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January, 2001

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 4, Issue #5




- Talk Given By 'Abdu'l-Baha - 23 April 1912, At Howard University Washington, D.C
- Eliminating Negative Effects of Race, Gender and Culture on Provider/Patient Relationships
- Fostering Racial Harmony
- The Exchange
- Book Review - "Racial Healing: The Institutes for the Healing of Racism"
- The Institute for the Healing of Racism in Toronto...and Related Thoughts
- Suggested Reading
- Sacred Writings on Racial Unity
- Health for Humanity
- Response from a Reader to the article "Lung Cancer Healed"
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of the Newsletter



JANUARY 15, 2001

This issue is devoted to Racial Healing





From "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", Talks delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, pp.44-46

"Today I am most happy, for I see here a gathering of the servants of God. I see white and black sitting together. There are no whites and blacks before God. All colors are one, and that is the color of servitude to God. Scent and color are not important. The heart is important. If the heart is pure, white or black or any color makes no difference. God does not look at colors; He looks at the hearts. He whose heart is pure is better. He whose character is better is more pleasing. He who turns more to the Abha Kingdom is more advanced.

In the realm of existence colors are of no importance. Observe in the material kingdom colors are not the cause of discord. In the vegetable kingdom the colors of multicolored flowers are not the cause of discord. Rather, colors are the cause of the adornment of the garden because a single color has no appeal; but when you observe many-colored flowers, there is charm and display.

The world of humanity, too, is like a garden, and humankind are like the many-colored flowers. Therefore, different colors constitute an adornment. In the same way, there are many colors in the realm of animals. Doves are of many colors; nevertheless, they live in utmost happiness. They never look at color; instead, they look at the species. How often white doves fly with black ones. In the same way, other birds and varicolored animals never look at color; they look at the species.

Now ponder this: Animals despite the fact that they lack reason and understanding, do not make colors the cause of conflict. Why should man, who has reason, create conflict? This is wholly unworthy of him. Especially white and black are the descendants of the same Adam; they belong to one household. In origin they were one; they were the same color. Adam was of one color. Eve had one color. All humanity descended from them. Therefore, in origin they are one. These colors developed later due to climates and regions; they have no significance whatsoever. Therefore, today I am very happy that white and black have gathered together in this meeting. I hope this coming together and harmony reaches such a degree that no distinctions shall remain between them, and they shall be together in the utmost harmony and love.

But I wish to say one thing in order that the blacks may become grateful to the whites and the whites become loving toward the blacks. If you go to Africa and see the blacks of Africa, you will realize how much progress you have made. Praise be to God! You are like the whites; there is no great distinctions left. But the blacks of Africa are treated like servants. The first proclamation of emancipation for the blacks was made by the whites of America. How they fought and sacrificed until they freed the blacks! Then it spread to other places. The blacks in Africa were in complete bondage, but your emancipation led to their freedom also - that is, the European states emulated the Americans, and the emancipation proclamation became universal. It was for your sake that the whites of America made such an effort. Were it not for this effort, universal emancipation would not have been proclaimed.

Therefore, you must be very grateful to the whites of America, and the whites must become very loving toward you so that you may progress in all human grades. Strive jointly to make extraordinary progress and mix together completely. In short, you must be very thankful to the whites who were the cause of your freedom in America. Had you not been freed, other blacks would not have been freed either. Now - praise be to God! - everyone is free and lives in tranquility. I pray that you attain to such a degree of good character and behaviour that the names of black and white shall vanish. All shall be called human, just as the name for a flight of doves is dove. They are not called black and white. Likewise with other birds.

I hope that you attain to such a high degree - and this is impossible except through love. You must try to create love between yourselves; and this love does not come about unless you are grateful to the whites, and the whites are loving toward you, and endeavor to promote your advancement and enhance your honor. This will be the cause of love. Differences between black and white will be completely obliterated; indeed, ethnic and national differences will all disappear..."




