blackblack lives mattergunsLDSMormonpoliceracismreligionviolenceAltonSterlingIn this episode we invite Psychology Ph.D. candidate Mica McGriggs, Dr. Darron Smith, and Dr. Fatimah Salleh to discuss the recent (and continual) loss of black lives in America due to police action.

Note: Given the sensitivity of this particular issue, I will only be accepting comments in this post that express empathy and support for the panel.  In my view this is not the place/time to debate hand gun policies, politics, or to draw attention back to the white experience.  Please respect this request, and know that we will do our best to find other ways to discuss these issues at another time, in another context.

Thanks.  John Dehlin

Baton Rouge, La.

• On Tuesday morning, two police officers fatally shot a black man, Alton B. Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, while trying to arrest him. The shooting was captured on video that drew widespread attention after it was released online on Wednesday.

• The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting, the latest in a series of killings of civilians that have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.

• There have been protests and a vigil, but the city has otherwise remained calm.

• Mr. Sterling had a long criminal history, but it is not clear whether the officers knew that when they tried to arrest him.

Falcon Heights, Minn.

• On Wednesday evening, a police officer fatally shot a black man, Philando Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, the state capital. The aftermath was streamed on Facebook Live by Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, a passenger with her young daughter.

• St. Paul has been convulsed by protests. Demonstrators gathered around the home of Gov. Mark Dayton, who said he was shaken by the video. “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white?” he asked. “I don’t think it would have.”

• Mr. Obama, after arriving in Warsaw for a NATO summit meeting, told reporters, “There’s a big chunk of our citizenry that feels as if, because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same, and that hurts, and that should trouble all of us.” That was before the demonstration — and the killings of police officers — in Dallas.

• Mr. Castile had notified the police officer that he had a gun on him, and was a licensed gun owner. Whether this information affected the shooting is not clear. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend said he was trying to retrieve his license and registration when the officer opened fire.

Dallas, Texas

• Around 9 p.m., shots were fired as hundreds of demonstrators were peacefully marching west on Main Street in downtown Dallas. Scores could be seen fleeing and screaming, as police officers, who were on the scene to maintain order, took cover.

• Five police officers were killed, seven other police officers were shot and two civilians were wounded. A lawyer for five of the wounded officers said they were expected to recover.

• A senior law enforcement official identified the gunman as Micah Johnson, 25, an Army veteran who lived in the Dallas area. The police killed him using a robot-controlled bomb during a standoff early on Friday.

• The city’s police chief, David O. Brown, originally described the shooting as a coordinated attack by two snipers. Later, officials said they believed Mr. Johnson was the only gunman.

• Three other people are in custody, but their identities and connections to the attack are unknown.



  1. JB July 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you all for sharing so generously of your strength and vision. Praying that you each are protected in your work and your families as well. Sitting with you in the discomfort.

  2. Brittany July 9, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to speak about this, especially in the heat of your pain. This week was particularly heart wrenching. It truly is helpful to obtain more perspective and to hear how each one of us can help. Much love to you and know that many are standing by you.

  3. Sam Rogers July 9, 2016 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    On this and the last episode about race I kept on waiting for John to ask the hard questions. Do black people, on average, commit more crimes than white people? Are black people more dangerous than white people? Please educate me if I am wrong, but I believe that blacks do commit more crimes, which can be perceived as making them more dangerous. I understand how this is related to slavery, discrimination, and poverty. It’s white people’s fault. However in a way I think the cause is now practically irrelevant to the effect this creates. If it is a fact that black people commit more crimes and can thus be considered, on average, to be morre more dangerous than white people, how can white people as a whole possibly overcome racism? I think your suggestions to mourn with black people and show up for black people are good. However, I don’t think that trying to develop empathy will alone be enough to overcome the rational fear of a group of people proven to be dangerous by numbers of crimes committed. It is also difficult to develop empathy for a threatening group. I believe that the day black people can confidently tell white people that they are not more dangerous than us and don’t commit more crimes than us will be a day that racism has a real chance of dying. How to get there, however, I don’t know.

    This may be trite but I am so sorry for your pain. I wish I could be better at feeling it with you.

    You might have reached out of your comfort zone by appearing on this podcast, and I am reaching out of my comfort zone by posting this comment and revealing my ignorance and racism. Please enlighten me if so inclined.

    • Doug July 10, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply


      I believe that you are sincere in your comments. I also believe that as you say, you are out of your comfort zone and ignorant on race matters. I also noted that you find it necessary to fly the banner of Moroni on your post, therefore assuming that you are a devoted Mormon and likely conservative in your views.

