Started off with some great information, things I had actually forgotten, truth be told. One thing that is positive about Joseph Smith: he was an abolitionist and created the first black "preacher" that preached to a white congregation in US History, and the Mormon church was THE ONLY religion that didn't have segregated congregations. Bet you didn't know that, huh? Guess what: MOST MORMONS DON'T EITHER. (Not the segregated part, that's never changed, but that a black man, Elija Able, was a priesthood holder, in the leadership of the church (the Quorum of the Seventy), and had all this from Joseph himself. But Joe died, Brigham Young got pissed off at a black man in Navoo that "seduced" a woman he was interested in, then the Curse of Cain became official doctrine. (*this* I remembered. Young was an asshole of the highest magnitude.)
The Curse of Cain Doctrine was OFFICIAL church doctrine. It's the old song and dance that continued to keep black people oppressed in the Mormon church (and, let's be fair, most Christian faiths at the time.) But the LDS church kept it going until 1978. And still have yet to retract. They just say that now God says blacks are equal. Allow me to point you to my middle finger.
So the doc goes on, and it's evident that it's pro-Mormon. Which, okay. That's your faith. May I point out that the director was a black woman? And her family were members BEFORE 1978 when the church called out "olly olly oxen-free!" Guess what "race" the Mormon church has a hard time keeping in the rolls? Blacks. So, "descendants of Cain" couldn't have the priesthood, which meant they couldn't get to the Penthouse Suite of Heaven with god, even WHITE people with a black ancestor. "A drop of Negro blood" was the rule. GAH!!!! But Philipinos, Tongans, Hawaiians, Hispanics, Latin Americans... all were allowed. So, they say, the church wasn't racist.
The mind, she reels.
Hey, wanna know what was going on in 1978 to make them "get a revelation from God?" The Sao Paolo temple was being built (completed and opened September, 1978.) Turns out, Brazillians? Not so much with the pure white, in case anyone was sleeping in World History. (Portuguese, local native tribes, black slaves and freed blacks for starters)
So that means that 85% of the LDS males in Brazil had "a drop of Negro blood." Which meant that this multi-million dollar temple was going to sit empty, because you can't go into the temple unless you're yadda yadda. You get the point. (Which means that people aren't going to go to church much, because what's the point? And if people aren't going to church they aren't PAYING TITHING. Bingo!) But the "Prophet" at the time "prayed fervently to Heavenly Father, hoping for this cruel Doctrine to be changed." And gosh, right before the time of the temple dedication, it WAS! A proclamation was issued that Blacks Would Get The Priesthood.
June 6, 1978.
So I'm watching this documentary, and it turns into a "testimony meeting" with various black church members about how they knew they would be a part of this big event. And they're proud to be Mormons. And one woman (turned out to be the director) mentioned how when she was "finally allowed into the temple" that was the first place she was called the "N" word. (She used the word, I will not.) Nice. And just recently, while performing Marriages for the Dead (I've talked about this in other posts) with a white woman from her congregation, the woman told her that in the next life (heaven) the Director would have to come find her, because this woman wouldn't recognize the Director when she was white, she just wasn't able to picture it.
Are you catching what that means? It's something I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT. In the next life, (this is LDS doctrine) when the righteous are "PERFECTED" and receive their paradisaical glory (the key to the Penthouse Suite of Heaven) they will be made WHITE. (Because race is only on earth, there is no race in Heaven.)
This is a BLACK FILM FESTIVAL. So, this is an audience of intellectual pro-African/black culture people, celebrating their blackness on the first day of Black History Month. And not ONE PERSON brought up the question of that. Did it go by so fast that no one noticed? I mean, how freaking offensive is this concept, right?
After the show there was a Q & A session with the director, and people in the audience were asking about how she knew this was the right church, blah blah blah, how did she get funding (University of Utah), how it is to be a black person in Utah, etc.
(Oh, side story, there was an interview with one man who was a black student at BYU in the 60s. He noticed that he was the only black person in the crowd, and started frantically looking for someone, anyone else of color. He saw a car drive by with a black couple. He ran to their car and tapped on the glass, scaring them. The woman in the passenger seat rolled her window down, and the guy, face splitting in a huge grin, said, "You two are the first black people I've seen since I got here!" and the woman replied, "Honey, we're just passing through." Bwah ha! The whole audience cracked up.)
So here I am, sitting by myself, seething with the treatment that blacks in general are getting BY A BLACK WOMAN, wondering how she can stomach the idea that for her to be PERFECT, she has to be WHITE, how can she reconcile her earlier statement of pride in being a black woman with losing that in heaven.
...and I didn't challenge her. I chickened out. I didn't want to seem confrontational against black Mormons. I wanted to genuinely help her see that she was living a contradiction, that it was just as damaging to the black culture/race as the idea that blacks were "less, because they were descendants of Cain" and that "they fought less valiantly/were fence sitters in the Pre-Existence." (See: Paradise Lost. Mormons believe in that profoundly.)
I chickened out, and left, my stomach in knots, frustrated with my cowardice.
Gah!! I still don't know how to have handled that. I think because I'm so frustrated with that religion, with the lack of knowledge its own members have, with the audacity of blacks losing their color in the next life - the ultimate white washing, that I would have come off as some angry white woman, and I was afraid the audience/she would miss the point I was trying to make. WTF, me?!
Oh! Oh!! Someone in the audience brought up polygamy (of course) and why can't women have the priesthood and the director HANDED THE MICROPHONE to a WHITE MORMON MALE that came with her to the showing so he could answer the question. And he didn't answer, he just rattled off some stuff about how he knows that church is True. *head desk* And I muttered (okay, I said it out loud, I was feeling cantankerous at this point) that "that's a non-answer!" One of the organizers for the event was sitting behind me and kept giving me looks. It wasn't enough to get me to talk into the mic. I AM ASHAMED OF MYSELF, you guys.
I'm still sick to my stomach about it. (I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, but they'll get their own post another time. I mean, there is a lot to talk about with this.)
Oh!! And I had NO IDEA that ELDRIDGE FRAKING CLEAVER became a Mormon before he died. My mouth literally fell open and I gasped when she mentioned that. A Black Panther! BLACK PANTHER, A MORMON!!! Dude. WTF.