Op-ed: Speaking to the pain of a black Mormon woman

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  • moi2u Cleveland, OH
    Aug. 26, 2017 3:54 p.m.

    @ gratefulmouse - san angelo, tx

    Not sure why you think I have "anger in my heart" simply because I asked a legit question and followed it through with the logical conclusion. In any event, your attempt at discernment is incorrect, albeit I stand by my logical question and conclusion.

  • designgeek BRANSON, MO
    Aug. 24, 2017 12:29 p.m.

    Thank you so much for your wise words. My own tendency is to think, "well, I am not doing anything wrong. Shame on those other dumb people who keep perpetuating this problem!" Your commentary made me want to be better, not just to stand complacently by thinking that I am doing ok, but to be more proactive in being part of the solution.
    Thank you so much for your insight and for taking the time and having the courage to share your experiences. Please also tell your young friend that tried to take her own life that there are many out here cheering for her and are including her in our prayers. Please tell her that there are lots of strangers out here in the internet that love her for all that she is a perfect stranger to us. And also know that there is one perfect stranger out in the middle of Missouri that is cheering for you as well and trying to be a better person thanks to you.

  • IJ Hyrum, Ut
    Aug. 24, 2017 9:13 a.m.

    Salvation is an individual journey; it is soley between you and your Heavenly Father. What others say or do will have no bearing on it. "We must be more concerned with what we do with what happens to us than what happens to us." (Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles) If we choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ despite what others do or say, it will be well with us. If we choose to be offended and react negatively, we may have something to explain at the judgement bar. Anyone who consciencely engages in discrimination of any sort is not a disciple of the Lord and has need to repent. There are good and not-so-good in every race and culture.

  • localblue Sandy, UT
    Aug. 24, 2017 1:07 a.m.

    Thank you so much for this article. I am amazed at how strong you are. One of the reasons I have backed away from the church a little is last year I moved to a new ward that is all white and was invited to go out with group of guys from the ward. While out with them they started telling stories about their co-workers and others they interact with who all are of the same race, not black but another minority. They were speaking pejoratively about this group and even used some racial epithets, although not the commonly used ones. I was shocked to hear it partly because I had not been around that before in the church, but more so because the group had no idea that my father is of that race (probably because I mostly have my mom's genes and look very white and also have a very white last name). I didn't have the courage to say anything because I was trying to build friends in this new ward for me and my family. But since then I've wondered whether this isn't much more pervasive throughout the church, particularly in areas that are predominantly white.

  • Sydnee New Albany, OH
    Aug. 22, 2017 2:50 p.m.

    It's a problem. Look at all the art in our buildings. Mostly white people depicted, even though they are Biblical scenes in which the people would have been middle eastern or of various ethnic origins. The temple art too. In this respect, and also to Sister Vranes' comments about it almost never being addressed in General Conference or World Training, I'd like to ask every general church leader, "Why are we acting like we are a white Utah focused church instead of the globally diverse church that we are?"

  • Back Talk Federal Way, WA
    Aug. 22, 2017 12:01 a.m.

    Still surprised that some members of the church still stoop to calling people these racial epithets, especially those who are also members of the Church.

    I was also surprised to read that some Black Members felt so strongly about this Church statement. To me, it has been said before and really should not need to be said that White Supremacist and Nazi groups are evil.

    Hoping members dont let their politics frame their interactions with others and overcome their past negative racial attitudes

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 21, 2017 9:59 p.m.

    "Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing Deseret News opinion series exploring ideas and issues at the intersection of faith and thought."

    I would appreciate this if it happened MUCH more at Deseret News! You may find it is less of an "intersection" as you have noted but more of an awakening or understanding.

  • JohnMill Australia, 00
    Aug. 21, 2017 9:23 p.m.

    Great article - very thought-provoking.
    I think one of the things that I especially liked about it was that it was a call for unity from someone who has sometimes been made to feel 'other'.
    I think this is what separates this article on race, and what means that everyone can support this, but not everyone can support other issues to do with race.
    It is not about BLM, or Trump, or secular v religious.
    It is a call for us to unite and become a peculiar people of one heart and one mind.
    So many other issues to do with race feel like a call to divide us into separate groups and treat us each differently. This is the opposite.
    Any invitation for us as a people to draw nearer to each other, to bear one another's burdens, to mourn with those who mourn, etc helps us become a Zion people.
    Any call to divide us has the opposite effect.
    Our society needs more uniters, and fewer dividers.

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    Aug. 21, 2017 2:37 p.m.

    Thanks, Sis. Vranes for a window into your experiences in the church. It can be terribly disappointing when members have an incomplete understanding of Gospel principles and/or are overly influenced by the world we are supposed to be "in," but not "of."

    Your "all are alike" reference prompted me to look again at 2 Ne 26:33:
    "For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

    It is noteworthy that "none of these iniquities come of the Lord." By extension, we ought to be wary of worldly approaches that purport to solve the problem, only to make it worse. Inflaming racial tensions in the guise of addressing racism is not the Lord's way.

    3 Ne 14:15
    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    They who have ears to hear, let them hear.

  • Bobster , 00
    Aug. 20, 2017 8:44 p.m.

    Racism is wrong. Period. Unfortunately, even in the church we find imperfect people who make mistakes knowingly or unintentionally. Thank goodness for repentance and the atonement. When I was in high school (Pre-1978 revelation) we had a black member of the church that came and spoke to our stake youth. He told us about how he was converted to the restored gospel. I felt the spirit as he bore his testimony that he knew the church was true even though he could not hold the priesthood. I also recall the announcement of the revelation that allowed all worthy male members 12 and older to hold the priesthood. While there were some exceptions, the vast majority of church members rejoiced at the announcement. In general, I don't believe the church was racist before or after the revelation. Individuals may show by their actions that they are. I believe we should do all we can to educate and to forgive. Condemn the sin but love the sinner, I believe, is true.

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    Aug. 20, 2017 4:36 p.m.

    moi2u...I can see you are upset and I believe the same way...americans of any color shouldn't be called by where their ancestors came from. African American, chino American, Italian American...we are all AMERICANS...I have said that over and over. I believe in God and the Savior Jesus Christ and I know the know all that is happening. I don't however believe that we need to fill a quota of who is white or black or any of that. I trust in God to call to whatever position He sees fit. I know I had personal revelations myself when I was called to the relief society as first councilor and had to chose who the teachers would be. I relied on the HOly Spirit or the HOly Spirit got in touch with me for the Lords choice of sister who was to teach spiritual living way back in the day. it worked out to save her family. so have no anger in your heart God knows all things and forgive any human fallibility. God bless

  • StBalthazar Orem, UT
    Aug. 20, 2017 1:56 p.m.

    Thank you for this important article. There are two Black males in our ward - I work with one of them in my calling. I have been uncomfortable sometimes when with him because of the off-hand things people say that seem even mildly racist. I address it each time (typically privately, when my friend isn't there, so as not to make the situation worse - is my thinking). One time someone said something I apparently read the wrong way and I commented in front of my friend. My friend said, "Oh brother, don't worry - stuff like that doesn't bother me." I suspect it really DOES bother him (at some level). Thank you for helping to keep my eyes open so I can do better (I hope).

  • Fatdaddy South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 10:31 p.m.

    Zandra, it was a great article. It is sad that anyone, let alone a member of the church, would speak disparagingly about any race. We are all God's children, as you so eloquently stated. You have a beautiful family. As a prior neighbor and ward member, we were thrilled to have such a faithful and upstanding family as your family. I especially thought your mother was a saint. And when I went to the temple, I was often greeted by your grandmother as a temple worker. Your family has gone through a lot and you have maintained the faith. We just love you!

