“I had no idea of the reality of what it meant to be Black in the United States of America,” says Jan Mauras, a white Baha’i who lives in New York City. In this short clip from “The Race Unity Project,” Jan recounts a lesson she learned about not relying on Black people to be responsible for her education.
Jan says that while participating in a study group on racism, which is what Baha’is believe is the United States’ “most vital and challenging issue,” she wound up asking one Black male participant every question she had about Black people. “I was sort of pummeling him with lots of questions because I had just discovered Black people and he was my primary informant on Black people,” Jan says.
After a while, he said, “You know Jan, Black people are getting a little tired of answering white people’s questions. So, how about you read something and then we’ll talk?”
The independent investigation of truth is one of the main principles of the Baha’i Faith. As Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote “once every soul inquireth into truth, society will be freed from the darkness of continually repeating the past.”
The video effort is produced by Journalism for Change, Inc, a nonprofit media organization founded by filmmaker and human rights activist Maziar Bahari. The project tells “the century-long story of the American Baha’i community and its efforts — as well as its tests and challenges — in promoting race unity.”
Watch as Jan shares how her conversation inspired her to read a variety of books to educate herself about racism. “There was a whole world of experience that I was totally unconscious of,” she says.