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Racist Doctrine in Come Follow Me Lesson Manual Already Distributed


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11 hours ago, juliann said:

Nobody is denying being cut off from God because of unrighteousness isn't a curse. I suspect you think that means he changes skin color though. It's encouraging that you won't say it. Progress. 

I don't believe this, its not Mormon teaching as I see it.  Doesn't Mormonism teach natural consequences for sin, no belief in curses is necessary.  

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1 minute ago, hope_for_things said:

How do you square this perspective with the clear statements from Elder Stevenson and in the Gospel topics essay quoted in this thread?  The idea that these curses have their origins with God, is being disavowed, condemned and denounced.  

I said this earlier, but I think one of the problems we have is universalizing everything.  We can’t assume that what God does with one group of people should be applied to all of humanity.  Just because the Lamanites were given a darker tan as a way to distinguish them, doesn’t mean that ever every non-Caucasian race has the same story.

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9 hours ago, teddyaware said:

Being cut off from God because of unrighteousness IS a curse; but as I said, ultimately a curse that’s a blessing in disguise.

Most people in today’s world would consider the idea of God cursing blood (DNA) lineages, starting with certain specific wicked forebears, to be racist whether the cursed race has certain outward identifying physical characteristics or not. In Germany, before and during World War II, it was often impossible to tell the difference between some blue eyed, blonde haired Ashkenazi Jews and Aryan Germans, so they would have to resort to using birth and genealogical records in order to make the determination. In addition, it was often impossible to physically distinguish between the Northern Irish citizens of Protestant English heritage and those Northern Irish citizens of Irish Catholic heritage, yet for decades these people were immersed a bloody race conflict. As can be seen by these two lone  examples among many, it’s childish and naive to think racism hss more to do with outward physical appearance than it does with DNA.

I can guarantee you that the idea of cursing people by blood lineage, with or without the cursed lineage having obvious distinguishing physical characteristics, will be condemned today by almost all people as bing racist. So whether the Lamanites had dark skin or not, the idea of cursing a people by bloodline will be considered racist in today’s world. In other words, asserting that the Lamanites didn’t actually have dark skin doesn’t put the Church in the clear and prevent savvy anti-Mormons from insisting that the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price  perpetuate the “ugly” idea of divinely instituted racism. For example, whatever the reasons were for the Nephites and the Lamanites avoiding each other and not intermixing, it would most definitely be condemned by most in today’s world as being an example disgusting racism. Yet the scriptures emphatically testify that the Lord did indeed curse certain bloodlines. 
 

So it appears that in order to avoid condemnation by the world the Church is going to have to expunge all scriptural references to bloodlines being cursed by God. If that doesn’t happen, brace yourself for stormy seas.

 

I see all of this as unfortunate and racist.  The church is trying to distance itself from these things, not to avoid condemnation from the world, although I'm sure that criticism has been a catalyst for change this time as it has in the past, but rather because of a realization that racism, in all its forms is evil and runs contrary to the gospel message.  

Do we need to edit all our scriptures to reflect current views?  There are pros and cons to the idea of editing past scripture to reflect current teachings, this has been done throughout history in Mormonism and in the wider Judaeo/Christian traditions, but I think in some ways that having conflicting teachings in scripture can be an opportunity to understand how we've changed so much over time.  What this forces is a more mature interpretative structure for scripture, and that can be a very good thing.  

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8 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Here is the Deborah Alexis quote I mentioned in case you missed it:

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/issues/fall-2019/?fbclid=IwAR1XA7h_E9OtpV4zFrS9q-8X5nmkjiOTm5z6qXsjx8J1PcFRDYGKYzxwWDc

Excerpt from "Listening for a Change", by Deborah Alexis:

"I am not a follower of Christ first, or black first, or woman first; these are all things that I am simultaneously. I cannot be in alliance with people who do not acknowledge all of me. My multiple identities are constantly informing each other. BYU is not yet my dream school, but I would like it to be. There are some promising changes, including some 
attempts to increase the admissions of students of color. Yet retention of students of color is just as vital. And I would say that the same goes for the larger Church. I want people of color who attend this school, and who join the Church, to feel empowered, valued, and supported. I do not want people of color to have to carry this load alone. It’s disappointing to watch people lose interest or roll their eyes when I mention these issues in class and during Church discussions. It starkly reminds me that I am alone when it comes to this. I am expected to ally myself with BYU and the Church, to demonstrate my unfailing commitment to them while there are few who believe they have any responsibility to mourn with me, to take on the burden of societal and religious racism I disproportionately carry as a woman of color."

