I can pinpoint the exact moment that I realized I was racist. It was last year and I was reading Jana Riess’ Flunking Sainthood blog right after the General Women’s Meeting where she shared some highlights including:
I remember being present at the April 2013 session of conference when Sis. Stephens was allowed to pray – and I shed a few tears as I witnessed a false tradition of our fathers end. Halleluia, right? #LetWomenPray is accomplished and we’re all good: check that box. Well, 18 months later when Sis. Mkhabela prayed I noticed she was the first black woman and I tweeted “Yay, intersectionality FTW! #womensmeeting #ldsconf.” I felt rather enlightened because I’d learned about white privilege and what intersectionality meant over the last few years: I was an progressive ally, right? I know that racism isn’t over. So this is a great thing that Sis. Mkhabela prayed. Well I kept reading Jana’s post and I saw this comment by TomW:
I was in the kitchen with the television tuned to BYU-TV when I heard an African voice emanating from the living room. To be honest, I didn’t stop in my tracks, stunned that an African female was offering the invocation. My reaction was more one of smiling internally at yet one more affirmation of the continuing international growth of the church. In hindsight, having listened to the Sistas’ podcast that you linked, I realize that this was clearly more momentous to some of our members than in was to others, but I tend to look at the moving forward of the work to be a very natural progression, and this was the latest manifestation thereof, and it did gladden my heart.
It was if a brick had just hit me on the side of my head: I had responded to the 18 month gap between a white woman praying and a black woman praying the same way TomW did. My basic response was internal smiling and happiness to see the work move forward in a natural progression. All of a sudden my brain yelled, “WHY, SELF, DON’T YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE “NATURAL PROGRESSION OF THINGS?”
Why am I okay that first white men, then men of color, then black men, then white women, then women of color, and then finally black women are afforded a certain privilege? Why, back when Sis. Stephens prayed did I not notice or care that only white women checked that box? Holy crapola: that is racism. The “natural progression” is a racial injustice: and not only was I not speaking up against it but apparently it’s hunky dory with me?
I know a lot of people these days have problems with the political correctness run amok and they think that the terms sexism/racism/etc. are being used too often. But I learned something that day: I didn’t need to have malicious intent in order to participate from, benefit, and support a racially unjust system. I just had to not speak and I was part of the problem. In fact, now I was the worst part of the problem, because those with evil intent are easier to weed out. I don’t have to “not like black people” to be racist, I just had to not listen to them. I don’t have to want to hurt someone to harm them. I just have to stay close minded, close hearted, and silent.
PS If you haven’t heard of Fatimah Salleh, please listen to her powerful speech last year “God of the Gentiles, Theology from the Margins” and yesterday at FMH about The Black Church.
PPS if you haven’t realized yet that the priesthood ban affected more than just black men not getting the priesthood – you’re wrong. We not only banned men from holding offices and keys of the priesthood (which is the current practice in regards to women today) but both black men AND women were not allowed to receive their endowments, do initiatory work, sealings for their ancestors, or have temple weddings themselves. It hasn’t even been 40 years since collectively as a church we’ve acknowledged that #BlackLivesMatter when it comes to exaltation.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
I believe that those who decry “political correctness” the most are closet racists, sexists, and bigots who don’t want to be identified as such. They want to enjoy their white privilege without being reminded of their white privilege. They like the status quo, and see no need to change.
I’m a racist, a sexist, and a bigot, but I’m trying to do better. I try to at least acknowledge my white privilege, and try to compensate for it.
“I didn’t need to have malicious intent in order to participate from, benefit, and support a racially unjust system.”
Justice is important. Level playing fields and equal opportunities are important. But you seem to want more: reparations and affirmative action. In a church with a small black population, which has only been developing since 1979, it should be no surprise that African representation in church headquarters would be small. So the church’s request of a black woman to pray in General Conference represents an affirmative action well above and beyond equal opportunity. I like affirmative action. But affirmative action is not justice. It is grace. Affirmative action is not equality, it is reparation.
If our generation is gung-ho about making reparations for wrongs committed by previous generations, that’s great. It’s a beautiful thing. That’s atonement, paying for the wrongs of someone else. But is it justice? No. It’s grace.
