Wednesday, November 14, 2007

and now?

"I've only read a few pages describing Church leaders' attitudes toward blacks in the 50's and 60's. It's shocking to me, but I see that it was part of the times. These old men, educated and well-traveled though they were, were products of their conservative, insular culture."

I just reread the above statement from my previous post and I thought to myself, "So what's our excuse now?" The LDS church leaders of the mid-20th century truly said some outrageous things about black people. They took measures to keep blacks out of Utah, say nothing about giving them the priesthood. To say that most were not in favor of Civil Rights is an understatement.

No one would say those things today. However, I read recently in the Wall Street Journal about the school district in Massachusetts that tried to desegregate its schools. There was one elementary school of mostly black children in this community of mostly whites. Studies have shown that black children make notable academic gains when learning in classrooms with white peers. The district decided to reorganize their school boundaries so as to desegregate their schools. White parents were outraged. They took the district to court and the court ruled in favor of the parents. There was a June 2007 Supreme Court decision that ruled that desegregating schools based on race is unconstitutional.

Last spring our school district voted to redraw our school boundaries because we have a "racially identifiable" school in our district. I just got an email from the district saying that the board has reversed its decision based on the Supreme Court case outcome. In our community there was also quite a bit of opposition to desegregation.

So, we may say that we are not racist. We may say, "Heck, I'm a Democrat! Go, Obama!" We may say that some of our best friends are black people. We may say that LDS church leaders of the 50's and 60's were racist pigs. And we may say that we love black people, as long as they stay in their own schools.


athena said...

yeah, the leading men did seem to be rather conservative in their views. i had always thought that somewhere along the lines how one of them should had ruffled their feathers and made a scene. you know, like what galileo did with the catholic church.

k. said...

The 50's and 60's may be gone, but you can make a difference now. =)

Auntie Lee said...

One thing that living here in a foreign country for so many years has taught me is the true concept of 'I am a child of God'. It is easy for people to think they are children of God but not that others are. It is a hugely abstract concept that is in just a few words(almost trivially) expressed. I sometimes think the church says it to much because it makes it common sounding but I have rarely met people that truely understand it. Can you imagine one of the muslim girls here walking through Dover? There are good people there but they would have a difficult time talking to her. It is the same reason why good people can be so easily manipulated to hate and go to war.

I understand the question of the church's issues in the 50's and 60's is not one of cultural understanding but of pre-destination. There are a few things not completely told to us but we are a belief that believes in pre-destination with all the have or have-nots attached to it.

Mama Ava said...

I'm not a Mormon expert, but I'm sure that the LDS church doesn't hold a monopoly on discrimination. In that time there were segregated churches in the South. It sounds like there were actual policies about the status of blacks in the LDS church (?) but I bet you wouldn't have to look very hard to find quite a bit of that around.

I think it's hard to look back and see how people believed but that's why those who thought differently were so radical and often frightening. What things do we hold as truths that will be unmasked in 50 years?

I like what Auntie said now that I'm living overseas. One of the things about having a convicted faith is the understanding and commitment to being saved (at least as a Christian)and the Bible does spend a bit of time talking about who will and won't be. I think we want to be a part of the club and as flawed humans we measure our success in how "good" we are by what we observe others doing. We feel better about our own position if we can identify others that we think measuring up. Thank goodness GOD is not limited by that kind of thinking and every person is His child, no matter what they do or believe.

Calandria said...

No, the point is made in the book that the LDS leaders' attitudes toward blacks was not in any way more discriminatory than the prevailing attitude of the nation. I should have clarified in my post that it was the way thing were in Utah, and also in many other states.

"What things do we hold as truths that will be unmasked in 50 years?" That is exactly what I keep asking myself, especially in the context of Mormon culture.

Maria said...

Having just gone through a school redistricting battle, I have to say that sometimes opposing boundary changes isn't racist. Some people may oppose having more minority kids in their school, but I think that parents object more to having their kids moved to an underperforming school, which is sometimes part of the shift. So, coming very late to this discussion, I'd say that it's not always racist to oppose changes. Also, I think that in the long run it's better to work hard to improve the schools rather than shuffle kids around.