Last week, a false news release tricked thousands of Mormons and made them believe the Church had officially apologized for racism in its history. It hurt and angered many, especially among the black LDS community. Zandra Vranes even spoke for an hour and a half in a powerful Facebook live video about how the false story “retraumatized” many members who face racism every day.
I’ll admit, I was excited when I read the false news release. I felt the spirit. I rejoiced. It was painful to learn none of it was true. As I’ve pondered on what happened, something kept coming to mind. It was an apology to my black brothers and sisters in Christ. While I know an imperfectly written statement from a single person does not compare to what many hope for, I need to apologize.
Because I have done you wrong. Because I am sorry.
I’m sorry for turning away from uncomfortable discussions on race because of fear. I’m sorry I don’t even try sometimes to talk about the things you need to talk about.
I’m sorry for trying to simplify the issue of racism because I don’t have to deal with it.
I’m sorry for being so sensitive to my own feelings that I forgot to try and emphasize with yours.
I’m sorry for trying to justify the racist actions of church leaders and members.
I’m sorry for wanting you to just turn the other cheek, telling you things like “they are from a different generation”, “they are not the majority”, or that “they don’t represent God’s feelings for you.”
I’m sorry for not educating myself about race and Church history. I’m sorry for not educating myself on race, period.
Mostly, I’m sorry that I’m not sorry the majority of the time. On a day-to-day basis, I am unexposed to what you face and do not think about how I can stand with you to affect change in the Church.
I want to have the ears to hear. I want to have the eyes to see. I pray Jesus Christ can open my heart more.
Racism existed in the Church and it exists today. Ignoring these issues and focusing on “just being kind to everyone” does not heal your wounds or bring any of us closer to becoming a Zion people.
I want to be in Zion with you. I can’t imagine Zion without you. I do not want a Church without you, your culture, or your divine talents and gifts.
I commit myself to learning more, to remaining humble, to paying attention, and to doing all I can to combat racism in Church.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.