Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Can ANY Black Person Be LDS or Live in Utah?

Once again that was the question. "How can you be a black Mormon?" And it's usually followed by something like.... "they have really brain washed you, I'ma pray for you."


My thinking is.... "here we go again."

It's quite interesting when black people visiting Utah run into me or my sister. I'm not sure what happened on THIS particular day, but I was already in a bad mood. I should have worn a t-shirt that said... "Don't start no stuff, won't be no stuff."
Anyway, I'm walking out of the grocery store and 2 women approach me.... "hey, do you live here?" They asked

"Yup, I sure do!" I answered, bracing myself.

"WHY? And where are all the Black People?" they said.

"They're in Ogden" I snickered out loud.

"You a Mormon?" was the next question

"YES! Yes I am....!" I said loud and emphatically.

Already knowing what the next question was going to be, I waited for it...

"I never heard of black Mormon's before you must be the only one. How can ANY black person be a latter day saint?" was the question

"Well what do you mean?" I asked, playing dumb.

"Y'all can't even get into their temples. And you can't even marry someone of a different color and be part of that church. They teach that black people don't go to heaven and can't be preachers or ministers in that church. Girl they got you brain washed, I'ma pray for you."

Now when these moments come up, I have a few choices.
I can get pissed off and battle with them and their ignorance.
I can smile and thank them for informing me.
I can take the opportunity to educate and dispel any myths
Or I can simply turn away, ignore them and go on about my business.

*sigh* If you know me, ya know what I did don't you?

I've been in Utah almost 18 years. EIGHTEEN LONG YEARS!

When I was pregnant with my daughter I went to California to live with my brother and sister-in-law. After living with them a year I knew I couldn't stay there forever and it was time for me to step up and find a life for me and my daughter.
I called my mom in Battle Creek Michigan and told her I was coming home.
"NO, you're not!" was her answer. I was baffled, what did she mean I wasn't coming home?
They say you can ALWAYS go home.
"baby, you are not supposed to be here. If you were supposed to be here I'd let you come home, but this is not where the Lord wants you to be."
"Where am I supposed to go?" I cried.

"you need to get on your knees and talk to your Heavenly Father and find out." She said.

She was right. Sometimes when things get tough the first thing we do is run home for shelter and safety and comfort and we get stuck there because of the familiarity of it all.

To say the least, I was really shaken up by that conversation. I was welcomed to stay with my brother and sister-in-law. But staying their didn't feel right either.

So for about a week I contemplated places to go. I know where I didn't want to go. My sister was in Utah and I had already lived their for a summer and in Idaho for 2 years. I also lived in New Jersey for a bit and I loved it out East.

So I put myself in motion to possibly move out East. As I was planning to go out East a Gnawing feeling kept creeping into my mind... "yewtaw" I would quickly brush it away and continue to make my plans.
You know where this is headed, dontcha? The more I planned for out East the louder the "UTAH" voice was in my head.

Man I didn't want to go to Utah. I was JUST there. I had fun and all, but I was ready for another experience.
*sigh* Finally I did just as my mother directed: got down on my knees and prayed. I knew before I prayed I was going to Utah. But the answer I rec'd through prayer gave me the faith and courage to follow the direction I received. It was so CRYSTAL CLEAR:

"Go and raise your daughter. You will be well cared for. You will be successful. You will teach the youth the beauty of cultural diversity and brotherhood. You will be a pioneer for those who don't understand. You will help pave the way to knowledge and enlightenment."

When I left California, I had enough rent for 1 month and enough food and diapers for my baby daughter for 2 weeks. I packed my clothes, her clothes and stroller and went to Utah. My sister had found me an apartment with a roommate who wouldn't mind a struggling single mother living with her.
I flew in late on a Friday night. I started putting in Job applications on Monday, was hired as a hostess in a restaurant on Wednesday and started working a week after I arrived. I believe Heavenly Father had this in the works before I even arrived. By obedience I was blessed every step of the way. He put situations in my life letting me know that the choices I made were right choices.

