Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S.—The Most Vital and Challenging Issue (June 2020)
Faculty: Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis, Anthony Outler, Chitra Golestani, Emily Tancredi-Brice Agbenyega, Niki Daniels
Editor’s Note: What follows are excerpts from Connie Price-Johnson’s learning self-assessment. This was Connie’s second Wilmette Institute course, which she took with a local study group based in Tucson, Arizona.
“I especially appreciated the focus on learning and reflection on one hand, and the honest input from African American Bahá’ís about their experiences and their frustrations with white people within the Bahá’í community and in society in general.”
* I don’t get off the hook for racist assumptions just because I have black family members.
* I understand better how racist assumptions underlie many ostensibly non-racist statements and attitudes.
For example, “All lives matter”—but that minimizes the loss of black lives specifically. Or the potentially hurtful impact of “Where are you from?” (that favorite Bahá’í conversation opener).
* I hope I am becoming better able to distinguish Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings from the general cultural knowledge (Eurocentric) I grew up with, e.g. what is “excellence”?
New skills and attitudes. “I learned some good responses to thoughtless racist comments, intentional or not. This course reinforces my recent realization that there is a place for white allies in the fight for social justice for African Americans; that we can be supporters without being patronizing. I am learning to listen better, and maybe listen to what is not said.”
“I am more confident in challenging racist statements from white people, I hope in a way that leads to more understanding rather than defensiveness.”
Learning mode. “I realize there is a great deal I can learn, so I plan on continuing to read from the bibliography and other sources.”