Saturday, December 14, 2013

Black Pearls Of Great Price


As far back as I can remember I've been taught that man is fallible, therefor making our prophets and church leaders fallible. Since the beginning of time  God has allowed man the opportunity and the blessing of leading his church and his people. Since the beginning of time man has found a way to misinterpret, mislead, misrepresent, misjudge and mistake their own will to be that of the will of the Lord. Some succumb to weak moments, temptations and social pressures. There was never a time when men, leaders, disciples of the Lord haven't made mistakes. They've never been perfect.

 HISTORY LESSON TIME:

Abraham succumb to adultery.

 With King David it was adultery, murder, lying, polygamy

Elijah was selfish, lacking faith and confidence in God

 Jonah directly disobeyed and hung out in a whale for some time.

Moses Murdered a man and ran from justice, Then disobeyed God in anger.

Noah was intoxicated and physically exposed

Paul  had some adult language going on wishing people would "castrate themselves" and calling his troubles "dung" (aka Sh*t) 

Peter Denied Jesus. Discriminated against the Gentiles

The brother of  Jared Chastise for not speaking/praying to the Lord  for years WHILE being prophet.

The stories of Alma the younger and sons of Mosiah.

Joseph Smith had his many fallibility as well.  
As did prophets after Joseph Smith.

None of this means it's ok to follow likewise. If a prophet makes a mistake he doesn't justify it making it ok for us to make it.

We claim these men as fallible yet justify their failings as some sort of inspiration to be held for a period of time and then lifted at another appointed time. 

Last week a statement shows up on the church website basically reciting the history of how black people were viewed in the eyes of the Church and it's doctrine. The article is on the church website www.lds.org. Thank goodness for the search option, because it's buried. Being the helpful sort of sistah I am I'll help you out.  You can find it right here!

Many of my white brothers and sisters were excited about the newly publicised history lesson on the church's past doctrines about black members being disfavored in the eyes of the Lord as well as the rest of the world and the denouncing of such teachings.  I should be jumping for joy and singing the hallelujah chorus, right?  Well, that's at least how I'm hearing I'm supposed to feel. We're not to look a gift horse in the mouth. We're to be thankful and grateful for steps moving forward into progress.  And trust me I am.

 I'm so very grateful that the Church has acknowledged to the world  that they have looked up and taught for centuries that black people were considered less than valiant, less than valuable in the eyes of the Lord and in their eyes as well.  Because if we are to be Christlike and become as the Lord is, then that would surely mean if the Lord values black people less, then they, too should strive to be like him.
 Much like a married should be happy to know the truth about a cheating spouse. Overjoyed!

  OH, wait, I bet that doesn't sound right, does it? A little bitter to the taste?
 The information that came forth regarding the black members and the Church is not new revelation. It's not presented as a proclamation.  For me, it was a history lesson, one we've been hearing through the years.   It may be said a little differently but for me, it's a rerun. A review with a footnote included this time: Oh,  by the way we don't teach that stuff anymore so all is well.   Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Throughout the years we've read in the scriptures about 'white and delight some people and dark and loathsome people knowing these words will be ingrained into every member of the church. Subconsciously how will this play into finding an eternal companion for myself and my children. Would the church rather I marry someone outside of it to my own race, or does race matter. I will indeed matter to those who believe whats been ingrained through our gospel teaching.

  Today I find myself in between my black brother and sisters. There is an Old school set of black Mormons with old school patiences, tolerance and wisdom. With a calmness and an atmosphere that we are to be grateful for  acknowledgments and blessings we've been given compared to those of say, Sister Jane James and  Elder Elijah Able. They have adjusted and adapted and accepted old protocol. Protocol that may need to be replaced by a different strategy.

The New School set of Black Mormon  are younger, louder, more energetic, willing and able to move full speed ahead but are losing soldiers along the way due to spiritual supplies being withheld or lacking to hasten the work.

I feel at the cusp of both teams.  And am struggling myself with recognizing the balance between the two. Both sides are much needed in this spiritual battlefield.
      When people ask me why black members aren't accepting and satisfied with all the church has said and done about acknowledging the Priesthood ban and the devaluing of black members through out the history of the church, I take them on a quick trip.

   Imagine you are part of a struggling group, not of your own doing, but born into what is perceived to be an undesirable circumstance. You and your group leave all you know in search of  a Paradise you've heard of  where you well be nourished 100 percent body and soul, loved, accepted and flourish amongst all who are there, regardless of your "undesirably circumstances."  So you all set out on this journey in search of  Paradise. The trek is hard. It's grueling. Some have died an never reach paradise. It's a heartbreaking. And it's going to take years to get to the final destination.  You soldering on for a few year and you scavenge and forage for whatever supplies you need. You have shelter and clothing and the essentials to be alive but you'll have to find a way to gain all you need to make it safely to the final destination.  When you come to as Place where you are able to Rest, Eat, Drink, Mend and Restore and you praise the Lord and find joy in it and believe you've found your destination so you prepare to make your home.   After a while you recognize this is not your final destination.  You've been brought to this place and most of what you need to dwell here an make this your home But some of it is tainted and needing repair. The people are tolerant, some even loving. Others are aware of your  "unfavorable" circumstances by birth and they hold it against you. They accept  you being here, but not because they want to or believe you have a right to be since they're still being taught that you're still of less value which somehow taints this location.  You and your group knows it's time to continue on.
 You've traveled many years in the elements and putting up with whatever comes your way and in the far distance you see a land with plush greens and blue waters so you hasten your travels and your body and soul are replenished with praise and energy knowing that soon the journey will be over. As you finally reach this paradise, you realise it's just a facade that you've been promised.  You're tired. You're hungry, you're dehydrated in need of major rest and uplifting. You are welcomed to the facade and given a small piece of bread and a sacrament cup of water and sent on your way.   Are you confused? Are you Grateful? Are you deflated? Are you nourished? Can you sustain your life on the respite and refreshment you've just received?  And if so, for how long?  You continue on your journey another few years and again see in the far distance a land that appears to be what has been described as the place of promise. Again your heart and spirits soar! This MUST be it you're finally arriving!  Only got get closer and find another facade. Crust of bread, shot glass of water, and you're back on the journey. "

