Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. (Fall 2020)
Faculty Mentor: Naree Chan
Lead Faculty: Jeanais Brodie
Editor’s Note: What follows is the Learning Self Assessment of a Bahá’í who asked to remain anonymous. This was the first Wilmette Institute course for this learner, which they took as a member of a local study group.
Reflect on what you have learned in this course. Look again at your Personal Learning Plan. Did you accomplish these goals?
My Personal Learning Plan was simply to become more informed about the history and source of racism and racist attitudes in America and attempt to understand why African Americans are so upset and angry. I didn’t have enough information in the beginning to make a detailed Personal Learning Plan because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. This course has given so much information; it was impossible to keep up with the volume of information provided by our loving coordinators. That said, the information that I could cover informed, saddened, and angered me. The sheer magnitude of the injustices heaped upon our black brothers and sisters is unconscionable.
Share some of the understandings and insights you have gained.
I feel, now, that I have just a glimmering of understanding of what our black brothers and sisters have gone through over the centuries. I cannot even imagine the degree of pain and suffering they have endured, throughout their lives, the anxiety and hopelessness many have had to endure. Having been a Bahá’í most of my life (my family became Bahá’ís when I was 11 years old) I used to think that “Bahá’ís” do not have a racial problem. Now, I know racism is in the water and the very air we breathe here in America. This course, with its loving participants and coordinators, mentors, and teachers, has allowed me to brave personal introspection. I can no longer be silent to the suffering that people of color experience. I will be an ally, advocate, and active by-stander whenever the situation presents itself.
Have you acquired or improved any skills?
Yes. Courage. A voice. I know I can talk about race now. And I want to do something about it, as well.
Have you experienced any new feelings or attitudes about this subject?
As mentioned above, I have experienced sadness, surprise, anger, shame, severe agitation from what I have learned. However, my attitude is that I can be a protagonist to be a part of ending racism in America. Before this course, I did not have the courage or even have an idea about how to begin to talk about racism with anyone. Now I know how to begin.
Has there been a change in your values or beliefs?
No. I have always known and believed that racism is wrong, and marginalized populations should be given the same opportunities that I had. What has changed is I now have more knowledge, and will continue to acquire more knowledge. My attitude has changed from one of powerlessness and paralysis about not knowing what I could possibly do, to an attitude of power where I can do something about it.
Now that the course has ended, what are the ways you can apply or use what you have learned in the future?
a. I can continue to learn more about the issues facing people of color and other minorities.
b. I can stand up for and support others in whatever situations that may arise.
c. I can look for ways to be an ally, advocate, and supporter for hiring more people of color where I work, and perhaps become part of the team that works towards inclusion at work.
d. Make more friends of color (I have few).
e. Educate other white folks about what I have learned. I believe ignorance of the status quo for blacks and people of color is a big part of the problem. More people need to know about, see, understand, and recognize systemic racism. It is difficult to address a problem when most people do not know about it.
f. Study the Universal House of Justice’s guidance more thoroughly and take action on that guidance.