  • Warbunny Puyallup, WA
    Aug. 19, 2017 9:45 p.m.

    it is worth remembering the word "Mormon" was used by haters and antagonists as a pejorative word and insult to our early church members who turned it around and did not take offense. If the N word is so terribly offensive it would not be abundant in rap lyrics and black conversations. This is not a unique white problem. I have been called many more racial epithets, insults by blacks, than I have ever used toward blacks including my military days and by my students as young as kindergartners. No one dared notice, or punish a student for it. Part of this problem is over sensitivity to the perversions of speech improperly named "PC" words. Nobody seems to notice the same prophesy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, in our day, says "...... all that watch for iniquity.... make a man an offender for A WORD, and lay a snare for him...... Isaiah 29:20-21 (KJV). The NIV says it (more clearly) this way: "The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—those who WITH A WORD make someone out to be guilty, who ENSNARE the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice."

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    Aug. 19, 2017 8:32 p.m.

    I am shocked that anyone in the church would utter racial epithets ...it doesn't make sense. we all know we are ALL children of our Father in heaven. I joined the church in 1977. not long after it was declared that all worthy male members could have the priesthood. I was part of that. I was drivng a school bus in Biloxi Mississippi at the time. all the students were black. I remember going to a regional meeting somewhere else....and talking to my husband about black men not having the priesthood. I had this strong feeling that it wasn't right and it was going to happen. two weeks later it did. it was as if the Holy Spirit let me know this and I found out later there were others that had that same spiritual feeling. however, there were some in the church who left the church because of it. one sister told me that this was the dividing of the wheat from the tares or something like that. I was over joyed ..and felt the spirit of the Lord at that time. I find that people who are prejudice come from all churches or no churches. they need to turn to the church to over come it..

  • jchinckley Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 19, 2017 7:46 p.m.

    Perhaps I am naive to think so, but I don't believe that all of this kind of mistreatment of others is due solely to racism. I honestly feel that a lot of it is due to bullying that is still an unfortunate and ugly part of our LDS culture. The perpetrator finds the most devastating thing he (or she) can say to the perceived victim, and then says it in the most devastating way possible for him or her. I find it very saddening that either of these things (racism or bullying) has any place at all in our church, our wards, our stakes, or any part of our LDS communities. And it disturbs me more when I find how much it upsets and hurts many of our brothers or sisters of all skin colors, cultural origins, or economic backgrounds. We need to turn a "discriminating" eye on ourselves and do some deep self-introspection and ultimately come to a decision to teach our children by example that this kind of behavior is utterly unacceptable.

    In the eyes and mind of God, we are all His children and we are all equal. None of us has any claim to preferential treatment except Jesus Christ. We need to stop acting like we do have any basis for a claim like that, and start following His example.

  • MormonYoYoMan Houston, Texas
    Aug. 19, 2017 5:06 p.m.

    Have we learned nothing from the Book of Mormon? Are we destined to go down that same destructive road to self-genocide?

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 3:46 p.m.

    Sad that people can behave so poorly and that is causes hurt. My two cents though, is to follow the command to forgive and forget. Down deep you know that, plus it's the only true cure. All are flawed, some just more than others.

    Aug. 19, 2017 2:47 p.m.

    It pains me to read a validation of what I have written here several times recently in response to LDS Trump supporters who have bought into his defense of his own racism and support of white supremacism. Unfortunately, I have witnessed such situations among members in the urban ward I called home for 18years. We baptized a number of African-Americans and fellowshipped them as best we could, as long as they stayed with us. Often they left after a single abusive remark from a member who did not value them as we did, Sometimes they hung on until they couldn't take it any longer. I only can say that all of us must examine our own hearts, and if we are guilty, then we MUST repent, or we will have to answer for those souls we have driven away with our biases, to which we have given priority over the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 2:38 p.m.

    From Polynesian history, I read that Tongans and Samoans sometimes fought each other; but there were times, before the battle commenced, they would decide to just have a party. We need to have parties instead of battles, Christ prayed for His Followers to be united- He knew we had to really work on this because the natural man way is to be self-ish. Diversity in cultures is enriching, not threatening.

  • KAS Cincinnati, OH
    Aug. 19, 2017 2:37 p.m.

    I am sorry that you had to experience that, and I am grateful that the brethren have made a public pronouncement. I long for the day when differences in skin color will be no more of a big deal than the color of someone's hair. Just as a mother would love all her children, whether they have blonde hair, brown hair, black hair, or red hair, I hope that people will get to the point where skin color is a totally non-judgemental part of an individual's description. I believe that day will come, but I wish it would be sooner rather than later!

  • Gruncle Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 2:14 p.m.

    Wow, thanks for sharing something so deep and personal. We all need help opening our eyes to the needs of all our dearly beloved brothers and sisters, not just in the gospel either but in the broader communities we live and work in. It takes courage to speak out and it shows a Christlike love when you do it in such a caring way. You're a good example that a soft voice can still carry a big stick in getting a message across .

  • mullennax Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 11:38 a.m.

    I applauded you're candor,I have dear friends who are Apache,Navajo, and black from the Sudan, for speaking out.
    keep at it
    A Brother in the Gospel
    EARL the AX

  • xsdiva MONA, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 10:44 a.m.

    Wow, that is really sad and terrible. At 75 years of age, having ties to Tennessee, unfortunately I have seen more than I would like. But one thing I know is that racism has no place in anyone's life. It hurts everyone. I wish I could put my arm around you and hug you and tell you that I love you because you are a child of God. By the way, I am white.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 9:16 a.m.


    I'm going to "hurl" one more n-word at you. You are Needed in a church that has not yet addressed the real issue behind the revelation of 1978. Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to share your pain and the pain of others who have been hurt by people like me who are often too ignorant to know the consequences of our words and actions. Thank you for educating us. I pray for the day when an editorial like this will not be necessary.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 19, 2017 8:41 a.m.

    In truth, much of my life I have worried and hoped that I was not a racist. I honestly believe that I am not. My initial concern was in the fact that I do recognize that a person is not white, but of some darker shade -- I worried that recognizing people were different 'colors' made me a racist.

    I have since come to realize that knowing someone is white, black, brown, copper -- what ever term we wish to apply to varying skin tones is not the problem. I personally have nothing against the variety. I am Scandinavian; which is a different shade than a typical white Italian.

    I shudder to think that anyone notes skin pigmentation and then assigns values of personal worth to each shade. And its not just skin tone that seems to trip people up. I also cringe when I hear someone criticized because of their weight, their facial features or other physical blemishes. We are all human beings created by a loving Heavenly Father. For anyone to conclude that skin tone has any more significance than levels of melanin to deal with the solar radiation as needed are out of line.

  • wbcattell Flower Mound, TX
    Aug. 19, 2017 8:40 a.m.

    moi2u - Cleveland, OH - Please remember that it is the Lord who calls people to callings, even to the Apostleship. I agree that there is no doubt that many [non-white] men would qualify in terms of spirituality, intelligence, experience, etc to the post. The Lord will call whom he will call it's up to us to have faith that our mortal church leaders will continue to receive inspiration and guidance to manage the Lord's kingdom on earth. Peace and love to you my friend.

  • cougar engineer Alpine, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:03 p.m.

    As an LDS convert of the late 1950's, I struggled to understand the church policy concerning the priesthood and blacks. All through grammer school, I played sports with black kids, included them in all my classes, enjoyed mutual love and respect as friends and brothers. When I was investigating and was informed of the policy, I walked out of the church, thinking this was not for me. On the steps outside the church building, I stopped and gave it a great deal of thought. I knew that every thing else I had discoverred was absolutely wonderful, and above all else I knew that God was fair, or He would not be God. There had to be something above and outside my observations that I just did not yet understand, and that somehow, in due time, would be resolved. In the mean time, all the publications of the Church encouraged me to treat all men with respect and love, and as my complete equal as an offspring of God, and let the Church deal with the issue. I still do not know all the answers, but was overjoyed with the revelation offering the priesthood to all worthy males. I still look forward to a complete explanation, which I am confident will come. In the meantime--Love to all.

