October of last year, President Nelson looked straight into the camera and said, "Listen carefully to what I am about to say." That got my attention. If I wasn't listening before, I was definitely listening at this point. He went on to say that members of the church should "lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice." At another point in the talk he said that he pleads with us to, "promote respect for all God's Children."
So how do we do that?
When George Floyd was murdered, I think White America (me included) took a collective step into an uncomfortable reality: we haven't come as far as we thought we had. The United States has such incredible promise that is unrealized. We are continuing the belittlement of those in the margins; those that don't look like us. We are continuing a system of violence against those that have had violence done to them for hundreds of years - all the while telling ourselves that since we have streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we have overcome that racist past.
We haven't. And a Prophet told us to lead out in racial justice; to lead out in caring for those in the margins; to lead out in creating a world where we look out for Everyone.
I've spent the last year and a half trying, and mostly failing, to abandon ingrained attitudes of prejudice. In the process, I've learned a few things that I'd like to share. This journey will be lifelong, and I'm prepared to take it so I can open my heart and be more like Jesus. Yes, the Jesus who spoke directly to women when it was inappropriate to do so; the Jesus who ministered to those in the margins of society: lepers, Samaritans, Gentiles. We have a chance to take that love to those in the margins of our society.
So, without further ado, here are some resources I've found valuable:
- The Implicit Bias Test by Harvard for Race is a fantastic place to start. It took some deep introspection and was very humbling for me to learn about my own biases. Incredibly worthwhile and powerful!
- firstnamebasis.org - this is an incredible resource for anyone, but it is geared toward teaching children about race. She also has an instagram account, a podcast, and wow! She is doing an incredible job educating me!
- Beyond the Block Podcast is a must listen for anyone looking for a progressive Come Follow Me podcast - given by a lifelong Black member of the church and his Biblical scholar and Queer convert counterpart. Their perspectives are so powerful! They also have an instagram account to follow.
- Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man are a must-see series of videos where Emmanual Acho gets right into the most uncomfortable conversations we're afraid of, but are so important for us to have. He has also written a couple books around these topics. I haven't read them, but you can learn more about them here.
Here are some books that have shaken me into a greater understanding:
- Devil in the Grove - a book about Thurgood Marshall and his battles against systemic racism. Keep in mind this happened in my grandparents' time - not that long ago. This book was recommended to me by Kamaal S. Ahmed in an interview I did with him.
- How to be an Anti-Racist - a how-to guide book for those of us would-be allies in the fight against racism by Ibram X. Kendi. This is a must-read for everyone, in my opinion.
- The Person You Mean To Be - another how-to book for confronting the racism we don't even know exist inside ourselves. This was written by Dolly Chugh and is such a great introspective read.
- Born a Crime - This is a fantastic memoir by Trevor Noah about life in apartheid South Africa. Reading this shocked me because I noticed how we have built similar racist systems in the United States.
- The Hate U Give - This is a fictional novel but hits very close to home about an unarmed Black man killed by the police at a traffic stop. Written by Angie Thomas. Don't plan on doing anything for a couple days after you get this one - I couldn't put it down.
Each of these books (except Born a Crime) came from the Latter-day Saints in Action book club. Latter-day Saints in action is a podcast, book club, and educational non-profit community I am a part of.
I've started to fill my instagram and Twitter with Black folks doing normal stuff to remove the implicit bias I recognize that I have (see the implicit bias test from above). Here are some people I've started following on Twitter and Instagram:
- Michael Harriot (Instagram)- he does regular deep-dive threads into American history from a Black perspective and wow is it fascinating to learn this stuff!
- All the people listed above (Kamaal S. Ahmad (Instagram), Ibram X. Kendi (Instagram), James Jones from Beyond the Block (Instagram), Trevor Noah (Instagram), Angie Thomas (Instagram), Dolly Chugh (Instagram), and Emmanuel Acho (Instagram))
- You can also look at these people and see who they are following and follow them (I heard this advice on the First Name Basis podcast).
- Black Fathers on Instagram
- The Black Man Can on Instagram
- Black Mothers on Instagram
So there you go. The incomplete and very beginnings of my journey. This is not comprehensive, nor is this meant to be prescriptive. If nothing else I hope this post sparks a desire to learn more. Feel free to share things you've learned in the comments below!