  The group is a group of Mormons.
 The Undesirable Circumstance is the Black skin (according to previous teaching)
The trek is waiting for the priesthood.
The first place mistaken to be Paradise is the Priesthood ban being lifted.
The intolerance and tainted supplies are teaching materials of how black people are perceived in our scriptures and church history.

Those who hold the intolerable circumstances against you are the generations of people tainted by those teachings. Because no one has educated them other wise.  In Paradise the people will have a strong and unwavering knowledge that those teachings were incorrect and not to be indoctrinated again.

The Facades along the journey are statements from the people in charge of paradise. They share little new information, some  headway to announcing a strong unwavering knowledge but never strong and unwavering. This is your crust of bread and sacrament cup of water through out your journey.

The land of Paradise will be when the People in charge of Paradise decide to just say.  We devalued this people because of their undesirable circumstances. We should have never done that. We've taught that because of it they were less valuable in the eyes of God and in our Eyes. That was wrong as well. We no longer believe this. We no longer teach this and we need to do whatever we can to correct it and make sure everyone knows it.

  It really is that simple  So we're waiting for people to die of from being in charge of the capital and new people to be called in charge of the capital so we can reach paradise with the other Mormons.
We're not only battling forces outside of the church we're battling forces inside the church along with some others.  But our battle is different, I feel.

 There was a time these teachings, talks and discussions were buried in the bowel of the churches historical archives where they could be silenced and put to rest.  Perhaps if the church can stop talking about it and just focus on the here and now we, as a people can pretend it didn't happen and move forward.  Direct questions to Official Declaration 2 in our continuing revelation set of scripture, The Doctrine and Covenant and keep it rolling.  But you can't Silence Sister Internet Explorer and Brother "I'm Feeling Lucky" Google.   Because they have access to and a willingly share all of their knowledge for those who seek to partake of it. 

As a Gospel Doctrine Teacher in my Ricks College Ward, now known as BYU-Idaho I remember when it came time to teach the "Blacks in the Priesthood" lesson. I threw out the book. Walked into the class room and announced..."Today's lesson is, ask me all your questions about me and my family being black members of the church. We're going to have a discussion, no books, no manuals telling me what I'm supposed to say and how you're supposed to answer."     I'm not one to be uncomfortable in silence because that's where real conversations with the Lord happen and I couldn't find anything I should be uncomfortable about.   But they looked like hell, scared to open their mouths. Hesitant in what they should say and how they should say it.     Finally some one raised their hand, and I nodded to them.
  He said cheerfully and so happy for me and my family..."How did it feel when the church revealed that black people in the church were worthy enough to have the priesthood."
 Oh he was so happy for me and mine that we could finally enjoy the blessings of eternity.
     I laughed out loud and said... "IS THAT WHAT YOU'VE BEEN TAUGHT?? Because I heard it differently."   I told them I've never heard of someone not being worthy of the priesthood to even be invited to be baptised. Why baptise someone unworthy of its priesthood, isn't that are requirement of baptism?  My father wasn't being held accountable for Adam's Eve's or even Cain's transgression according to Article of Faith #two.
As a primary child I knew and in hindsight understood some of these things. And it wasn't lost on me that if
 "We believe man should be punished for his own sins and not Adam's transgressions."  
                           Then my father, being punish for something Cain, or Ham or any other mans transgression didn't jive right with what "We Believe..."

 So the only thing I could really say...
  "See, I heard my father couldn't have the priesthood because your mother and father weren't worthy enough to let him have it. So we had to wait on church leaders and y'all. And what Y'all were waiting for... I don't know."

   Keep in mind this was mid 1980's in Idaho. I was the first real black person many of them had seen outside of a TV set.

  In our church the literature and doctrine has been so peppered with this teaching that simple lifting the ban is not going to flip the switch in the minds of those who are indoctrinated.
         Years and years, books and books, talks and talks over generations and generations have been impregnated into the minds of the members.  And the members need books and books, talks and talks over generations and generations to repair the damage it has brought forth.
  In a short news cast the church divulged why they released the statement. You can find it here.

Some of the younger generations is finding the "pocked" history of the church, questioning it, feeling deceived and leaving the church because of it.   Others will say, if they truly believed in modern day revelation, they would not be struggling and leaving.  I cry B.S. It's not a matter of Modern Day Revelation.
 It is a matter of  believing that we preach that our prophets are fallible, but when it comes to their fallibility we justify it as new revelations and the field being ripe for the harvest..
 The Priesthood ban and views on black people were not in accordance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we've been teaching  and learning about.  Even as a kid in primary I knew that.  And once you know something you can't "unknown" it.

   The news cast is very telling to me. It tells me that maybe families should be  teaching  in the home about diversity. Acceptance of it and tolerance of others.

