Politics

Los Angeles ‘Pupil of the Eye’ Conference to Celebrate the Unique Gifts of African American Worshippers

Fri., Aug. 26, 2011 8:58 AM EST
by Kathleen Cross

According to the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, racism and racial prejudice should be recognized as “the most vital and challenging issue” facing their communities.

Baha’is believe in the oneness of the human family, but discourage the kind of “color blindness” that leads to the glossing over of critical issues those committed to racial unity must be willing to address.

The Baha’i writings metaphorically compare black believers to the “pupil of the eye surrounded by the white,” explaining, “In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.”

The upcoming “Pupil of the Eye” conference reflects that ideal by providing a forum for the exploration of cross-cultural issues and the celebration of the unique cultural and historical treasures black Bahai’s have represented in the development and growth of the Los Angeles Baha’i community.

Rolling out spoke with Tatiana Zamir, one of the members of the organizing committee for the Pupil of the Eye conference to be held in Los Angeles on Sept. 10 at the Baha’i Center, 5755 Rodeo Rd. L.A., CA 90016

What is the purpose of the conference?

The purpose of this event is to focus on where our power lies as black worshippers. [And] to celebrate the unique gifts we bring to our communities and to explore ways we can appreciate how people of African descent add value to our spiritual communities.

Why is this conference important to the members of your Faith?

Baha’u’llah is the first prophet of any major religion to address African Americans specifically, and the fact that we are likened in the Baha’i teachings to that component of the eye that facilitates clear vision, acknowledges the cultural uniqueness and value we bring to the table.  The central theme of our faith is that humanity is one race, and we should be working towards manifesting that reality in the world. It is love, not tolerance, we set as a goal for all human relationships. The Baha’i writings very specifically ask all ethnicities to acknowledge, love and respect our similarities and our differences as a means of attaining true spiritual unity.

Who can attend the conference?

All are welcome to come, but we are asking people to please RSVP by September 2nd, so we can provide enough food and conference materials for all who come.

Do you have a keynote speaker?

Dr. Joy DeGruy is our keynote for the conference, and she will be facilitating a smaller workshop as well. There are no words to describe how awesome this sister is. She is the author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome which explores the residual injuries African Americans sustained under the duress of American chattel slavery, and how those injuries persist across generations and influence mental, emotional and even economic health today. She is all about truth and healing. I don’t know anyone who has ever heard her and didn’t fall in spiritual love.

Those interested in attending can call Stephanie Jeffries 323-294-2241 or email [email protected]

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