Sunday Spotlight is a series where we profile individuals in the Young Mormon Feminists community to hear their stories and get to know them a little better through Q&A or their personal narratives. This week we talked with Tinesha.
Who are you and what are you up to?
My name is Tinesha Capri Zandamela. I am a senior at Brigham Young University studying sociology and French. I intern at a law firm and at the County Attorney’s office. I grew up in SW Washington. I am biracial—my father is Black and from the area of Zandamela, Mozambique (where my last name is from) and my mother is White and descendants of Mormon pioneers (Swedish speaking Finns).
I love running, cheeseburgers, classical and pop music, dresses, red lipstick, the Pacific Northwest, reading, writing, Jane Eyre, and Beyoncé.
When I’m not doing homework or work, I’m reading, blogging, learning Latin or speaking about Mormon feminism and race. If I’m not doing any of those things, I’m with friends or watching Grey’s Anatomy.
What makes you a Mormon?
I was raised in the LDS Church. I worked to gain my own testimony, all while navigating my way as a biracial liberal female.
2 Nephi 26:33 is what makes me Mormon.
Knowing that I am able to communicate with my Heavenly Parents and they are able to guide me and talk directly to me is what makes me Mormon.
Believing that I have a purpose and that I am important makes me Mormon.
Knowing that I am so deeply loved by my Savior and my Heavenly Parents is what makes me Mormon.
Believing that every person has worth is what makes me Mormon.
What makes you a feminist?
I am a feminist because I believe girls should be taught they are smart and strong and capable, not that their only purpose is to be aesthetically pleasing for men.
I am a feminist because I believe that women deserve the same respect and recognition for their accomplishments as men do. I believe that female sexuality deserves discussion and acknowledgment.
I am a feminist because I know that there are inequalities within the LDS Church, and I want to help fix them.
I am a feminist because I am a strong woman of color, and my voice deserves to be heard.
I am feminist because I believe that people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and sexualities are equal, but unfortunately, that is not reflected in our society.
I truly believe that being a modern feminist means you inherently should be intersectional, and I work to promote and educate on feminism that is all-inclusive.
What makes you a Mormon feminist?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a princess, and I wanted to change the world. I was going to have a big castle, with a giant library, and I was going to read and be nice and meet people and have a great job.
I grew up in the LDS church being taught that I have divine worth and potential. That I had a plan. My patriarchal blessing taught me that I was someone special, and that I was to work to be like my Heavenly Mother.
There are a lot of things I saw growing up in the church that didn’t reflect what I had been taught. The treatment of men and women in the church was markedly different. The representation of people of color was lacking, and I constantly found myself battling racial microaggressions when I should have just been learning about the gospel. There was no mention of Heavenly Mother. There was a lot of slut-shaming and victim blaming. At many times, I didn’t feel like there was a place for me in a church and culture that told me I had one role—to get married and have children because I’ve never felt like that was my plan.
I am a Mormon feminist because I truly do believe that I have a divine purpose. Maybe it isn’t to rule the world and have a great big castle, but I do believe that making changes and making a difference is part of my plan. I’m a Mormon feminist because I believe there are millions of other amazing young women who have amazing potential, and should not be confined to one role. Everyone I know is so much more complex than just one role.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I want to be living somewhere beautiful.
I plan to be working full-time as a criminal lawyer, a policy analyst, or a researcher. I would ideally like to be teaching at a community college on the side, and I plan to finish a book and a documentary about navigating multi-racial identities in the LDS church and in the United States. I would love to have a family as well.
And I absolutely will have a giant library.
Any parting words for us?
Speaking out about Mormon feminism has changed my life. That sounds overly dramatic, but I truly mean it. When I started speaking out, a lot of LDS church members told me I was making an egregious mistake. They cautioned me and begged to pray. So I did. I prayed a lot and that’s the reason I’m still a Mormon feminist. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.