Gay members are surely speaking about how the church relates to them. But are they discussion on racism effects other members of the church and how we should be against it?

Feminist are surely speaking about wearing pants and ordaining women in the home, but are they speaking about racism and homophobia.

I know many black families that are teaching all of the above in their family. Some even go so far to say as I'd rather have a gay kid then a kid who committed suicide because of it.  Sadly  this is actually what's happening to our gay and black youth in the church.  I've yet to hear about feminist suicides.

Oddly enough the church has powerful, straight forward, stances on issues of feminist rights and gay rights.  They have been addressed many times in our general sessions strongly, powerfully, forcefully. There is no misunderstanding  past and present views on these issues.

Blacks in the church is still a gray area. How fitting (black and white does create the color grey doesn't it?)
  We hear things like...' The theory of why the ban was put in place was wrong"  or " Policy upheld due to it just not being the proper time."
   Amongst my white brothers and sisters in the church I hear,  "But that's over now,  we need to forget about all that." Why do you choose to focus on the past and revisit old spiritual wounds?"    From some of my black brothers and sisters I hear.. "I don't choose to focus on that past history, I choose to move forward."
     To my fellow black members:  You must know your passed so it doesn't repeat and become your future.

To my white brothers and sisters:  Yes, it's over now. Until your cousin approaches my daughter, niece or nephew and call them a nigger. Or tell them they were playing basket ball in the pre-existance, Or tells them  "I can't date you because you're black, and my family wouldn't understand or support it."
  Happens quite often for black members.

 How can WE forget about it when your generations are finding ways to remind us?  Black youth are becoming inactive before some of them are out of primary. Even more so for black youth with white parents.
 At one point I had stewardship of 100+ LDS youth  at one time, 90% of them black or biracial. All are now reaching their mid twenties most finding fault with church beliefs being in aligned with church teachings. I can count on 1-1/2 hands how many of them are still active. (I try and keep and touch, they know I love them no matter what they determine their truth is.)

As many come to understand the newly disavowed teachings and beliefs they're finding what mom and dad are saying about the church not believing this anymore isn't reflect outwardly or publically.
 Scriptures are starting to be changed to reflect it.  Church media, art and local leadership doesn't reflect it. We don't hear it on a consistent basis in Sacrament talks, Stake Conference, Primary lessons, General Conference, like we hear other things. Why?

 We don't "choose" to relive passed wounds. Passed wounds continue to fester because they haven't been properly cared for.

 I can cut my hand deeply on a rusty piece of metal run some water over it and put a bandage on it.  I may wince a little as it heals.  It may even scab over and heal on the surface and feel better. But every couple weeks or so it festers up again and I have to keep bandaging it.  Because I've put a bandage on something that needs stitches. And if I don't properly take care of it, reopen the wound, properly clean out the infection and bacteria that's living in the wound, medicate it stitch it, back together and THEN bandage it, it will create a permanent seal that will heal.

The teachings of the church and it's views on black members is a rusty nail that has pierced the black membership of the church. It is a wound that we go to our Church leaders and white brothers and sisters for healing. All they can offer to us is a bandage to cover the wound and maybe some soothing words to take away the immediate sting. But the main pain and infection remains. Because the church has not come out and given them the tools needed to properly clean the wound and medicate it so true healing can begin.


   As a member of the church when I do something that jeopardizes my standing in the church. I am asked to ponder and pray, take responsibility, confess and repent, seek council and make amends to get back in good standing.   I've been taught all my life that this process is a divine principle. I believe it is. So where is the accountability? Not just for those who lead but for those who allowed themselves to be lead these now disavowed teachings.

 I was listening to Sistas In Zion radio show last week when mentioned maybe the church needs to apologize for being misleading.

 The serpent beguiled Eve and she did eat, but Adam partook of his own free will. There's accountability on both sides of the fruit.

 Prophets, leaders and disciple's of the Lord have, do and will make mistakes. To ignore that is even a bigger mistake.  Even those who feel they've been mislead need to take accountability for not seeking out their own personal revelation and petitioning to The Father to confirm unto them the truthfulness of what we are taught and what we hear from our leaders. That personal revelation is the point of what fast and testamony meetings are all about.

  We are promised that if we  petition the Lord for the truthfulness of what the leaders present to us that we have a right to receive that personal revelation.
 
And if something is out of line then we petition to the Lord for direction.

 I've heard recent interactions with my feminist sisters who parallel the church race issue with inability for women to have the priesthood as well.  I applaud any group of people who stand up for whatever they believe.

  I don't see the connection. A white woman, feminist or not was not being denied entrance into the temple, her endowments, and a temple marriage to her husband solely on the merits of a feminist.  She, like us have access to the priestood blessings They were never with held from her.  A woman can change her mind, her thoughts her view to be or not be a feminist.   I can stand next to a white sister of the church with either of us not saying a word.  She could keep her mouth shut and not choose to divulge she is a feminist. When I keep my mouth shut, you still know I'm black.     If a sniper was going to come into relief society and shoot black sisters and feminist and wasn't told which sisters were feminist.  Well we know I'm getting shot. How many feminist would survive and why?    Even with Ordained Women and the priesthood they aren't going without the blessings of it.
 The Blacks in the church have very little to do with the feminist of the church. I can think of one of my feminist sisters who has invited me to see what they are about so that I could have a greater understanding of where she comes from.  I've yet to have others come to me in conversation try and understand my struggle and share it with their others.