  • heartwings Sandy, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 4:43 p.m.

    There are many types of discrimination besides racism. Let's use kindness to eliminate all.

  • moi2u Cleveland, OH
    Aug. 18, 2017 4:33 p.m.

    Utah Blue Devil--with all due respect, 40 years is a heck of a long time to not have a faithful black priesthood holder move through the tenure rank and file. In Biblical terms, 40 years is an entire generation, and we are well into the next generation of LDS 'emancipation.' If we are to move forward in honesty and without hypocrisy, a worthy black priesthood holder should join the ranks of Apostles. Surely, in 40 years time, there are many across the world who qualify.

    Not sure why you chose to put the term black in quotes as if it's an affront. It is not. Also, there is no such thing as an "African American" --blacks who are US citizens are "Americans" like every other American, regardless of skin color. True equality, as Americans, demands that we do not single people out for special names or special status. Anything that precedes 'American' as a citizen identifier is Un-American. Period. I know of no blacks in the U.S. who object to, or are offended by the term 'black.' Also, there are many Americans who are black who are not from Africa. Americans who are black and people of color of all races are not seeking a color-blind society-but to be embraced "As Is."

  • Hockey Fan Miles City, MT
    Aug. 18, 2017 3:36 p.m.

    Dear Sister Vranes,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thought-provoking perspectives on race relations, especially within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so very sorry--utterly mortified--that even in the church setting you were not safe from such an unconscionable slur. Jesus experienced a comparable insult when the scribes and Pharisees hurled at Him the vituperative insult: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan?" (John 8:48).

    In Ecclesiasticus 28:17-18 of the Apocrypha, we read: "The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword: but not so many as have fallen by the tongue." Such true words!

    God bless you, Sister Vranes. God bless America. We need His help!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 18, 2017 2:33 p.m.

    "Question: Why are there no black Apostles in the Church?"

    Apostleship is a function of tenure and growing through service to the point where one becomes prepared for the office. While we now have Seventies that are "Black".... blacks in general haven't had the priesthood, and there for callings of leadership all that long. Those things are changing. And as we have more African-Americans and people of places like the Caribbean and the African continent grow through their callings, we shall surely see "black" leaders of this Church. Each conference we are seeing a greater diversification of the churches leadership as it grows through out the world.

    We live in exciting times.

  • tototwo Montgomery Village, MD
    Aug. 18, 2017 1:16 p.m.

    I am lucky to live in the most culturally diverse city in the county, Gaithersburg, MD. I was also blessed when I was called to teach English classes in my stake. It was a wonderfully diverse group. Our skin tones traversed the whole range from very, very white (me) to beautiful ebony. Never being able to get a tan because I always got a sunburn instead, I was bemoaning how my skin was too white. What came next shocked me, everyone else in the class wished that they had white skin.

    We have a beautiful word because of its variety. We see it in the landscape, the plants, the animals, and each other. What if our world lost its diversity? Only one specie of plant or animal? We could not exist in that world. I also believe that our world and lives are richer due the diversity of its people. I know that my life is.

  • LS Lowry Providence, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 1:04 p.m.

    As members of the church we have the responsibility to study the scriptures to find the truth as this is what will make us free. Free from hard hearts, hate and bias. As we study the doctrine the Holy Ghost will soften and change our hearts. The research and publications of people like Darius Gray and Marvin Perkins offer great insight and clarity. Hold to the rod brothers and sisters it leads us to Christ.

  • rptmaestro Tooele, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 12:40 p.m.

    I appreciate this article and wholeheartedly recommend it. It's important for us to speak to the issues that cause division or pain among us, especially among Latter-day Saints. I would rather know that I have need to repent than have someone be silent for fear of offending someone or making them feel uncomfortable.

    In that spirit, I know that some will take offense at what I have to say. Over the past several decades, and especially in the last decade, the pain of racism no longer flows from just one direction. I know that whites do not now and never have experienced anything close to the degree of pain from racism that Blacks have suffered, especially in former generations. That said, there has been growing sentiment for many decades by loud and vocal movements to fight racism with racism. I know this first-hand, but I do not have the space to describe my experiences within the constraints of this comment.

    Jesus Christ never taught his disciples to resist evil with evil, but to bless those who abuse us and persecute us, and to love those who consider us their enemies.

  • moi2u Cleveland, OH
    Aug. 18, 2017 11:42 a.m.

    Question: Why are there no black Apostles in the Church?

  • keithlue Provo, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 11:06 a.m.

    Racism exists everywhere and if we want it to get any better, it must be acknowledged. Can anyone really question if racism is covered in the teachings of the Savior? Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus taught the self-righteous lawyer about neighbors. When a Jewish neighbor needed help, a priest and Levite said not my problem. It was a Good Samaritan, of a different race that ultimately helped.

    As "neighbors," we are all guilty of looking the other way. "I fear that some of our greatest sins are sins of omission. These are the thoughtful, caring deeds that we ought to do but fail to do." — James E. Faust. In March 2006, I got involved in a task force to address race relations because of this story... Racism alleged in Provo schools - Salt Lake Tribune, March 17, 2006. This was our answer from Heaven in April 2006, "Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. " — Gordon B. Hinckley

    There is a need for kindness. Thanks Zandra for sharing experiences that inform us.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:57 a.m.

    So, the "n" word is out. How about the "b" word? Is "black" a term that is still accepted (it is used a lot)? How about the "w" word (white)? Is this word offensive to "white" people? It is used a lot by people of color. Are those people racist in referring to white people? I wonder if we should just refer to "people" rather than "blacks" or "whites". I expect that in most situations the race of a person isn't part of the relationship and shouldn't be part of our behavior towards others. It will take generations to change our attitudes, but our behaviors can be changed today, and we need to teach our children to change their behaviors towards others. We teach them through example more than we teach them through words.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:57 a.m.

    Tragic event. Hopefully embracing the doctrines of the LDS church will change hearts for the better.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:53 a.m.

    You all can claim to NOT be racist yourself,

    If you voted for, and continue to support Donald Trump and the Neo-Nazi KKK White Nationalists he embraces to represent YOUR values, then you are lying to yourself and everyone else.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:37 a.m.

    I as a white make only wish it had been since April 2017 that someone had used the N word to refer to me. It was most recently done in July 2017 and has happened at least 3 times this year.

    The April 2017 incident was followed up by the individual punching me because I would not let go of my grandson and let him be kidnapped. The incident seems to have been sparked by the assumption that I a white man am not related to the phenotypically black child I am with.

    The level at which people let their assumptions about race not see the connection between me and my grandchildren is at times frustrating.

  • don jackson Atlanta, GA
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:16 a.m.

    The church needs to start teaching in Sunday school directly from the LDS Essay regarding the priesthood. The missionaries need to be taught in the MTC this essay. There culture of the church is still full of false teachings from naive gospel instructors. It will take another generation to remove the false prejudice teachings. Yes the BoM is true and Pres Monson is a prophet but leaders in the past made mistakes the prejudice that allowed Utah become a slave territory still has deep roots in Church culture.

  • Whitechapel Ogden, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:15 a.m.

    Well-written and moving, and made me take a close look at myself. I don't consider myself racist, and I am angered and hurt by the alt-right, white supremacist movements - but in examining myself, I have recognized that I am much more willing to stand up against racism from behind my keyboard than in real life. If I see unfairness or hear racist talk among family, neighbors, or church members, I just awkwardly don't say anything. It makes me sad and uncomfortable, but I do and say nothing because I don't want confrontation. This article made me realize that in doing nothing I am contributing to the hurt. Thank you, Zandra.

