Power to the Pupil

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Towards a New Black Liberation Theology within the Framework of the Baha’i Faith

When I was in grade school, I was taught that “black” represented the absence of color — a void of “nothingness,” into which all things were consumed and divested of their distinguishing characteristics. On the other hand, “white,” was designated as the point of reflection, the epicenter of color where all reality is made visible.

My training in art revealed that the gradations of black are created by the gradual mixing of all colors, indicating the presence of reality and not its absence.

Bahá’u’lláh rose like a shining star from the horizon of Persia, inspired with the message of Peace and of Brotherhood among men. He brought the light of guidance to the world; He kindled the fire of love and revealed the great reality of the True Beloved. He sought to destroy the foundations of religious and racial prejudice and of political rivalry.

The Baha’i writings reposition people of African descent from the nadir of the social order to the vanguard of the spiritual transformation of the human race — a result of the profound spiritual insight associated with Black people by Baha’u’llah himself. Indeed, Baha’u’llah compared people of African descent to the “black pupil of the eye” through which “the light of the spirit shineth forth.”

It is this revolutionary, spiritual vision — unique in the annals of religious history — that forms the spiritual and conceptual foundation for a New Black Liberation Theology within the framework of the Baha’i Faith. It embodies the best of 19th century African American minister Henry McNeal Turner who once said: “Lord have mercy on any race of people who do not believe that they look like GOD,” and the pioneering work of 20th-century theologian James Cone, who coined the term “Black Liberation Theology,” to link the struggle of Black people with Jesus Christ’s concern for the poor and the oppressed.