Steven Zepeda, an MA student at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), presented his research paper, “Disney, Brer Rabbit, and Me,” in the final seminar to an audience including his instructors (Drs. Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis and Chitra Golestani) as well as other Wilmette Institute faculty and learners from the community learning course “Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society.” This is Steven’s final project for the Wilmette Institute’s university level course of the same name, being run with its partner institution, the GTU.
In his final paper, Steven wrote: “…what I have learned through this course is how to approach religions as “wellsprings” of knowledge, from which insights into academic quandaries emerge. My engagement with Bahá’í leaders, writers, and artists (through their texts and videos) has made me realize that principles of humanity’s oneness, constructive resilience, and consultation are crucial components of the multimodal solutions for racism. Before this course, I had perhaps relied too much on principles of individualism and competition to construct my activism—thinking, for instance, that “power” is something fought for, successfully or not, and is a limited commodity. However, Bahá’í perspectives reveal that lasting power is forged through unity, which benefits all.”