LA RACE CONSULTATION SPACE INTENTION STATEMENT (Revision 3/18/21)
THIS IS THE NEW VERSION OF THE INTENTION STATEMENT:
Following all available guidance from the Bahá'í institutions, the LA Race Consultation Space is an individual initiative designed to deal with the issue of racial injustice and anti-blackness directly and forthrightly, and to educate, inspire and support efforts to advance the promise of the oneness of humanity by creating an environment within the Bahá’í Community that is genuine, warm, friendly and embracing of the “Pupil of the Eye” believers, thereby resulting in an increase in their numbers—which according to the guidance, is essential to bringing about world unity.
Bahá’u’lláh designates people of African descent as the "Pupil of the Eye". This space is intended to center the “Pupil of the Eye,” (POTE) resulting in our Bahá'í community having clearer vision moving forward.
This space is also for SOTE, “Sclera of the Eye” (a designation not given by Bahá’u’lláh), for those not of African descent who are here to engage while maintaining a humble posture of learning, and to learn new ways of supporting the POTE.
We are confident in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that, “When a gathering of these two races is brought about that assemblage will become the magnet of the Concourse on high and the confirmation of the Blessed Beauty will surround it."
FOR AN INVITATION AND LINK:
Here is the email address to post on the website for new participants.
'RIDVAN AS A FAMILY REUNION'- A POTE-ONLY EVENT
`Abdu’l-Karim Ewing-Boyd is originally from Kansas City, Kansas, but grew up in the Gullah Communities of Coastal South Carolina and in Metro-Atlanta, Georgia. He has lived in Washington, DC for the last seventeen years. He graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Philosophy and has done graduate study in Middle East, Arab and American History at the University of South Carolina and Georgetown University. For the past fourteen years, `Abdu'l-Karim has worked in education at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. He currently serves as the Campus Director for the Stokes School - East End Campus.
Youth and child development is at the center of who `Abdu’l-Karim is; in addition to his work at the school, he is the head instructor of Siafu Martial Arts Academy and an assistant instructor at Daka II Martial Arts Academy under Grandmaster Diane P. Jones. `Abdu’l-Karim enjoys spending time with his beautiful and accomplished wife of twenty-three years and three wonderful daughters.
"And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warning of our beloved Master, who in particular during the concluding years of His Mission on earth, laid stress on the severe mental tests that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West... tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.
"Ours then is the duty and privilege to labour, by day, by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-man, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interests, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world."
(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, pp. 1-2) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 135)
A Statement by the
National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá'ís of the United States
"Racism is the most challenging issue confronting America. A nation whose ancestry includes every people on earth, whose motto is E pluribus unum, whose ideals of freedom under law have inspired millions throughout the world, cannot continue to harbor prejudice against any racial or ethnic group without betraying itself. Racism is an affront to human dignity, a cause of hatred and division, a disease that devastates society.
Notwithstanding the efforts already expended for its elimination, racism continues to work its evil upon this nation. Progress toward tolerance, mutual respect, and unity has been painfully slow and marked with repeated setbacks. The recent resurgence of divisive racial attitudes, the increased number of racial incidents, and the deepening despair of minorities and the poor make the need for solutions ever more pressing and urgent. To ignore the problem is to expose the country to physical, moral and spiritual danger.
The oneness of humanity is the pivot round which revolve all the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith. It is at once a statement of principle and an assertion of the ultimate goal of human experience on the planet. More than a century ago Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, wrote: "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established." It is a principle that issues naturally from the genesis and purpose of human existence.
The application of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humanity to the life of the nation would necessitate and make possible vast changes in the economic status of the non-white segments of the population. Although poverty afflicts members of all races, its victims tend to be largely people of color. Prejudice and discrimination have created a disparity in standards of living, providing some with excessive economic advantage while denying others the bare necessities for leading healthy and dignified lives. Poor housing, deficient diet, inadequate health care, insufficient education are consequences of poverty that afflict African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans more than they afflict the rest of the population. The cost to society at large is heavy.
Evidence of the negative effect of racial and ethnic conflict on the economy has prompted a number of businesses and corporations to institute educational programs that teach conflict resolution and are designed to eliminate racial and ethnic tensions from the workplace. These are important steps and should be encouraged. If, however, they are intended primarily to save the economy, no enduring solution will be found to the disastrous consequences of racism. For it cannot suffice to offer academic education and jobs to people while at the same time shutting them out because of racial prejudice from normal social intercourse based on brotherly love and mutual respect.