Reprinted by permission from Health for Humanity News, July 1999 (see information about Health for Humanity in this issue)

"The impact of race and gender on health care has become an issue of wide concern. Studies have shown that blacks and women receive poorer care than men and whites. One of the most recent and most widely publicized of these studies, 'The Effect of Race and Sex on Physicians' Recommendations for Cardiac Catheterization', can be found in 'The New England Journal of Medicine', February 25, 1999, pp. 618-626. It has also been demonstrated that cultural differences can create major misunderstandings and misdiagnoses, thus creating a negative effect on health care for minority populations. One of the goals of Health for Humanity is to reduce inequities in health care and to assist healthy providers/patient relationships that transcend differences of race, gender and culture.

As part of a new project that Health for Humanity has recently undertaken, a brief questionnaire was sent to some of the nurses on HH's database asking if they had any courses in caring for patients from different cultures as a part of their medical training. If so, the questionnaire asked, were these courses a mandatory part of the nursing curriculum? Of the nineteen replies received, four individuals responded affirmatively, and three of these nurses indicated that such courses were degree requirements. Two nurses said that most U.S. and U.K. nursing schools have had such courses for the past several years. One nurse reported that she is now helping to teach such a course. Thirteen of the nurses, however, said they had no such courses when they received their medical training.

Health for Humanity has begun a search to locate study materials that are available for health care professionals to aid cross-cultural and cross-racial understanding. The following are a few titles that were found:


Pocket Guide to Cultural Assessment
By Elaine M. Geissler, R.N, CTN, PhD. 1994. Clear and precise information on cultural variations of dominant cultures of over 166 countries that could potentially impact patient and family care. Baker and Taylor Books, Commerce Service Centre, 251 Mt. Olive Church Road, Commerce, GA 30599-9988. Ordering: (Phone) 800-775-1100; (Fax) 800-775-7480. Canada: (Fax) 905-470-6780.

'Race', Communication and the Caring Professions
By Lena Robinson. 1998. For social workers, health care students and practitioners. Open University Press, Celtic Court, 22 Ballmoor, Buckingham, England MK18 1XW. Or: Taylor and Francis, Inc., 47 Runway Road, Suite G, Levittown, PA 19057. Telephone: 215-269-0400. email: This book also has an extensive list of references to other titles of interest, and is part of a series. Another title of interest in the series is 'Nursing for a MultiEthnic Society, by Gerrish, Husband and Mackenzie. More information about these titles can be found on the publisher's website:

Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care
By Margaret M. Andrews, RN, PhD, and Joyceen S. Boyle, RN, PhD, CTN, FAAN. 1995. Explores cultural variations in lifestyle, habits, beliefs, life-process and responses to clinical problems and gives a comprehensive framework for conducting relative and sensitive assessments of each client and client family. U.S. and Canada: J.B. Lippincott Co., 12107 Insurance way, Hagerstown, MD 21740-5184. (Phone) 800-777-2295; (Fax) 44-752-695699. Other countries: Same address as U.S. (Phone) 301-714-2300; (Fax) 301-824-7390.

Counseling American Minorities: A Cross-cultural Perspective
By D.R. Atkinson, G. Morten, and D.W. Sue, 1993. Dubuque, IA, W.C. Brown. We have no ordering information for this book.

Counseling Across Cultures
By C. Vontress, 1981. Racial and ethnic barriers in counseling. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. We have no ordering information for this book.

Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy
By C.R. Ridley. 1995. We have no further ordering information for this book.




Taken from "Puslinch Pioneer", Vol. 22, Issue 8, April 1998, Ontario, Canada

Members of the Baha'i Faith and their friends came together on March 21 at the Puslinch Community Centre to celebrate the Baha'i New Year and to honour the United Nation's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The feature guest speaker Rosalind Crocker, mother of eight, spoke on the theme "Positive Ways We Can Foster Racial Harmony". Rosaline works as a community volunteer in Guelph and this has brought her into contact with many adults and children of diverse backgrounds. Her maternal grandparents were born in Georgia in the late 1800's and were the children of slaves. Their experiences in the southern United States and the harsh reality of the depression led them to seek a new life in Canada.

