This morning I was emailing back and forth with my dad–attorney, former stake president, current counselor in a mission presidency, typical white Mormon male–about the recent events in Charlottesville. He was following up on a 20-minute discussion I forced us to have last night because we were in my car and I was driving (oh, how the turntables) and I needed to make sure that we both could agree that white supremacy is bad. Good news! We did!
One of the most heartening parts of our conversation was my dad saying he would have taken disciplinary action against any member of the stake who advocated for white supremacy. Although I have FEELINGS about disciplinary counsels, I think that if there ever were a case for excommunication, this would be it.
Cool. Rad. We’re on the same page.
And then he sent me an article this morning about how both sides are lying about what’s happening in Charlottesville.
Two steps forward, etc.
After a few exchanges it felt really clear that we were losing the common ground we came to last night, so I sent the following (hastily written) email. In it, I included a list of things my dad could actually do in his daily life to combat white supremacy. It’s not all-inclusive, and I borrowed from a couple pieces I’ve read over this last week, but here you go:
“White supremacy is a violent ideology and there’s no apologizing for that. It’s necessary to take a deliberate, unequivocal stand against it. Indifference is sympathy in the case of white supremacy. Indifference to white supremacy is comfort with white supremacy. It’s feeling safe regardless of its existence.
Now–instead of looking for ways to place blame with people who are anti-Nazi, or to feel okay about Donald Trump doubling down on his defense of white supremacists, maybe you could do a few simple things that I promise won’t turn you into an anti-fascist liberal.
1. Pray about it. Ask for inspiration on things you can do to in your community and in your calling to combat racism and white supremacist ideology.
2. Look into and recognize problematic church doctrines and scriptures and talks by old prophets that can be used by alt-right Mormons to justify their belief that white people are better, and become familiar with the doctrines and church statements that negate them. (Like in the mission–we would study what scriptures anti-Mormons would use and we’d be ready with a response)
3. Take notice of the spaces you’re in and how many people of color are included on the boards you sit on, the meetings you’re in, etc. Make space for input and representation and give leadership opportunities to people of color. There is richness in diversity and presence of difference and representation.
4. Read books and articles written by people of color. Seek out art and media that isn’t created and produced by people that look like you.
5. Be a witness. If you see a person of color who is having an interaction with the police, pull over and watch. The presence of witnesses can help with deescalation.
6. If you hear someone say something racist, speak up.
7. Take the time to think about your own biases. Neither of us are white supremacists, but that doesn’t mean we don’t carry a lot of internalized racism. Is there anything you believe or assumptions or opinions you have that stem from systematic racism?
8. Listen to people of color when they share their experiences, and believe them.
I love you, Dad, and you’re right–this isn’t a partisan issue. Glad we’re on the same side.”