 

Thanks for sharing things like this.  You might find these interviews that Rick Bennett did with Dr. Matt Harris on the topic of race at BYU.  I'm hoping Harris publishes these findings in essays or books in the future, but my understanding is that he hasn't done this yet to date.  See episodes 347 - 353.  

https://gospeltangents.com/2019/12/did-nixon-carter-pressure-byu/

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17 minutes ago, Rivers said:

I said this earlier, but I think one of the problems we have is universalizing everything.  We can’t assume that what God does with one group of people should be applied to all of humanity.  Just because the Lamanites were given a darker tan as a way to distinguish them, doesn’t mean that ever every non-Caucasian race has the same story.

I agree with not universalizing everything as a principle, I think context and situations vary.  The challenge with interpreting God being behind changing skin color for a group of people as a way to distinguish them, is that this is a racist idea which then implicates God as the author of something racist which isn't a very satisfying concept for God.  

I think the better way of thinking is as you've expressed in other comments.  God is no respecter of persons, God doesn't change skin color as a way of marking people.  All those teachings are human informed explanations, not originating with God.  

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58 minutes ago, Rivers said:

I have a better idea. How about we just acknowledge people by the content of their character as Dr. King would want us to do?   

That doesn't mean erasing their identity and histories.

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Gary Stevenson interview on the radio on Monday 1/20.  You may find this interview that KSL conducted with Gary Stevenson on Monday interesting.  Its only 10 mins long, and in the interview he talks more about the church's collaboration with the NAACP,  and emphasizes multiple times the principle that "all are alike unto God".  I'm even more encouraged by these recent moves by the church.  I still wish for apologies to be offered as part of the strategy going forward, but I'm overall very optimistic about where we're going, especially considering our past as a church.  

https://kslnewsradio.com/category/podcast_player/?a=51139&sid=2104&n=Inside+Sources

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39 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

That doesn't mean erasing their identity and histories.

Of course not.  But is that really a thing?  How exactly does one go about erasing somebody’s identity and history?  
Anyhow,  being a child of God is the most important identity.

Edited by Rivers
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8 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Good point, there are many examples throughout history of race being a fluid definition that varies across time and place.

Biological 'race' differentiated by skin pigmentation is a late 18th-century social construct that only became ascendant in the 19th century. I have personally worked on a number of projects with historians who have extensively researched and written on this now non-controversial point.

This means that whenever we encounter something that we think looks like this construct in a text that predates this period -- such as the Bible -- we can safely assume we are dealing with something else altogether.

This of course then gets entangled with whether a person believes the Book of Mormon has a genuinely ancient origin or it was solely created in the 19th century. I would suggest that the text is far less problematic for those who believe the former than it is for those who believe the latter.

And I resent those who, because they insist on the latter, want to impose their conundrums on me when I have not only the freedom to read the text differently but also the intellectual requirement to do so.

7 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

How will members square the current teaching of the church on race as elucidated in the Gospel Topics essay and recent statements, with prior teachings of the church, including the BoM. 

Please see my statements above. When one reads the Book of Mormon as a genuinely ancient text, there is nothing to square.

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See previous post with the survey from Jana Riess about how many members still think that the priesthood ban was directed by God.

My housemate who migrated from West Africa as a young man and then joined the Church only 7.5 years ago strongly believes that the 'priesthood ban was directed by God'. He doesn't experience the angst, confusion, or conflict that you clearly do. Neither is he troubled or offended.

Do you need him to be upset or to think differently as a way of validating your own concerns/position?

I asked him once his opinion of white people who feel the need to twist themselves up in knots on his presumed behalf. I don't think the moderators would allow me to quote his response.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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35 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Biological 'race' differentiated by skin pigmentation is a late 18th-century social construct that only became ascendant in the 19th century. I have personally worked on a number of projects with historians who have extensively researched and written on this now non-controversial point.

This means that whenever we encounter something that we think looks like this construct in a text that predates this period -- such as the Bible -- we can safely assume we are dealing with something else altogether.