And if we aren’t gung-ho about affirmative action and reparation, are we racist? Not necessarily. Affirmative action and reparation can only go so far. Everyone needs a helping hand, but too much attention and help simply reinforces victimisation and actually encourages racism among people obsessed with the injustice of affirmative action.
Advocates for affirmative action shoot themselves in the foot when they mistake their advocacy for justice. It is obviously NOT justice, and that’s going to bother people. Affirmative action is good, not because it is just, but because it is GOOD. That’s all.
I’m not sure how to undo systemic racism. I’m not necessarily opposed to affirmative action.
But I think more of the issue here is that nothing CAN be done about systemic racism until we acknowledge that it exists. We have to call racism by what it is, even though it’s covert and not overt anymore. I guess I don’t think undoing systemic racism is about making reparations for past racism of our fathers – it’s about weeding out our own pernicious racism. We need to speak up about the confederate flag flying on government land. When we hear racist jokes we need to call people racist. Etc.
As for the LDS church I think we need to come out and say the ban was a mistake — all of my family read the essay on the ban and just said, “it was still God’s will”. They need to read the essay in GC. They need to apologize to the Jane Mannings, just like they did to the victims of Mountain Meadows Massacre. You may call that reparation, I’d call it the only way to start to shed the covert racism we still practice. Also I know that the portion of mormons who were African Americans was small – you don’t think that had anything TO DO with the ban? Of course they wouldn’t join our racist church, and those that converted couldn’t get their families to stay in generationally…..
This strikes me as similar to the argument that if you are rich and somebody else is poor, you’re at fault for not correcting the disparity because you’ve profited from an unjust system. I can’t appreciate this style of thinking. The only choices I am responsible for are my own. I am not responsible to make reparations for all the injustices that have come before me, even if I have somehow indirectly profited from them. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a an obligation to do good, but it doesn’t mean I carry some sort of blame for which I must atone.
I grew up with very few black people in my community. There was a black couple on my street, but they were older with no children at home and I didn’t interact with them much (except she was my 8th grade science teacher, and one of my favorite teachers). I personally knew no other black people, so to me, they were just people who happened to be black. I had no aversion to or fear of them, and no inclination to treat them any differently. I learned US history in school, was honestly horrified by slavery, Jim Crowe laws, and the violence against civil rights proponents, and kind of thought, wow, glad we’ve gotten past all that. I attended BYU (no black people), served my mission (no black people), and moved to a half-hispanic/half-white area (no black people). I went next door to borrow some mustard, and my hispanic neighbor, 20 years my senior, acted nervous, called me “sir”, and quickly handed me some mustard. For the first time, I became personally aware of racial/cultural differences that divided me from the people I lived with. I got a black co-worker with whom I got along great, and never really thought about the racial difference until we had a professional disagreement. He never played the race card at all, but my co-workers became uncomfortable in a way that I’d never experienced when there’d been differences among us before. Suddenly I wondered, wait, did he think I was being racist? Was I being racist? I didn’t think so, but suddenly I’m hyper-aware.
I learned that not being a racist meant something different than just treating people like people, it meant attempting to learn and understand their backgrounds and feelings and personally experienced injustices. I had to recognize the barriers they had to surmount that I in my privilege never faced. I had to understand how being stopped for driving while black would affect their outlook towards me, who would never experience such an indignity. I had to understand how the sins of my fathers, from which I had benefited, had adversely affected and would continue to adversely affect this person before me. But at the same time, I was also to remember that he was not a victim, nor was I to patronize him in any way, but nor was I to expect him to act, behave, or feel like me, because I could in no way fully appreciate his experience, one which would likely justify any animosity or anger he might feel towards me because of what I represent.
As a white person who has but rare occasion to interact with blacks, it is now extremely complicated. A knock on the door, I answer, and a black salesman starts his pitch. I’m not interested, but subconsciously, alarm bells go off — “whatever you say, don’t be racist!!! But I’m not racist.. I don’t think… If I say no, will he think I’m racist? That’d be ridiculous… If he sees the alarm I’m feeling thinking all this, he’ll think I’m racist…I’m not racist, I’m just not interested…” And that’s when it hits me — I’m racist. I’ve got to be, or it wouldn’t be so complicated to have such a simple interaction with another person who just happens to look differently than me.
