Reflections on October’s 2020 General Conference

I almost wasn’t going to watch the 190th Semiannual General Conference put on by the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To be honest, I have been struggling with some of the vitriol that has come from Latter-day Saints regarding the racism and injustices being heaped on Black Americans. Between a pandemic, election year, peaceful and unpeaceful (caused by agitators) protests, and being a full-time student and a newlywed, it has been quite the year and my faith was taking a beating. And I often wondered where the heck God was. I didn’t know how much more I could take if our church leaders just did not address the chaos that was happening in our world.

To the surprise of some, myself included, a lot of the issues plaguing our country were tackled. Albeit some of it was lackluster, but when you think about it, it is much older white men doing the tackling of these issues, so I kept that in mind. I cannot speak to the experiences of other Black LDS people, so this is me purely speaking to my own. But I felt an array of emotions this October General Conference weekend and the talk that stuck with me the most was from the prophet and president himself, Russell M. Nelson.  

For the first time, in what I can remember, he spent some time denouncing racism and white supremacy and made it abundantly clear that righteousness is not dependent on one’s skin color. He specifically named Black people in his talk and expressed that he grieved with us, not for us but with us.

In times such as these, where many are grieving, it was comforting that the prophet of the faith, I belong to, is with us, he sees us, and he made that clear to the thousands that were tuned in live from all over the world.

Of course, the conversations need to continue, accompanied with tangible action steps on individual and systemic levels. Of course, everyone will take something different from president Nelson’s message, because the beautiful thing about these General Conference talks is that we take what speaks to us and we try to apply it in a way that is healing. With that being said, it is one thing if people weaponize a talk to attack others (that isn’t in line with what we are taught in the gospel) and entirely another to use the messages to get closer to Christ.

God is a God of love, justice, and mercy, otherwise we would not have the chance of trying again when we make mistakes. Take the messages for what they are and make space for everyone else to do the same.

Law Enforcement Officers Lives Do Matter

I agree that the lives of our Law Enforcement Officers matter. They are humans with real families and worries, after all.

However, Law Enforcement Officers do need to be held accountable and do need to stop killing Black people frilly-nilly. The movement is about many things, one of them being the systems that are put in place in this country to purposely keep certain groups on a playing field that is not leveled nor equitable and shining a light on them. Also, to stop killing Black people.

A lot of people will say, “Look at this successful Black person, what hardships have they faced?” or another person with a lot of wealth may say, “White supremacy and racism doesn’t exist, look how well off I am and I am a Black person, no one helped me get here just work hard and you can be like me!”

Recognizing racist systems does not mean that no one of any other color has not faced hardships, it means that the system has worked and continues to work in the favor of the majority race in America and when that race thinks that they hold more power simply because it has always worked in their favor, then it becomes dangerous for the existence of minorities. Second point is that oftentimes even successful Black people had a mentor or someone somewhere that took a chance on them, without that chance the likelihood of them being where they are is very low.

I reflect on my own life and I can see it. Although I have experienced my own hardships, I can see the privileges I have been granted because someone with more privilege believed in me and took a chance on me. Does this mean I didn’t/don’t work hard, nope; it just means I didn’t do it all completely alone. When I get where I am aiming to be it doesn’t suddenly grant me the right to look down on other people that look like me and say that I am somehow better than them or that the injustices they face are not real. No, it is an opportunity for me to help them network and then it is up to them where they go from there, because I have been granted that privilege. Everyone has privilege, it’s what you do with it that matters.

So, some of my questions are: why does it take protesting and rioting to get any semblance of justice? Why is it that when Black people are murdered while unarmed their past is brought up as if that is to somehow justify them being killed? Why do Black mothers die at such disproportionate rates in the hands of our healthcare systems? Why are the 2nd Amendment people quiet when a Black man did use a gun to protect his home against intruders and was arrested for doing so while they murdered his sleeping wife?

Please educate yourself by reading the plethora of educational materials that people have researched and worked hard to make available, doing so will decrease the likelihood of you unintentionally or intentionally derailing what the conversation and movement is truly about. There is a lot we didn’t learn in school, unfortunately, because our education system is also built on systems that are intent on framing history to make it “easier” to digest. But the truth is that history is rarely easy to digest.