Guest Post: Do You See Me?
By Ramona Morris
Like many saints of color, when the video of George Floyd circulated on each news channel as the “story of the moment”, tears ran down my face each time.
Like an alarm clock that rang shrilly in my ears, each report caused a torrent of emotions. I remember rocking myself back and forth, trying to convince myself that this wasn’t real life yet with each bolder headline, the safety bubble of my small island home evaporated.
During my travels to Idaho/Utah in 2018, I met a really nice police officer who despite my nervousness seemed to be one of the good ones. Fresh off the “N Word Saga.” After returning from a girl’s night to help a friend get over a guy who wasn’t worth her time, a driver slammed on his brakes which eventually led to us getting rear-ended by a truck. As the back-seat passenger, I took the brunt of the impact. Police and an ambulance arrived, I was cleared and could return to our apartment. Still, I knew I was one of the lucky ones. I was lucky because unlike so many… I got to go home.
In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, saints of color formed what would only be likened to an unofficial support group. I got used to my DM’s being filled with messages from friends who wondered why their priesthood leaders hadn’t reached out to them or why the church seemed to go radio silent at a time when we needed to hear words that would make us feel like we still mattered.
During this time, I really struggled being a member of the church. Although I tried to post educational content on my page, I became angrier as I watched the silence within the influencer community.
As a black woman who is often one of the few saints of color when you search through LDS hashtags, I felt more alone than ever. I was used to being alone. I was used to my messages going over the heads of those who had spent their life in the church. Yet, when the silence came, I felt discarded and alone. I felt invisible.
I was used to breaking glass ceilings and stand alone in a community that didn’t seem to be made for me. But as I watched, becoming angrier by the second, I asked myself the question that still plagues me to this day.
Do you even see me?
Those saints of color eventually bonded over our anger, frustration and invisibility. Our cause became a hashtag soon forgotten as we faded into the background with our feelings brushed aside. All it took was one day of activism before the majority moved onto the next cause that piqued their interest more.
I found myself unravelling and spiraling into raging anger as I watched members of the church who I had come to know and love as family condone racist behavior. Eventually I discovered that when it came to white and black issues, most preferred the white way over the right way.
I mourned the loss of these friendships, yet I held firm to my convictions. This was one time I wasn’t backing down without a good fight. Still, I was plagued by conflicted emotions wondering why these persons failed to comprehend that with a good face swap, George Floyd could’ve been me. I could’ve been the person dying that those friends claimed to love as a sister. I asked myself why my concerns for people to do better didn’t matter now.
To protect my sanity, I took a break from Instagram to disconnect from the anger I had felt. I returned with a clearer mind and with the ability to speak more openly about the injustices that saints of color and black persons faced.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Most times, I feel like a lone soldier who has gone to war and is fighting against a thousand-man army. My goal now is to reach that one person to open them up a deeper level of understanding. I’m not aspiring to take the mote out of anyone’s eye or to make them feel like a bad person for things they don’t fully comprehend.
I just want us to do better.
All I want is just for people to look beyond themselves and acknowledge those who look like me, to hear our stories without diminish our pain and to understand us by learning how to act as a disciple of Christ by become an ally with those who may feel persecuted.
That’s how we begin the process of showing the true Christlike love we brag about so often. Enough talking that talk…it’s time to step up to the plate and “walk the walk” that will bring us closer to returning to Heavenly Father one day.