Kate Kelly posted this on Facebook, and it bears repeating.
She also linked to an article describing how Whites try to avoid charges of racism, and discussed “white fragility.”
I’m not racist. I will bow my head and add a meaningful “amen” regardless of the ethnicity of the person asked to give the prayer.
This sounds like you’re beating yourself up for not disapproving of or criticizing the church leaders enough.
If we weigh caring about the ethnicity of the person who prays in conference vs caring about supporting the prophets, I think the scriptures pretty clearly come down on the side of the latter. Indeed, like it or not, the scriptures seem to care very little about racial issues like the ones you bring up.
My point is not that we can all go out and happily be as racist as we might like. Rather, I’m saying that you should be pretty concerned if your concerns for any aspect of social justice acts as a wedge to drive you apart from the prophets in any way.
I am really glad for people who fight the good fight for making Mormonism more of a universal sort of gospel and religion, but I dunno, my experience is that this is a provincial, American, conservative white church and it will be all of those things.
Like, my awareness of Mormon practice and culture and theology is that by emphasizing agency/free will, acting and not being acted upon, works righteousness, and so on, Mormonism places itself as incompatible to understanding systemic inequalities, biases, etc., etc., etc.,
I mean, on the race issue in general, in the past, Mormonism had as an out: “Well, if you’re as righteous as you can be in this life, then Jesus’s atonement will kick in and you will be made white in the next life.” (which, afaict, is the church’s current approach on LGBT issues, and most members do not find this controversial.)
Currently, because of where we are on race, no one says anymore that people will become white and delightsome if they are righteous, but Mormonism cannot really say that there is something amiss with blackness outside of what individual agents do. It can only say that black people should be as respectable as possible, as polite as possible, as well-spoken as possible. (And you know, I do cherish that from my Mormon upbringing).
But Mormonism cannot really offer comfort or a balm on these issues, because it cannot admit systemic issues.
Outstanding, Kristine. The point Nate quoted is the one that struck me the most too.
Jeff G, prophets are racist too. We shouldn’t support their racism any more than anyone else’s.
First I want to second everything that Martin had to say. His experience mirrors my own so much and he explained eloquently how you can go your whole life not having any clue of the racism that exists until one day it just kind of hits you that you’re part of the problem, but also not really knowing how to fix it.
In response to Andrew S:
I just wanted to offer my two cents (more like the gospel according to EBK). I have always personally liked to interpret scriptures that talk about the iniquities of the fathers being visited upon the heads of the children as addressing the issue you bring up. I don’t really see these scriptures as meaning that if I sin, my kids will be punished. I also don’t think that people who are less privileged are in that place because their parents sinned. Instead, I like to interpret those scriptures to mean that we are born into the world that the generations before us created. We are born into the system through no choice of our own whether we benefit from it or not. Our “fathers” or all the generations that came before us set this system up and we can either continue to promote the bad parts of it, or we can work to make it better. I have seen much less social injustice in my lifetime than my parents have in theirs and I can only hope that my children will see less than I did. I guess it’s like an anthropological atonement. We have to repent as a whole society and work to clean it up and it’s not easy and it takes time and effort and is probably only possible through grace. Anyway, I know that’s not really how the mainstream church interprets it, but that’s how I see that Mormonism can have room to recognize the flawed system.
“We shouldn’t support their racism any more than anyone else’s.”
Where did this idea come from? It seems to suppose that prophets who are set apart from the rest of the people deserve no more or less support than the rest of the people that they were set apart from. I think one finds plenty of support to the contrary within the scriptures.
I would also contest the wide-ranging meaning that is now days attributed to “racism” by suggesting that while straight forward, unabashed and violent racism is clearly evil, many of nuanced behaviors, systems and patterns that are often branded as racism do not truly belong in that same evil category.
