Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 49: BIRACIAL MARRIAGE

Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is BIRACIAL MARRIAGE. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.

All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD! 

Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world.  The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority. 

Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!

Opening Meditation
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:

O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.

The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.

Opening Thoughts
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.

Not so long ago marriage between two people of different races was disapproved by society and in some countries there were even state laws to prohibit the voluntary loving union between a man and a woman of different races. The situation is a little different today but there are still some who either think that biracial marriage is against their religion or that the children will suffer. One posting on the topic on the Internet said something like “why can’t they keep to their own kind?” This presentation will help us to explore the forces in favor of biracial marriages as well as those against it and to provide resources to help biracial marriages.

Famous Quotes
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote.  Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.

1 I think it's something that needs to be said - that there are interracial marriages out there, and the couples live happy lives, and there's nothing wrong with it. Tia Mowry
2 The difficulties and hazards of marriage are greatly increased where backgrounds are different. Spencer W. Kimball 
3 Thirty years ago, interracial marriage was considered to be wrong by the laws of God. Now your society finds it common. The spiritual objections around it were either dropped or "rewritten" by those divinely inspired and authorized to do so. Therefore, your actual interpretations of the instructions from God changed with your society's tolerance level - an interesting thing, indeed, how the interpretations of God seem to change regularly to match a changing culture! Lee Carroll
4 The Bible does not oppose or forbid interracial marriages but sees them as a positive good for the glory of Christ. John Piper
5 When I was born here in Gulfport in 1966, my parents' interracial marriage was still illegal. And it was very hard to drive around town with my parents, to be out in public with my parents. Natasha Trethewey
6 I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being--neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there's no question of integration or intermarriage. It's just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.” Malcolm X
7 “In 1967, only 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage, yet the Supreme Court dismissed the desire of 96% of Americans who did not support it in order to preserve the rights of the minority.”  Kathy Baldock.
8 “I think mixed women from interracial marriages are beautiful, and for many reasons, all of them good.”  Daniel Marques
9 A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein
10 I come from an interracial family: My father is from Nigeria, and so he is African American, and my mother is American and White, so I rarely see skin color. It's never an issue for me. Annie Lonzeh

Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found. 

1 Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)
2 “And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground- it would also take the life of his children.” (Wilford Woodruff Journal)
3 “God has commanded Israel not to intermarry. To go against this commandment of God would be in sin. Those who willfully sin with their eyes open to this wrong will not be surprised to find that they will be separated from the presence of God in the world to come. This is spiritual death… To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a Nation of Priesthood holders… It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, ‘what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ Only here we have the reverse of the thing – what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.” (Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Race Problems – As They Affect The Church, Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954)
4 “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).
5 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. Christianity, New Testament: Acts 16:1
6 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Christianity, New Testament: Galatians 3:28
You shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son. Judaism, Tanakh: Deuteronomy 7:3-4
8 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Christianity, New Testament: Romans 10:12-13
9 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses regarding the Cushite woman he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. Judaism, Tanakh:  Number 12:1
He who does not clearly understand Heaven will not be pure in virtue. He who has not mastered the Way will find himself without any acceptable path of approach. He who does not understand the Way is pitiable indeed! Taoism. Chuang Tzu 11

Teaching Story
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?

Once upon a time Jack and Farzaneh of the Baha’i Faith fell in love and got married in 1965. Jack is black and Farzaneh is white. They met at a Baha’i fireside. With the support of the Baha’i community in Asheville, North Carolina their relationship blossomed but it was illegal for a man and a woman of different races to get married in North Carolina so they drove 500 miles to Wilmette, Illinois to get married.

