I have a unique background that few other white LDS members have. I lived in the deep South for 17 years, assigned during most of that time in stake and ward missionary callings. I was instrumental in beginning the work among African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama 30 years ago. With two full time missionaries, I opened the work in Tuskegee, and was their group leader until a branch was established. One of my greatest honors was being “adopted” as an honorary black brother to my dear deceased friend, Renee Olsen, who said I was among a few white Mormons that understood the black world (Margaret Blair Young being the foeremost expert in this area, IMO).
Still, I realize I do not carry the burden placed upon blacks by even well meaning whites of all religions and political views. Yes, even white Democrats do not understand and many of their words and actions harm more than help. When asked if Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders responded by saying “all lives matter”.
The problem is, for blacks, this is comparing apples to oranges. They are equivalent.
All Lives Matter means we should care and help all people, regardless of what class or caste they are placed in by nature and society.
However, Black Lives Matter is different. Unlike whites and many others, racial prejudice still lives on. Separate water fountains happened in the recent past, which was experienced by many older blacks we know. Today, most whites do not think that racism still happens. It does. More blacks are stopped by police than whites. Blacks, though a minority population, take up almost half of prison beds. Government ‘helps’ the poor (mostly blacks), by giving women welfare only if there is no man in the home. Teachers give up on black kids quicker than white kids. Even the Academy Awards demonstrated racist tendencies by giving no nominations to blacks this year.
If you were walking down a dark street, what would be your initial response if some young black men were to walk towards you? Would you feel the same if it were some white boys?
Black Lives Matter should not be compared to All Lives Matter. Both are valid statements, but mean different things. It is best if we do not insist on one over the other. They are both important, with different connotations. Black Lives Matter AND All Lives Matter.
We need to care for all people, from the womb to the deathbed. This is what Christ would have us do. But we also need to look at blacks as our brothers and sisters, treat them with dignity, and help lift them out of the tragic poverty and dependency that we have placed them in.