Back to the grocery store parking lot:

" How can ANY black person be a latter day saint?"

I tried to divert the question by asking them where they were from.


"Atlanta????? " I asked in horror.

"How can any black person live in the south? I mean with all the bigotry still going on and didn't they have slaves down south? I don't get how anyone can know black history and still choose to live in the south?"

They looked at each other like I spoke in Japanese or something, then at me like a horn popped outta my forehead.

I "axed" them again... " HOW can any black person knowing the history of slavery live in the south?? WHY would they want to??"

I broke into a smile, because I knew I had them thinking. I explained to them the misinformation they had about blacks not being able to go into the temples or minster or marry a different culture. I had been endowed since 1993 meaning I had been through and in the temple MANY times. Many of my friends are members who serve as High Priest, bless, administer, deliver sermons across the pulpit, preach, lay hands on and pray over and do everything there is in the church to do. INCLUDING my father and brothers. I also showed a picture of my father and step-mother (who is white) and informed them they were indeed married in the SLC temple.

They were taken by surprise. "Well, what about black men and the priesthood? They couldn't even have it until 1978."

That's true I told them. I told them the history of other churches who had discriminatory traditions. I called them traditions because I don't believe them to be doctrine.
I told them, you don't hear about how the other churches stopped practicing their discriminatory traditions because they didn't proclaim it to the world. LDS Church made a WORLD WIDE announcement proclaiming EVERY worthy male regardless of color or race was invited to come and receive the priesthood which we believe is the power on earth to act in behalf of God. Knowing this would most likely single them out as a racist religion, they went forth and let the world know. Which was the right thing to do, to proclaim to the world, and not on the down low as if to hide some dirty little secret.
I also invited them to think about the history of the United state even know there is still much discrimination. It's not as bad as it was HOWEVER, perhaps we needed to wait for the people of the world to accept blacks as equals so the work of the Lord could go forth. For EVERYTHING there is a season....and the Lord knows that season when we do not.
My point in bringin' up bein' black and living in the south was... Slavery was a long time ago. Conditions are not as they were. The world is a different place. We as a black people have come along way is ALL aspects of life, even religion. You don't base where you live on the passed history, but on the progression of moving forward and how you are able to successfully live your life.
I don't base my religion on it's passed traditions that no longer exist. I base them on the blessings I receive and the success, happiness and peace it brings my family. I base it on the knowledge I have of truth and righteousness it brings to me and my family. I base it in KNOWING the doctrine studying the Scriptures and a feeling of confirmation that I've received time and time again when asked in knowing what is true and what isn't true. A confirmation that only comes by studying and prayer, ASKING GOD THE FATHER IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for a testimony of truth.

After about a 2 hour conversation in a Utah grocery store parking lot with 2 of my Sistahs from Georgia I remember that portion of the answer I rec'd to my prayer almost 20 years ago:

"You will teach the youth the beauty of cultural diversity and brotherhood. You will be a pioneer for those who don't understand. You will help pave the way to knowledge and enlightenment."

This is why I'm here, in Utah. It is why my sister and I chose to stay in Utah. If black folks keep moving out of Utah because there's a lack of diversity and an intolerable ignorance about it, then Utah will never diversify and will always be in a state of ignorance toward other races and cultures.

It is one of the things I've been called to do. And there is great peace and joy in knowing what you've been called to do and having the ability to do it.

If you don't feel you are where you should be, I challenge you to speak to your father in Heaven and find out. And when you know I promise you that if you are obedient and faithful, you will be blessed. Whether you are struggling with finances, family, or whatever is holding you back from moving forward, God has it all worked out. He will take care of and make sure your needs and the needs of your loved one's are met. It is his promise.


Dave said...

This is my first time on your blog and I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for sharing your experiences so everyone (members of the LDS faith and others) can read them.

