“Digital Only: How Could You Be Mormon?” Ensign, June 2018
My brother and I are black. Our adoptive white parents slowly drifted away from the Church when I was in junior high school and I was the only child still at home. Sometimes my father would go to church with me, but there were times I went alone.
It was hard. I might have given up, but during this time, a friend of mine was investigating the Church and needed someone to go with. At first, it was all about being there for her. But over time, it became about me. I was going to church because I had a personal testimony that the teachings of the gospel were true and blessed my life.
When I was 17, someone asked how I could be a Mormon when they “didn’t let blacks have the priesthood.” I actually didn’t know what he was talking about. When I looked into it, I was shocked that he was right: there had been a time when black Latter-day Saint men were denied the priesthood. I was so confused. At first, I didn’t even want to think about it because it was so upsetting. But then I decided to explore my questions. I read about it, thought about it, and tried to reason why that might have happened.
In the end, I found no clear answer. That can be frustrating, but I decided I can’t let something that happened so long ago dampen my faith when I could be living in happiness in the gospel. I know the prophets and apostles are called of God to lead His Church. I believe that the gospel is true and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s Church.
Being black, I run into insensitivities and prejudices in the world around me every day that could disappear if we reached out and learned more about the people around us. We’re taught to mourn with those that mourn (see Mosiah 18:9). Being more informed about people of other races and cultures is one way to do that because those people share our spiritual DNA. Their struggles should be our struggles. We are all children of God.
Sometimes I’m not sure where I fit. I was raised in a white culture, but I’m too black to completely fit in there, and I’m too white for some black people. I don’t know my exact heritage, so if I want to celebrate my culture, which culture do I celebrate?
Thanks to the gospel, I’ve learned that the most important thing for anybody to know is that they are a child of God. When I die, Heavenly Father won’t look at my physical DNA. He knows that my spiritual DNA is divine, and He will look at who I have become. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. He knows that I’m trying, and He helps me be better. He is helping me find who I am and what my purpose here is.