The fundamental solution--the one that will reduce violence, regenerate and focus the intellectual and moral energy of minorities, and make them partners in the construction of a progressive society--rests ultimately on the common recognition of the oneness of humankind.
It is entirely human to fail if that which is most important to people's self-perception is denied them--namely, the dignity they derive from a genuine regard by others for their stature as human beings. No educational, economic, or political plan can take the place of this essential human need; it is not a need that businesses and schools, or even governments, can provide in isolation from the supportive attitude of society as a whole. Such an attitude needs to be grounded in a spiritual and moral truth that all acknowledge and accept as their own and that, like the oxygen that serves all equally, breathes life into their common effort to live in unity and peace. Absence of the genuine regard for others fostered by such truth causes hopelessness in those discriminated against; and in a state of hopelessness, people lose the coherent moral powers to realize their potential. This vitalizing truth, we are convinced, is summarized in the phrase: the oneness of humankind.
So essential is the principle of the oneness of humanity to the efficacy of educational programs that it cannot be overemphasized. Without its broad influence such programs will not contribute significantly to the development of society. The very fact that businesses are themselves implementing educational programs is indicative of the glaring deficiency of the entire educational system. As we have already said, beyond the mechanisms of education lies the essential prerequisite of a proper attitude on the part of those dispensing curricula and, even more important, on the part of society as a whole. On this basis, education is not only the shortest route out of poverty; it is the shortest route out of prejudice as well. A national program of education, emphasizing the values of tolerance, brotherhood, appreciation for cultures other than one's own, and respect for differences would be a most important step toward the elimination of racism and, as a consequence, the bolstering of the economy.
From the day it was born the United States embraced a set of contradictory values. The founding fathers proclaimed their devotion to the highest principles of equality and justice yet enshrined slavery in the Constitution. Slavery poisoned the mind and heart of the nation and would not be abolished without a bloody civil war that nearly destroyed the young republic. The evil consequences of slavery are still visible in this land. They continue to affect the behavior of both Black and White Americans and prevent the healing of old wounds.
Healing the wounds and building a society in which people of diverse backgrounds live as members of one family are the most pressing issues confronting America today. Her peace, her prosperity, and even her standing in the international community depend to a great extent on the resolution of this issue.
That the virulence of the race issue in America attracts the attention of the entire world should spur this country to an unprecedented effort to eliminate every vestige of prejudice and discrimination from her midst. America's example could not fail to have a profound influence on world society, nor could it fail to assist the establishment of universal peace. "For the accomplishment of unity between the colored and white," the Bahá'í writings proclaim, "will be a cause of the world's peace."
It is evident that both Black and White Americans in large numbers are feeling deeply disappointed and frustrated by what each group perceives to be a failure of the efforts in recent decades at effecting progress in the relations between the races. To rationalize this failure, both have been reacting by retreating to the more familiar ground of racial separation. As the problems with crime and drug addiction mount, the tendency is to use the seeming intractability of these problems as a measure of the failure of years of struggle on the part of both to overcome the barriers of centuries. Formidable as is the challenge yet to be met, can it fairly be said that no significant progress has taken place since the days of the sit-ins at lunch counters across the South?
Similarly, the victims of a protracted and entrenched racial discrimination seek relief in the notion that Black Americans, White Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans are so distinctly different from one another that all of them must stake out their own cultural and social territories and stay within them. Would this be sensible? Would it not be a retreat from the reality of our common humanity? Would it not be a formula for the total breakdown of civilization? Those who raise the call for separation preach a grim doctrine indeed. If the nation is seriously to submit to such a view, where exactly will either the Black or the White Americans divide their cultural heritage, one from the other?
Racism runs deep. It infects the hearts of both White and Black Americans. Since without conscious, deliberate, and sustained effort, no one can remain unaffected by its corrosive influence, both groups must realize that such a problem can neither easily nor immediately be resolved. "Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country."
Both groups must understand that no real change will come about without close association, fellowship, and friendship among diverse people. Diversity of color, nationality, and culture enhances the human experience and should never be made a barrier to harmonious relationships, to friendship, or to marriage. "O well-beloved ones!" Bahá'u'lláh wrote. "The tabernacle of unity has been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree and leaves of one branch."