"Racism" she said, "starts when misinformation is received." She pointed out that many men and women are now in non-traditional roles, people of colour are in leadership positions and people with disabilities are doing activities similar to the able bodied. She asked that we make it a practice that a person's identity is never an acceptable reason for teasing or rejecting them. Ms.Crocker encouraged the audience to, "show that we value diversity in the friends we choose and the people and firms we do business with. Let our children experience a concert, art show or cultural event that reflects diverse cultural heritages. Research confirms that between the ages of 2 and 5, children become aware of gender, race, ethnicity and disabilities. They also become sensitive to the positive attitudes attached to these 4 key aspects of identity both by their family and society in general.

"When your 3-year-old asks 'Why is that lady's skin so dark?' Tell her it is because the lady's parents have dark skin. If it's an older child asking, you can explain that if you have a lot of melanin, your skin is dark, if you only have a little, your skin is light. If your child asks, 'Why do those people talk so funny?' You can explain that they are not speaking funny just differently than you do. If you don't know the answer to your child's questions then you can take the child to the library and find books to help with the answer."

Ms. Crocker pointed out that, "Ethnic humour is a subtle form of racism. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King has written; "We shall have to repent in our time, not merely for the vitriolic words of the bad men, but also the appalling silence of the good ones." She asked the audience to "make a commitment to establish meaningful friendships with people of different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. In your workplace talk with people of other nationalities to find out what barriers they face and how you can work with them to remove them."

In conclusion she commented that, "The preservation of our planet and survival of the human family depends on our coming together. Unity doesn't require uniformity, but does celebrate diversity. We all belong to the human race, part of one human family, biologically, environmentally and spiritually - born with a capacity for goodness."





Does the principle of the oneness of humankind have a role to play in healing racism? If so, how? What, if any, is the relationship of the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the human family to the concept of unity in diversity? What contribution can these two make toward healing racism in human communities at the individual, institutional and societal levels?


"I have a completely different attitude towards this subject. I have been very fortunate to grow up in what I call a healthy atmosphere and the result has been that I have neither an inferiority or superiority complex regarding my race. I was always surprised at how sensitive Americans (both black and  white) are regarding the subject of racism and feel that it is because the wounds have not healed yet. 'Abdu'l-Baha said that the white people must make a special effort to eradicate their feelings about black people and the black people must learn to forgive. I think this is very, very important and it is obvious that this goal has not yet been reached on the whole. On one hand, I find many white people with guilty consciences and on the other, black people who are always ready to accuse. This is not a foundation for world unity. I personally always joke about my blackness because I have no complexes and I like to laugh about myself.

My mother-in-law, once said a beautiful thing about me. She said to others that they don't even see me as being black. My husband's family never saw my colour but my soul! Isn't that wonderful? I grew up with friends from all over the world, of different races and countries so I never understood racism even though I have personally experienced it several times. It's alright to be angry with injustice but it is dangerous to be bitter. Bitterness destroys you.

A number of Americans have this way of seeing in everything regarding the race issue, something suspicious. But this is because suspicion among the races still exists. When it will be eradicated, there will be a New Race of Men!!"

- Ranzie Mensah (born in west Africa), Italy


" His public talks in America 'Abdu'l-Baha never touched on the prospect of such catastrophic racial violence. He preferred, as he himself explained not to 'sadden' His audiences. He did not dwell on the deficiencies of the present order. Instead, He encouraged His listeners, pointing out "the oases rather than the deserts of their environments", as Louis Gregory once observed.

