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The Atlantic: Black Mormons choosing to Stay in the Church


Okrahomer

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This article by Janan Graham-Russell is simultaneously inspiring and heart-breaking.  It hurts to know that someone--anyone, anywhere--would use the "n" word, especially in an LDS Temple setting.  And then there is this:

"'The African American experience in the LDS Church is one filled with its share of joy. Devan Mitchell, an African American Mormon living in Renton, Washington, told me about an experience with another black convert after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in July. “I found her in the chapel and we held each other and cried,” Mitchell said. “As a result of this expression of our pain, something wonderful happened. The members of our ward came together, they embraced us as well, and they prayed with us, they mourned with us.'”

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I read it earlier today.  I thought it was very well done.  Covered a lot and helped to convey the experience as much as one can in an article of that length.

Edited by Calm
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21 hours ago, Okrahomer said:

This article by Janan Graham-Russell is simultaneously inspiring and heart-breaking.  It hurts to know that someone--anyone, anywhere--would use the "n" word, especially in an LDS Temple setting.  And then there is this:

"'The African American experience in the LDS Church is one filled with its share of joy. Devan Mitchell, an African American Mormon living in Renton, Washington, told me about an experience with another black convert after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in July. “I found her in the chapel and we held each other and cried,” Mitchell said. “As a result of this expression of our pain, something wonderful happened. The members of our ward came together, they embraced us as well, and they prayed with us, they mourned with us.'”

Racism knows no reason nor purpose. It is born out of ignorance and hatred. I was born in the 50's and in the Deep South, and have seen and heard much if it from those who call themselves Christian. I have lost friends because I did not share other's views on race. I have made it clear to people in and out of the Church that I did not want to hear certain words or comments concerning anyone of differing races. I once even had to have words with my Bishop who made a joke that was unseemly on the day President Obama was sworn into office. I don't understand racial hatred, no matter whom it is, Black or White, whomever. I do not know how anyone who is Christian can say words that can harm the souls of others. I even have extended family who don't care for my attitudes concerning racism. I do not understand how any could take offense by others proclaiming that "all lives matter". I fear for the salvation of any who do not hold to the words of scripture that "...there is no white, no black, no make, no female (and that) all are alike unto God". In 4 Nephi we are told that the happiest people that have ever existed, were those people where there were, "...no Nephities, no Lamanites, nor any manner of ites...but those who had all things common". It we wish to be that happy, we to must obey the commandments of God and be "one people". 

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On 8/30/2016 at 0:36 PM, Pa Pa said:

Racism knows no reason nor purpose. It is born out of ignorance and hatred. I was born in the 50's and in the Deep South, and have seen and heard much if it from those who call themselves Christian. I have lost friends because I did not share other's views on race. I have made it clear to people in and out of the Church that I did not want to hear certain words or comments concerning anyone of differing races. I once even had to have words with my Bishop who made a joke that was unseemly on the day President Obama was sworn into office. I don't understand racial hatred, no matter whom it is, Black or White, whomever. I do not know how anyone who is Christian can say words that can harm the souls of others. I even have extended family who don't care for my attitudes concerning racism. I do not understand how any could take offense by others proclaiming that "all lives matter". I fear for the salvation of any who do not hold to the words of scripture that "...there is no white, no black, no make, no female (and that) all are alike unto God". In 4 Nephi we are told that the happiest people that have ever existed, were those people where there were, "...no Nephities, no Lamanites, nor any manner of ites...but those who had all things common". It we wish to be that happy, we to must obey the commandments of God and be "one people". 

I grew up in Southern California until the age of 16, when we relocated to Toronto, Canada, as a result of my dad's employment.  We passed through Louisiana on the way there in 1967 and I remember needing to use the rest room at a service station.  When I found my way there, I saw three doors, marked: Men; Women; and Colored.  I was poleaxed.  I stood for a moment observing this, and then went back to the car, unrelieved.  I couldn't bear it, and it colored (pun intended) my feelings towards the South to this day.  I had been aware that such things existed, but until that moment I don't think I really believed it.

Those three doors in Louisiana were a mind-bending experience, I tell you.  I hate racial prejudice and bigotry with a passion.  I hate it enough I fear I could get violent over it.  I especially hate it in the minds of members of the Church.  If I were a bishop I don't think I could issue a temple recommend to anyone who I knew to be a racist, until they could convince me they had repented.  

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1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

I grew up in Southern California until the age of 16, when we relocated to Toronto, Canada, as a result of my dad's employment.  We passed through Louisiana on the way there in 1967 and I remember needing to use the rest room at a service station.  When I found my way there, I saw three doors, marked: Men; Women; and Colored.  I was poleaxed.  I stood for a moment observing this, and then went back to the car, unrelieved.  I couldn't bear it, and it colored (pun intended) my feelings towards the South to this day.  I had been aware that such things existed, but until that moment I don't think I really believed it.

