Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society (February, 2021)
Faculty Mentor: Nicola Daniels
Editor’s Note: This was Roger Hamrick’s first course with the Wilmette Institute. He participated fully in the forums, and what follows are his comments sent to Wilmette Institute Director, Robert Stockman, about 3 months after the course ended.
The course Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society reinforced much of what I learned to be true through participation in long-running groups focused on studying the letters and guidance from the Universal House of Justice and the National Spiritual Assembly of the USA. That which was different and intriguing was the point of view shared by Dr. Derik Smith**. His explanation of the concept of “the pupil of the eye” was crystal clear! Not only is the truth of our community reflected in the eyes of this named beholder, but also the truth of the foundation on which our country was built.
The video presentations were illuminating. Much of the written material was informative, though some of it was a stretch to process and apply. I have used the course content in another anti-racism group, which focused on the psychological and physical impact of racism from a trauma point of view. Our work was focused on how to recognize and respond to the trauma we felt, and how to express this to others…but we did not speak of a remedy to prevent or heal the trauma.
This led to a discussion with a participant in the group who is from the state of Washington. In our conversation, he seemed receptive to talking about this missing piece of our workshop. I shared that I was a Bahá’í and believed that the remedy to racial trauma was a spiritual one. He said he knew of the Faith, that he had dated a Bahá’í and knew of a number of Bahá’í communities on the West coast. He was surprised at how few people knew of the Faith here in coastal North Carolina! We have continued the conversation since then and look forward to getting together soon.
Thank you for asking about our experience with the course; I would love to take it again. I am currently in the “Copper to Gold” workshop that meets weekly. Some of the same folks who helped lead and mentor the Anti-Black Racism course are accompanying the participants in this course, too. Copper to Gold is focused on educating White participants, with African American advisors to keep our “eyes on the prize.” The discussions are not always easy, but they are always worthwhile.
** See Derick Smith’s webinar “Centering the Pupil of the Eye” and his article Centering the “Pupil of the Eye”: Blackness, Modernity, and the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, in the Journal of Baha’i Studies, Vol. 29, Number 1-2.