A solution for the elimination of the disease of racism, part 6 chapter 1
The precedents ‘Abdu’l-Bahá set almost 100 years ago during his visits to America have been the model Bahá’ís to utilize when dealing with racism. While it was a necessary step to enact laws abolishing slavery and de jure segregation, and create educational, housing and employment opportunities for United States citizens of African descent, these measures have been an ineffective measures to rid the nation of the virulent disease of racism. As Shoghi Effendi writes in the book, The Advent of Divine Justice:
To discriminate against any race, on the ground of its being socially backward, politically immature, and numerically in a minority, is a flagrant violation of the spirit that animates the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. The consciousness of any division or cleavage in its ranks is alien to its very purpose, principles, and ideals. Once its members have fully recognized the claim of its Author, and, by identifying themselves with its Administrative Order, accepted unreservedly the principles and laws embodied in its teachings, every differentiation of class, creed, or color must automatically be obliterated, and never be allowed, under any pretext, and however great the pressure of events or of public opinion, to reassert itself.
More provocatively, Shoghi Effendi instructs the American Bahá’í community to take actions that seem to be in contradiction to growing outcries of “reverse racism” because of the election of an African American president:
If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favor of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community….
To demonstrate this principle, Americans Bahá’ís living in communities that are predominantly White must take extra care to have Bahá’ís of other races or nationalities represented on the Local Spiritual Assembly (if they live within the boundary of the city or town). The same is true in communities where Bahá’ís of African, Hispanic, Asian, Persian, Arab or any other descent constitute the majority—there must be White American Bahá’ís represented on the Local Spiritual Assembly. This is done without fanfare or controversy of any sort because Bahá’ís believe that this is but part of God’s plan to bestow amity between the races in a country that has a long and turbulent history of utilizing racism as an acceptable standard of behavior.
…Freedom from racial prejudice, in any of its forms, should, at such a time as this when an increasingly large section of the human race is falling a victim to its devastating ferocity, be adopted as the watchword of the entire body of the American believers, in whichever state they reside, in whatever circles they move, whatever their age, traditions, tastes, and habits. It should be consistently demonstrated in every phase of their activity and life, whether in the Bahá’í community or outside it, in public or in private, formally as well as informally, individually as well as in their official capacity as organized groups, committees and Assemblies. It should be deliberately cultivated through the various and everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá’í meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies. It should, above all else, become the keynote of the policy of that august body which, in its capacity as the national representative, and the director and coordinator of the affairs of the community, must set the example, and facilitate the application of such a vital principle to the lives and activities of those whose interests it safeguards and represents.
For more info: One Same Substance: Consciously Creating a Global Culture of Unity
The Advent of Divine Justice, pages 33-42