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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's You and Me, Lord!

by Seattle Jon (bio)

A recent family reunion and two subsequent days of camping allowed me some quality reading time. I'd found It's You and Me, Lord!: My Experience as a Black Mormon at our local Deseret Industries a few months ago. Written by Alan Cherry, a black BYU student, the book mostly talks about his time in the Air Force and only in the last one-third of the book does he address the LDS negro policy.

Personally, I found his attitude toward the policy both surprising and refreshing. Cherry manages to avoid both of the ever-present attitudes - the pro-mormon defensiveness and the anti-mormon criticism and calls of racism - to deliver a casual, almost friendly attitude towards the policy. To Cherry, "the important thing in God's kingdom will not be who leads us there, but simply who gets there."

To him, not having the opportunity to hold the priesthood meant, "... a challenge to my creativity. Since the priesthood probably allowed a man responsibility and opportunity for service, I figured that all I had to do was look for opportunities and accept responsibility in some other way ... it made me see the challenge. If to no one else, at least to myself, I had the responsibility to prove that in this church the spirit of the Lord was open to everyone, and that in it I could grow and do many good things. I knew I could be just as much of a help to my Heavenly Father's cause as any other man."

I highly recommend this book.

Separately, my wife and I just finished Mormon Stories podcasts 256-258, in which Natasha Helfer Parker (The Mormon Therapist) interviews Dustin Jones, an active black latter-day saint, about the unique challenges of growing up mormon as one who has African ancestry. Together, the book and the podcast offered some deep insights into how the policy affected and continues to affect the black LDS membership.

I want to take an even deeper dive into this issue ... any suggestions on where else I should look?

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