This is meant as a resource page to compile and amplify some of the work being done particularly, but not exclusively, by Black Latter-Day Saints and other people of color in discussion with and about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In order to amplify the voices of people of color, in each individual section (i.e What to Read, What to Listen To, etc.) writers and speakers of color are listed first with white allies listed afterwards.
This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Accounting for how wide Mormon blogging is, a comprehensive would be difficult. This list is, however, meant to address some of the most present discussions and offer a range of topics on race. A place to start, certainly not a place to end. Please Note: This list intentionally decenteres Utah with the arguable exception of covering some issues related to Brigham Young University. BYU not only exists outside of Utah but is an educational magnet with broad reach.
In no uncertain terms, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a racist past and a racist present. It doesn’t need to have a racist future. As Mormons, we are called to the messy and painful work of believing we can make a better, more equitable, more just society. We are called to that faith in utopia. And faith without works is dead.
Edit 7/11/20: Added new dates for the Anti-Racism Relief Society meetings.
Edit 1/4/21: Added new dates for the “We Can Do The Hard Work” sessions and took off old information. Added some recent blogs posts and articles.
CONVERSATIONS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
Mormon Stories Podcast with Cecile Shellman, Spencer Nugent, Darron Smith, Jason Ball, Kimilyn Poulson, Mark Nugent, Solange Renfroe, and Victoria Denise
We Can Do The Hard Work
January 10, 17, 24
at 4 PT/5 MT/6 CT/7 ET
Three weeks of anti-racism Relief Society training led by Dr. Adair and held via Zoom to address racism in the Church and broadly. To attend you must agree to 1. Approach the discussion with apology and humility, 2. Listen to this podcast ahead of time, and 3. Internalize racism and white supremacy as a fact; these realities will not be up for debate. After the three sessions, participants join local groups and passion projects for anti-racism accountability and to organize around specific initiatives.
Sign up here by January 9.
* Any Black or Black bi-racial sisters who would like to share, offer feedback, or express concerns are encouraged to reach out to the organizers.
“Time to Change the Name of BYU” by Tasi Young
“BYU Must Act to Make Black Students Feel Safe and Welcome” by Déborah Aléxis
“Brigham Young statue vandalized on BYU campus” by Pat Reavy
Regarding Church Statements
“Mormon apostle’s comments on racism fall short” by Adam S. Harris and Carlene Fraser-Harris
“Don’t Say His Name” by Ziff (penname) on Zephalod’s Daughters
“Despite joining President Nelson in call to end racism, NAACP would like to see the LDS Church do more” by Peggy Fletcher Stack and David Noyce
“President Nelson condemns racism, pleads for peace” by Sydney Walker and quoting Russell M. Nelson
TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Latter Day Saints for Racial Equality Book Reading Group on Facebook This group is currently reading and discussing How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.
* Be mindful this is an intentional Black space open to white allies for coalitional learning but not designed to spare white feelings or center whiteness.
Black LDS Legacy Committee on Facebook
Century of Black Mormons on Facebook
* Additionally, many of the writers included here have public twitter accounts that you can follow.
Jane and Emma written by Melissa Leilani Larson and directed by Chantelle Squires
Diversity in the Mormon Church – Darius Grey with Darius Grey lecturing at BYU
The link provided is part of a four part series.
“Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” scripted by Darius Grey and Margaret Blair Young
* I had trouble finding an accessible version of this documentary. If anyone has any leads, please let me know!
Mormon Land Podcast with LaShawn Williams and Kimberly Applewhite
Dialogue Sunday School #10 with LaShawn Williams
Rational Faith’s The Racism 101 Podcast
“Mormonism and White Supremacy” RadioWest Segment with Joanna Brooks
Articles and Blog Posts
“At the Crossroads of Being Black and LDS” by Dumdi Baribe Wallentine
Century of Black Mormons archive project housed by the University of Utah
“Latter-day Saints Have Much More Work to Do to Combat Racism” by Tiffany Amoakohene
“God Sees Us: Talking To Youth About Race and the Priesthood” by Janan Graham-Russell
Also check out the rest of Janan Graham-Russell’s public scholarship on the Rational Faiths blog.
“Why I Hate White Jesus” by James Goldberg
“The (new) history of race and the priesthood” by Nick Lindsey
“Op-ed: Follow Christ to eliminate racism” in LDS Living by Bryant Jensen
“Harmony won’t come until we recognize racism as the problem” by J. Spencer Flurhman in Deseret News
“My view: Black lives matter. Mormon lives matter.” by W. Paul Reeve
Support Black-owned independent bookstores by ordering books through them. These are niche books, to be sure, but many local bookstores accept special orders. Call and ask! To find a list you can go here: https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/
Black and Mormon by Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith
Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons: Finding the Lord’s Lessons in Everyday Life by Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes
Decolonizing Mormonism: Approaching a Postcolonial Zion edited by Gina Colvin and Joanna Brooks
Standing on the Promises Series by Daruis Gray and Margaret Blair Young
Mormonism and White Supremacy: American Religion and the Problem of Racial Innocence by Joanna Brooks
Race and the Making of the Mormon People by Max Perry Mueller
The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History edited by Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst
Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism by Newell G. Bringhurst
Black Saint in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons by Jessie L. Embry
Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness by W. Paul Reeve
A lot of the most significant work for racial justice happens in local communities. Find out what is happening in your town or city. If you need more general resources on race not specific to Mormonism, this page compiles many of them.
- Please use the blog comments to add relevant resources.
- Compiling these notes, it became abundantly clear that, while Black Mormons and other people of color have been writing and speaking out against racism in the Mormon Church, many of the sustained research projects culminating in lauded monographs on race and Mormonism have been written by white allies. It is integral for white people to address race and the construction and privileges of whiteness. However, it is also vital to understand that the Church restricts access of its archives to those deemed too radical. Additionally, academic funding for projects on race still disproportionately goes to white researchers. Simply put, we need both transparency in church archives and affirmative funding for interested researchers of color. Further, it is useful for academically minded folks (I’m calling out myself here) to read and listen to a diversity of sources from podcasts to blogs to social media posts.
- The Salt Lake Tribune (cited here frequently) only allows 7 free articles per month. They are run as a nonprofit and operate as an important journalistic institution both in Utah and on reporting Mormon issues. If you can, I highly encourage supporting them with 15 dollars a month to gain access to all their work.