  • Allen South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 10:06 a.m.

    It takes several generations for attitudes to change. Fortunately, we, as this article and most of the comments to it, show, we are making progress. Each of us needs to look at himself or herself to see if more progress is needed.

    I know people who try hard to not be racist, who never use the "n" word, but refer to a person being a black man or woman in comments about people, when the race of the person is not part of the actual conversation. Is this racist? I think so, but it will take several generations for this subtle racism to be gone.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 9:33 a.m.


    My first feeling was much the same. It felt like all she did was murmur the whole time and encourage a call to change that I felt was counter-productive, distracting from what's true, and so on.

    But I also realized it was likely very unintentional on her part.

    I tested the search with the conference filter, true enough one result comes up. But the search itself is either broken or intentionally narrowed for this subject (to one talk). I recently listened to "The Greater Need for Kindness" by President Hinckley and he sharply condemns racism. It's one of many conference examples, older and newer.

    Ultimately, we need to be careful and pray that we won't be fooled into thinking we need to make a political statement to get the church to change it's tune. The Savior directs His church, not us. We just need to humble ourselves and listen. We all learn in different degrees over time. So if Heavenly Father is patient with me, I must extend the same.

    In the end I wouldn't call her dishonest, probably just uninformed. As everyone faces doubt in their lifetime, I certainly wouldn't fault her for it. The best answer is probably just to patiently shed more light on it.

  • AreaReader Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 18, 2017 9:20 a.m.

    One of the commenters asked for perspective from a black man in the church.

    If you go to the LDS website, click on the button that says "Scriptures and Study." Then choose the option "Gospel Topics." Next, choose the letter "R" and then "Race and the Priesthood."

    Go ahead and read all the materials there, including the essay that starts the page. After you've read your essay, click on the link "“A Member’s Personal Reflections on Race and Priesthood.”

    And there you have it. A four-part essay from Philadelphia native Ahmad Corbitt, former stake president and current mission president.

  • Ivieclan1 West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 8:43 a.m.

    This article hurts my heart. Not that it doesn't need to be said, but for the reality that so many of our dear brothers and sisters are experiencing such difficult things within our church walls. As years go by the ward I live in is becoming increasingly more diverse. I have realized, although I am a life-long member with European heritage, I find a much deeper sense of acceptance as the ward has welcomed more diverse members. The more diverse we are, the more we realize that there is a difference between the Gospel and church culture, and we our social rules about what a "good member of the church" looks like become more inclusive. We have several hispanic sisters in our ward, who often greet me with the traditional arm around me and kiss on the cheek, something not really done in our less physically demonstrative American society. I have noticed as I experienced this again how much I have missed that sense of human touch that was common as I served a mission in Guatemala many years ago.

    I am sorry for the pain so many are experiencing. I will take another look at ways that I might contribute to that pain inadvertently. Diversity enriches who we are as a community.

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 8:34 a.m.

    It would be interesting to read a similar article from a black LDS man's perspective; especially from one who was married, had a current temple recommend and still managed to stay active and raise his family in a predominantly white church and culture. A good question to ask would be why, after 40 years, we aren't seeing more men of color embrace the opportunity to hold the priesthood and strengthen their family with temple marriage. Perhaps that is the reason 51% of women in the church are currently single. Too many men, black and white, have equal opportunity to marry and create eternal families in this wonderful church, yet so many lack the desire or interest to do so.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 8:10 a.m.

    One of my best friends is black. He is a very intelligent man who lives in the boundaries of our ward, but who currently is serving as a counselor in a branch presidency that services apartments in our stake.

    2 years ago this summer, my friend had to quit his job working for the LDS Church in the Family History Department. He had to quit, because if he didn't, he wouldn't be able to work for the church again if he should ever choose to.

    He worked for that dept of the Church for 8 years. In the spring of that year, my friend acquired his 2nd master's degree, from the "U". It was a degree in computer security. He already had a Bachelors degree and an MBA from BYU.

    Even I didn't understand why he was getting a 2nd master's degree, until the night of his graduation. I was taking him & his family out to dinner in Salt Lake, when I heard him explain to a stranger why he obtained the 2nd master's degree. I should have realized long before.

    For 8 years, on average, every other day he came to work, he would find that the work he had accomplished the day before had been erased from the Church's computers. He had told me this every now & then. But I was slow at putting 1 & 1 together.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 8:09 a.m.

    Thanks, DN, for publishing this.

    And thank you, Sister Vranes, for your good-humored long-suffering.

    I did not realize how important the recent statement was to such a wonderful part of us.

    I have great faith in our people (I mean the church members). We've made great strides. I believe we will get there eventually.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 18, 2017 8:03 a.m.

    Someone here mentioned political parties, and it's worth noting that a few of the usual suspects who carry on political discussions on this thread have responded to this article with unequivocal denouncements of hatred and bigotry, and good for you.

    Yet when this same discussion takes place in the political spectrum and not the religious a whole different attitude appears. Blanket condemnations appear for secular/racial groups who are trying to achieve the same inclusive results but from a different political tradition.

    Black Lives Matter comes to mind. How do you post here condemning racism and then fundamentally dismiss an organization attempting to do the same thing. I understand not liking methods, calling out bad behaving members etc. but that's not what happens. The organization itself and it's purposes is held up for political contempt.

    Glad to see you have the fundamental decency to condemn racism, just wish you had the fundamental integrity to inform yourselves politically.

  • DaveWY Afton, WY
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:58 a.m.

    We live in a predominantly white LDS community. One time, our daughter invited a group of her friends to our home for lunch. One of the young men paused and respectfully asked if her parents were ok with him coming along, because he happened to be black. The implication was that he did not feel welcome in other homes simply because of his skin color. I look forward to a time when no one in our worldwide LDS community ever feels unwelcome anywhere simply because of race.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:48 a.m.

    Wonderful piece. Makes me reflect within myself and evaluate how I'm doing myself in this matter. There's room for improvement.

    I still long for the day when, as Dr. King said,"...judge men by the content of their character, not the color of their skin."

    I'm hoping that my 1/2 Tongan grandchildren, who are the cutest, most fun little girls (and soon to be little boy) don't experience this in their lives.

  • Sore loser Oakland, CA
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:43 a.m.

    Nobody escapes persecution, maybe the best response is to consider the source of it and then move forward

  • hjhunt New Meadows, ID
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:43 a.m.

    I'm LDS, caucasian and now live in Virginia. My dearest friend is African American and a lesbian. A double whammy here in the southeast US of A--and elsewhere too. She is always a little afraid, and sometimes, like now, a lot afraid. We should be a solution, not part of the problem. But there are racists in the Church here and there were racists in my wards in Utah and Idaho--and homophobes and Islamophobes and other unChristian manifestations of "chosen people" and "promised land" mentality. Being a saint and a disciple of Christ is an individual choice; it's not a status conferred by being a Church member. I appreciate that the brethren have made a statement. Given our history and our present failures, we do need to reaffirm this principle--all are alike unto God. It needs to be clearly proclaimed and leave us without excuse. Because too many of us are still excusing ourselves.

  • IAlaw Council Bluffs, IA
    Aug. 18, 2017 7:25 a.m.

    There is no place for hatred from any race toward any other race. There is no race exempt from the need to understand the unique experiences of every other race. I've never been the target of racism within the Church, but I have lived in communities were my family and I were a part of the racial minority, and we were often treated with disdain; and so I feel I've had a taste of how painful it can be. Nobody should be treated as "less than" because of their skin or heritage. Nobody.

