A Call to Do Better: rooting out racial prejudice

Fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,

This weekend we were told by multiple leaders that racial prejudice against Black people has been a part of American history and is still a problem today. It is a problem world- wide.

We were told that, members of the Church, need to do more to root out racial prejudice.

President Oaks taught that the United States Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble, or protest, to address grievances, and that there have indeed been injustices in the administration of current law. He taught that protest is an appropriate way to raise public awareness and seek a change in laws.

We do not condone violence or lawlessness.

This condemnation of violence includes the small number of protestors who have crossed over the line of civility, as well as those who violently seek to stop the protests- be they government deployed or vigilante.

That is what (though not all) our leaders taught.

Might I ask that we, the white members of the LDS church, do, or understand, two things:

First, that whatever we have done or been doing, we have been asked to do better.

Second, we, the white members, should not assume we know how racial prejudice works or how to fight it, and our initial focus in doing more should be,

to listen to Black people.

Let’s listen to the ones we know and those we don’t. Listen to the community, not just one person. Listen to those who are speaking up, especially those who are expressing hurt. Look at artwork and listen to music. Read articles and books. Listen with the intent to learn, not with the intent to be absolved.

Seek first to understand.

Then, I humbly ask that we direct our efforts at each other. We have been told that racial prejudice against Black people, as well as Latino, Asian, and others, is a problem- not that THEY are a problem.

So I suggest that we seek to improve ourselves before making suggestions or demands of others.

When Editing a Closet Feels Like Failure

My hoarding clothing stems from two things:

One, the understanding that dressing appropriately is all about context. Where will you be and what will you be doing? This should determine the item, the color, the cut, the fabric, etc.

And two, the fantasy that my life is somehow much more interesting than it really is, or at least the fantasy, that it will be so at some point in the future. I need to be prepared right?

I still own a pair of rugby cleats though it has been ten years since I last played.

I own two pairs of snow pants though it has been 15 years since I last went snowboarding.

In fairness to the ten suits or odd jackets I own, such was daily wear for me pre-pandemic, though I must admit it has been multiple years since I half of them fit comfortably. I am convinced they will al fit again.

I realized the other day that while I have shoes in which to jog, I do not have the right shoes to play basketball. This is appropriate since I haven’t even touched a basketball in maybe five, wait, seven, years, but now that I see the clothing gap I am convinced the shoes are why I’m not playing 3-on-3 right this instant.

I saw an image yesterday of a small stadium where cars race around in a tight circle with a track banked at almost 90 degrees. It was wild. Spectators watch from seats right along the top of the track so they can look down and see cars zip by sticking to the wall as if with a high octane Spiderman superpower. While looking at this awesomeness what stuck out to me most was that one car had an obviously insane man sitting mostly outside the window of this moving car, and I cringed. Not because of the danger but because he was wearing this ill-fitting, multi-color striped, long sleeve golf shirt. It looked like a secondhand cast-off from Old Navy; like the wearer just grabbed something out of a pile with no thought as to size or taste. It robbed a little bit from the spectacle. Evel Knievel understood this. While I may not share his same taste for star spangled Elvis jumpsuits, Mr. Knievel understood how to dress in context. As to the driver in this motodrome, I am convinced that a leather motor cycle jacket, or a shirt in colors that matched the car, or maybe even no shirt at all would have made this whole scene so much more spectacular but instead of thinking this guy was just as cool as his stunt, I was pondering if perhaps this guy was only driving on a wall because he had no other options- because I had to assume he had no other shirts.

I love the idea of owning a tuxedo. I get that wearing a tux tailored to fit, will make me look and feel better, and in any setting where a tux is called for, one would of course want to look and feel their best. I have read and learned enough to know the little details that matter, texture, tailoring, lapel style and jacket length. I need to do more testing to really decide the size of bowtie that works best with my face, but I do know how to tie one, and know that I should.

But then also, I have already lived most of my life, and in all this time have only experienced four occasions where my wearing a tuxedo was appropriate.

So. Should I do a better job honestly curating my closet, or do I find some way to get a yacht to go with my boat shoes?

Black Lives Matter: who are you listening too about “them”?

If you are a White person and think calls to reform or even defund police departments sound ridiculous, or extreme, might I request that you consider the following:

If you are not Black, or do not live in a predominantly Black neighborhood, then how are you getting information about what is happening in the Black community? Is it from Black people in those communities? If not, why not? Is your source a Black person you know personally or is it via mass media or reposted social media? How reliable is your information and the perspective it brings?

What is different in their experience that would lead them to such a proposal? Perhaps, the danger you foresee in a police-less state, already exists in some communities. If you lived in a violent neighborhood, and the police department is part of that violence, is it really crazy to want to change? Or crazy to want to shut down a department?

Have you read the Ferguson Report?

Do not assume that those calling for these measures are stupid, or that you are simply smarter than them.