 For some reason black women realize and are empower by the priesthood even with not having a man in the home.  Many are too strong and have done so much along we LONG for a man to come in and take over. WE ARE TIRED!!!!

 I dare anyone to tell a black woman she can't call down the power of the Lord because she's a woman. We've been doing it for years. This is what makes us Black Pearls of Great Price

 I've never thought that I COULDN'T  pull down the power of heaven and ask a special blessing upon my sick child and not have it happen because a man wasn't around to do it. I've never felt that I COULDN'T petition directly to the Lord for anything and have it withheld because i didn't go through a member of the priesthood.  I've always known I've had a direct line to the Lord.  And isn't it he who gives his power to those worthy of it to go forth and bless others?  Don't get me wrong I would LOVE to have a husband who can handle those things for me, cuz I'm a busy woman. But  I know that I will never be withheld the blessings of the priesthood because I don't have certain anatomical body parts.  That, to me is a little frightening and I'm not sure why other women don't know it either.
 What I do know is that my truth is not in wearing pants or baring myself to the public. We have generation of leaders who need to have a strong foundation of knowledge and not one full of "pocked" marks and cracks from an unresolved and unhealed past.
 Until then we still remain strong, faithful Black Pearls of Great Price In the Mormon Church.  


To read more  on *Being Black in the Mormon Church* follow the links below.
Janan Graham: Addressing the Black Elephant in the Room

36 comments:

ErinAnn said...

Dareon Smith has a petition on change.org for the church to issue a formal apology for the damage that these racist teachings have caused. I thought about it for a few days before I signed it. Obviously it's hard for me to know what it would take for a black member to feel is a satisfactory apology.

For my own part, I want there to be a press release and an official First Presidency letter read over the pulpits -- at minimum. This just seems like what you wrote about: a brushing under the rug to say that they have, technically, disavowed those incorrect "folk doctrines". (I'm a little unclear where the general membership is supposed to be able to discern between prophetic teachings and folk doctrine.)

Frankly, I'm a little ticked about the situation. I'm embarrassed by my church. And I'm very disappointed in this lack luster move.

ShaBANG said...

Thanks ErinAnn. Things like this are difficult to write because of the love we,I have for the church and it's own struggle. Im grateful for seeking out and knowing much of this history so I could teach it properly with guidance. The point is not to cause doubt or abandonment. Knowledge is power. And knowing your history will righteously arm you for truth. The time will come, if it hasn't already, when we all will have to choose between what is right and what is easy.

ShaBANG said...

I am the first to admit I don't know much about LDS Feminist. So What a Divine Opportunity for me to approach them so I, too can become more educated!!

Reese Dixon said...

There is so much meat here that it's going to take me some time to digest. Some of what you wrote about feminism makes me defensive, but I'm sitting with it to see if it needs defending or if the truth just hurts.

One thing I do want to discuss is where you talked about not feeling the need to have the priesthood to call down the power of heaven and how black women have been doing things on their own for so long they're tired.

We hear women from all backgrounds and ethnicities say they don't need the priesthood, so maybe this is a personal thing, but I'm wondering if this is a difference between the black and white experience?

I'm thinking of Beyonce here (I try to often) and the recent hubbub as clueless white feminists have criticized her music and naming her tour the Mrs. Carter tour without recognizing what those acts mean within the black community. How those statements can be her affirming her value, as opposed to subverting it, which would be what it meant if a white women did it.

White people don't have much respect for strong women, or matriarchs, and especially not in the church, which makes us absorb all those thoughts that we need to get behind a man to approach heaven. Maybe you were surrounded by people who shielded you from those messages, or maybe you just have an independent spirit that refuses to bend (that's the camp I think I fall into), but maybe there's something cultural there too?

ShaBANG said...

Reese thanks for your comments. I can absolutely see how some of what I mentioned can cause you to be defensive. Im not well versed and know very little about the Mormon Feminist Views and need to educate myself, which has already begun thanks to this opportunity. In the black community the strength and power come from the women. Strong mothers and grandmothers. At every family reunion I go to them en pay omage and tribute to the strength of women carrying the family forward through the generations. They speak mostly of Spiritual and emotional Strength. Maybe we think the Lord gave the men the priesthood so we don't just leave them behind and extinct the human race. But Im one that lives outside the box so that's kind of where my truth comes from... outside of the box. Im not saying our men aren't strong but I'm saying we have no problem coming toe to toe with him if we feel something it out of line within himself, the home he is head of or in his business. And we will then proceed to help him realize why we feel this way and demand some accountability for it. I'm pretty sure some white sisters do the same but rarely see examples of it in their relationships as I do in ours. I wouldn't say that I was shielded from those messages. I've defineatly have seen it within my own extended family (yea, I have many white relatives). I But also see white women submitting to it more readily for some reason. Black men have been out of the homes since slavery. After slavery they had to travel days just to find work and send money home so we could keep the kids alive, fed and clothed and fed while we took on a job as well to make ends meet. We've adjusted to having the power to do what was needed to survive physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, without men always by ourside and without "permission" or guidelines informing us we needed to go through a male organizational Hiarchy to do so. Im not saying I don't need the priesthood. I most defineately do. And if there's a Brother around who can perform Priesthood duties I will gladly approach him with my request.( We can't go arouond sucking up all the blessings can we?)But I know there are circumstances where I have been blessed by the priesthood through women as well. If Beyonce calls her tour Mrs Carter, it's because she has taken her power to called it that. I know for most black women we don't see it as a subversive move. It's a powerful move. A choice to inlcude "Carter" into HER success not for him to overshadow it. I can't explain it other than like this... One of the ultimate act of control is using the power to relinquish control. If that makes sense. The ultimate strength of Jesus Chris's crucifixion was when HE CHOSE to give up the ghost. I truely feel it is a more cultural thing.

