Updated: Jun 8, 2020
As a White Woman from Utah & Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I experienced a great shift & hope my sharing may encourage others to start their own journey.
My journey with Racism as a White Woman in Utah and Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (*messages are all my own thoughts and experiences based on my understanding and interpretation and are not meant to be an official representation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)
This blog post started out as something I was going to share on my Instagram. But realized it may serve better a s a blog post. I'll begin by sharing the first two posts from my Instagram and then transition to the rest of the blog post.
I’ve been quiet around here this week.
The reason you probably know.
I have been listening. I have been pondering. I have been seeking out how to authentically show up in the current world environment.
My whole brand is built around being true to ourselves, & living not from a place of reaction but of intention. As I have pondered these things this past week, I have decided to take the next couple of days to share my story around racism, BLM, unity, change& love.
This shift has taken time and effort. For me it didn’t start this past week. It’s okay if it is for you. There is no one right time to start. It is never to late.
I am not seeking to take away from any other voice, especially those who find it harder to be heard.
On the contrary, I am seeking to share my story that it may act as a bridge for those who are feeling lost, & feeling confused about everything going on.
Because I felt that way too.
I was not always someone who understood. And I don’t pretend to understand everything now.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have much respect for people loudly seeking change.
I did not understand all this “craziness” going on, let alone how to navigate it all.
I thought they were missing the point.
I thought they were foolish for not seeing a better way to accomplish good.
I thought that if we ever wanted to end racism we had to stop talking about it, poking the wound & just let it heal.
I thought that talking about it was the thing creating the divide, & that if we didn’t draw attention to it, then we could just see everyone the same as people.
I thought most were foolish just going along because everyone else was.
Where was the rational thought? Where was the common sense? It all seemed lost.
What shifted in me? One simple thing:
(Continued tomorrow in day 2)
I had previously written the rest of my story that I wanted to share. But last night my soul was, to use the words of Alma, “wracked with anguish”, I knew there was something missing. Something I was missing, a mighty change of heart that still needed to occur in me.
At first I thought I was merely experiencing vulnerability from starting to share my story.
As the night when on, I began to realize there was a tugging within me.
I have learned this pull is often how God guides me to things I need.
This morning I stopped resisting and opened myself once more and realized I was feeling deep sorrow and remorse.
For continuity’s sake I’ll start by finishing sharing what spurred on my shift in perspective and then share the next step of discovery and realization I had this morning. I have learned I have far more to my story than I realized so I’m actually turning this into a blog post you can read the whole thing now with the link in my bio, and I may just continue to share snippets here on Instagram over the next few days highlighting some important points.
I think this is an important story to share because of the conversations it can start both about racism as well as being a member of the church. Balancing when, where and how to best have them and how it fits with my business that focuses on many of these themes is again something I’m still navigating, and doing my best. I hope you will allow me grace as I do so.
Again the purpose is not to bring attention to me. My hope is that by sharing my experience it will help others start or deepen their own. Everything I say is only speaking for myself. That’s all I can speak for. But my hope is by sharing some may see resemblances to themselves and find it easier to explore.
I know I am grateful in particular to white women I look up to and respect who have done this for me. It is sometimes easier to start to shift, when the invitation to do so comes from someone who looks and thinks like you and has said, “I’ve been there. It’s worth it. It’s okay.”
This absolutely should not matter or be the case. Yet in our imperfect mortal experience it does for many of us still. I know I am grateful for courageous white women willing to be vulnerable and share how they are walking through everything, as it has given me courage and validation for my own experience.
Here is more of that journey of discovery and realization...
The First Shift
What shifted in me? One simple thing:
The noise wasn’t going away.
I knew others were voicing the same things I thought. Yet, there was still this big push for things to change.
It wasn’t helpful for me to think of people as ignorant, hateful, or not understanding so I chose not to.
Instead I thought, “If I really had the answers I thought I did, & they know about them, why weren’t they changing?”
“ It wasn’t helpful for me to think of people as ignorant, hateful, or not understanding so I chose not to."
This one thought brought genuine curiosity.
I started seeking out to understand.
To really put myself in their mindset. To jump into their world with both feet, to see things they did & not think about whether I agreed or not no matter how “crazy” the answers I found. This is where the shift began to happen.
I can’t really see the beauty of the ocean reefs from shore. Nor the intricacies of life there.