Nate, I think you don’t understand the entire point of Affirmative Action. It is not grace. It is, in fact, about justice. Affirmative action is not simply a reparation for past wrongs. It’s an acknowledgement that certain segments of society are still suffering the consequences of those wrongs to this very day, and is an attempt to correct or mitigate the devastating effects of those consequences, albeit in an imperfect way. Viewing slavery as a static event or time period that was bad and regrettable, but now it’s over and has nothing to do with our generation, is monumentally shortsighted, and denies many contemporary social realities. In fact, I think the lingering effects of institutional racism in this country are so self-evident, there’s no real reason to go into them in detail. In my opinion, the idea that AA is this generation of white americans generously throwing a not-necessarily-deserved bone to black americans out of the goodness of our hearts, is just another form of racism.
“I would also contest the wide-ranging meaning that is now days attributed to “racism” by suggesting that while straight forward, unabashed and violent racism is clearly evil, many of nuanced behaviors, systems and patterns that are often branded as racism do not truly belong in that same evil category.”
I would agree with this, but it doesn’t make them any more tolerable. I think the person who engages in this particular brand of racism should perhaps be judged less harshly initially, but as has been alluded to above, because it is not intentional and malevolent, this type of racism is far more prevalent and socially acceptable. Consequently, it may actually be more harmful to society, and should be worked at to be eradicated with as much effort as the more virulent strains.
Jeff, see kate kellys comment above
brjones, I understand what you are saying about affirmative action, in that it does seek to mitigate the lingering affects of institutional racism. But calling it “justice” isn’t accurate in my opinion. Or rather, it is a different kind of justice.
Life is unfair. We all understand that intrinsically. Jesus said, “to him that hath shall be given, to him that hath not shall be taken away even that he hath.” Sociologists call this the “Matthew Effect,” because it comes from the Gospel of Matthew. Those born with certain advantages will be able to capitalise on those advantages to get even farther ahead, while those born with certain disadvantages will inevitably fall further into disadvantage.
Some people say this is unjust. I don’t think its unjust, I think its unfair. Justice is concerned with the Law, whatever people agree the Law should be. If a school makes a rule that they will only accept people that get a 3.5 GPS, then justice would say that everyone should have to abide by that rule. To let in someone with a 3.0 GPS would be unjust, no matter how deserving or what a hard background that person came from.
Justice regarding the Law is how most people understand justice, so there is a deep cognitive dissonance when criers of racism accuse people who don’t support affirmative action of perpetuating injustice. They are not perpetuating injustice, they are perpetuating unfairness, the basic unfairness that is the nature of all human and animal life.
Humans should be kind and help people in the cruel, unfair world we were born into. But not for justice! For mercy! Justice is the enemy. Justice simply says that those who are best at playing by the rules will always win.
I understand and appreciate what you’re saying, Nate. Thanks for clarifying. I do think there are some problems with that construct, though. Primarily, what if there are multiple layers of laws or rules operating, and doing so with differing, even opposing, standards. If a school has a rule saying only 3.5 GPAs or higher, but there is a state or federal law saying schools can’t base enrollment decisions on GPAs, then there is injustice, even by your standard. From that perspective, things like AA may actually be addressing issues of justice, depending on what rule or law you consider to be controlling.
The problem is if you accept blacks pretty soon you’ll have to accept gays and who knows? Maybe even everybody! WWJD?
Do you think there can ever be such a thing as an unjust law, or would it just be unfair laws?
I think that people who talk about justice in a certain way could easily imagine an unjust law — they could easily imagine that human constructs and human systems aren’t the end-all be-all. That even if a majority of people have agreed, that there is a reason within not to acquiesce.
You have a conflation between unfairness of life and the justice of law. But you can’t say, “well, this is just even if it’s unfair, because that’s just how life is.” Because law is an attempt to elevate above the base unfairness of life.
The white guilt and self-flogging is very commendable, but completely useless to ultimately solving anything.
The only acceptable solution is the forsaking of the sin.
Guilt is a position one takes when they really are not willing to make the necessary changes. It makes one feel better, I suppose.
I am completely heartsick over the senselessness of the acts of a hated-filled racial terrorist. And, at the same time, I am utter impressed and flabbergasted at the outpouring of the pure Christ-like words of the families of the victims.
