We know a great deal about racism in America. There is an ideology of white racial superiority in America. There’s the victimization of Native and African peoples. We know racism is America’s most challenging issue.

However.…

Today we are going to consider the Other Tradition in American Race Relations. This other tradition has embodied the best of American thinking and vision concerning a multiracial society.

This positive tradition started in part with religious communities such as the Quakers in the 18th century and can be seen operating today among a wide range of interracial groups and organizations.

The American Baha’i community, whose central teachings emphasize racial unity, fellowship and love, infused a powerful and longlasting spirit into this tradition that is still at work throughout the nation in hundreds of communities.

Acknowledging this other tradition of race relations should not be seen as denying the still very serious racial problems that face the United States and the world. Rather, it should be seen as an exploration of those racial experiences in American history that can best teach us how to create racial unity based upon justice, love and fellowship.

Humanity is one kind, one race and progeny, inhabiting the same globe. In the creative plan, there is no racial distinction and separation such as Frenchman, Englishman, American, German, Italian or Spaniard; all belong to one household. These boundaries and distinctions are human and artificial, not natural and original. All mankind are the fruits of one tree, flowers of the same garden, waves of one sea.

— Baha’i Faith

Can we agree there are reasons to work for race unity?

Here are some to consider:

» Because treating everyone with dignity and respect is the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule.

» Because racism hurts everyone. It is not just the occasional race riot or hate crime that hurts us. Rather, it is the daily dose of tension, suspicion and distrust that crosses racial lines in both directions and eats away at human potential from every side.

» Because these tensions raise the overall level of violence and aggression in our country, which, in turn, increase stress, depression, domestic violence, drug abuse and a host of other social and spiritual ills.

» Because our children deserve the chance to live in a world free of prejudice.

» Because “All humanity are the children of God; they belong to the same family, to the same original race.”

» Because the belief that some people are better or more valuable than others is a spiritual cancer that can consume our souls and destroy our relationships.

» Because love between black and white Americans can set a powerful example that will encourage peace and cooperation around the world.

» Because making friends and feeling comfortable with people from diverse backgrounds is so much fun and feels so good.

» Because it is God’s will, and it is always smarter to be with God than against Him.

One way to address racism is in a joyful, open environment of racial amity free of contentious approaches when sharing thoughts and ideas. If you would like to come together with other interested individuals and families to learn from each other’s experiences and gain new insight in addressing racial prejudice, call 843-471-0484.

Annette Reynolds has served in many capacities as a member of the Bahá’í Faith. She is the author of “Trudy and the Bahá’ís Spiritual Path in S.C.” and “Survivors Thrive: A view of the Battered Women’s Movement.” She is a member of the Morning News’ Faith & Values Advisory Board. Contact her and other board members at fvboard@florencenews.com.

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