His public themes did not spring, therefore, from unfamiliarity with or disregard for the terrible obstacles blacks faced in their efforts to achieve equality in America. Rather, He sought to nurture the positive attitudes among the blacks that would stave off desperation, hopelessness, growing hatred, and the ultimate disaster of racial warfare so violent that it would "cause the streets of American cities to run with blood."

Louis Gregory heard both the encouragement to constructive action in 'Abdu'l-Baha's speeches and His private warnings about racial violence. He readily understood the personal implications of 'Abdu'l-Baha's assertion that brotherhood "is not possible without will and effort on the part of each" of the races. ('Abdu'-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 43) For whites, the quest for brotherhood entailed putting aside ingrained attitudes and habits of superiority. For blacks, it demanded building a basis of trust. Mr. Gregory believed that the teachings of Baha'u'llah had stripped away all traces of anger  and hatred from his own heart. He knew that these emotions, however, well justified, simply intensify oppression, whereas positive attitudes erode its foundations. As he once told an audience.

"It is only by co-operation, mutual appreciation, and good will that we can get anywhere in the solution of these problems that vex us. If this room were filled with darkness we could not remove that darkness by intensifying the darkness, nor can we remove discord from the face of the earth by increasing discord." (Louis Gregory, Racial Amity, p. 167)

Yet a hopeful attitude did not come easily even to Louis Gregory, although he turned invariably toward the standard set by 'Abdu'l-Baha. In 1919, for example, he wrote to his friend Joseph Hannen:

"The Baha'i teacher must maintain a state of happiness if he is to do his work effectively. And this seems possible only by constant prayer and as far as one can, ceaseless activity. Otherwise, the well-authenticated reports of cruel injustices and crimes against defenceless peoples would entirely absorb the powers of concentration."

- Taken from "To Move the World" which is about Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America, by Gayle Morrison, pp. 60-61




By Reginald Newkirk and Nathan Rutstein, book review by Nancy Dinnigan Prashad, Ontario, Canada

This highly useful book, just published in the fall of 2000, is a manual for anyone who wants to know what works to overcome racism. It gives us access to the collaborative experience of two people who have fine-tuned a process that breaks down the bases of racism and replaces them with an understanding of the oneness of humankind.

Not surprisingly, Reginald Newkirk and Nathan Rutstein's approach to the book reflects that of the Healing of Racism process itself - a practical approach that reaches hearts. In the first part of the book, each tells us his personal story. And they are personal, these stories; both had the courage to speak honestly of their experiences and realizations, some of which were deeply painful to them. The second part of the book details the rationale behind the Institute process and describes how to do it and how to share it with  nstitutions in your community, such as schools and police departments.

Most intended solutions to racism not only don't solve it, but may actually increase it by promoting the pretences that support it. The Institute for the Healing of Racism isn't a quick fix; there isn't one. Personal transformation alone will end racism and this takes time. The developers of the Institute have  developed a tried-and-true process that enables participants to experience this transformation.

The authors see racism as a psychological, emotional and spiritual disease that affects every member of a society that is fundamentally racist - yes, ours. Essential parts of the healing process include:

- education on:
a) the development of racism in our country and generally: the circumstances, myths, misunderstandings, lies and power-seeking that underlie and perpetuate its various aspects.
b) the pathology of racism - how it affects us (more complex than you may think!).
c) the oneness of humankind - learning to listen with the heart - an essential skill for any form of healing.

The Institute process teaches us that our true nature is as spiritual beings. Although no specific religion is discussed, the core Baha'i principle of the oneness of humanity is at the heart of the process. The authors make no claim that this is the only program tackling racism that works (Institutes are encouraged to network with likeminded organizations) or that it will end racism in the world. Nevertheless, it is evident that it has made tremendous changes at an institutional level in the many communities where it exists. If you have the  slightest interest in learning about racism - and how to help heal yourself and others - this book is a must-read.