Melody said...

I read Janan's essay too. Amen to both of you. Thank you for taking time and energy to put this into words.

I'm thinking now as a nurse (which is what I do professionally) and about the way doctors assess for appendicitis: by pressing down on the area of the abdomen over the appendix. They watch the patient's face and ask if it hurts. (The MDs know it's not the pressing down that hurts an inflamed appendix.) Then, they quickly let up, relieve the pressure, and a patient with a infected appendix about hits the roof because the pain is so bad.

The way I see it, black Mormons have had pressure on that appendix for a long time by church leaders, wondering how bad they are hurting, wondering if they should do something more. This recently released statement is like suddenly letting up on the pressure, and you betcha, there is gonna a be a lot of crying out in pain! The leaders should have known this.(But maybe, once again, that fallibility thing gets in the way. Maybe they're only med students metaphorically) People have been hurting for a long, long time and now that they are screaming, somebody better pay attention and take action to heal the damage caused by the infection of prejudice. The way I see it, the recent statement opened the door wider to the sickness within the church. Someone needs to send the "doctors" back to school, so they can clean up the mess their predecessors made. Thanks again for this amazing post. (I hope my comment makes sense. It does in my brain, but who knows about anyone else's) God bless.

Sinclair said...

I thought you said it best with this:

"I've heard recent interactions with my feminist sisters who parallel the church race issue with inability for women to have the priesthood as well. I applaud any group of people who stand up for whatever they believe.

"I don't see the connection. A white woman, feminist or not was not being denied entrance into the temple, her endowments, and a temple marriage to her husband solely on the merits of a feminist. She, like us have access to the priestood blessings They were never with held from her."

Racism is an additional layer borne by women already subjected to patriarchal norms of LDS culture. You can relate to my experiences as a woman in the church but there's no way that I, as a white woman, can reciprocate that understanding to you as a black woman for more reasons that I can count. Your experience is a layer (and more) thicker in that regard and, because of this, it's my place to shut up and listen.

I'm pretty upset that the church took the route it did to (so inadequately) address its history of wrongs done to black men and women. It's the ultimate passive-aggressive move, methinks. And I'm cheering for everyone who is calling the church and its membership out for accepting what ought not be considered acceptable.

People still believe the explanations offered, mixed-race marriages are still actively discouraged, and men and women (here, in the South) still question the "heritage" of black priesthood bearers. For this to be taken seriously, this statement needs to have more authoritative weight placed behind it (lest it be dismissed...'cause as it is, it can be) and greater air time than the "explanations" that were trotted out for over a century.

MoFems have spoken up (still do) about homophobia, but racism hasn't been given the same air time...not even close. It's my hope that this will change and that our walk and talk will be strengthened by our willingness to listen.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective. Please continue to do so.

Erstwild said...

A comment about the past:

Dwell on the past, and you will lose an eye
Ignore the past, and you will lose both
-- Russian Proverb.

It's interesting that every 4 years that Sunday School is about teaching Church History alongside the D&C. Yet, somehow, all members of the Church must forget about the Priesthood Ban? Plural Marriage is mentioned in some of these lessons, even though it was also done away with.

Esther said...

Your post really hit me hard and made me stop and think. For one, it was a great explanation of why it's not the same to equate the two different struggles.

I also wanted to post this. I posted it elsewhere but wanted to get your thoughts on it.

I apologize in advance if anything I say is offensive, racist, etc. I recognize that I speak from a place of white privilege and, to some extent, ignorance. I want to talk about this to try to become less ignorant. My whole desire in posting this thread is to become less ignorant.

Catching up on reading the blog posts, I found this. It was sobering.

This part especially struck me:
"Feminist are surely speaking about wearing pants and ordaining women in the home, but are they speaking about racism and homophobia."

How do I talk about racism and homophobia with my kids without totally bungling it? It's not a topic that comes up, is that a problem in and of itself? My kids are 4, 2, and 15 months. What is an age appropriate way to discuss these things? Usually, my feminist discussions with them occur via playing dress-up or reading stories and talking about how they can be whatever they want to be, girls and princesses can kill dragons too and don't have to be helpless, telling my 4 year old "No, women really can and do wear pants, look at what mommy is wearing right now?". Issues of racism and homophobia aren't things that get brought up (that I'm aware of, although it's entirely possible I could be missing cues) and I worry that I might bring it up in a way that would bungle matters. I'm also still coming to terms with the fact that, despite what I previously thought, I did grow up with some racist thought patterns and worry that my discussion attempts might convey that in a way I don't want.

How do these issues get addressed? What can we as white straight parents do to not only be allies but teach our children to be allies? I don't think it's enough to just go "Well they won't learn hate at home so no need to address it" when there's so much hate and intolerance out in the world around them, including at the Church we belong to.

