Blacks in Mormonism: Exploring the Origins of Racism

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Blacks In Mormonism: Unraveling Racism

I would like to speak to you about a topic that I have avoided for many, many years, but I know that many former students, former missionaries, friends, really would like me to address, and that is a topic of racism. Now, I speak to you as a social scientist. I’m a sociologist. I have a Doctorate in Sociology of Religion, Race and Ethnic Relations, but also as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the high priests of the Church. Although I don’t speak authoritatively for the church – no official capacity at all. But blending both the social scientific and the doctrinal side. I bring you my personal views on this topic, which seems to be a very critical topic, let’s say at this particular time, especially in the United States of America, but in many other parts of the world as well. This topic has often been related to the topic of Blacks in Mormonism

We have reached what seems to be one of those crossroads in history in which people are demanding that we do something about it. So I’ll give you some personal perspectives. I may not have solutions to it, but at least if we can understand a little better what this is all about and how we as people who aspire to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, how we should address this problem. 

Now, first of all, we need to recognize that racism seems to be a universal trait in the humanity for millennia really. It appears it seems to be some kind of visceral reaction, an almost uncontrollable force that shapes raw emotions, that defy reason.

As I see it, looking at the Scriptures beginning with the Bible, racism seems to have begun when Cain put more value on his brothers Abel’s property than on Abel’s life. What followed was the creation of a society based on an economic system, really, that was managed by a secret combination of murder for profit. Now, this false philosophy of value profit or some other worldly good, tangible or not, above the value of a human life, is at the root of prejudice and racism. Colonialism and slavery are two evil consequences of such philosophies. But racism, in order to be perpetuated, racism needs certain dogmas. These dogmas are based on dehumanization and vilification of another group of people, based solely on the color of their skin or their ethnic identity, or their national language, or their religious affiliation, or some other perceived difference. And these false philosophies, these dogmas, are presented to successive generations with a thin veneer, a very thin layer of logic and intelligence. But really, these are manifestations of some illogical visceral reactions – this often relates to the subject of blacks in Mormonism. Now, we can say that most people are not racist. Most people will not even recognize that they are racist. But racism is allowed to be perpetuated because many people who do not consider themselves racist, and probably they are not, because they will either accept and propagate racist views without any criticism or because they will become indifferent taking the attitude of “well, that’s not good. But that’s the way the world is, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.” Or they may become dismissive and they say, “oh, there you come again. You’re overreacting. Come on, just forget about it.” Now, due to human imperfection, there will always be one or two incidents of people from another race or another ethnic group that will be used to confirm racist views. 

We find this even in the scripture from ancient times, there were always one group of people devaluing another group of people. This is not a modern phenomenon. This did not start with slavery. It seems to be really something inherent of our human nature or as we’ll say in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, of our fallen human nature – the natural man. An angel, told King Benjamin from the Book of Mormon that the natural man is an enemy to God. Looks like the natural man is not only an enemy to God but also the enemy of those sons and daughters of God that do not conform to these persons perceived view of what a normal or what a proper person should be. 

Now, why are people angry? Why is it that we see anger? I think the question that people should ask when they see manifestations, protests and so on a better question to ask would be what don’t I know about the source of their frustration? What don’t I know about the source of their frustration? And then look for ways to become educated, informed, well informed about those sources of frustration. Usually what we’re going to find is that the root of these frustrations, the root of these anger or manifestations of anger is a profound indignation of those whose ancestors were dehumanized and treated as merchandise at one point or another. A profound indignation against centuries old exaltation of those who, beside any laudable contributions to a nation or even to the world, accepted, advocated or profited from treating fellow human beings as merchandise or treating human beings as less than what they consider themselves to be. At the root, we’ll find also a profound indignation against centuries old false philosophies, incorrect religion views and legal chicanery that continue to be perpetuated in subtle forms around the world.

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By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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