I may know the reef exists, know some of the threats it faces, and the beauty therein.
But until I am willing to get wet, and dive under the surface, I can’t really begin to understand in any meaningful way.
What I started to see was a reality so different from my own, it was unfathomable to believe it was actually happening.
Hearing the stories. That made a big difference.
The stories about the father pumping gas at a gas station and almost going to jail because he looked at a white woman. And only NOT going, because a white man stepped up.
Having my own husband witness a young student, at the grocery store waiting in line to purchase something, jump and immediately say “I’m going to pay for these” when a clerk approached him to simply tell him a register was open.
There was no difference between the man and my husband, but the color of their skin and the previous experiences they had that shaped their responses.
After these stories & many others I began to understand. Yes there was a problem. And no they weren’t out to just get attention, and be decisive by saying “Black Lives Matter”. They believe, same as me, that all lives matter, that wasn’t the point though.
Black Lives Matter really meant We Need Your Help, We Are Suffering, and We Can’t Fix Things Alone.
A cry for help, for unity in creating a better world vs. a hypocritical divisive cry for vengeance after being treated unfairly.
In other words, asking if we are willing to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; ...and… to mourn with those that mourn… and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places…” (Mosiah 18:8,9)
This was the first shift in me.
And I will always be grateful for individuals like @anniefdowns and the #thatsoundsfunpodcast for being willing to take some of the first steps and show me by example, long before things blew open this week. I hope to be able to do the same. (Please share in the comments your favorite Black individuals who we can all learn more from!)
The Second Shift
I used to think that if we ever wanted to end racism we had to stop talking about it, poking the wound and just let it heal.
As I have grown older & especially after becoming a coach I began to see how wrong those two thoughts were.
I believe in the importance of principles. Principles are truth that never change & can be used to navigate changing circumstances.
I teach principles in my business. I use them in my life and learn about them from my church.
One principle I know is that when it comes to emotional healing, it doesn’t heal like a cut. You don’t cover it up and wait for it to recover on its own.
True emotional healing can O N L Y come as we are willing to open up and feel. It is the holding in of thoughts and feelings that builds pressure until one day it will explode. I know. I’ve done it. I’ve felt it.
It is why even though I do not believe in violence or damaging property as a healthy form of expression, seeing that occurring drives me not to anger and frustration, but instead to overwhelming compassion.
Because how much hurt has to be bottled up, and for how long to cause someone to feel this is the only way to release it?
The Third Shift
I used to think that talking about racism was the thing creating the divide, and that if we didn’t draw attention to it, then we could just see everyone the same, as people.
I thought that this was the goal, right? We are all just children of God after all, skin color doesn’t matter.
I heard people “mocking” this concept. Calling it names. I didn’t see what was wrong with this. So instead I chose to believe something along the lines of, they just wanted to be upset, wanted to pick a fight, and would just change the narrative to be able to do so, no matter what I said.
Until I read one man’s post and something in it started to create a shift in me. He said something along the lines of “I want to see color. I want to see a big bright colorful world. How boring would it be otherwise.”
Something about the way he said it connected with me, where others hadn’t. (side note: this is why your voice matters even when others are already speaking.)
It connected with a principle I believe to be true: that the new greater law of unity is founded on the idea of celebrating our differences.
In our collective human past, there were times where survival depended on fitting in, making sure we were part of something bigger and shedding ourselves for the greater sake of our tribes, families, and communities.
As our world has shifted, this behavior that once kept us safe, is now causing us harm. And it is up to us to decide if we are willing to make the change.
What a beautiful world where each of us is perfectly allowed to be an imperfect human, and share with one another the uniqueness that is our true self!
One where there is no fear of showing who we are, and we are each accepted exactly as we currently are, in all our vulnerable growing messy humanness.
“ What a beautiful world where each of us is perfectly allowed to be an imperfect human."
I will always be grateful to my father for understanding the importance of his own childhood and young adult experiences living abroad thanks to service for our church and the impact it had on him and expanding his perspective and appreciation for the many differences in our world family.
His and my mother’s example and intentional effort to travel both nationally and abroad with their family to expose us to different people, different ideas, and different cultures, multiple times, created a lasting impact on me.
They truly led by example. Our dining room sat empty for most of my life, and early on I remember eating off of a cardboard table in the kitchen because they knew what things truly mattered in life and they were willing to put their money there. I hope to be able to do the same in my own ways.