  • Aaron N. Cutshall Martinsville, IN
    Aug. 18, 2017 6:48 a.m.

    Thank you for a wonderfully written article. My heart goes out to that young woman.

    Even though I grew up as a white male in a middle-class home, I was taught by my parents about the ugliness of racism. I was treated badly in school because I was different and subjected to all sorts of abuse. In high school, my best friend was black and I also bore the brunt of the ugliness of racism from other whites who could not understand my friendship and my friend got ugly treatment from other blacks who likewise could not understand. To us, we were just friends and skin color was treated no different than eye or hair color.

    Racism goes both ways and needs to be stopped all the way around for real change to occur. If you pardon the pun, it isn't a simple black and white issue. This is fundamental to how we treat each other regardless of defining characteristics. My high school friend was treated just as badly from other blacks as he was from whites and I never, never understood that. Jesus taught us to love each other regardless of differences. To me, such differences help to make us more interesting to each other and give us an opportunity to learn and grow from our relationships.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 6:32 a.m.

    Terrific column ...

    I cry and jump for joy regarding 1978.
    It was the day long promised by LDS Prophets, including Brigham Young.

    I've had African American friends all my life and "never" thought I was better than they. I've always ignored race and look instead at ones "Content and Character", as Martin Luther King admonished.

    I wonder at times if I'm being offensive or not.

    It seems the goal line is in a perpetual state of flux, as to how we comport ourselves around our African American friends. And note, for a white person, to even mention that I have African American friends, can be seen as insulting.

    If we show genuine friendship, we may be told we're patronizing and condescending.

    At one time the term Negro, was a proper term. Now it is taboo, even though the United Negro College fund still exists.

    The term Colored is apparently extremely pejorative as well. And yet, the NAA (CP) is alive and well.

    Living in England, I was once reprimanded for using the term Black, when at the same time it was the definition of choice in America.

    Tossing out the term racist so freely , when not warranted, is also not helpful.


  • BioPowertrain Detroit, MI
    Aug. 18, 2017 6:03 a.m.

    For those who are downplaying race as a reality for minority church members, try putting yourself in their shoes: I would constantly be ill at ease if my ward had over 60 very strong black families, many of whom attended BYU where 99% of students were black, and I was one of only three active white members of my ward. And that's saying something, because in my experience, black Americans are by and large much more patient and loving and forgiving on their sleeves than white Americans are.

    Occasionally being called a racist slur by some of the small-minded "saints" of my congregation would make this far more difficult for me.

    Thank goodness for those who carry the pioneer burden of acclimating the church to true diversity. This includes my dear wife, who possesses African, Native American, Jewish, Scottish, and Spanish ancestry.

    I'm grateful for all she's taught me by her example of enduring active and passive racism in the Church and courageously remaining active in it.

  • NickNorthCarolina Mebane, NC
    Aug. 18, 2017 5:20 a.m.

    I'm glad the Church made a powerful statement on racism. There can be no doubt in anyone's mind what the correct course is regarding their behavior on this subject. The Apostle James said of the tongue, "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." I'm sad that racism exists in the world. It should not exist amoung members of the Church. We should listen and learn from articles like this. It's sad that anyone in our church would be treated as she has described. As James said, These things ought not to be.

  • common sense in Idaho Pocatello, id
    Aug. 18, 2017 2:16 a.m.

    Many years ago while serving a mission in New Zealand, at the end of my mission I was serving in a Tongan ward with a Tongan companion. First Sunday there we were asked to speak in church. I remember sitting on the stand waiting for Sacrament meeting to start looking at the congregation. At first it didn't hit me but then I realized I was the only one there in the congregation with a white face.

    It didn't make me nervous in the least. I just remember thinking that I'd never see that happen in Idaho. All I felt throughout that meeting was the love of the Tongan members.

    So it should be in every LDS congregation throughout the world. Racism has absolutely no place in this church.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 12:28 a.m.

    Racism has no place among those living the gospel. And yet, sin is common and we all have some sins we are needing to overcome.

    Sadly, it is hard to eradicate use of an ugly, hurtful word when the rising generation hears that word too often. At one time, youth listening to great musicians would have heard musically complex jazz or beautiful soul or R and B from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James.

    Today, a young person exposed to the most popular black musicians will not only hear the frequent use of the most ugly racial epithet, but also endless glamorozation of violence, drug use, abuse of women, and other such conduct.

    I do not know how anyone claiming to be a Christian could use the N word to refer to a fellow child of God except through rank ignorance and all the wrong kinds of miseducation from pop culture.

  • Jamminman Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 18, 2017 12:20 a.m.

    I appreciate the concerns of the author, but I have to make a point of disagreement. This was by no means the first time the Church has condemned white superiority or racism. And the commentor who suggested typing racism in the lds.org search only returns 1 entry is being dishonest. The Church has had General Conference talks about it for years. To suggest the Church has ignored it is really disingenuous.

  • KCoy Fitchburg, MA
    Aug. 17, 2017 11:44 p.m.

    Thank you so much for having the courage to write this. Another member and dear friend shared this article or else I wouldn't have known about it. I've been a member for now 7 years and will say I've never been called the n-word from anyone in the church but have experienced racism within.
    I've had members ask me why we need to talk about slavery. If you listen to how this sentence is constructed you can already tell why this is troubling. Systemic racism has been a problem since slavery up until 1964 or 1968 and even Beyond then. To say that this is only the world's issue and it doesn't occur in our church or that we should ignore it because it clearly is not from God I think is a little short-sighted. One point of having a church family is for family to support one another. I'm encouraged by the church speaking out, this article and so many comments here talking about this. There are always going to be people who will be dismissive and I just can't concern myself with them. It's an interesting thing when we look at the Holocaust and racism is never questioned but in situations like this often a person of color has to justify. Let's work to be better together.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 11:41 p.m.

    Zandra... I do hope you're able to put foolish people in your rear view mirror and it sounds like you are. Racism -- from people of every race to every other race is simply ignorance that's been taught by an ignorant culture. Race is a terrible predictor of behavior but it persists and will so long a Lucifer is free to roam. (By the way, assuming that because a guy is black he must be good at basketball or track is also racist. Individual performance is all that matters.)

    Yes, we're all brothers and sisters and that's about it.

    Aug. 17, 2017 10:57 p.m.

    Sandra, thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings. It helped me to better understand. Even though I have a little experience with racism, being partially Native American, it is not the same. Some recognize my Native American ancestry, some do not.

  • Rockyrd Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:49 p.m.

    Sandra, excellent. Throughout the country, we need more of your writing. As a 73 year old Caucasian male (I refuse to use the term "white"), I've often said that we who are not African American have no idea what you who are go through. Your op-ed helps to clarify some of that. I'm not perfect, but with your help and the help of my African American friends, we can and should do better.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:35 p.m.

    I am a white male and I was referred to by the N word in April 2017. By a person who then began punching me in the neck because he thought I was trying to kidnap my grandson because I am white and my grandson is black. That was a black man who initiated the attack.

    However the last time I was refered to with the N word was in August 2017.

    On the other hand my wife, who is African-American, refered to her brother with the N word in the last two months. That was more jest than insult.

    However she used it to refer to one of the men one of our daughters associates with today, and their was only frustration that our daughters choose men who are in many ways dysfunctional in the reference.

    Black people in Utah may feel refered to with insulting terms too much. However my co-teacher who lives in a Detroit suburb had her 7-year-old totally and completely white son refered to with this same term in the last year.

    I used to try to speak out against the use of the N word, until my calm and polite requests to stop using it to some fellow students at Eastern Michigan University got me labeled as culturally insensitive. There is more going in here then Vranes one sided presentation.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:32 p.m.

    Thanks Commenter88

    Totally agree. Very well said.

