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The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.
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Racial Justice: Mass Incarceration in America

PRESENTED BY Derik Smith | May 4, 2018

“I see that light of divinity shining within my students,” says Professor Derik Smith, “every time I enter the razor wire.” Dr. Smith teaches in the New York State prison system, and rather than encountering deficit and darkness there, as a Baha’i and a Black man he has found love, justice, graciousness, joy and wisdom. But he has also encountered bias—including being mistaken for someone who committed a crime rather than a professor. In this riveting video, Smith passionately discusses unconscious bias and how it impacts poor Black and brown people, who are unjustly deemed less worthy of love and compassion and more deserving of the harshest punishments a society can perpetuate. If we believe in justice, Dr. Smith proposes, we have to find ways to make it work, not just for some of us, but for all of us.

Listen to the audio version on SoundCloud.

Join Dr. Derik Smith as he discusses how we can spiritually transform society. Wednesday November 3, 2021, Transforming Society: Baha’i Beliefs in Action: Click here to RSVP

Derik Smith is a professor in the University at Albany English Department. His teaching and writing is anchored in the analysis of American culture and, particularly, African American literary culture. In 2018 The University of Michigan Press will publish his book, Robert Hayden In Verse:...



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  • Oriana Vento
    Jan 6, 2024
    Amazing talk!
  • Michael ONeal
    May 17, 2020
    Thanks for sharing Dr. Smith. Keep up the good work
  • Darirck Evenson
    Dec 7, 2019
    If a person is jailed just because they are black, or if their sentence is unduly long, they have lawyers and resources to challenge that. Granted, Court appointed lawyers can do very, very little even if the defendant is innocent. But why are the overwhelming Liberal appellate court judges not seeing all the millions of innocent black men being imprisoned every year for just "being black". Makes one think.
  • Simin Shams
    Jun 19, 2019
    Thank you for Presenting this talk. Reminding us that we all have a role to play in combating racism.
  • Joan Pietras
    Dec 8, 2018
    Derek, I tried to contact you & maybe it did & maybe it didn’t, due to my amateurish streaming & clicking, so I’m trying again. Please email me at [email protected] so we can both appreciate your words & my painting of the Iceburg!!☮️???I haven’t figured out how to send a photo of the full original, but I’ll work on it. FUN!!
  • Shay Whitman Cooper
    May 5, 2018
    How I wish Dr. Smith offering could have been longer and more detailed. Very strong and beautiful Much appreciated thank you for your talk
  • Madlen Connor
    May 4, 2018
    I loved to listen to you. Thank you and stay strong.
  • Madlen Connor
    May 4, 2018
    I loved to listen to you, and ponder. Thank you and stay strong.
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