A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Race Unity

Also, as the Guardian has been pointing out to the pilgrims, the Faith must be representative of the population. In a great many places in the South the majority of the population is negro. This should be reflected in the Bahá’í Community, fearlessly. Both the white Bahá’ís and the coloured Bahá’ís must steadily work to attain this objective of bringing the Faith to the coloured people, and of confirming many of them in it. Both sides have prejudices to overcome; one, the prejudice is built up in the minds of a people who have conquered and imposed their will, and the other the reactionary prejudice of those who have been conquered and sorely put upon.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 534)


He feels it is time that the Bahá’ís stopped worrying entirely about the white element in a community, and that they should concentrate on showing the negro element that this is a Faith which produces full equality and which loves and wants minorities. The Bahá’ís should welcome the negroes to their homes, make every effort to teach them, associate with them, even marry them if they want to. We must remember that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself united in Bahá’í marriage a coloured and a white believer. He could not do more.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 534)


In the 28 December message, the House of Justice explained that “A small community, whose members are united by their shared beliefs, characterized by their high ideals, proficient in managing their affairs and tending to their needs, and perhaps engaged in several humanitarian projects—a community such as this, prospering but at a comfortable distance from the reality experienced by the masses of humanity, can never hope to serve as a pattern for restructuring the whole of society.” Even if such a community were to focus the entirety of its resources on the problem of racial prejudice, even if it were able to heal itself to some extent of that cancerous affliction, in the face of such a monumental social challenge the impact would be inconsequential. Therefore, the friends must effectively assess the forces at work in their society and, beginning in neighborhoods and clusters, contribute their share to the process of learning and systematization which, as their numbers, knowledge, and influence grow, will transform their lives, families, and communities. Only if the efforts to eradicate the bane of prejudice are coherent with the full range of the community’s affairs, only if they arise naturally within the systematic pattern of expansion, community building, and involvement with society, will the American believers expand their capacity, year after year and decade after decade, to make their mark on their community and society and contribute to the high aim set for the Bahá’ís by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to eliminate racial prejudice from the face of the earth. It is the ardent hope of the Universal House of Justice that the believers will appreciate the potentialities that exist within the current pattern of their organic activities for the realization of Bahá’u’lláh’s highest aims for humanity and that they will seize their chance and commit their time, their resources, their energies—indeed their very lives—to these critical efforts for the betterment of the world.
(Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 10 April 10 2011)


You indicate that some friends wonder whether the Guardian’s statement characterizing racial prejudice as “the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Bahá’í community at the present stage of its evolution” still applies to the racial situation in the United States, since it was written so long ago. The House of Justice has determined that it is not productive to approach the issue in this manner, as it gives rise to an implicit and false dichotomy that, either what the Guardian said is no longer important, or it is so important that it must be addressed before or apart from all other concerns. Yet, the situation is infinitely more complex. The American nation is much more diverse than in 1938, and the friends cannot be concerned only with relations between black and white, essential as they are. The expressions of racial prejudice have transmuted into forms that are multifaceted, less blatant and more intricate, and thus more intractable. So too, the American Bahá’í community has evolved significantly and is no longer at the same stage of its development; it faces a wider range of challenges but also possesses greater capabilities. The House of Justice stated that the principles Shoghi Effendi brought to the attention of the American believers more than seventy years ago are relevant today, and they will continue to be relevant to future generations. It is obvious, however, that the “long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls” upon which the friends must tread, will take them through an ever-changing landscape that requires that they adapt their approaches to varying circumstances.
(Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 10 April 10 2011)