Mallory Funkhouser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mallory Funkhouser said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's clear that your faith in Jesus Christ is more important than anything else.
I appreciate your and Reese's discussion on culture, using the Beyonce example. I'm developing this opinion that as humans we are more products of our culture than we usually recognize. It's hard for me to imagine President Monson saying "I'm sorry for every leader who was ever racist" because how does one apologize on the behalf of others? You can't really. And church leaders, like us are products of their culture just like we are.
Instead, I like the idea that instead of waiting for all these ‘leaders’ to apologize, that all of us could. We should use these examples that are starting to be discussed (feminism, racism, and homophobia) and ask ourselves "what biases are ingrained in me, or what ideas do I cling to that are not aligned with the Saviors teachings?"
I can't pretend that I've always been vocal against racism and homophobia, but I do remember at a young age hearing racist things and thinking that they didn't make any sense and I wouldn't believe them or hold onto to those views. I first decided I could be defined as a feminist when I read this article: "Feminism In The Light Of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" by Harrison and Richards. (https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/download/6368/6017) while pondering, I felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me the truth that didn't seem to fit on the right or the left of the culture and society I knew.
This is one of the great challenges of life, to be able to step outside the cultural boxes we all are surrounded by and embrace truth. I think your writing this article is a service of love to help others (and it seems like yourself) step away from the extremes of the world and into the Savior's truth.
I love your blog!

Dorothy said...

Thanks so much for letting FMH post this. I imagine it took a lot of bravery, and your voice is so important. I loved reading this post. White feminists do need to do a better job speaking up about sexism and homophobia (past and present), because if feminism doesn't support all women, it fails.

Thanks also for articulating that general gap between young and more experienced black members of the church.

Kristine Anderson said...

Thank you for sharing. I love your voice and perspective. As a feminist I agree we cannot co-opt your experiences as our own. We may notice similarities, but you are right, it is not the same.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. It is very powerful and very needed.

B said...

Great post! Thank you for speaking about the power of women and our ability to access God directly, I absolutely agree! Also, thank you for speaking out about racism in the church, I totally agree that it should be addressed more often and from your perspective. I believe that's what being "Christ like" is all about, taking time to try to understand the feelings of others.

For my part, I know that racism was institutionalized and I heard my dad quote church provided reasonings for the ban and our "superiority" thankfully it never sat right with me, thankfully I had inspired leaders who weren't white who taught me better, thankfully I had the opportunity to live in an area where I was a minority and feel just a bit of the sting of hate for the color of my skin. My dad has passed and I'm sure now is learning to see and feel for all people regardless of skin color.

I'm sorry for what has gone on. I'm sorry it continues to go on. I hope it will be addressed in greater openness & from the highest levels to sacrament meeting &primary. It needs to be!

Thank you for bringing this up. Thanks to Mormon feminist housewives for letting me know about this post.

It's been a long time since I've heard the tennent to seek our own revelation and confirmation of church policy & leaders. I remember it being a teaching in the forefront of my childhood church education. Lately however the focus I seem to hear more and more is that when the prophet speaks, the discussion is over. .. doesn't sit right with my beliefs!

Marjorie said...

I am excited that the church is moving towards an outright apology and statement that we were wrong and racist. I believe we will get the eventually but it should have been years ago. In the meantime I am doing what I can in my sphere of influence. Last year my daughter came home from seminary and said her teacher asked why blacks were denied the priesthood. She said,"mom, I nailed it! I raised my hand and said that we were racist and wrong." We as a church just need to say the policy was wrong. It was racist. We deeply apologize for the hurt we have caused. We will do better.

anorthowife said...

I'm sorry. No one deserves this kind of treatment. Not now, not 50 years ago, not a thousand years ago. The only thing I have to offer is the promise that I not only recognize my own white privilege, but that I'm teaching my children to recognize it as well. I can't change the world, but I CAN change how my children and I think and act within it. Because everyone deserves respect without qualifiers.

... said...

To whom should the apology be issued? In 1978 there were very few members of African heritage. The supposed injured class is small and growing smaller by the day due to death. You would have to be a 47 or older black male of African descent to have been denied... and there are not too many of those.

Have non-Jews asked God to apologize for extending the Priesthood to the Cohens and Levites first? No.

God owes none of us an explaination. For example, the Word of Wisdom is about obedience. God could command his people not to eat salad. We know that salad is good for us but if God commands us not to eat it do we disobey?

Sinclair said...

...,

The apology should be issued to the entire church with special sensitivity to the black men and women who have braved the LDS culture both past and present. Remember that the disparity was *not* instituted by way of command and was instead purely cultural, i.e. racist.

That it was overturned by "revelation" is due to the cowardice of LDS leadership on all levels. Per the lds.org page, leaders felt that such would be necessary to overturn the previous century of discrimination since it was so deeply rooted in the LDS community. Such pithy explanations offered didn't just effect black men but also black women (and let's not forget the largely white membership / leadership who considered it God's will when, in fact, it wasn't). It's highly suspect that God was waiting for them to muster the courage on their own, not be commanded on an issue that's at the heart of Christianity.

... said...

The majority of blacks in the Church were not around during this period; so, how were those black males of African descent not in the Church prior to 1978 injured? What does an apology do when they themselves were not injured? Additionally, we are talking about a very small group given the number of blacks of African desecent in the Church in 1978.

I am certainly not owed an apology as there were ordained black youth in my first Deacon's quorom. I was not directly impacted by the ban. By the time I was ordained all of my worthy peers were eligible to receive the Priesthood. The ban is history. Very few people actually experienced any injury. This reminds me of the descendents of the Mountain Meadows Masacre whose only interest in an apology is financial.

Cowardice? The Church did not have to reverse the "policy". Cowardice would have been to reverse the "policy" during the Civil Rights era.