This book can be found at some Baha'i Distribution Services or contact the executive director of the National Resource Centre for the Healing of Racism, Ms. Milagros Phillips. She can be reached by email at or by calling their toll free number, 1-800-837-5591. The web site address for the National Centre for the Healing of Racism is:




By Dev Prashad and Nancy Dinnigan Prashad, Ontario, Canada

In 1992, we hosted Nathan Rutstein in our community, Ajax, Ontario, Canada to speak to teachers, police, the public and several Baha'i gatherings and institutions. It seemed a good idea at the time to start an Institute in Ontario, but it didn't happen. Then in the fall of 1999, a small group of Baha'is from the Toronto area, including us, attended the first International Conference on the Institutes for the Healing of Racism in Connecticut and decided to go ahead. We realized that we would be pioneering to some extent, as there is only one facilitator in Canada - now in Saskatchewan - and we would have to develop our own (Canadian) material. 19 people attended a full weekend seminar in  June 2000, after which a series of 10 group meetings followed.

Our facilitator, Reggie Newkirk, could be with us only for the initial weekend, so members took turns preparing presentations and facilitating the meetings. Among the topics that we learned about: institutionalized racism within the Canadian legal system, racism and mental health; racism in housing and racist reaction to Roma (gypsy) immigrants to Toronto. Group members increased knowledge, learned to listen with the heart, and built trust. The original group  still meets, out of which we have formed a steering committee for the Institute. We expect that several group members will soon train as facilitators. In the future, we hope to take the process into community institutions in Toronto as well as the Baha'i community.

Our own experience with racism? Dev says he  would need to write a book to tell his experience with racism, beginning with the effects of colonialism in his country and on his family that created attitudes he didn't know he had, until recently. For now, suffice it to say that as a couple with different backgrounds (Dev is from Guyana, South America, of East Indian background and Nancy the product of Irish immigrants to Quebec) we have seen some. We have lived in various parts of Canada, in Guyana and southern United States. Some prejudice was directed at us as individuals, some because we were together. A lot of it we simply chose not to see when we were younger and more naive. These days, couples who look like us are more common, at least in Toronto, and prejudice, where it exists, is more subtle. Undoubtedly, prejudice played more of a part in our lives than we were aware of at the time. Certainly, our three children, now grown, have experienced prejudice, most persistently and damagingly within the school system.

One last point: Although racism is accepted terminology, it is based on the concept that different races exist. They don't. Race is a socially constructed idea, with no basis in reality. It is an idea that has put power into the hands of a few and caused untold grief and misery to billions. In speaking on this topic to groups, Nancy finds that youth especially are quick to understand that since science has disproven the idea of race, oneness of humanity is more than just a nice-sounding theory. We are one family.




- "Healing Racism in America: A Prescription for the Disease" by Nathan Rutstein, (ISBN 0-9633007-1-7)

- "Racism: Unraveling The Fear" by Nathan Rutstein (ISBN 0-9659945-0-3)

- "Coming of Age at the Millennium: Embracing the Oneness of Humankind" by Nathan Rutstein

- "Racial Healing: The Institutes for the Healing of Racism" by Reginald Newkirk and Nathan Rutstein

- "Towards Freedom: The African-Canadian Experience" by Ken Alexander & Avis Glaze (ISBN 1-895642-20-5)

- "To Move the World" (Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America) by Gayle Morrison (ISBN 0-87743-171-X)

- "Parting the Waters: America in the King Years: 1954-63" by Taylor Branch (ISBN 0-671-46097-8)

- "The Pupil of the Eye: African Americans in the World Order of Baha'u'llah" compiled by Bonnie J. Taylor (Publisher Palabara Publications)

- "Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela" by Nelson Mandela

- "The Last Steps to Freedom: The Evolution of Canadian Racism" by John Boyko

- "Racial and Cultural Minorities An Analysis of Prejudice and Discrimination" (Fifth Edition, Plenum Press, New York, 1985)

- "The Black Men's Baha'i Gathering: A Spiritual Transformation by James Williams and Ted Jefferson (self-published), 1995.




