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This summer’s protests all over the world, sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd, reflect the indignity and abuse experienced by African-Americans for far too long in this country and many others.
While some have attempted to politicize George Floyd’s death and the protests, we must recognize the worldwide outcry not as a partisan conflict, but rather as a fundamental human rights issue.
Because I’m a Baha’i, I firmly believe in racial unity and the elimination of all forms of prejudice and racism. All Baha’is try to actively practice an anti-racist approach, and do so not just out of personal conviction, but because the Baha’i teachings specifically call for the elimination of all prejudice and racism — and have done so since the earliest beginnings of the Baha’i Faith in the mid-1800s.
Baha’is believe that the bigotry, discrimination, and injustice people face in the United States and around the world need to be widely acknowledged and rapidly rectified. The Baha’i Faith teaches that justice is not only an attribute of God but also the “best beloved of all things.”
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.
With that in mind, there are many ways we can support our black brothers and sisters in their fight for equality:
1. Collaborate With Justice-Oriented Organizations
We can make our voices heard by signing petitions, texting, or calling our elected representatives in pursuit of justice and the reform of laws and structures that continue to promote racism. We can also help volunteer our time or monetarily support the organizations that work for an end to racism.
2. Create Unity
Everyone is welcome to join a Baha’i race unity meeting or prayer gathering. A few nights ago, I attended a race unity gathering with over 500 attendees! Individuals from various cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds came together to work toward racial equality and unity. The presenter, Mark Sisson, urged participants to be patient with those learning about race and examining their own biases and misperceptions. We are all at different levels in our own personal consciousness, yet through spiritual education and training, we can potentially attain the highest degrees of compassion, fairness, and justice. This was one of many race unity meetings and prayer gatherings that will take place in the days and months ahead. Contact your local Baha’i community for more information.
3. Educate Yourself
Take the time to read and study race-related issues and accompany people of color in the struggle for justice and equity. When you look, you’ll find numerous books, articles, and online resources available on the historical and contemporary forms of racial inequality and discrimination. Yesterday, I began reading a book by Baha’i author Dr. Joy DeGruy titled “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing.” In her book, Dr. DeGruy describes that syndrome as “a condition that exists when a population has experienced multigenerational trauma resulting from centuries of slavery and continues to experience oppression and institutionalized racism today.”
Non-profit organizations such as Campaign Zero offer comprehensive research-based solutions to protect people of color and end police brutality. You can learn about racial profiling, discriminatory police practices, and contact their state and national representatives to demand reform and change. Additionally, reflecting on white privilege and the concept of “whiteness” is an integral aspect in the fight toward anti-racism.
Finally, we can all pray. The Baha’i teachings emphasize the role of prayer in uniting and uplifting the hearts of humanity. Since the protests began, I have been saying this prayer for unity from Baha’u’llah every night before I fall asleep:
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord.
As we continue to work toward race unity, we must remember the interconnectedness of humanity and the legacy we wish to leave our children. This generation has the power to change the world by turning away from the darkness of bigotry, injustice, and oppression and moving toward the light of freedom, equality, and justice for all.