As for "policy" or revelation, it took a revelation to reverse the ban.

As humans we like to have explainations. There are many things in the gospel that are unexplained. Going back to cowardice, it wasn't very cowardly of Brother McConkie to make his statement of “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don't matter any more.”

Notice that he said "present" revelation as opposed to the "past" revelation. Regardless of wether the ban was revelation or not... that is history.

Sinclair said...

"Very few people actually experienced any injury."

You dismiss so easily the teachings that black men and women were somehow less valiant in the pre-mortal life and thus were somehow considered "deserving" of their assigned social status, one part of the many racist ideologies that existed during and persisted long past the abolition of slavery.

It didn't take a revelation to reverse the policy; church leaders only felt that such was needed. From the site, "...given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy". Having an issue with a church policy and the authority to reverse it without doing so is indeed cowardice.

And, yes, McConkie was among the cowards. The quote you cite is from a BYU address, a much smaller venue than the ones he'd used to spread racist explanations and teachings. It would have been better for him had he said, "I was wrong" to the entire church, not just at a small gathering. He certainly didn't stop or in any way alter his words in Mormon Doctrine. Which is precisely why there is an issue with what the church is doing now; it's dropped the information for those who seek it, not for those who believe what they've been told by church leaders at a variety of levels without question.

The racist teachings of the pre-1978 era persist to this day. See also the Randy Bott controversy. Too bad that it took national exposure for BYU to take formal steps to silence his errant notions. It would seem that, at BYU at least, there was more "sympathy" for him and less for the black men and women whom he slighted with his words. Which is a shame, really, since the church stated that "The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" without ever formally dismissing the teachings that were spread.

ShaBANG said...

Oh wow. Lots of comments to get to! It's been a busy Monday. I wanted to address a couple of questions.

Esther, you're children are quite young and I can see the validity of not wanting to introduce them into such heavy topics at such a young age. There are wonderful Mechanism out there called Amazon, Google, etc where one could look up children's books about diversity and differences. You said something key, when you said They're topics that just get brought up. That, my dear sister, is a luxury. I had to being teaching my daughter right before she went to preschool when someone didn't want to sit by her because she was a different color. I think of it this way, I initiated conversations with my daughter about smoking, drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure etc. I didn't wait for the subject to come up because I may never know the circumstances why. (Is she bringing it up because she's already engaging in these activities.) As parent we teach our things everyday, and they're learing through TV, Books, watching mom and dad, radio and even the internet. But we have this thing called Family Home Evening, right? Where we can teach our kids lesson about life liberty, etc. A basic way to start is talking about Heavenly Father and his children. He has all kinds of children, all kinds of colors, all kinds of sizes and go from there. One of my favorite activities was talking to my daughter (she's 23 now.) about Diversity, Colors, Cultures, different things that people do like smoke, drink, etc and how although we don't do these things, those who do them aren't particularly bad, they just believe different. But they're all Heavenly Father's children, which makes them our brothers and sisters. I think that's a great start even for young kids.

ShaBANG said...


To our "BRAVE" anonymous "...said..." Soul sibling who was so proud to of their comments they hid themselves. Me, personally don't give a rats tail about an apology because a coerced apology is and apololie. Urban Translation: if I have to beg for one it's probably not going to be a real on anyway so you can have it. It is more important to me that we being to forsake the teachings and rid our literature and media of such things. That's when I know there is a sincerity of it all. As for their being a small group of people effected by the band.. ARE YOU HIGH? Take some time and read about ALL OF OUR CHURCH HISTORY. Blacks in South Africa began writing to the church in 1940 and requesting information about the gospel and Missionaries. I believe it was finally in 1961 The prphet sent someone to find out the Validity of unofficial members of the church. Come to find out it was true. It wasn't until 1966 that the first missionaries were sent to Nigeria. They had to be pulled out because of war. Many african members couldn't even be baptized until 1978 but were faithful "members" while they waited. This was also the story in Brazil. There were literally stakes waiting to be baptized, the church couldn't get it done fast enough. 1978 was not that long ago. And just because you aren't aware of the thousands who were effected doesn't mean the group is insignificant. My whole family was affected. We've been member for 40 yrs. And if you think it's not hurting anybody you're pretty delusional. Each black member who couldn't come to the house of a white member because of this was effected. Each white person who was led to believe it is effected, and so are the generation they taught to, right down to you. The ignorance is ingrained into generations of members and needs to be uprooted. I am not looking for apologies. I'm looking for action. And the best place to begin is within our own homes. And until we remove the dehumanizing of the dark skinned race in our teaching manuals and guides, and speech and thoughts... I don't care what Bruce R McConkie said.. IT MATTERS. If I make a statement that I'm going to clean my house every saturday and just do the lawn outside, I've done a half assed job by ignoring the inside of the house. The 1978 REINSTATING of the priesthood to black members was an External cleaning. Sure it was brave and bold at the time. You wouldn't physically accept physical nourshiment off of a half cleansed plate. Your soul shouldn't accept nourhisment off of a half cleansed policy.

Emily said...

You're right that feminists needs to do a better job of combating racism in the church and not co-opting black experiences. Just like feminists shouldn't ignore the oppression of people of color, you shouldn't brush off and dismiss the oppression faced by women and LGBTQ individuals in the church. Your minority activism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

ShaBANG said...