"Concerning the prejudice of race: it is an illusion, a superstition pure and simple! For God created us all of one race. There were no differences in the beginning, for we are all descendents of Adam. In the beginning, also, there were no limits and boundaries between the different lands; no part of the earth belonged more to one people than to another. In the sight of God there is no difference between the various races. Why should man invent such a prejudice? How can we uphold war caused by an illusion? God has not created men that they should destroy one another. All races, sects and classes share equally in the Bounty of their Heavenly Father." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p.148)


"Then it is evident that excellence does not depend on color. Character is the true criterion of humanity. Anyone who possesses a good character, who has faith in God and is firm, whose actions are good, whose speech is good - that one is accepted at the threshold of God no matter what color he may be." ('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 427)


"Regarding the solution of the racial problem; the believers should of course realize that the principle of the oneness of mankind which is the cornerstone of the Message of Baha'u'llah is wholly incompatible with all forms of racial prejudice. Loyalty to this foundation principle of the Faith is the paramount duty of every believer and should be therefore whole-hearted and unqualified. For a Baha'i, racial prejudice, in all its forms, is simply a negation of faith, an attitude wholly incompatible with the very spirit and actual teachings of the Cause. ( From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 22, 1936, Lights of Guidance, p. 533, Helen Hornby)




Health for Humanity (HH) is a health development agency, focusing its activities around three broad program areas: Blindness Prevention, Public Health Development, and International Exchange. The main objective for these programs is to build human capacity by promoting grass roots development through local initiatives in under-served areas around the world. The Blindness Prevention Program is committed to training health care professionals in the prevention and treatment of eye diseases that often lead to blindness. Current activities are on-going in Albania and Cameroon.  The Public Health Development Program supports community-based public health initiatives that are set-up to protect and promote the health of all people in that community through capacity-building activities. This program is focused in Bolivia and the South Dakota, USA. The International Exchange Program encourages learning experiences and an exchange of medical knowledge and ideas by both volunteers and partners. Current activities are on-going in China and Mongolia. HH provides avenues of service for health care professionals from all disciplines to apply their talents, skills and resources to further global health and community development. Since its beginnings in 1992, HH has attracted over 1500 members and supporters from 58 countries around the world. For more information contact HH at 467 Jackson Avenue, Glencoe, IL 60022 USA or by email at HH will soon have a website at




By Russ Novak, Mexico

"Having personally experienced losing someone to cancer, and also being an "internet type", I spent uncounted hours searching through all the information I could find on the web about the disease and possible treatments. In the process of doing so, I came across dozens of websites with stories similar to the one about the Raven oil. It may indeed be possible that the circumstances described reflect something that really happened, but based on the volume of similar material that I have seen, I think that it is also just as likely that the "story" is actually a cleverly written advertisement by an unscrupulous individual that uses an emotionally appealing tone for the single purpose of selling oil, and that the Newsletter and website are being manipulated. Besides, there are simply too many variables involved for anyone to conclude with certainty that whatever unconventional approach they took was absolutely  responsible for the results they claim to have gotten.

Cancer is a terrible scourge, and despite the comfort that can be found in the Teachings that are available to us, causes great trauma not only in the heart of the one afflicted, but those close to him/her as well, making them more susceptible to velvet toned appeals which may be of little or no value, and could possibly impede the seeking out of effective treatment. Anything that can reinforce the hope and faith of persons affected I of course support without reservation, but I express my concern here in the hope that testimonial accounts of this type are very, very carefully investigated before being used. Disclaimers about the articles in the Newsletter merely representing individual points of view notwithstanding, I would shudder to think that what is a wonderful effort on your part might become the tool of petty commercial interests."




Poor communication causes a great deal of stress - it affects families, marriages, friendships, health care professionals, patients and co-workers. How can consultation and communication, skills that are essential to our well being, be taught and practised in everyday situations?




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"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

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