Those three doors in Louisiana were a mind-bending experience, I tell you.  I hate racial prejudice and bigotry with a passion.  I hate it enough I fear I could get violent over it.  I especially hate it in the minds of members of the Church.  If I were a bishop I don't think I could issue a temple recommend to anyone who I knew to be a racist, until they could convince me they had repented.  

I can remember as a young man working watermelons during the summer.  On in the fields there were two water coolers - one marked Whites and the other marked Coloreds and each had their own ladle for drinking.  Though on water breaks many of the boys would like up in front of the Whites cooler the owners son and supervisor always drank out of the Coloreds cooler along with anyone else that simply was interested in waiting in the heat to get a drink of cold water.  

Having lived in the south and observed many of things that we see as so abhorrent today the reality was different.  Without a doubt the south was segregated; however, there was a segregation enforced and a segregation that was by choice.  Further, there were southerners that ignored the silliness of many of the holder-over social constructs from previous generations.  

My mom was a good friend of a woman who was the principle of the local black school and I got to talk with her often about how things were before I was born.  The one thing that she regretted was that desegregation meant the closure of the black school.  She felt they had a good school and she would have preferred just having more funds allocated to their school rather than having it shut down.  

I am not excusing racist behavior - it must be defeated and rejected by all - but at times the solution was worse than the chosen "cure".  When dealing with these issues I hope that we can begin by first asking, "What do you want" rather than making such broad, deep changes that did not stop the problem and may have created more harm than good. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/1/2016 at 5:40 AM, Stargazer said:

I grew up in Southern California until the age of 16, when we relocated to Toronto, Canada, as a result of my dad's employment.  We passed through Louisiana on the way there in 1967 and I remember needing to use the rest room at a service station.  When I found my way there, I saw three doors, marked: Men; Women; and Colored.  I was poleaxed.  I stood for a moment observing this, and then went back to the car, unrelieved.  I couldn't bear it, and it colored (pun intended) my feelings towards the South to this day.  I had been aware that such things existed, but until that moment I don't think I really believed it.

Those three doors in Louisiana were a mind-bending experience, I tell you.  I hate racial prejudice and bigotry with a passion.  I hate it enough I fear I could get violent over it.  I especially hate it in the minds of members of the Church.  If I were a bishop I don't think I could issue a temple recommend to anyone who I knew to be a racist, until they could convince me they had repented.  

I too grew up in Southern California. I had the same kind of shock when I served my mission in Kentucky, in the early to mid eighties. I was amazed at how in most of the towns there were black sections of town, and then there were white sections. There were no neighbors who were of different races. The worst thing I ever experienced was when we started teaching a black man, who was super receptive, what I called, "golden," as far as anyone you could find to teach. We asked him to come to church with us. He visited our little branch and after the services one of the members of the church pulled me aside and threatened, "If you ever bring the N word here again, I'm going to get my shotgun and shoot him!" I was devastated!!! I really hated to stop teaching that fine young man, but it seemed like the only real option I had. I found it really hard to be motivated to teach anyone in that area again, because I didn't want to invite anyone to that branch anymore. It was a sad, sad experience. I still can't believe that an active member of our church could even think up such a thing, let alone actually voice it to a missionary who was trying to build up the church in his own area.

I personally think fear and ignorance are the root of all prejudice, and that it isn't innate but rather taught from one generation to the next. I am so grateful that I was taught to not be prejudiced by my parents. I can't help but feel bad for those who were brought up with that fear, ignorance and prejudice as part of their normal everyday lives. I really hope it isn't that way, over there, now days, but I have a feeling that there are many back woods places where it still exists. I still get sad thinking about that experience.

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On 9/11/2016 at 10:36 PM, waveslider said:

I too grew up in Southern California. I had the same kind of shock when I served my mission in Kentucky, in the early to mid eighties. I was amazed at how in most of the towns there were black sections of town, and then there were white sections. There were no neighbors who were of different races. The worst thing I ever experienced was when we started teaching a black man, who was super receptive, what I called, "golden," as far as anyone you could find to teach. We asked him to come to church with us. He visited our little branch and after the services one of the members of the church pulled me aside and threatened, "If you ever bring the N word here again, I'm going to get my shotgun and shoot him!" I was devastated!!! I really hated to stop teaching that fine young man, but it seemed like the only real option I had. I found it really hard to be motivated to teach anyone in that area again, because I didn't want to invite anyone to that branch anymore. It was a sad, sad experience. I still can't believe that an active member of our church could even think up such a thing, let alone actually voice it to a missionary who was trying to build up the church in his own area....

I've had a couple of similar experiences. 

In boot camp, when one of my drill sergeants learned I was LDS, he mentioned that he left the church years back over treatment quite similar to what you described. I apologized as best I could, and encouraged him to come back. An honorable man. I hope he returned. Tried to track him down not long ago without success. Perhaps some day.

