Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I was brought up in a household that was very focused on the elimination of racial prejudice and the belief that all of humanity is one. I was taught not to make distinctions based on race, color, culture or class. I truly believe in unity in diversity and I deplore racism. One of the most famous sayings from the Baha'i Faith about mankind is that "Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch".

Over a year ago I went to a diversity conference in Virginia and developed the video below for use on the really cool website It asks the question "Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?" Check it out.

I think the answer is probably "Yes". At least a little bit. And that is only due to the way our culture functions in this day and age. I am one of the least racist people you could ever hope to meet due to the way I was raised. However my family and Faith couldn't completely protect me from the prejudices of a corrupt society. Sadly, some fears and stereotypes have leaked through and warped my perceptions. Not a lot. But some.

But when I recognize them, do I let them cloud my vision? Absolutely not. I strive to eliminate them. As I said earlier, I believe in race unity and the essential goodness of the entire human race. I do not think we are born with prejudices. I think they are learned behavior.

What say you? What did you think of the video? I have some quotes on this topic from a few world religions below. Do you have thoughts and/or quotes to share?

"The world of humanity is like a garden and the various races are the flowers which constitute its adornment and decoration. In the animal kingdom also we find variety of color. See how the doves differ in beauty yet they live together in perfect peace, and love each other. They do not make difference of color a cause of discord and strife. They view each other as the same species and kind. They know they are one in kind. Often a white dove soars aloft with a black one. Throughout the animal kingdom we do not find the creatures separated because of color. They recognize unity of species and oneness of kind. If we do not find color distinction drawn in a kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among human beings, especially when we know that all have come from the same source and belong to the same household? In origin and intention of creation mankind is one. Distinctions of race and color have arisen afterward."(Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 34)

"He sees indeed who sees in all alike
The living, lordly Soul; the Soul Supreme,
Imperishable amid the Perishing:
For, whoso thus beholds, in every place,
In every form, the same, one, Living Life,
Doth no more wrongfulness unto himself,
But goes the highest road which brings to bliss.
Seeing, he sees, indeed, who sees that works
Are Nature's wont, for Soul to practise by
Acting, yet not the agent; sees the mass
Of separate living things- each of its kind-
Issue from One, and blend again to One:
Then hath he BRAHMA, he attains!"(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Occasions of hatred are certainly never settled by hatred. They are settled by freedom from hatred. This is the eternal
law."(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men."(King James Bible, Romans 12:9-18)

"O YE children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation."(Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. 112)


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