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.

30 Days of Home Cooking Challenge

On July 20th, 2020 I ordered cookies on DoorDash and not proud of how often I was using that app I decided to uninstall it and make meals at home. When the COVID-19 pandemic started my husband and I were ordering takeout more often than I’d like to admit for a couple reasons: we were afraid of going to the grocery store and possibly catching it and we both had busy schedules and were too tired to cook by the end of the day. The food takeout expense quickly racked up and I knew something needed to change.

I love to cook. I grew up in a home with a mom who runs her own catering business and is dang good at it. Although I knew I would personally never have a catering business of my own, I grew to appreciate the time, effort, and dedication that comes with preparing a home cooked dish.

So, on July 21st we started on day one of our 30 days of making all meals at home challenge. I’m more of the cook in our marriage and my husband is learning, but because it’s something I also enjoy I don’t mind doing the bulk of the cooking. I do appreciate that he doesn’t mind doing the dishes, if I haven’t already done them (I have a habit of cleaning up while I go because I don’t like cooking in a dirty space). Because I get bored with food easily, I knew that I would need to keep the menu interesting if we were going to do this challenge. So, Pinterest and I became reacquainted and 5 food boards later I felt a bit more prepared to make a variety of meals. A lot of them consisted of American and Nigerian foods because that is what I grew up on, and my husband loves it.

Honestly, I’m not the best at meal prep so that isn’t my strongest point, but I do a pretty decent job of scouring our kitchen and researching what I can make with the ingredients we already have on hand. I utilized MyFridgeFood—a free site that allows you to pick what items you have on hand and then it comes up with a list of recipes you can try—a few times. I also love having a variety of seasonings to use because that’s one of the ways I keep our meals interestingly tasty.

I learned to appreciate leftovers (I used to not be the biggest fan of them) mostly because it meant I didn’t have to think of things for lunch and/or dinner some days. We had some ready-made meals on hand, like corn dogs and ramen for days when I didn’t feel like cooking or didn’t feel well. We also had things like tortillas, cheese, bread, sandwich meat, etc. for easy meal ideas for lazy days.

When we went on a weekend getaway during this challenge, I made a meal that would last us for a day since we were spending one full day at our destination and then made sure that we had access to a fridge and microwave at our AirBnB. The only food item we ended buying was ice cream because we were in Logan and my husband is an alumnus of USU, so we always get Aggie Ice Cream when we visit. It was our little treat. We actually ended up saving more money on food during this trip than any others we have taken.

The purpose of this challenge was to get us eating out less and eating in more, as well as to save more money in the process. But my health has also improved, one of my sisters asked me if had lost weight during this and I told her I didn’t know because we don’t own a scale. But I do know that I lost inches around my waist, my clothes fit better, my digestive issues have decreased, and when I run or bike, I feel lighter. Since it has become a habit to cook at home now, we are continuing it and our current goal is to eat out only once a month.

Creating a Community When You Can’t Find One

A few weeks ago, I found myself lost and without a community amidst the rising of racial tensions in the world, the U.S., in my State, and in the city I currently reside in. Living in a predominantly white area has played a nasty game with my anxiety as the talk of armed people showing up to peaceful protests, and then people from the opposing side showing up armed to protect themselves rang. Everyone is showing up brandishing guns and the divide continues to grow deeper as the days and weeks go on.

As a Black woman married to a white man, I have had to accept the reality that there are aspects to my identity my husband won’t ever 100% understand and that it is okay. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily make it easy when navigating all that is currently taking place in our world. And I knew that we weren’t alone in it.

I had a few friends who were (and are) also in interracial relationships reach out to me regarding their own struggles and we were able to empathize with one another. Just because you love your spouse that happens to be a different race doesn’t necessarily mean that marriage suddenly becomes easy flowing. It’s not easy flowing when you are of the same race and/or even religion, of course it’s not going to be easy when you live in a world that judges you and who you love based on the color of your skin. And unfortunately, marrying into a white family doesn’t suddenly cure people of their conscious and unconscious biases, no matter how much they love you and you love them.

I decided to take action and create a space where a small group of interracial couples could virtually meetup and talk about their worries, struggles, wins, and how they are doing in general, in the current political climate of our world. There is something to be said about belonging to a community of people that understand some of where you’re coming from and can truly listen, validate, and provide helpful resources to you. Personally, I believe in surrounding yourself with people that can validate and correct you when necessary, because you need both to be a little more well-rounded.

While social media can be a great tool for connecting with people from all over, it has also become an exhausting place for many, including myself. So, I find it vital to create other outlets where I can breathe and just be because sometimes that’s all I really want and need, especially when there is so much going on in the world.