That’s the place I am trying to get to.
Andrew asks: “Do you think there can ever be such a thing as an unjust law, or would it just be unfair laws?”
This gets into libertarian territory, something I’ve argued about over at M* over the years. I reject the concept of “inalienable rights” or natural rights that are given by God. There are natural laws, but they are the laws of nature, like gravity, or “reap what you sow” or the Matthew Effect, “those that have get more, those that have not, will get less” which is another way of saying survival of the fittest. Slavery is perfectly acceptable according to natural law, and we see it in the animal kingdom. We even see it being accepted by Jesus, Paul, and Moses in the Bible. God is good not because He is just, but because He is merciful. Divine justice is our enemy. Grace is our only salvation.
We (or religions) create our own laws to mitigate the negative effects of natural law. But these man-made laws can only do so much. We also need grace and love to mitigate them further. The concept of “equal rights” is humanist, not divine. Right now blacks have equal rights according to man’s law, but they still lag behind collectively because of various natural factors, including the lingering effects of past racism. The solution is not justice, because the laws ARE just, as we have created them. The battle has been won, the laws are on the books. We can enforce them, but that’s all we can do. The only thing left to do is not fight for justice, but help communities and cultures that lag behind.
Because we harp on the concept of justice, we necessarily foster entitlement and a culture of victimisation. If it is unjust that minorities lag behind, for whatever reason, we will focus on blaming others rather than helping people catch up. Then the whites who get blamed become resentful and thus more racist, compounding the problem, and the minorities seek some sort of elusive justice as the solution to their problems, rather than looking for pragmatic solutions to help their members become more successful in the broader culture.
One thing I have noticed by spending a lot of time the last 6-7 years with mainstream protestants is that they have a very different meaning of the word “justice” than Mormons do. I think you are using the word in a typical Mormon way, and I think that comes from the Book of Mormon, where Justice is God’s justice and it’s usually a bad thing for us humans, because we have much inherent evil inside of us.
But in may Christian bibles, there are many verses about “doing justice” or making righteous or fair judgments for the poor and down-trodden. For Christians justice is the friend of the poor and downtrodden, because they have suffered great injustices. this usage of the word justice may not appear in the book of Mormon, and I think the “social justice” use of the word justice is weaker in the King James Version of the bible than more modern translations. Which is perhaps why Mormons are less aware of the “social justice” scriptures. If you want to read these, just do an internet search on social justice or “doing justice” scriptures and you’ll find a ton of bible verses various websites.
I’m personally committed to “social justice” issues, because it is fact of life that the strong oppress the weak, and it is the role of good governments (as taught in the old testament) to defend the weak from injustices. If we seek to redress previous injustices, then we are executing justice, not mercy.
Interesting Ryan. I did a cursory word search on “justice” in the Bible and discovered that it is primarily an Old Testament word, or one used in the NT in an OT way, and is virtually absent from the writings of Paul. And I think my understanding of justice and the Law is most influenced by Paul, who said we are slaves to Christ, basically undeserving of anything in and of ourselves, only the fortunate beneficiaries of the grace of God, not by right, righteousness, or works, but only of grace.
I should probably stop threadjacking this post with my admittedly peculiar views on this subject, so maybe I’ll do a separate post on why I think the Pauline view of justice could be a better guide for us on social issues.
I don’t see it. Sorry to be stupid, but I don’t. I work with black people every day and worship with them every Sunday. To me, skin color is mostly just a characteristic like red hair.
About the time Brasileiro Elder Martins was called as the first black-skinned general authority, one of his sons served a mission in our area. We have dark-skinned missionaries all the time.
Once when my in-laws were visiting, I arranged for them to pick up out kids from school and take them to the park. My father-in-law was flabbergasted: “You never said the kindergarten teacher was Black!” No, I never did. Why would that matter?
Also, it’s not like all Black People TM think alike on issues of community and identity. Or Asians or whatever. A lot of them resent being expected to hold up the flag for a community that they don’t particularly feel part of. A while back one of the black-skinned brethren in our ward was from Nova Scotia, and did NOT consider himself an African American, and corrected that assumption all the time.