If you haven't seen it already, I thought you'd want to see this video that was just uploaded by the Church for the 30th anniversary of the 1978 revelation:

Maybe it would be worth embedding on your blog here.

ShaBANG said...

Dave, I'm actually the LDS Genesis Group Program director. And worked with the Genesis presidency & Church Public affairs on the planning of what the program you speak of should portrait.I'm glad to know there's a link to the video shown during the anniversary program. I'll be bloggin about the actual Anniversary events on temple square in a few days.

LifeOnaPlate said...

Thanks for the testimony, I love it. Thanks for stopping by on my blog, as well. I was wondering if you could check out my blog about the revelation and let me know what you think. You are quite candid about your experiences, so I would really appreciate it.

Seth R. said...

Great post. As a native Utahn, I'm glad you're there. Thanks for representing.

Dave said...

That's great. I'll be looking forward to your posting about the anniversary events!

Anonymous said...

You have an awesome blog!

Anonymous said...

I have a question, could you please email me privately

Andrew I. Miller said...

Love the blog! I'll be linking to it from my blog :)

Best wishes!

John Newman said...

Amen Sister Shabang!

I am soooo blogrolling you.

MegRuth said...

Thank you for sharing that. I've always had a hard time accepting some of the histories of our church. But your words really set my mind straight and my heart at ease. There is a season to everything. God has a plan for us all.

Thank you.

brent said...

You get an AMEN from me! Hi, there, by the way... :D

T.Douglas Robbins Esq. said...

Stumbled my way here, but thank you! As a Utahan, I also want to thank you! I grew up between Lancaster, California, and the Salt Lake Valley, and I remember the last time moving back from California, and going to elementary school thinking: "Hey! Where are all the black friends I had?"

Disorientating, I swear! I have you bookmarked, I have my own blog and random ramblings, gospel poetry, and artwork. Have an awesome day madam.


T.Douglas Robbins Esq. said...

Oh, ha! The link:

themeese2 said...

I check this blog all the time and I was so happy to see a new post! What is the "main blog" of which you speak? I would like to bookmark it.

I think you're the best!

Kim (Just Beautiful)

ShaBANG said...

Hey Kimz! The Main blog, is my everyday life stuff. You know me, so many chapters, so little time.

Feel free to check it out.

Creole Wisdom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShaBANG said...

Thanks Creole, I'll check you out ;)

themeese2 said...

Shabang, can you give me a link to your other blog? I don't know where to find it!


Rebecca said...

Thank you for seeking His will. Thank you for doing His will and for sharing your testimony.

As a latina-white Utah girl still learning why the Lord sent me to the South, I am *so grateful* for the work you are doing to build the kingdom and change hearts in my native state.

May the Lord bless you in all you do!

LeAnn said...

I MISS YOU!!! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. My favorite is the blacks in Utah section. I have been worried about you since you quit working and after reading the blog my concern has grown. I hope things are going better for you and would love to hear from you. You are awesome and a wonderful example to people. Keep it up.

S'mee said...

fabulous post, as always!

Nickolas Martinez said...

Was looking for someone to actually address this question, instead another person making excuses for a few dead racist/sexist pigs. I don't even feel sorry for you, just keep paying them money so you don't get "burned".

ShaBANG said...

Nickolas Martinez, I don't know why you or anyone should feel sorry for me, nor is anyone asking you to. Perhaps if you ASK your questions instead of trolling around the internet looking for people to criticize you might get answers. Perhaps you should muster up some courage find some people to speak with face to face about what your real issues are and you might get some actual answers to "whatever" your unknown questions are. If you're looking for someone to slam on people, sorry I'm not the one. The Lord doesn't work that way and neither should we. If you'd like to have a meaningful conversations about some issues you're having, instead of being disappointed you can't push your agenda on this page, message me and we can talk. In the mean time, Perhaps you should take your questions to the Lord himself. After all he DOES answer prayers. *Keep on keepin on ;)

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