In this short post, I want to ask, Who are we forgetting? Who are we leaving out?
In the ongoing journey for equality and civil rights for all, often times we forget about the underbelly of society (underbelly meaning hidden or vulnerable).
I currently work at a non-profit that works with active drug users and sex workers. A population that society has forgotten. A population that my organization seeks to include in conversations relating to policy and health. We constantly search each day for methods to better the lives of this group and to make them feel included within society. We work with those who are transgender and seek to protect their best interests with their help and input.
At our monthly trans support group last month, one transwoman remarked how she never leaves home without her long metal chain. It’s the only way she’s feels protected and it’s the only way she can guarantee her safety. Another transwoman from the group mentioned how often she has faced discrimination in searching and keeping jobs.
I live a bustling metropolis that prides itself on its open-mindedness and liberalness. How do we still have people feeling unsafe and unwelcome here? How do we do nothing to include them in conversations regarding their problems and safety? For such an open minded city, we close our ears to those in our midst whose voices need to be heard more than ours.
And so it is within the modern Mormon feminist movement. At least in my eyes.
We have made great strides in our community in making Mormonism more vast and egalitarian. We pride ourselves on being more open to change than the traditional orthodox LDS Church members. We’re ahead of the curve.
When we talk about feminism, are we including transwomen into our conversations?
When we talk about equality (within and outside of the Church), why do we often forget our sisters of color?
When we talk about defending ourselves from the patriarchy, do we also include those who are gay, lesbian, or queer?
I still read and hear stories of Mormon women of color who still feel left out of the conversation (myself included). It is painfully obvious that there are few voices in our movement from those who are LGBTQ. And is there even a space for those among us who are transwomen? Just because the numbers are small, doesn’t mean their voices shouldn’t be heard or included.
So, who are we forgetting? And how can we remember them?Read More
I vividly remember an experience with my youngest daughter who was around four-years-old at the time. I was using public transportation to get to and from campus where Sara attended preschool while I attended classes. A younger mother on the bus held her baby. The baby’s complexion was dramatically darker than his mom’s. She nuzzled her child, talked baby talk, and saturated that baby with maternal love. Sara looked at the scene then back at me several times with a quizzical expression on her face. She wrinkled her brow and looked at me again. I said, “Are you wondering about the baby’s skin color?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, the mommy is white and the baby is black. The baby’s dad is probably black.” Sara’s expression changed only slightly before she shifted the conversation in an unexpected direction and slammed my white, Utah Mormon brain up against a wall of generational prejudice. She said, “No! The mom’s skin is pink and the baby’s skin is brown.”Read More
Part one of two posts.
Maybe you won’t identify with this story. Maybe by the grace of God you escaped the curse of cultural or racial prejudice that affects both a person of privilege and a victim of racism. Maybe you were raised in an egalitarian environment and are truly free from such burdens. If so, you are among the lucky ones.
Others may find commonality with the thoughts and experiences I’ll share, especially women who grew up in Caucasian communities. And who, by osmosis, inherited cultural and racial biases from home, school, and church life. I see racism as a disease in America and I hope others will agree that by extension, racism is a part of the mainstream North American LDS communities where many of us live. (Perhaps some of our sisters abroad will share their experiences from elsewhere around the world in the comments below.)
I could try telling stories here about some of my sisters of color, but I don’t really know their stories well enough. Besides, they can do that for themselves. We would do well to seek out our sisters and listen carefully to their words.
My job is to tell my own story with as much accuracy and integrity as possible. So, I’ll start there, hoping it will lead to an increased awareness of how some of us can reach toward greater inclusion of all our culturally diverse sisters in conversations and as friends in our day-to-day lives. I feel moved to invite white sisters to actively acknowledge and champion the concerns and causes of Mormons of color as our own (feminist or not) or, I fear, we will ultimately fail in our mission as Mormon feminists.Read More
Here are some links to check out!
- The Exponent II turned 40! Our friend Tona writes about the festivities. And for the first time in Boston retreat history, a reporter was allowed in to portions of the event. Here’s what was published in the Botson Globe!
- The General Women’s Meeting of the church was held last weekend. Huge news — for the first time in history, a woman of color gave a prayer at a session of General Conference! (Sister Dorah Mkhabela from the YW General Board) Reporters and press were barred from attending the meeting in person this time. For anyone who did attend in person, did you stop by the display of Kathleen Peterson’s artwork of the “Girls who choose God” illustrations, hanging in the Conference Center? Julie M. Smith from T&S highlights the meeting nicely.
- The Mormon Messages video about the over-extended mom in “You Never Know” circulated Facebook recently, as did some well-thought out critiques and analysis. Make sure you read what Catherine from Segullah had to say about it.
- Ordain Women will undertake a local action this weekend for the Priesthood session of general conference.
- Remember the frilly poster about the Europe Area Women’s meeting a while back? Some nice words, some not-so-nice words shared there. Jana Riess writes about it and Rune from fMh cartoons about it.
- Neylan McBaine’s book, Women at Church, is out and making headlines. Have you read it, or shared it with anyone? This week she shares a thought-provoking post about the low graduation rates for females in Utah.
- UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame!) creates a buzz in her speech calling for male allies in the feminist cause and launches the HeForShe campaign. A 15-year-old boy’s positive response went viral in the Sunday Telegraph. Is “feminist” a dirty word? Joseph Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t think so.
Did you attend the Women’s meeting last weekend? Would your 15-year-old son or brother listen to Hermione talk about feminism? Tell us in the comments!Read More
Last night I listened to the General Women’s Meeting in the company of my sisters from the Mt. Vernon, Virginia Stake. I enjoyed the added international presence, the messages from our leaders, and the inspiring music.
As the camera captured the large stand in the Conference Center I noticed the many, many empty seats. These seats will be full to capacity next weekend during General Conference with quorums of our leadership, but last night the General Boards of our female auxiliaries filled only a couple of rows.
I had a vision – as I looked at those empty seats. A vision of hope. One day – I see quorums of women filling those seats! A happy thought.
Do you have this same vision of hope? Do you see women in leadership filling those seats?Read More