On my mission, a branch president pulled me aside and told me one of our investigators in sacrament meeting wasn't welcome, and that we should never bring him back. (This time, it wasn't racial, but was rather a social issue.) It rattled me. But I politely stood my ground. He ended up apologizing before I transferred. 

While we all have might have some form of bias or prejudice.... https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/eph/2.19?lang=eng#18

 

Edited by notHagoth7
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On August 30, 2016 at 3:36 PM, Pa Pa said:

Racism knows no reason nor purpose. It is born out of ignorance and hatred. I was born in the 50's and in the Deep South, and have seen and heard much if it from those who call themselves Christian. I have lost friends because I did not share other's views on race. I have made it clear to people in and out of the Church that I did not want to hear certain words or comments concerning anyone of differing races. I once even had to have words with my Bishop who made a joke that was unseemly on the day President Obama was sworn into office. I don't understand racial hatred, no matter whom it is, Black or White, whomever. I do not know how anyone who is Christian can say words that can harm the souls of others. I even have extended family who don't care for my attitudes concerning racism. I do not understand how any could take offense by others proclaiming that "all lives matter". I fear for the salvation of any who do not hold to the words of scripture that "...there is no white, no black, no make, no female (and that) all are alike unto God". In 4 Nephi we are told that the happiest people that have ever existed, were those people where there were, "...no Nephities, no Lamanites, nor any manner of ites...but those who had all things common". It we wish to be that happy, we to must obey the commandments of God and be "one people". 

You answered your own question. The reason why the blessed Nephites of the Nephite Golden Age had an all-embracing attitude toward all men is because they had put off the natural man and the Spirit of the Lord filled their souls.

 I was reading an essay recently (wish I could remember where) and the well-known sociologist who wrote the piece said the latest research appears to indicate the suspicions and biases people have against others who are different from them seem to be hardwired into the human psyche (the natural man?) which, of course, doesn't justify those suspicions and biases, or make them right, but it does help to explain why spiritually unregenerate human beings have constantly been at each other's throats since the dawn of man. I even remember President Hinkley once admitting he at one time had a bias against people from New Jersey because in his younger years, when he worked for the railroad, he often had to converse with a certain railroad worker who was stationed in New Jersey, and he just couldn't stand the man's 'Jersey accent." Over the years, I've reflected back on President Hinkley's frank admission and wondered why he transparently revealed that at one time in his life he had an unjustified bias (as if it's the fault of people who grow up in certain regions of the country that they end up with regional accents), but it does demonstrate even the best of us can end up harboring negative attitudes toward others just because they are different from us in some way. I cite these things because I believe it shouldn't surprise any of us if the natural man does what comes naturally to him, and that is to act like a prejudiced jerk. The only way to truly eliminate the problem is througj full conversion to the Lord and his gospel.

 

Edited by Bobbieaware
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On 9/16/2016 at 6:52 AM, Bobbieaware said:

You answered your own question. The reason why the blessed Nephites of the Nephite Golden Age had an all-embracing attitude toward all men is because they had put off the natural man and the Spirit of the Lord filled their souls.

 I was reading an essay recently (wish I could remember where) and the well-known sociologist who wrote the piece said the latest research appears to indicate the suspicions and biases people have against others who are different from them seem to be hardwired into the human psyche (the natural man?) which, of course, doesn't justify those suspicions and biases, or make them right, but it does help to explain why spiritually unregenerate human beings have constantly been at each other's throats since the dawn of man. I even remember President Hinkley once admitting he at one time had a bias against people from New Jersey because in his younger years, when he worked for the railroad, he often had to converse with a certain railroad worker who was stationed in New Jersey, and he just couldn't stand the man's 'Jersey accent." Over the years, I've reflected back on President Hinkley's frank admission and wondered why he transparently revealed that at one time in his life he had an unjustified bias (as if it's the fault of people who grow up in certain regions of the country that they end up with regional accents), but it does demonstrate even the best of us can end up harboring negative attitudes toward others just because they are different from us in some way. I cite these things because I believe it shouldn't surprise any of us if the natural man does what comes naturally to him, and that is to act like a prejudiced jerk. The only way to truly eliminate the problem is througj full conversion to the Lord and his gospel.

 

And yet president Hinckley didn't have any bias towards president Eyring.

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8 hours ago, Avatar4321 said:

And yet president Hinckley didn't have any bias towards president Eyring.

Growing up in the highly academic, affluent, Ivy League environs of renowned Princeton University is not even in the same cultural universe as a kid growing up among the working class of Newark or Jersey City. In addition, President Eyring grew up in an LDS transplant enclave with parents who were as Utah Mormon as any two parents could possibly be. And besides all this, President Hinkley was speaking about a time when he was young, before maturing and becoming a general authority..

 

Edited by Bobbieaware
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