Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel – Ending LDS Racism

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel – Ending LDS Racism January 13, 2018
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Image by Ben Crowder. Directly from the shouldertothewheel.org page.

I am so pleased to be able to share this letter I received from those spearing an amazing project directly addressing racial issues we still very much need to confront in our own LDS communities. I know very few Mormons would consider themselves “racist.” And yet we consistently hear from members of color ways that they experience microagressions and other issues that are not “micro” in the least. It is not their job to continually point these out to the rest of us. We, who would consider ourselves caucasian or “white,” need to do our due diligence to study these issues out and educate ourselves since we are in the position of privilege. Privilege is a reality. It’s not a personal attack on any one person. This is so important to understand in order to lower defensiveness and learn how to engage this topic in effective ways. The suggestions and resources this group is providing makes it that much easier for us to live out our covenants of contributing towards communities of Zion. Please join me in signing the pledge and participating in this action.

Dear Natasha:

June 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the priesthood and temple ban. Although the ban is behind us, it has left lasting legacies in our faith community. We are writing to ask for your help in encouraging others to prepare for this upcoming anniversary using the resources at Shouldertothewheel.org.

Shoulder to the Wheel is an effort to spur reflection, conversation, and education on racism in LDS communities and the world around us, put together by a diverse group of LDS people.

The site features a pledge form with about a dozen different ways LDS people can take action to honor the 40th.

There is also a 16-page downloadable resource guide developed with the input of leading voices in our community that takes a deeper dive into understanding racism in Mormonism and the world around us.

This year presents a unique opportunity to address what has been a source of regret, and hurt, and we hope you will consider making it a focus of your efforts on your blog or podcast or in your FB group at some point. We are asking you as someone who has the capacity to influence others for good:

  1. Will you personally pledge today to put your shoulder to the wheel in honor of the 40th?
  2. Will you share the shoulder to the wheel website with a personal message in your wall or feed?
  3. Will you encourage members of your blog community or FB group to pledge and set group pledge goals or group activities if appropriate? Or, if you are a podcast host, will you dedicate an episode to this effort? Or, if you are speaking at a public event, will you mention the effort in your opening to your remarks?
  4. Will you write a brief–200 word–pitch about “why I am putting my shoulder to the wheel” that we can feature on our blog and in social media?

We know that racism can be a difficult subject but we believe that everyone has a responsibility to address it, and we believe that working from LDS scriptures and LDS Church resources we can spur conversation that will bear good fruits. If you would like to talk to or interview a member of the steering committee for an article, podcast, or blog piece, we can connect you with Melissa Inouye, Emily Jensen, or Fatimah Salleh. If you have questions, please check out shouldertothewheel.org or let us know.

Sincerely, on behalf of the steering committee,

Paul Barker-Valdez, Joanna Brooks, Eric Bybee, Melissa Inouye, Emily Jensen, Cynthia Bailey, Lee Ben Park, Meghan Raynes, Jake Rugh, Fatimah Salleh, and Rebecca de Schweinitz

Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine, is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.

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