Deaf and Hard of Hearing people have a great deal to contribute to Baha’i activities, and with a few accommodations can more readily take part in them to everyone’s benefit.
This is a message championed by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Task Force for the Baha’i community. Appointed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, the national governing council, the task force has existed off and on since the 1980s. Today, it has four members—Naledi Raspberry, Tavoria Kellam, Jason Schwartz and Erin Salmon—who, with assistance from people like Austin Vaday, are working to educate Baha’i communities about how to improve accessibility.
Recently in a class at Pennsylvania State University, the instructor, Ashley Patterson, asked the class of 25 students: How many had ever been into the house of someone of a different race? One raised a hand.
Then: How many ever had a meal with someone of a different race? Two.
Harrison Hill is a historic residential neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is home to people of diverse ancestries — and for many that’s a cause for celebration. The decades-long marriage of two of the neighborhood’s residents, Gayle and Akinlana (“Akin”) Bevill-DaDa, exemplifies the possibilities for interracial relationships. Gayle is white and Akin is Black.
As the Baha’i world prepares to commemorate the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s ascension and anticipates the construction of His shrine and final resting place, the time is ripe to review His talks and writings (which you can find online here at the Baha’i Reference Library). One of His most important writings is the Will and Testament, in which He appoints a successor and provides instructions on the administration of the global Baha’i community. To aid in the study of this crucial document, this article discusses its significance, its historical context, and its main themes.
Summer 2020 will long be remembered for protests against racial injustice that filled the streets of many U.S. cities. Young people have been at the forefront of this movement, impatient with the nation’s status quo — a feeling no doubt shared by many young Baha’is.
The Midwest Youth Conference, July 18–19, sought to develop a response to this social reality. Held via online videoconference, it attracted 75 participants from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Many U.S. Baha’i communities have moved nearly all activities that would usually take place indoors to online platforms since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.
Yet not everyone has access to reliable devices, digital literacy, a stable Internet connection, quiet space or other resources that make online engagement possible, as the team coordinating activities in the Indian Creek neighborhood of Stone Mountain, Georgia, discovered.
A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a renowned professor of communication arts. He posed this question to me: “Why do the English translations of Baha’i Writings use such elevated language? Does it pose an obstacle to understanding for some people?”
In The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi laid out a path for the U.S. and Canadian Baha’i communities to contribute to the transformation of their societies, as summarized in introduction to the Advent of Divine Justice. Addressing the United States in particular, he identified “racial prejudice” as “the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Baha’i community,” for this issue permeated the entire nation, which he called “a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice.”
Baha’u’llah proclaimed to humanity that “these great oppressions that have befallen the world are preparing it for the advent of the Most Great Justice.”1 His teachings lay out a blueprint for establishing a just world civilization founded on international cooperation, and the paramount task of His successors has been to give people around the world access to this blueprint.