporting marginalized people and standing up for the rights of those who are oppressed.

In 1931, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote that implementing this oneness and unity “calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity”.

I grew more and more happily surprised as large corporations started to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. My social media feed flooded with pictures and videos of united, beautiful, diverse groups of people marching throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.

Multiethnic crowd participating in an anti-racism protest.
A crowd participating in an anti-racism protest.

My heart warmed when I saw the mural of George Floyd that two Syrian artists painted in their city, the candlelight vigil that a group of Iranians held in mourning of his murder, and even the Black Lives Matter bear that the Care Bears Creator debuted. I got excited when I heard that NASCAR and the U.S. Navy would stop displaying the Confederate flag, and that the city of Mobile, Alabama would remove their Confederate statue. I never thought players in Liverpool would take a knee on their field, and I definitely never thought that the NFL would apologize, years later, for not listening to players like Colin Kaepernick.

Mannequin display in the window of a women's clothing boutique in Canada.
Mannequin display in the window of a women’s clothing boutique in Canada.

Watching these displays of loyalty, solidarity, and activism around the world revived my spirits and inspired me to have hope again. They reminded me that Black people are not alone in the fight for justice and equity. A friend recently told me that you can really feel the spiritual shift that is happening right now, and I hope we don’t lose this momentum. We have to maintain this heightened passion for social justice work and increased interest in anti-racism education if we ever want to experience world peace.

As the Universal House of Justice, the global governing body of the Baha’i Faith, wrote, “The courage, the resolution, the pure motive, the selfless love of one people for another — all the spiritual and moral qualities required for effecting this momentous step towards peace are focused on the will to act.”

Ahmaud Arbery could have been my brother. Breonna Taylor could have been my sister. George Floyd could have been my father. Although Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd’s killers have been arrested, justice has still not been achieved for Breonna Taylor and numerous other Black people. I believe that the progress that has been made during this time is a true testament to how positive change is only made when our noble ideals are reflected in courageous, bold, persistent, and unified action.

Protesters marching in downtown Seattle.
Protesters marching in downtown Seattle.

So, I am grateful to those people around the world who spoke up — and continue to speak up — about how much Black lives matter and are using their unique skills and capabilities to enact social change in their spheres of influence. According to Shoghi Effendi, in the path towards racial unity we still havea long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls.” But I am confident that we will one day, together, make it to the finish line.

7 Comments

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  • Mary C. McGregor
    Jul 22, 2020
    Thank you Radiance for writing this. Having TRUE allies reaching out during these trying and dangerous times in this nation, gives comfort and serves as a healing balm to the disenfranchised STILL suffering with RACISM and NOW COVID-19. Much love, humility and gratitude to ALL the ALLIES who heard our cries that our lives do matter; got in the ring, in the middle and stayed the course through this fight for survival-LIFE! Love you all!
    Allah'u'Abha!
  • Don Boykin
    Jul 21, 2020
    Thus far Radiance the combination of knowledge, volition and action is moving the world forward to tackle Black Lives Matter head on but it requires the fourth dimension called momentum to sustain its development and the Baha'i Faith is in the forefront for eliminating the spiritual virus of the enemy within us as the most challenging issue in America is racism and as you are aware there is only one race, the human race and together everyone can accomplishes more in our efforts to defeat it.
  • Sholeh Bahji
    Jul 21, 2020
    Thank you so much for this beautiful post . I feel the time has come for a great change around the world.
  • Faith Holmes
    Jul 21, 2020
    Thank you so much, this is beautiful!
  • Bill Carsley
    Jul 21, 2020
    Radiance, I am a white Christian man - and I say AMEN! Thank God for a real, discernable shift in prevailing attitudes here in the U.S. and even around the world. I hope that the Baha'i vision for true racial amity and justice is finally beginning to break through. If it is, it's truly a move of the Holy Spirit that all who love the Kingdom of God can welcome and work to advance.
  • Jim Harrison
    Jul 21, 2020
    YES INDEED!! As Dr. Glenford Mitchell (then UHJ member) asked 24 YEARS ago - "WHERE is the Double Crusade friends?!? Where is the work in the Most Challenging Issue?! You've had it for nearly 70 years and yet we see no evidence of it! The barometers - given us BY Abdu'l-Baha' and the Guardian BOTH tell us that we will know we are successful IF WE ARE ATTACKED by the politicians, by vested interests, by the clergy and by the people themselves! Do we SEE these attacks?! No! Then we know what we must do!"
  • Masud Olufani
    Jul 21, 2020
    Well done Radiance. 👍🏿🙏🏾