You're absolutely Right Emily, which is why im taking taking the step to educate and check myself on these issue. The whole reason why we're having these dialogues and speaking with feminist and LGBTQ and not just a wham bam thank you ma'am comments on a blog and calling it good. I've said previously that I'm teachable. Just tonight I had dinner with a group where 3 in the group were part of Pride.(OMG, the black mormon girl knows what pride is!) We're actually planning a fundraiser as a community. Let me tell you, trying to get LGBTQ on the same page as "Chik FilA" was not easy but as a community we've all decided to work through it. For me, that's a huge start. What are you learning and Will you and I be sharing a pile?

Emily said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful and informative post. I agree with so much of what you said and think the church has a long way to go to get the race issue out of a gray area. As a mormon feminist, I will try harder to advocate for racial equality alongside gender equality and equal rights for my gay brothers and sisters. I understand what you mean by stating that being a feminist is more of a choice than being black as you literally cannot hide or run away from the color of your skin. At the same time, I believe all of these battles for greater equality, love, inclusion and acceptance related to gender, race, sexual orientation, etc are of God and I'm renewed to advocate for positive changes by reading your words. Thank you!

... said...

Nice wiki repost but you repositioned some aspects to fit your narrative.

Are you tired of explaining to your friends why you are a member of the LDS Church? The Church is not racist, though there may be members who have views that may be deemed as racist. What is there in the Church doctrine today that you deem racist?

Black members of the Church prior to 1978 joined knowing the doctrine. There was/is no secret about the Church's position. What attracted these folks to the Church even when they knew about the ban? What attracts blacks to the Church today in light of the past history? ***Okay... you joined a racist Church and you expect an apology. It is the turtle and snake story. You got what you should have expected.***

God does not need to explain himself. Any supposed apology will only be used to undermine the Church and its leaders.

Speaking of curses of dark skin as related to Natives, we as a Church cannot get around the writings within the most correct book on earth. It is hard to wiggle around statements by President Kimball that participants in the Native outplacement are becoming white. We may be able to dodge the black curse but the dark skin of natives cannot be dodged. Since the Blacks have gotten some relief on this subject, maybe the focus should be on Natives instead? No... that doesn't forward the black victim agenda.




Sinclair said...

Karyn,

Clearly "..." is a troll whose words reveal his / her racist disposition. I see and hear similar tripe on a continual basis where I live, both in and out of the church. It angers me that such ignorance persists.

I hear you and I support you.

c&l&e said...

This is a response to Esther. Some folks in Texas did a study in which they wanted to look at the effects on children's attitudes about race of watching tv shows with characters oif different races and discussing race with their parents. This intervention (parents discussing race with their children) had no effect. The researchers finally figured out why. The white parents were so uncomfortable that they never had the conversations. The most explicit they got was that everyone is equal. What did their kids learn? When asked the kids of these well-meaning parents thought that their parents didn't like black people. In other words, our kids interpret silence negatively. I don't want this to be my kids. Somehow, as white parents, we've got to have theses conversations.

... said...

Sinclair - It angers you that you do not have the ability to engage in a conversation with someone who has an opposing view.

Is calling me a troll your way to ignore anything that has been written by me? Is troll your internet version of nigger? Oh... I feel oppressed. No one should ever use the T word. It is hurtful... You are a trollist and it hurts me and anyone who has an opposing view. Calling me a troll is a form of hate speech. If you live in Canada or parts of Europe, watch out as you may be prosecuted for such speech.

ShaBANG said...

Sinclair, I actually can't see His/her/ posts anymore. He/she is intitled the their opinion. But that doesn't entitle them to acknowledgement or a response, ya know? You can typically get the gist of someone's agenda withing a few lines of their postings. I think most of us were "done" within the first posting. He/She can respond all he/she wants. It's actually great marketing for the blog AND the post. A few people will 'bite" but most will just ignore and keep on keepin on. Appreciate you hearing. :)

Anonymous said...

"The so called white man does not have to dirty his hands to destroy us, when we continue to destroy ourselves."

Just a mom said...

I seeked out black Mormon blogs. As a white Mormon I want to have a better understanding of how you feel. I grew up in a very excepting atmosphere. I was friends with everyone, no matter who they were and loved easily. As I hit high school I noticed a trend, no matter how I acted, I was a rasist. Not because they knew me or my heart but simply because I was white. As they got to know me, it became, whites are all rasist, except for you. This truly broke my heart. I have cried from comments said to me walking down the street or in the store. It has brought me to a place where I am nearly afraid to look at people of other races. In my mind I think, wow the world has finally brought me down, I cannot show people that I truly just love them. The girl who fought for my friends, yelled at injustice, racism, hurt, has finally been shut up.
In the last few months I have been determined to be who I am regardless of hurtful statements, generalizations, etc. My parents taught me when I was little, very little about church history, probably because as converts they knew very little. But I recall one time my father telling a local leader that he was an ignorant jerk and that Malay was the best woman in the church who was denied blessings because of morons like him. I did not associate this with her race until I was much old.
It breaks my heart to read that people still feel rasism and I apologize if I have ever caused it or miss defending. I just want to say I think peoples basic intentions are pure and hopefully we can find a way to find a solution so people can just love each other as we each are.
Sorry if my ramblings don't make a lot of sense. Thank you for posting your feelings so that we can all find a place we can come together and learn from each other.
Much love, your sister in Christ.

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kathy said...

I'm a white church member, but I really understand your perspective…I've often wondered how black members could feel anything but what you've expressed. Yet despite the challenges, you still have faith in the Lord and his Church. Thanks for sharing your views and your faith. Keep it up!

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