This of course then gets entangled with whether a person believes the Book of Mormon has a genuinely ancient origin or it was solely created in the 19th century. I would suggest that the text is far less problematic for those who believe the former than it is for those who believe the latter.

And I resent those who, because they insist on the latter, want to impose their conundrums on me when I have not only the freedom to read the text differently but also the intellectual requirement to do so.

Agreed that race is a social construct, I’ve said that many times here, and the definitions of race change over time and context.  As for the BoM, I personally believe it’s a 19th century text based on the evidence as I’ve evaluated it.  I never insist that others agree with me on this and I respect others who have a different perspective.  I like you don’t appreciate it when people insist that my perspective on BoM historicity is invalid or they disrespect it because they have a different opinion.  I think we can respectfully disagree on that point.  

35 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Please see my statements above. When one reads the Book of Mormon as a genuinely ancient text, there is nothing to square.

I would like to better understand why you think there is nothing to square with respect to believing in an ancient BoM and the current church policy on race.  I’m guessing its because you just read the text as not talking about race in the same we define it in modern times.  But that still doesn’t get you past this idea that God somehow marks a group of people to distinguish them from a more righteous other group of people.  How do you square that against the church’s current position that God does not mark people for a sign or a curse, and that all are alike unto God as Elder Stevenson articulated?  

35 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

My housemate who migrated from West Africa as a young man and then joined the Church only 7.5 years ago strongly believes that the 'priesthood ban was directed by God'. He doesn't experience the angst, confusion, or conflict that you clearly do. Neither is he troubled or offended.

Do you need him to be upset as a way of validating your own concerns?

I asked him once his opinion of white people who feel the need to twist themselves up in knots on his presumed behalf. I don't think the moderators would allow me to quote his response.

But that doesn’t solve the problem.  The church’s current position condemns and disavows this idea, whether anyone still holds it or not.  The question I have is how do members who want to align their values with the church’s current teachings, believe something that is clearly being disavowed and condemned.  BTW, it also makes God out to be a not so very nice person as the author of a racist practice.  

Additionally, many Mormon women in our history were perfectly happy with their subjugation as polygamous wives and when asked, they said they supported the idea and even promoted the teachings in very happy terms.  I’m sure before 1978 you could have polled individuals effected by the priesthood ban who would have “not been troubled or offended" by the ban that was affecting them.  We see this in all kinds of situations where inequality exists, and from my vantage point it is not a justification for the inequality.  
 

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45 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I would like to better understand why you think there is nothing to square with respect to believing in an ancient BoM and the current church policy on race.  I’m guessing its because you just read the text as not talking about race in the same we define it in modern times.

Why would a genuinely ancient text 'talk about race in the same [way] we define it in modern times'? Especially when 'modern' conceptions of race have a known and therefore limited genealogy?

It's the Book of Mormon's ancient origin that teaches us how we should be reading the book.

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The church’s current position condemns and disavows this idea, whether anyone still holds it or not.

No, it doesn't. This is one of those myths that has sprung up amongst people who want it to be true. Please quote a current Church leader making an authoritative statement that former priesthood policies were exclusively man-made and/or that the policies (and not the explanations given for them) must be disavowed. In your search, you will quickly find that Church statements have been carefully crafted to allow for a 'broad tent' of personal understanding on this point.

I have my personal views on this topic that fall somewhere off to the side of a middle position.

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Additionally, many Mormon women in our history were perfectly happy with their subjugation as polygamous wives and when asked, they said they supported the idea and even promoted the teachings in very happy terms.  I’m sure before 1978 you could have polled individuals effected by the priesthood ban who would have “not been troubled or offended" by the ban that was affecting them.  We see this in all kinds of situations where inequality exists, and from my vantage point it is not a justification for the inequality.

How very magnanimous of you to be super upset on behalf of people who stubbornly refused (and still refuse) to interpret their own situation in the same way you've interpreted it for them from your elevated 'vantage point'!

On this point, I'm inclined to quote myself from above:

I asked [my black housemate] once his opinion of white people who feel the need to twist themselves up in knots on his presumed behalf. I don't think the moderators would allow me to quote his response.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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8 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I don't believe this, its not Mormon teaching as I see it.  Doesn't Mormonism teach natural consequences for sin, no belief in curses is necessary.  