Also, a while ago I worked on a research project in which the client wanted black male assistants. A project manager chose the appropriate employees for that team….except that some of them were angry about being selected. In particular, some of them were from the Dominican Republic and insist they are Hispanic, not Black (something I understand better from recent news coming out of there, but still).
If it makes you feel better to call me a racist, fine. I prefer to pay more attention to the actual black-skinned people around me.
I do think your example with Job is a nice one. I think that you and I would agree that the story of Job is telling us that we cannot make claims on God. Bonhoeffer says that too: that God comes to those who make no claims on him.
But these concepts pertain to God-human relationships, not relationships between humans. I agree that the concept of justice, and even the concept of morality, or right and wrong, is invented and not natural. But those concepts still have validity and meaning, and are values to be aspired to. Don’t you think there still so many in injustices in our country and world, where certain groups and races are treated in ways that violate the principles of equality that fairness that are enshrined in our laws? Isn’t correcting those problems the work of doing justice? Don’t those who suffer from injustices have a right and responsibility to stand up and fight for equal treatment and equal protection?
I think you would agree with that. but I think you would say that if I tutor disadvantaged kids in an inter-city school, then I am showing them mercy and not justice. It’s true that the in a legal sense those kids have no claim on my time and talents, they certainly can’t sue me to make me work for them. But though the law doesn’t obligate me to help them, my conscience might obligate me to help them. My conscience requires me to do the work because I am motivated by my sense of fairness, that I had so much and they had so little and that’s not right. I think that sense of fairness originates from my human nature, my conscience, and from the spirit of god.
This, I think, is the principle motivation of many people engaged in “social justice” causes: shame that they have so much, and that others have so little. Would you downplay this powerful motivation out of fear that it might foster a sense of ingratitude and entitlement among those who have been oppressed? It seems more reasonable, and more scriptural, to be more concerned about the ingratitude and entitlement among those on the top than those on the bottom.
Also, my wife told me about a “this american life” episode about studies show that black kids just got punished in school a lot more than the white kids, even when the offenses were similar. this might not be a legally-actionable injustice, but it is injustice nonetheless, and must be overcome with education and understanding. So when we provide this education and understanding it is “justice” work because it cancels out or fights against “injustice”. Simple English, right?
Thanks for your comments Naismith.
I am sure the climate surrounding race in probably Britain differs to that in the US in some aspects, and I’m finding it difficult to get my head round this whole group of discussions going on in the blogs.
Also EBK for your comments on the “sins of the fathers”.
I find the whole ‘black’ ‘white’ culture discussion very odd. Here in Britain, the government are finding in their surveys & censuses they need to be a little more nuanced in their collection of data than that. Particularly given the recent rise in immigration from eastern Europe; that’s white folk with very different cultures.
Systemic racism is tough to address. It’s been discussed here for the last 30 years. I hope things are improving.
For myself, all I can say is I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect, to meet them where they’re at, and try to bear in mind that I don’t, in many cases, know anything about their backgrounds, prior experiences etc.
Sorry, I forgot to say that my comments, #25, were directed at Nate.
#2 – stop feeling GUILTY for being white, and do well unto others anyway. You can’t help the circumstances of your birth, only what you do since then (well, accountable for birth plus eight years, anyway…).
What concerns about it taking so long about having a black LDS member give a prayer in GC is that it took so long for there to be a pool of enough black members to have the ‘cream’ rise to the top, proverbially. What, BESIDES the PH ban extant until 1978, did we do to discourage blacks (USA and abroad, makes mucho difference culture-wise) from embracing the Gospel, are “we” still doing it, what are we doing better, and what yet can we be doing?