    Whites don't like being labeled racists when they are not any more than blacks like being labeled.

  • Pennenickel Littleton, CO
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:41 p.m.

    Wow, I am so grateful deseret news chose to print this. It is always great to hear another persons perspective or experience. We all can learn so much from this. I am also quite disappointed by those who are dismissing this woman's experience by saying you've never seen such a thing happen. Good for you, I guess, because you haven't seen or experienced such a thing, but she has and so has the young woman she was visiting. I think instead of getting defensive you should just accept that there are racist people who are in our church. Recently I witnessed it happen to a sweet black girl in my ward by older members of our ward because she was voicing a very similar opinion as the woman who wrote this op-ed. This sort of thing still happens in the church today, and instead of ignoring it we need to do what Jesus would do. What we as latter-day saints do in response to racism or any other prejudice matters. please, stop telling minorities that their experiences are isolated incidents, and therefore not a big deal. Please do not be dismissive.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:24 p.m.

    I listened for 8 years while LDS members slammed Pres. Obama -
    and rarely if ever just stopped at just his policies.


  • Pennenickel Littleton, CO
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:12 p.m.


  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:12 p.m.

    Excellent article Zandra. You sound like someone with a lot of wisdom and empathy.

    I don't presume to speak on LDS doctrine with any authority. But from all I've learned about it in my nearly 68 years I would say that one of the most fundamental of doctrines is that **everyone** is a child of the same uniformly loving Father in Heaven. Consequently, of all the things that make no sense at all is the idea that someone who claims to believe in LDS doctrine can harbor **any** racist sentiments, much less attempt to justify them. That's some seriously inconsistent and incoherent thinking.

  • jalapenochomper albuquerque, NM
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:00 p.m.

    Thank you Sister Vranes for your patience and faith. Your essay is humbling to read.

    I have never lived in Utah but I am pioneer stock. In 2013 I dropped my daughter off at BYU. I knew I had entered another world when, during orientation, a supposed 'comedy' video played with white people portraying multiple ethnic stereotypes. It seemed to be all the show was about. I'm told it is popular with our people. It occurred to me that if I showed it at any place I have worked in the past 20 years across the US I would have been fired. The room of 500 laughed. I admit I did a few times myself. My Hispanic wife kept shushing me as I got madder. How are we supposed to do missionary work amongst if we refuse basic courtesies?

    My neighborhood in NM reflects the majority Hispanic population of the state. My Ward has two active Hispanic families, both of whom are married into pioneer stock. We tell ourselves we are tolerant.

    As LDS we have made some progress but have a long ways to go. Thank you for the reminder...

  • Damascene Frisco, TX
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:55 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    So often, I hear LDS members talk about their lack of racism, but they do not allow their children to date outside of their race. I hear LDS members talk about how tolerant they are. The reality is no one wants to be merely tolerated. We all want to feel embraced and included as equals.

    When black members in a ward or stake are seen as people that special efforts need to be done in order to include them, that tells me that there is a problem. True equality does not require special efforts. True social equality is naturally inclusive.

    At what point will the church come out publicly in General Conference and renounce racism? At what point will racism be seen as grounds for ex-communication? It is time.

  • JustTrying Saratoga Springs, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:31 p.m.

    Wow. Thank you for being so honest and teaching us all so much. I promise to take this article to heart and pray to know how to learn from it and make the personal changes I need to make in order to truly love all my brothers and sisters.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:26 p.m.

    Part 2 of 2

    It's also important to remember that without refining the search, there are additional resources. Why discount them? If we start a habit of expecting conference talks based on subjects we think are important, we'll likely be disappointed all the time.

    I often find that what I want to hear most is something that isn't really that important for my life. I'm always trying to champion certain causes or wrestle with certain ideas. Then when the spirit does come, I am taught that those were temptations. They were meant to distract me from what I was supposed to be focusing on with my life. Generally that focus is more on my family, less on the world's problems.

    So back to that quote in my first comment...

    If we truly care about improving our lives and our communities, then we need to listen better and remain focused on what the Spirit instructs. We go to listen to the Holy Ghost, not instruct Him.

    If you want a more civil society, then we ought to hearken to those talks on porn, family stability, chastity, etc. Racism is merely a symptom of deeper core problems. If the world applies what -is said- at conference, racism would vanish.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:26 p.m.

    Part 1 of 2

    From the article: "type in racism, there are resources, but refine the search to general conference, you’ll get a whopping result of … one. Do the same thing for pornography and you’ll get talks for days."


    I recognize Zandra's painful experience. But I believe her issues with how church leaders have handled this simply forgets a couple easily forgotten points. I only bring it up cause I think it's crucial for us to understand in these last days. It seems we're forgetting them more and more.

    First, the Lord directs His church, not us.

    Being a white male, I heard a different insult vocabulary. It was no less painful. I'm not being defensive about being white. But I've never heard the church address the specific ways I was ever bullied, name called, etc. As a global church, we're encouraged to be living, kinder, civil, etc. The conference talk count on those subjects (an umbrella that includes racism) is pretty high.

    Then the spirit touches us based on how we'll understand those. Our experience informs us, not always everyone else. If we expect conference to address our own problems with more specificity, then it will likely help others less.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:22 p.m.

    @ Casey See

    "Sound familiar?"

    Yes. The prejudice I soaked up in childhood came to the surface when I realized Obama had a legitimate chance to win in 2008. I was horrified at what I heard in my head. I had no idea it was there nor did I want any part of it, but there was no denying its existence.

    But acknowledging it set me free. Now that I know the poison is there in my subconscious, I get to decide what to do with it when I detect it. I control it now, not the other way around.

    Thanks for saying something. I wish more of us, regardless of skin color, could be open to hearing the unpleasant and unfair messages we soaked up in our cultures. I really do feel liberated now that I'm in the driver's seat. And I feel no shame for the poison being there. I'm human, we're biased creatures, and we develop in biased cultures. IMO, it isn't a question of if we harbor unwarranted biases, it's a matter of how many.

  • omahahusker Modesto, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 7:52 p.m.

    Human nature without manners prove we all have a long way to go. Sad there are members of the church that would even think of using a bad word like that against a member (or non-member) regardless of the circumstance. Maybe a lesson from the man who asked the Savior what must I do to inherit eternal life, for some it means to drop racial insults and thinking. To make someone's life hard by throwing a slur show's we aren't quite ready for heaven as we think we are.

  • BlackSaintRVA Mechanicsville, VA
    Aug. 17, 2017 7:20 p.m.

    In 1986, I was called to the Stake High Council. Three years before, I had been called to be the Elders Quorum President in my ward. In both cases, I was likely the first African American to have been called to either position in these parts of the east coast. The night that I reported for my first High Council meeting, I was welcomed with one of the white High Councilman walking out.

    It is only from the pulpits of our church will this issues be resolutely resolved.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Aug. 17, 2017 7:19 p.m.

    I am a 67 year old Japanese American Mormon. My Japanese mother is 88. My Dad met and married my Mom when he was serving in Japan during the Occupation following World War II. Despite all the racial hatred against Japanese that was intentionally spread by the US government during the war, we have never encountered racism directed against us from anyone in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If I had, I would know that the person who expressed such resentment was violating God's commandment to love our neighbors, the second great commandment after loving God. You may not find many sermons denouncing racism as such, but you will find innumerable ones about loving our neighbors, no matter how different they may be from ourselves. God commands us over and over again in scripture to live with brotherly kindness and love unfeigned. I may be more assertive than you in responding to another LDS member who criticizes me, because I served 20 years in the military and work as an attorney, and served on a stake high council in California and a district council in Japan, but I see no reason to accept another person's poisonous criticism of me.

