Violent rioter or Son of God? Or both?
Welcome to the final day of the 12 Days of YMF-Mas! We hope these posts have brought you a little support and cheer this holiday season. We’re ending things on a more serious note with a piece by Hermia on honestly assessing our personal views about race. Thank you very much for reading. All the best in the new year!
by Averyl Dietering
Christmas and New Year’s are a time of reflection. We make New Year’s resolutions, we look back on the past year, and we remember the birth of Christ and His sacrifice for us. One of the most important national stories of 2014 has been the continued violence against the black community perpetuated by police officers. Relating to this issue of race, one of the most important LDS stories of 2014 was the release of the essay “Race and the Priesthood” which was published on LDS.org and which states: “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” As I have pondered my own feelings about these events in 2014, I have done my best to examine my own thoughts and and actions, and ask myself if I am doing my best to act with compassion and equality to all people, regardless of their race or ethnicity. I admit that sometimes I have fallen short, but when I do so, I repent and do my best to improve.
It’s easy for us to call out racism in others, but can be difficult for us to see the racism that we may harbor. As Elder Uchtdorf said in the Oct 2014 General conference: “My dear brethren [and sisters], will you please look inside your hearts and ask the simple question: ‘Lord, is it I?'” In an effort to help us, as conscientious members of the LDS Church, to eradicate the racism in ourselves, I’ve shared some common ways that we fall short of the Church’s call to end racism. I hope this post can help you ask “Lord, is it I?” so that we can make the Church a safe haven for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity.
- You might be a racist if you posted the “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” quote from The Help, but you refuse to post #blacklivesmatter. Real black lives should be more deserving of respect than fictional ones.
- You might be racist if you valorize Christ for using a whip to drive people out of the temple, dumping their money out, and flipping their tables over to protect the temple, but you condemn someone else for throwing a brick in a car window when police officers have shot and killed yet another black person. Is it moral to value the sacredness of architecture over the sacredness of human lives?
- You might be racist if you see Joseph Smith’s long list of arrests as a sign that he was a chosen prophet of God, persecuted by mankind, but you see Eric Garner’s or Antonio Martin’s histories with the law as a sign that they were dangerous criminals.
- You might be racist if you honor the Boston Tea Party as the beginning of the American Revolution, but you shame rioters for destroying property because of their outrage at the grand jury decisions.
- You might be a racist if you quote Martin Luther King’s writings/speeches on non-violence, but then conveniently forget what he said about riots.
- You might be racist if you send your children out into the wilderness for several days to reenact pioneers from the 1800s walking across the plains, but you think it’s dangerous and foolish for a PoC to take their children to a peaceful protest. (attributed to Sistas in Zion)
- You might be racist if you think the shootings of unarmed black men, women, and children are not racially motivated, but that it’s racist when your white child doesn’t get into UCLA but their black friend does.
- You might be racist if you label slain black men as “thugs” because of the baggy clothes they are wearing in the photos of them in the media, but you lament that the Jews did not recognize Jesus as their savior because “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
- You might be racist if you feel inconvenienced when you have to walk by the anti-Mormon protests to get to the Conference building during General Conference, but you think that people of color should not complain about being inconvenienced by racial profiling and stop-and-frisk procedures.
- You might be racist if you’re more than willing to post several times about Meet the Mormons so you can get it trending on twitter, but you haven’t done anything to get #blacklivesmatter trending.
- You might be racist if you claim that not allowing school-organized prayers in public schools is a sign of religious people being persecuted, but you don’t see the murder of a black person every 28 hours by the police as a sign that black people are being persecuted.
- You might be racist if Jesus’s birth makes you stop and ponder the tragedy of the Slaughter of the Innocents, but you don’t want the recent protests and murders of black people by cops to “ruin your Christmas.”
“…he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
2 Nephi 26:33