Friday, February 01, 2008

Black Boy

My favorite photo of myself ever. I'm about 2 years old I think. Probably taken in Nashville, Tennessee, 1977.

Today I am 33 years old. I'm wondering why God saw fit to bring me into this world as a black male in America. God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise could have chosen any number of physical vehicles for this soul's development but chose one with which America has had a long hate/love relationship. God knew better than I ever could the implications of my being born a black boy.

29. O SON OF BOUNTY! Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things. Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother's womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee. Out of My loving-kindness, 'neath the shade of My mercy I nurtured thee, and guarded thee by the essence of My grace and favor. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals.
(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

Though the full ontological significance of the racial dimension of my creation is beyond my grasp in this world, the Baha'i Faith has offered me at least a framework in which to make sense of the strange trip I have been on since February 1, 1975:

"Yet it is clear, too, from the Teachings that every people, through its own inherent potentialities and particular range of experience, will make its own distinct contribution to the creation of a new civilization. To the extent that African-Americans who embrace the new Revelation arise to do their part by adhering to the Teachings will the gifts that are uniquely theirs be realized in the splendors of the Golden Age. The "pupil of the eye", Baha'u'llah's metaphoric reference to Black people, will no doubt acquire clear meaning as they conscientiously strive over time to fulfill the divine purpose for which the Blessed Beauty came. There can be no doubt that Americans of African descent can find in themselves the capacity, so well developed as a result of their long encounter with injustice, to recognize and respond to the vision of love and justice brought by the Promised One of all ages. Imbued with that vision, past and present sufferings are transformed into measures of patience, wisdom and compassion-qualities so essential to the effort to moderate the discordant ways of a confused world and aid the healing of its spiritual ills. What better than the transformed character of a bruised people to smooth the course, to offer perspectives for new beginnings toward world order!"
(Response to an individual on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 3, 2007)