Thursday, June 1, 2017

Guess what, we're racist.

To my friends, enemies, general public, and specific readers of this blog: racism is everywhere. Seriously. Newsflash: Even you, reading this right now, are almost certainly a little racist.

No really. Everywhere. via


Now, you're not alt-right. (idk, maybe you are, why are you on this blog?) You're accepting and want to believe in the best in people. You think that one alt-right twitter chick has taken it too far, and maybe you even shared Jana Riess' piece about how terrible she is. That's fine. She is terrible, and I think a lot of us can agree on that, but that's not why I'm here today.

That level of racism is not the kind of racism that many people of color in our wards and communities are dealing with daily. They're getting told on twitter that they're lying about getting into BYU, because what person of color gets in on their own merits? They're getting avoided on the streets. They're not invited to parties. They're referred to as "Lamanites". They're not given callings. They don't see themselves represented in our art, our pews, or our leadership. They're reduced to the most simplistic versions of their multi-faceted and beautiful cultures. We tell them to forget about slavery while celebrating our church's founding, which took place 33 years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. They're insulted in the small ways that slowly break a person.

So what are you doing, right now, to fix your own biases? To make your church, your home, and your community a safer, more welcoming, and less racist place for people of color?

Here's what you need to do folks. You need to do some work. We (Mormons specifically) talk a lot about how when we don't actively fight against Satan, we slowly get dragged into his grip. Racism is the same. If you don't actively fight it, you're letting those biases get the better of you. Are you taking antiracist actions against the biases in our society? If the answer is no, you need to.

Take the Sistas advice in the tweet below and don't do it just for people of color. Do it for you. Do it because you want to be a better person. Do it because when you stand at the judgment bar of God, he's not gonna want to hear about how illegal immigrants crossing made-up lines on a map stole your job and ruined your life. He's not going to want to care why you called the cops on your neighbor just because he blended in with the dark street that one night. Educate yourself on what you can do to fight racism in your head and around you.

If you're not ready to work on it, if this makes you uncomfortable, don't yell at me. Think about it. Why does this make you uncomfortable? Is it because I'm a giant asshole ruining your day, or is it because you've got work to do?

Here are some quick starting points: Check out #DearWhiteMormons on twitter. Follow people of color on social media (@SistasinZion, @FEMWOC, @tineshacapri, @sistabryndis & @HappyCosmopolite for starters). Listen to them. Don't push back against their experiences. If they call you out, listen. Don't beg them to teach you everything either, they don't have time for that.

Finally, learn to apologize for the things you've done that you didn't even know were wrong. Call out your friends and family when they're going too far. And pray to God that you can be forgiven for every time you haven't.

2 comments:

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  2. Since all are racist, who is supposed to be calling out who? There is a mote and beam principle involved here. Are the people doing the calling out any less racist?

    I know that I was somewhat racist as I grew up. It was part of my environment. Yet I played and worked right along side people of color as I grew up. I was "poor white trash" when I joined the Navy. Went barefoot in the summer because we could not afford new shoes except for school. Had worked every summer since I was eight years old as a farm laborer at ten cents to twenty-five cents per hour in order to be able to buy clothes for school. When I joined the Navy I was issued more clothes than I ever had before in my life, including two pairs of shoes.

    But none of that was relevant when in the Navy I was constantly hammered as being racist just because I was white. I actually became more racist over the years because of that. What has become known now as "white privilege" which is nothing more than white shaming, was a way of life that I dealt with constantly for many years in the Navy as it tried to find official, well intentioned, but mostly misguided, ways of combating racism within its ranks.

    Shaming, in whatever form it may take is an ineffective tool for change. Love and education are better ways to effect change.

    I educated myself on a lot of issues and learned to school my thoughts, to apply the teachings of the Gospel to each and very situation that pricked my "difference sensors" and I have been successful in abating my racist tendencies. But it is an ongoing process, and will remain ongoing for the rest of my mortal life. But it is one in which I am actively engaged.

    I feel good that I was able to raise my children without the prejudices with which I was raised (by some really good parents who were also the products of their times and culture). I was bit surprised in one instance when the bishop of my ward, a really good person and well respected by all that knew him, called me into his office and asked me if I would be upset to learn that one of my daughters was dating black boys. I was able to honestly respond without hesitation that I would be more concerned about the character of the boys that she was dating, noting that I would rather they be dating two young black men in our ward that I greatly admired rather than a couple of other young LDS men that I know. The bishop commended me on my attitude and admitted that he had not progressed to that point yet.

    This is not to brag on myself. I still have a lot of growing, learning, progressing to do. But it was not the shaming, the being "called out" that drove me to try to improve myself in this area. It was learning Gospel principals better, thinking, reflecting, interacting that has helped the most.

    If change is wrought by external forces, reversion usually happens when those external forces are removed. When change is wrought by internal forces, the change is more likely to be lasting.

    No matter how good the intentions of those seeking change, they must learn how best to effect the change. That is something that too many activists in so many areas have not learned. If I had remonstrated with my bishop that his attitude was not befitting a bishop, a former member of the Stake Presidency and Stake High Council, how effective would it probably have been in chnaging that man's heat? I think that maybe my own words and actions were more effective.

    If we can all work harder to really become disciples of Jesus the Christ, I believe that we can more effectively combat racism. When and if we can always remember the Christ's admonition about love, we will more effectively be able to help others with their problems.

    A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
    By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

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