They had a reception at the YWCA at Asheville on their return. Some who came were curious and wanted to see if it has truly happened. Others saw it as a very significant event for them to attend. Later some people gossiped about them, others starred at them when they were in public places and some refused to rent them a home.  There was even a bomb threat at the first night of their wedding. Commenting on their experiences Farzaneh said: “We could see first hand why Baha’u'llah said that biracial marriage was a service to humanity, because prejudice is something learned and just by seeing a biracial couple it tends to start erasing that phobia.”  “And we witnessed this in the changing of attitudes with the people we had contact with.” Jack also said that prejudice is born out of ignorance and that all biracial couples, and biracial children (they had two), are helping the country move forward. Some time after they married they moved to Georgia and later to Alabama where they live now. For their silver anniversary they returned to Asheville to the same YMCA where they had their wedding reception. Local journalists covered their homecoming and they became the talk of the town again. But this time it was different.

People welcomed them and shook their hands and at the same time assured them that the community had changed. People from the town’s licensing department even apologized for denying their request for a marriage license. In the summer of 2011 the couple celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary and are living happily ever after. At this point some might be asking what kept them going in spite of the racial tensions and obstacles in the world around them? Simply put it was their faith in the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and I might add their commitment to the marriage and their love for each other also played a significant role to their happiness! This story was taken from the Baha’I Faith Website and it was covered by Tracy Simmons.

Closing Meditation
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study.  The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.

Our closing meditation concerns the state of the relationship between biracial couples. We learned earlier that marriage between a man and a woman from different races was disapproved by society in the past. I have watched a television show in which a member of the audience remarked that biracial couples are afraid or ashamed to be close to each other in public. I have also seen situations mostly in grocery stores where the man and the woman often appear to be strangers to each other. Usually they walk with a wide gulf between them and the man has his hands in his pockets. What do you think you are doing to your relationship? Being seen with your spouse should never be a burden; instead it should be a celebration and let it show! Believe me that by your happiness you make billions and billions of people happy when your happiness shows! I have also observed situations in which one behaves as though he or she were superior to the other. It is sad and disappointing that legally married couples have problems adjusting in public. When you behave as though you were not married you bring disgrace to the institution of marriage. How can you be a responsible parent if you are insecure in the choices you have made? If you obtained the proper licenses and are legally married the law is on your side and if your marriage vows mean anything to you, you do not need another public acceptance to bring you closer together. My high school teacher calls people who let public opinion to dictate their lives “back benchers”, or “yes men”. Are you a ‘yes man’? I don’t think so because you live in the United States!

Here are a few tips to help your Biracial marriage:

  1. Practice love, compassion, courage and understanding at home and these spiritual values will bind you together in public.
  2. Join a religious group that teaches your values and share in the activities of the group. It is not enough to attend regular church or temple services; be part of the social groups that help and contribute to your relationships. If religion is not your thing join a circular support group. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are happy. But it is important that you join a support group as soon as possible.
  3. When people stare at you, or when they discriminate against you respond appropriately but comply with the law of the land. Remember, the LAW is on your side!

It is important that you take your marriage seriously to be able to counter all the forces that tend to separate you. It may appear that we have put the past behind us but discrimination against biracial couples is alive and well with us but so is love, support, and compassion. Live your life by your own values and let it show because this is your chance!

You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.

Closing Prayer
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer.

You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.

Talent Contribution
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group. 

Consider Malcolm X's quote on mixed marriages:

“I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being--neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there's no question of integration or intermarriage. It's just one human being marrying another human being……..” Malcolm X.

I have not found a similar quote from any of the sacred texts . The question is how do we move forward with religious restriction on human freedom to love according to their choices? The answer is there is no room for moving forward because it is against the will of the Gods.  But Malcolm X’s quote cannot be dismissed because it fits perfectly into our way of life. So what do we make of this?

Are you thinking about the birth of a Universal God with the prophets of our time as the messengers? Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, the other civil rights leaders, Africans and African Americans who fought against slavery and colonization, Europeans who fought against slavery and colonization, Africans and African Americans who fought against segregation and apartheid, South and North Americans who fought against discrimination and low wages and all those who fought against inequality and oppression---these are the prophets of the emerging GOD OF THE UNIVERSE. Think about it!

Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.

There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.

1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?

Personal Development
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?

1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?

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