Blessings and cursings underlie the OT. It's all about covenants and there are consequences for breaking them. This is kingship stuff not just Israelite practice. Treaty agreements were made through it.  The removed curses in the temple ceremony were solidly scriptural, but most people are scripturally illiterate. It's not a matter of what we teach today, it is a matter of what ancient cultures did. One has to read ancient accounts through their practices, not ours. Including the BOM.

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42 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

 

Additionally, many Mormon women in our history were perfectly happy with their subjugation as polygamous wives and when asked, they said they supported the idea and even promoted the teachings in very happy terms. 
 

Uhhhhh.....how much research have you done on women in polygamy?

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      19 hours ago, Rivers said:

How is the passage erroneous?  It’s only saying what’s in the Book of Mormon?  

Great question, one that the church itself seems to be unable to answer.

I'll hazard a guess as to what happened.  Around the time that this "curse" appears in the BoM, the people of Nephi distanced themselves significantly from the soon to be Lamanites  Not even in the same neighborhood.

My guess is that the "curse" revolved around the idea that the Lamanites began intermarrying with the local population (who were pagans) and had darker complexions, thereby acquiring the local complexion.  That, coupled with the unrighteousness of the Lamanites and their hostility, caused the Nephites to move away as far as practicable. 

This is the initiation of the "curse" language.  The Nephites wanted to keep themselves apart and not mix with what was a pagan local population.  So in the author's mind it was a two way curse:  One was unrighteousness and the other was the skin color, which per se was not a curse but a way of keeping track of who was who.

At some level, no matter what the church says, it will be ridiculed as racist.

Edited by mrmarklin
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7 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:
Quote

The church’s current position condemns and disavows this idea, whether anyone still holds it or not.

No, it doesn't. This is one of those myths that has sprung up amongst people who want it to be true. Please quote a current Church leader making an authoritative statement that former priesthood policies were exclusively man-made and/or that the policies (and not the explanations given for them) must be disavowed. In your search, you will quickly find that Church statements have been carefully crafted to allow for a 'broad tent' of personal understanding on this point.

I have my personal views on this topic that fall somewhere off to the side of a middle position.

From Elder Stevenson on Monday: 

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We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual,” he added. “Now I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others. I would just like to reiterate our position as a church is clear. We do condemn all racism, past and present, in any form, and we disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse. We are brothers and sisters, and I consider you friends. I love and appreciate you,

All racism is condemned, past and present.  The racist priesthood ban included.  In any form, remember.  No theory advanced that skin color is connected to curses or signs of curses.  Its all disavowed.  The gospel topics essay clearly condemns this as well.  Gospel Topics:

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Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

I don't know how you can read these statements and still think that the priesthood ban somehow is an exemption to the clear condemnation for past racism that the church is making.  Is it because you've redefined racism differently as to not include discrimination based on race?   This is so clear to my eyes.  This isn't a myth that has sprung up.  Its taking the church leaders statements today at their word.  If you're trying to carve out a space to define the priesthood ban as something other than racism, please elaborate.  

15 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

How very magnanimous of you to be super upset on behalf of people who stubbornly refused (and still refuse) to interpret their own situation in the same way you've interpreted it for them from your elevated 'vantage point'!

On this point, I'm inclined to quote myself from above:

I asked [my black housemate] once his opinion of white people who feel the need to twist themselves up in knots on his presumed behalf. I don't think the moderators would allow me to quote his response.

I consider myself an ally, and I find it unfortunate that you are trying to put my perspective down because you have a friend who's black with a different opinion.  

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8 hours ago, Rivers said:

I said this earlier, but I think one of the problems we have is universalizing everything.  We can’t assume that what God does with one group of people should be applied to all of humanity.  Just because the Lamanites were given a darker tan as a way to distinguish them, doesn’t mean that ever every non-Caucasian race has the same story.

IMHO the Lamanites were not "given" a darker tan, they chose to have this.  See my previous post.

As Lamanites became righteous, and re-joined the Nephites, they intermixed and became "whiter".  Of course not whiter in only complexion.

Traditional Mormons don't believe any of my theories, however.  I married a Latin girl with a darker complexion than myself.  My mother was totally convinced that my wife got "whiter" the longer she stayed in the Church and married to me (I'm white)!  Photographic evidence disproves this, of course.  However our children do blend in anywhere and are not perceived as Latin.