  • AuntTlv Las Vegas, NV
    Aug. 17, 2017 6:12 p.m.

    Thank You for this! I'm on year 4 of raising 2 beautiful girls that are starting to get a glimpse of the racism that still exists and sometimes I am at a loss. Thanks for being an example to me so I can champion for them.

  • It Begins In Utah Logan, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 6:03 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing this honest take on what is an unfortunate reality. Of all the place where I long for there to be no more racism, it is within the walls of our Church.

    I really hope we can do better. Sharing this will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for many of us.

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 5:44 p.m.

    Bravo, Zandra!
    But we will need more. Attitudes are often fixed and calcified. We will need Sunday School lessons, Relief Society and Priesthood meeting lessons, Seminary and Institute lessons, a Black LDS History web site, a published volume, statements read over the pulpit and a news conference — all these to change old hurtful ideas about our blacks that still live in too many Church members. Denial does not heal. We still have work to do.

  • Swanfam Sandy, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 5:43 p.m.

    Racism is ugly and sinful. I do not believe it is widespread among active members of the Church. However, one bigoted statement is one too many. I hope that this coming conference, one of the Twelve speaks to this evil in our society. My personal experience living in various states, is that most members are welcoming and loving. Small mindedness is in every segment of society and every ethnic group. Whenever possible, let us educate each other and not lose focus on all the good in the church.

  • BrianK Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 5:06 p.m.

    I was very happy to see this unequivocal statement from the newsroom. I hope it has a positive effect!

    Elder Uchtdorf said a while back that previous leaders had made mistakes, but we never talk about what those mistakes were. It would be really great if the current leadership would explicitly state the racist ideas past prophets have promoted and denounce those ideas.

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 17, 2017 5:04 p.m.

    @John Reading:
    You said you hope you can get over your own racism.

    If you believe that you have unconscious racism and that helps you to avoid acting racist, then that is good. But realize, that not all of us are like that or need the same methods or language.

    We can make conscious decisions that do not prejudicially affect others based upon any supposition about skin color or ethnicity. It is a cognitive process, not a mysterious, ambiguous presence in your being that must be exorcised.

    Nobody is born with the "original sin" of racism just because of skin color. All humans are born with innate preferences for the familiar, but this extends into all cultures and peoples. As we age, we use our intelligence to include more into what is considered "familiar."

    So with an understanding of historical wrongs in many places of the globe based on racism, (and that certain areas of society may not be as equally accessible to all ethnicities), we move forward trying the best we can to be as fair as possible. Your point of view and personal experience in your fellow human interactions is not devoid of truth, accuracy, or application because of your skin color.

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 5:01 p.m.

    Bravo, Zandra!
    But we will need more. Attitudes are often fixed and calcified. We will need Sunday School lessons, Relief Society and Priesthood meeting lessons, Seminary and Institute lessons, a Black LDS History web site, a published volume, statements read over the pulpit and a news conference — all these to change old hurtful ideas about our blacks that still live in too many Church members. Denial does not heal. We still have work to do.

  • happykt Portland, OR
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:45 p.m.

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I am always so impressed with my black brothers and sisters for pushing forward in a very white church (here in the US, at least). Please know that there are those of us who appreciate your presence, value what you bring, and hope to be instructed by you. And for those who dismiss you, I pray that the Lord will soften their hearts and open their eyes to the burdens and pain of others and to let go of judgment. Much love to you from Oregon.

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:37 p.m.

    I am sorry for what the author experienced with the epithet. However, I take some issue with some of her very general assertions she makes about all members and what she thinks may be in most member's hearts.

    I lived among black members for a number of years, mostly black members, and have never seen this happen to any of them by fellow church members. I have also lived among mostly white members, and have never seen this. I also happen to know my ward members very well and they are not racist. To impute racism into the hearts of all white members is not only wrong, it's counter to how Christ teaches us to think about others.

    In truth I'm sorry for all verbal disputes members have with each other; sometimes some members can be verbally aggressive and bullying. But, to use a racist slur is an even greater sin. Again, I've never seen this, wherever I have been as a member of the church.

    Regarding "speaking up on racism," I agree that if we witness it, we should speak up. But it should not mean that we "speak up" with assertions that the general population is, de facto, racist. Such an imputation is very unfair and is counter to the purpose of worshipful language.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:31 p.m.

    Amen, Amen and AMEN!
    and Halleluiah!

    Thank You Sista Vranes for such an eloquent article!

    I see this, and fight this WEEKLY at church.
    and I struggle because I know the "Gospel" is true,
    but the Saints need a LOT of perfecting....u-hum!

    Trouble is,
    too many put their stupid political parties
    ahead of
    Eternal truth, principles and Prophets!

    Thank You again for having the faith and the courage to carry on!

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:29 p.m.

    Admittedly i'm not LDS. And while their statement is nice, I am an actions speak louder than words kinda guy. And the fact that you have Mormons who have created a large social media following by spouting white supremacist drivel who are allowed to stay in the LDS church makes me question how serious they are. They remove people from the church for all sorts of things they consider heresy, why do they allow vocal white supremacists to remain as part of their church?

  • JBs Logan, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:24 p.m.

    For those who have not heard LDS use that ugly term, you're fortunate. Unfortunately I have members of my family who do and it is sickening, repugnant and heartbreaking. People who are devoted. I've heard others as well, and maybe there are commenters on this board who do. It takes time to eradicate, but I'm still hopeful that people will change.

  • JBs Logan, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:53 p.m.

    Thank you for your article and honesty.

    I'm sick of people who don't get the fact that we are all equal, that God loves us all equally. I know I'm not perfect; far from it. But I've lived enough places in this country and around the world to know that people have the same basic needs such as, love, food, shelter, and clothes on our backs. A simplistic list, but it is just a start of what we all have in common. It would be so nice if we looked for things that bring us together rather than those things we disagree on. It would be so nice if we could be kind to one another.

  • Mayfair City, Ut
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:49 p.m.

    I must live a sheltered life.
    We go to school, Church, stores, movies everywhere with Blacks,
    Have never once heard anyone white say the N word.

    Have heard several Blacks call other Blacks that.

    Sorry you have had bad experiences.

    I can not imagine anyone calling the blacks in our Stake that---instead I would say they go to great lengths to include them.

    It's too bad you feel you have to stay separated from members in general, like the sistas blog seems to be. Let's just all be LDS, not be separated as Sistas and Sisters etc

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:45 p.m.

    Great article by Sister Vranes.

    I left the church in 1977 primarily over the issue of race, and, ironically, was married to a wonderful African American woman almost 30 years ago.

    To add to the irony, one of our sons, and my wife have joined the LDS church, which I still no longer attend... but I respect them for following their convictions, and I'm respected for my spiritual orientation.

    And I have the same respect for Zandra Vranes for having the courage to join a church that other African Americans may not approve of, because of the past. (If we never leave the past in the past, we're bound to keep re-living it.)

    My wife has been told on numerous occasions that the church and her local ward needs her, to help broaden horizons. Though I no longer attend the LDS church, I'm positive many would say the same thing about Sister Vranes.


  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:43 p.m.

    I am glad the church released clear statements denouncing racism and white supremacy ideology in the aftermath of Charlottesville. I think it is important for people to speak their truth and share their experiences as Zandra has. Some people will be enlightened and changed by it, others will minimize or dismiss it.

    However, we have a long, long way to go. I know at least one of my ward members believes whites are being oppressed, specifically in college admissions and job opportunities (a common theme among conservatives). Some continue to cling to past explanations and/or justifications of the priesthood ban. Truth be told, we self-segregate by class, race, political/religious belief etc. I know racism exists and that not everybody is treated equally or justly. Events in various parts of our country have revealed practices that disadvantage and punish people of color. That is a fact we have to face. And, if we can't identify and name the problem, things will never change. Those of us who lay claim to a higher moral authority need to lead the way.

