Bahai News - The Bahá'í Faith Promotes Race Unity Tuesday May 4th 1999

The Bahá'í Faith Promotes Race Unity

By Eric R. Lum
Aggie Features Writer


The Indian Student Association performs at Saturday's Celebration for Race Unity.
Photo by Rick Ziegler / Aggie
Visitors to the Davis Farmers Market welcomed an addition to their shopping routine during Saturday's "Celebration of Race Unity" in Davis Central Park. Sponsored by the Bah' club, the string of performances were linked to the common Bah' goal - bringing together the human race.

The Bah' religion, which originated in Persia over a century ago, was founded to promote a world free of racism, sexism and any other discriminating hatreds that separate humankind. The Bah' faith has spread rather quickly throughout the years and those of the faith battle society's racism by promoting the oneness of all humanity.

"The point of the event was essentially the promotion of race unity," said Celeste Alvarado, Bah' club member and organizer. "We're trying to provide some kind of unifying force here in Davis by presenting different performances from around the world."

Performers came from the Sacramento and Davis area to rejoice in the celebration of race unity and to support what the Bah' faith stand for. These groups included the Florin High School Bah' club, Sacramento Bah' Workshop, Davis International Folk Dancers, UC Davis Indian Student Association, and the South Pacific Polynesian Davis Group.

Many performances displayed the diversity of our world, including traditional dances from India, Greece and Hawaii. All united on one stage with the same goal of the promotion of the unity of mankind. The fire dance mesmerized the children and the Hmong dancers gracefully captivated.

Another performance, called the racism dance, was a modern interpretive dance that told the story of two adolescent friends torn apart by their discriminating parents. The performance ended with the two families realizing the destruction of their wrongdoing, but only after their own children fall victim to the hatred.

"It shows how parents teach their children racism," Sacramento Bah' Youth Workshop performer Dustin Guinee said. "They pass it down through generation to generation and those children, who are (initially) pure and unaffected by racism...learn to hate."

He said he was glad to come and support efforts toward racial unity, and although the sound system was faulty, believes everyone remained positive and received the message of the dance.

In addition to the diverse performances, booths surrounded the perimeter of the stage to entertain the children and also carried the theme of race unity. One booth allowed visitors to color a square cloth, which was later sewn together with others into a race unity quilt and displayed at the Davis Food Co-op at the end of May.

Volunteering at the quilt booth, Bah' community member Diane Hill said the booths encourage children to appreciate racial harmony and to have fun regardless of their race or the race of others.

"We have the children's events available so they can just come and enjoy being out in the sunshine and to be able to think about the theme of race unity and that we are all members of the human race," she said.

Another booth provided materials to plant some seeds in a pot for the children to take home, reminding them "we are all flowers of on garden." Community member and Bah' volunteer Andrea Atkinson and these metaphors are a positive reinforcement, a change from the usual punitive instructions.

"In our country, we have a lot of people talk about what's wrong," she said. "We don't know how to build positive metaphors and positive messages for kids to grow up with. And that's one thing we have in the Bah' faith and we feel that it helps and we'd just like to share with other people."

She also said the children are more likely to accept the idea of racial unity. It is a similar message as the racism dance - it's better to show the youth the joys of a united world before they are corrupted by hatred.

"I think that kids really connect with the idea of race unity and world citizenship," Atkinson said. "We are just trying to build world citizens here. We teach a lot of these metaphors here in the Bah's children's classes like 'we are all flowers in one garden' and 'we are all leaves from one tree.'"

In addition to providing activities for children, adults were also invited to participate in the festivities.

"We don't want to limit it to adults," Alvarado said. "We want to be able to involve as many people as possible."

Davis Central Park, alongside the heavy traffic of the busy Farmers Market, was an ideal place to attract people. Lee Shebloski came to show his support for the ethnicity and diversity of the performances.

"A lot of this stuff you don't see on a regular, day-to-day basis," he said. "It's really nice to be introduced to (cultures) or to see it again."

Venders as well as shoppers appreciated the show. After it was over, a vendor came up to Alvarado and thanked her for her efforts and for the refreshing performances.

"We wanted something that's very central so that we could catch the attention because this is not an exclusive event in any way and we're not asking anything for it," Alvarado said. "All we want is to give this to the community."

Organizers felt that holding such an event is one of the better methods of spreading their word out. This event was the first large-scale production of the Bah' club, which in the past has limited itself to tabling on the UCD campus.

They hope to do this again next year, since the threat of racism is still a prevalent global problem.

"We're told that in the United States, this is one of the most challenging issue - achieving race unity," Atkinson said. "This is an important step for bringing about world peace. This is the country where all nations come together, and if we can bring unity among the different races here, we can be the beginning seeds of world peace."


Those who are interested in becoming part of the Bah' faith or are looking for information are welcome to attend a public meeting on race unity in the Blanchard Room of the Davis Public Library on Friday at 7 p.m. or visit their World Wide Web site at http://www.bahai.com.


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