Edited by mrmarklin
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21 minutes ago, juliann said:

Blessings and cursings underlie the OT. It's all about covenants and there are consequences for breaking them. This is kingship stuff not just Israelite practice. Treaty agreements were made through it.  The removed curses in the temple ceremony were solidly scriptural, but most people are scripturally illiterate. It's not a matter of what we teach today, it is a matter of what ancient cultures did. One has to read ancient accounts through their practices, not ours. Including the BOM.

Agreed, but there are a whole lot of other things from the OT that we don't consider worth perpetuating in our day.  I see curses as a superstitious idea.  I much more like the idea that blessings and pain come as natural consequences as articulated in D&C 130.  I really don't see an application for curses in our contemporary church, and I'm glad that the only time I really came in contact with a belief in curses in my life was as a missionary and some silly ideas about dusting feet.  

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23 minutes ago, juliann said:

Uhhhhh.....how much research have you done on women in polygamy?

Probably not as much as I'd like, I've only read a few books so far.  Its a gross generalization, but from what I've read, many were publicly supportive but privately quite upset in personal journals and more candid conversations with friends.  My point to Hamba is that just because someone who's being oppressed is telling you they are fine with their oppression, that doesn't morally justify things.  I think you'd agree with me on that point, correct?  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

many Mormon women in our history were perfectly happy with their subjugation as polygamous wives

If a person doesn’t truly view it as subjugation, is it?  Do they not have the right to define their own experiences?

There are those who see any marriage relationship for women as subjugation. If your wife doesn’t see herself as subjugated, do you think it makes sense for these individuals to insist she doesn’t understand her own situation well enough or do you believe she knows her own life and choices best?

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21 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

All racism is condemned, past and present.  The racist priesthood ban included.

Note what word you had to add before 'priesthood ban' in your claim. And of course you cannot quote Elder Stevenson or anyone else saying, 'Including the priesthood ban'.

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I don't know how you can read these statements and still think ...

I.e., everyone else needs to think the way you do. I get it.

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I consider myself an ally, and I find it unfortunate that you are trying to put my perspective down because you have a friend who's black with a different opinion.  

I'm not sure you and I share an understanding of what it means to be an 'ally'. You seem to think it involves telling the people you think you're allied with that they don't understand their own situation as well as you do.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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Salt Lake discusses this topic on Mormonland. https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/01/22/mormon-land-native/?fbclid=IwAR2VWBp7hdbNnd-3G_dIIOAPlTdDHiUa1LqV3g5RJ-BpZgt1WfgJpppGxM8

Discussing those issues on this week’s podcast is Michalyn Steele, who teaches at Brigham Young University’s law school and is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. She grew up in a small Latter-day Saint congregation on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York.

Edited by bsjkki
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1 minute ago, Calm said:

If a person doesn’t truly view it as subjugation, is it?  Do they not have the right to define their own experiences?

There are those who see any marriage relationship for women as subjugation. If your wife doesn’t see herself as subjugated, do you think it makes sense for these individuals to insist she doesn’t understand her own situation well enough or do you believe she knows her own life and choices best?

Its a complicated issue.  I have polygamous ancestry in the church, not many generations back from myself.  I've also tried to be very respectful of our brothers and sisters in the broader Mormon heritage traditions that still practice this.  I have met some of these people at Sunstone, and been enlightened by their perspectives, and I've tried to be not very judgmental of their choices.  That all said, I do have to take a stand on what I think is morally an unequal relationship dynamic.  However, I'm not in favor of governmental laws to restrict the practice, and I don't condone persecuting groups of informed adults who conscientiously choose this lifestyle.  

I didn't mean to side track the thread into a discussion about polygamy by my illustration earlier, my point was to say that someone's personal opinion about something does not justify a practice. Admittedly, my example shared was poorly articulated.  Apologies all around.  

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40 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

mother was totally convinced that my wife got "whiter" the longer she stayed in the Church and married to me (I'm white)!  Photographic evidence disproves this, of course. 

In other words, her perception is colored by her culture.  

If they didn't actually get whiter, why assume they got darker?

Add to that culture affects how we talk about and label things, the idioms we use...the whole alleged skin change could be purely a cultural perception based on a cultural, nonphysical label...all that would be needed to render one group unenticing to another.  After all, there is nothing inherent in skin color that makes one less attractive (outside of actual disease), only culture makes it so.

Edited by Calm
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