  • Freetochoose San Diego, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:38 p.m.

    This article is very effective. I would expect that the upcoming conference will have someone speaking on this matter. If not, I would like to see this as part of the search on lds.org

  • rwils Provo, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:31 p.m.

    Thank you, thank you for opening our eyes to a completely unacceptable problem. As a white person I will never really comprehend the subtle, and not subtle, persecution individuals of another race experience, but as a fellow child of God, I feel real pain and shame when I read stories like this. Please, when awful racism rears it's head, please consider the source. Someone must be very small inside and devoid of the love to God to even think to put down another in such a way. Their thoughts and comments are not worthy of your notice. You know who you are, God knows who you are, and so do many others who truly feel great admiration for those who boldly walk in paths they cannot follow.

  • fabledsim UK, 00
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:20 p.m.

    Excellent piece. It may be uncomfortable for some to hear but there are times when the only thing to do is grasp the nettle . Ignoring the issue just lets it grow out of control, a bit like ignoring the weeds in a garden.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:09 p.m.

    I'm the parent of a mixed race family. I get this. I've seen ignorance hurled towards my kids more than once. So I understand the authors sentiments.

    But to the use of the N-word. It just needs to stop. Period. I find it repugnant when I see white people use it. And I equally get offended, angry, disgusted when I see people of color use it towards people of color themselves. It is a term of disrespect. It's disrespectful when a white person uses it. Its just as disrespectful used by people of color. If you want respect, treat others with respect.

    The only way to stop racism is remove the labels of racism from our vocabulary.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:09 p.m.


    Thank you for this wonderful OpEd piece. It is enlightening and helped me see the world, a least a very little bit, from a perspective that I don't often get to see. We have made some progress with regard to racism, but it feels like we are in the first or second inning, with a long way yet to go. Your article will help us get to a better place.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 17, 2017 3:05 p.m.

    I am glad to see Deseret News remove a comment from this site that was simply inappropriate and counter-productive.

    This was a much needed op-ed by Sister Vranes. While we could say that it is sufficient to treat our African-American brothers and sisters no differently than any other person that visits our chapels, it is really insufficient.

    Most of the time African-Americans are very much in the minority (and are often severely ridiculed by family and friends) when they enter an LDS chapel. Rank-and-file members simply must do a better job of making sure there is no doubt in that person's mind that they are welcome and fully accepted as our brother or sister.

    It should go without saying that the N-word should be banished from our mouths and our minds as Latter-day Saints. But, as Sister Vranes says, it is, sadly, not yet banished. So, there is a need to teach this to our children, youth, and yes, sadly, the adult members of the Church.

  • Casey See Camarillo, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 2:27 p.m.

    in 1978 I was on a 50 mile hike when we heard the announcement that all worthy males could now receive the priesthood. My scout leader said, perhaps you will have companions who are black, and I thought, good. 2 1/2 years later, I was called to Brazil and nearly half of my companions were black or mixed race. I never thought any difference between them and those who weren't.

    However, I can't say I don't have racists thoughts. I grew up telling Pollock jokes, Mexican jokes, and Black jokes and never once did anyone explain racism to me. In my high school, 1/2 were Hispanic. I received the chance to be an instate exchange student to a predominantly Hispanic high school and worried about living with a Hispanic family for two weeks. I learned that they were the nicest people and I shouldn't have worried.

    Today, if I walk down the street and a see a cluster of black men or a cluster of Hispanic men, I feel an urge to cross the street, because they are different and difference means primordially, danger.

    No matter how much I work at removing all racism from my thoughts and actions, I still have to work at it. This isn't who I want to be, so I continually work at it. Sound familiar?

  • Pacer Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 2:25 p.m.

    A truly enlightening op-ed. I'll admit that initially I didn't think the statement was that big a deal. I wasn't naive to racism within the church but didn't realize how prevalent it still was. But reading this article and seeing various reactions on social media comparing this to the 1978 Priesthood announcement has been an eye-opener for me.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 2:15 p.m.

    Christianity's traditional explanation for race has been proven false by science. Yet many in the conservative Christian community continue to believe it.

    Sadly we have entered into an anti-science regime, so racism is going to last a long, long time. All we can do as individuals is confront it whenever it shows up.

  • TAS Tehachapi, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 2:06 p.m.

    NWClerk, what does your quotation from David O Mckay have to do with the subject of the article? The article was about someone using a derogatory word insulting another member of the Church.

  • CMTM , 00
    Aug. 17, 2017 2:02 p.m.

    RE: Iam4VirtueI have many friends and acquaintances from many different backgrounds and ethnicities.” True,
    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations=(G, etnos/ethnicities}, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost(Mt 28:19)E.g..,

    (Acts 13:1 KJV)”.. at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called …(black G3526) and Lucius of Cyrene… and Saul.”

  • Anonymous100 Anywhere, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:51 p.m.

    No one, especially a Latter-day Saint in any setting, anywhere in the world at any time should utter the N-word. Ever! As a member of the Church, and as a white person, I am truly sorry this happened to both the author and the young lady who tried to take her life.

    It's not only time we have gotten past all of this as a society, but definitely those of us who claim to belong to the Lord's church should have moved way, way past racism a long time ago.

  • E L Frederick Sierra Vista, AZ
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:42 p.m.

    As an LDS Church member, living outside the Zion curtain for the majority of my life, and the majority of my life after the opening of the Priesthood to every worthy male member, Racism was never something that ever was considered NOT sinful or ungodly. I always assumed that to treat out fellowman differently due to race was wrong, sinful, and ungodly. No one had to tell me it was wrong over the pulpits in Salt Lake for it to be clear that it was wrong.

    Perhaps that was because I spent the majority of my life in the Deep South of Tennessee and Alabama.

  • Iam4Virtue Provo, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:38 p.m.

    Wow. Just wow. Thank you! This was beautiful and insightful and educational. While I have many friends and acquaintances from many different backgrounds and ethnicities, I am humbled to know that I've never really walked a mile in their shoes--just a couple of yards. Thank you for helping me understand just a little bit better what the full mile can be like.

    God bless you with His grace and please keep lovingly sharing! Charity, above all, will help all of us understand better.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:34 p.m.

    Wr must oppose racism at every turn. Indeed, it must br eradicated. We should be wary of the Chinese statement in document 19: "in principle this should not be allowed, yet this prohibition should not be too rigidly enforced." We must prohibit racism, and the prohibition must be enforced.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:31 p.m.

    Thank you for your faith and courage, despite the weakness, small-mindedness, and pettiness of some who profess the same beliefs.

    Thank you for reminding us we still have a long way to go, but not abandoning us just because we have not yet arrived.

  • Earache Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:05 p.m.

    Excellent Op-Ed. My go-to Conference reference is Pres. Hinckley in April 2006. A partial quote is, "Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such." There is much more unequivocal condemnation of racism in the talk.

  • Br. Jones East Coast, MD
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:03 p.m.

    A difficult and important read. Thank you for sharing this with us. We have often heard rhetoric from our pulpits counseling us not to be offended--and for minor social missteps, that is a fair call. But the hurt that comes from racism, particularly when it comes from our fellow church members, is not one that can be dismissed merely as "being offended." Christians have no place perpetuating such racism and exclusion.

  • John Reading LITTLETON, CO
    Aug. 17, 2017 12:48 p.m.

    Ouch. I am a white (LDS) male trying to learn about racism, but each time I think I have made progress I read something like this that makes me realize how little I know. Nonetheless, I still hope that I can overcome my own racism, and that I can be a part of helping others to do the same. We are all children of the same God. Thank you for this insightful article.