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
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 Bahà'í club, the string of performances were linked
to the common Bahà'í goal - bringing together the human race.
The Indian Student Association performs at Saturday's Celebration for Race
Photo by Rick Ziegler / Aggie
The Bahà'í 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 Bahà'í 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, Bahà'í 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 Bahà'í faith
stand for. These groups included the Florin High School Bahà'í
club, Sacramento Bahà'í 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
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
Bahà'í 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, Bahà'í 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 Bahà'í volunteer Andrea Atkinson and these
metaphors are a positive reinforcement, a change from the usual punitive
"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
Bahà'í 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
"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
Bahà'ís 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
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
"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 Bahà'í 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 Bahà'í
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
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