Centering the Pupil of the Eye – Derik Smith

In the late nineteenth century, Baha’u’llah likened people of African descent to the “pupil of the eye” through which the “light of the spirit shineth forth.” In this presentation hosted by the Wilmette Institute, Derik Smith suggests that the “pupil of the eye” metaphor is a deeply consequential, distinguishing feature of the transformative social and spiritual system laid out in Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. 

Derik Smith is a professor in the Department of Literature at Claremont McKenna College. His work focuses on African American literary culture, with a particular interest in poetry. He also teaches and writes about representations of blackness in American filmic and musical culture. His 2018 monograph, Robert Hayden In Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era, recently won the College Language Association’s annual book award. His current scholarship focuses on the poetics of rap, and the rise of the genre during the final decades of the twentieth century, as well as the connection between critical race studies and the Baha’i Faith. Smith regularly teaches courses in American prisons and nurtures activist interests in prison studies and pedagogy. He and his family live in Southern California.

If you enjoyed this, you may also be interested in our podcast episode featuring Derek Smith: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 39: Derik Smith

If you’re curious to know more about the Wilmette Institute, which hosted this presentation, please visit their website:

About the Author

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

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Discussion 1 Comment

  1. Ja, ich habe mich sehr, sehr lange mit diesen Worten Baha‘u‘llah beschäftigt, und erinnerte mich so sehr an meine Vision mit 10 Jahren im Kloster Fischingen im 5- Bank. In meinen Akten steht: Das Margritli mit seinen wunderschönen, schwarzen , klugen, Äuglein, Ich musste herzhaft lachen als ich Baha‘u‘llah gelesen hatte! War ich doch bis heute- für meine Augen bekannt. Es ist lustig! Mein Pflegevater der Professor G.B. hatte ebenfalls wegen meinen Augen- große Sache! Lustig! Was auch die Augen ausmachen Naysan? Seltsam? Herzliche Grüße aus Bern und Dank

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