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5 MINS

Oneness: Making Music to Bridge Racial Divides

PRESENTED BY Radiance Talley | Jan 23, 2021
5 MINS

Making music can help relieve stress, and listening to uplifting melodies and lyrics is scientifically proven to improve our mood. But can songs inspire us to believe racial unity is possible — and that we can achieve it in our communities?  

“I had this idea that I wanted to do a song, similar in scope to ‘We Are the World,’ but that really addressed racism in America and promoted oneness,” says entrepreneur and activist Faith Holmes in an interview with the “Race Unity Project.”

Faith recalls how in 1999, she teamed up with two Baha’i friends, music industry veteran Dennis Stafford, and Grammy award-winning producer and musician K.C. Porter. Together they founded Oneness, a nonprofit organization whose mission was “to eliminate racism and promote the oneness of humanity through music, the arts, and education.”

RELATED: KC Porter: Latin Music Artist and Producer Extraordinario

“Some of our supporters were everyone from Brian McKnight to Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLachlan, Chaka Khan, B.B. King, Kanye West, [and] Common,” Faith says. 

But getting the Oneness record made took plenty of persistence. “It felt like we had to convince people that racism was still a problem in America,” she says.

As a Baha'i, Faith believes that racial prejudice is “the most vital and challenging issue” confronting the United States and understands the role that the arts have in uplifting and exalting society.

Indeed, the “Race Unity Project” shares “the century-long story of the American Baha’i community and its efforts — as well as its tests and challenges — in promoting race unity.” The effort is produced by Journalism for Change, Inc, a nonprofit media organization founded by filmmaker and human rights activist Maziar Bahari. Videos from “The Race Unity Project” include candid conversations about everything from what it’s like to grow up in a racially segregated community and see a white person hug a Black person for the first time, to building community with the Navajo Nation.

Watch as Faith reflects on the outcomes of the record that Oneness produced and shares what the experience taught her about her community’s awareness of oppression.

Tags: Music , Race , Unity

Radiance Talley is the SEO editor for BahaiTeachings.org and One Planet Group. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication, a College Park Scholars Arts Citation, and a cognate in journalism. In addition to her writing, drawing, presentation, and public speaking...

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