I can berate mine own self for my various stupidities over the years or I can learn from them. That I still get to draw breath I take as Heavenly Father’s position, that, “Much to learn, I have…”
#18 – Howard, consider the returns in CA from the 2008 election, which generated so much controversy about good ol’ Prop 8. That was definitely a bellwether election, with the election of Barrack Hussein Obama as POTUS. The turnout of black voters in “Kal-lee-fornia” (appropriate rendering since “Ahh-nuld” was Gov at the time) was a record, both in raw numbers and portion of the electorate, at least according to exit polls. AFAIK, California does not release election data based on race, nor do I recall checking a race/ethnicity box last time I registered. It was no surprise that about 92% voted for Obama, likely more that 8% didn’t. What IS interesting according to exit polls is that with regards to Prop 8 that about 70% voted for it. Therefore, that margin of victory, if true for the entire electorate sampled, was very likely in EXCESS of the voting CA LDS population (estimated at no more than 400,000). I have no figures for LDS voters registered and did in that election, and how they voted on Prop 8. And the Gay advocates want to gripe about the LDS being to blame for the affair turned out. Or did we LDS SOMEHOW have some “undue” influence on black voters, whom AFAIK were and still are perfectly capable of deciding issues for themselves?
So, oh Humble Howard, do you STILL want to draw an analogy between LDS acceptance of blacks (long overdue in ’78, IMO) versus gays? A non-sequitir if there ever was one.
Welp, I go camping for the weekend and come back to see I missed the discussion. I think people misunderstand what it means to acknowledge white privilege – I don’t feel guilty for being white. But once I see systemic racism that I benefit from, I feel obligated to do something about it… even if the least I can do is try to get people to acknowledge it. I don’t go around wearing it as a badge or with sackcloth and ashes – it means I value and listen to the experience of black people I know. And when they share their views on race I believe them.
I’m not going to engage and argue with me about white privilege – especially if you haven’t even seen the “Racism Isn’t Over” video by Laci Green. And even then, really, what can be said except both of us saying back and forth to each other, “I disagree with you very much.” And yes; I know that white privilege doesn’t protect you from experiencing trials and hardships – especially of the poor (hint: that’s another kind of privilege, economic); read Explaining White Privilege to the Broke White Person please.
Taking US women’s history was fascinating on the day we discussed the different racial constructs of different cultures. British Colonialism was the most racist compared to others – especially Spanish Colonialism . . . which actually elevated mixed races in its hierarchies – which leads to much less racism when everyone ends up mixed ancestry.
Any LDS member, regardless of race, ethnicity (we have no -ites, as the BoM described, amongst us, at least ideally) would do well to have done as much in 41 years and about 11 months as this poor man, Mr. PINCKNEY (got the spelling RIGHT this time), cruelly cut down along with eight others in the Charleston SC AME Church shooting last Wed eve. I’m still sickened by it.
“For myself, all I can say is I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect, to meet them where they’re at, and try to bear in mind that I don’t, in many cases, know anything about their backgrounds, prior experiences etc.”
I appreciate this very much because it actually suggests and demonstrates an action other than self-flagellation. Thanks.
As you note, the dynamics of race are different in various spots around the globe. Recently the Pew center came out with an important study on multi-racial Americans:
Although our U.S. President Obama has chosen to self-identify as black, the fact is that he biologically multi-racial. So the new hypertension drug that works only for those of African descent may or may not be effective for him.
Living in Brasil was a huge eye opener for me as well. Children would wander around during sacrament meeting, and when one with a wet diaper landed on your lap, it was hard to know who they belonged to…. There was a famous hospital baby-switching case in which white parents took home the white baby and black parents took home the black baby–but they got it wrong.
Brasil has a lot of issues of privilege and caste, but they are more related to education than race per se. Elder Helvécio Martins became a high-ranking executive with an oil company, which helped open a lot of doors for the church to build a temple there and further efforts of missionary work (i.e., his race did not hold him back financially or career-wise).
The blacks that I knew in the church before 1978 served in the Sunday School, back before the 3-hour block when Sunday school opening exercises was a meeting. So if there were blacks in a congregation, then people were used to seeing those blacks at the pulpit making announcements, welcoming people, teaching lessons, and giving prayers. It may well be that the OD2 helped make the shortened block of meetings possible, by eliminating the need for that route of leadership development.
I think there is much we can agree on. Perhaps some of us take different routes to get to the same place?
“For myself, all I can say is I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect, to meet them where they’re at, and try to bear in mind that I don’t, in many cases, know anything about their backgrounds, prior experiences etc.”
So is that what you disagree with?
If you do agree with it, as I do, what is the problem?