      I was frankly, very appalled at some of your comments: ” rational fear of a group of people proven to be dangerous by numbers of crimes committed. It is also difficult to develop empathy for a threatening group. I believe that the day black people can confidently tell white people that they are not more dangerous than us and don’t commit more crimes than us will be a day that racism has a real chance of dying”.

      The fear of another group of people that you do not take the time to know, is not rational. It is irrational. To generalize any group of people and lump them all into one judgment as being “proven to be dangerous” or “threatening”, is stunning to me! It is a very judgmental statement.

      I am white, middle age and have served a mission to a black nation and have within my own country, rubbed shoulders with so many wonderful, intelligent, kind black people who were very gracious at so many times when treated poorly. I am humbled and inspired by the example of so many of these children of God.

      Your comment: “I believe that the day black people can confidently tell white people that they are not more dangerous than us and don’t commit more crimes than us will be a day that racism has a real chance of dying”. This statement actually made my heart hurt. Black citizens have nothing to prove to you or any other white group or individual about not committing crimes or being dangerous. I was actually appalled by the insensitivity of this comment.

      I continue to be amazed and stupefied at how Mormons feel it worthy to go out into the world trying to convert and colonize people of all races, but in the same breath enjoy qualifying the humanity, worthiness, and hierarchy of supremacy. over them. The Church always has to have a group that is marginalized in order to elevate the standing of a small group along the Wasatch Front.

      There is a vast ignorance among many white americans about the reality of race and the make up of our great country. Most do not understand that by 2020, 60% of America will be hispanic. Most of our metro hubs in this country are predominantly people of color. White americans are a minority already. To ignore this contributes to racism.

      The night of these shootings, I sat at my dinner table and wept as I witnessed the video of a young man bleeding out in his car, while his fiancé caught it on video, while a white cop stood with a gun still pointed into the car after pumping 4 bullets into an innocent man who was simply reaching for his driver’s license. All of this, with a 4 year old sitting in her car seat in the back seat! Unbelievable! This young black man was a hard working, honorable man who worked in a public school, had a child, was engaged to be married. I also watched the young son of the other man who had been shot, weep and sob uncontrollably at the announcement of the death of his dad. Watching the grief of this young boy was so touching. If you were not touched while watching it, you have many questions to reflect upon.

      If this did not touch your heart at a basic human level, I ask, “why not?” If this were your son, your grandchild, your daughter, how would you feel? If you had to worry each day whether your dad, child, sister, mom was going to come home, would it change how you feel about racism? Empathy is putting your heart and head in the same place as your brother. Compassion is about walking the same path with him/her.

      Historically, Mormon narrative has been about denying and shutting out people in God’s name (revelation??? seriously!) and then trailing off in the same breath, “but we love you”. This voice knows nothing about love. Nothing. Mormon theology has always been about a white God, white leaders, and white majority. How do we expect to change the world to be a more loving place without gaining a love for one another’s stories and journeys — all cultures. What do we share in common? What are the basic needs of all people?

      To my brothers and sisters, and fellow citizens who are black or brown, my heart goes out to you. The most earnest prayers of my heart are with you and for you and for some mutual healing through this time of grief. I am so weary of the flags of our nation flying at half mast due to acts that are unimaginable. I’m weary of watching a poor president of our nation, who happens to be of color, have to give yet another speech of condolences because of another act of hate. With dignity this president has humbly and honorably conducted the duties of the highest office in our country.

      I simply ask, “how would the Savior react to so many of these painful and hateful acts that are happening today?” I would urge you and many to get out and rub shoulders with those you fear in your community. It will change your heart. It will change how you value the souls and lives of the marginalized. I hope that you can.

      • Sam Rogers July 11, 2016 at 12:31 am - Reply

        Doug, to the contrary I actually don’t believe in God anymore and left Morminism a couple of years ago. The Moroni banner is from my website, which tries to fairly evaluate the benefits and harms that come from Mormonism. You can click on my name to go to the site, where you can read more about me, and contact me in a private forum there if you want to continue this coversation. Out of respect to John’s request I am going to end this conversation with you here and avoid focusing on the white experience, even though I believe you both misunderstand me and fail to address my points.

        I realize my comments were insensitive, and this was probably not the best time to start the difficult discussion my questions lead to. I am sorry.

      • Brian July 11, 2016 at 7:30 am - Reply

        I am Black and listen to the podcast and appreciated the topic. This podcast is continually changing my views on the LGBTQ community and hopes it can do the same for others on the issue of race in the church.

        I also do not and will not speak for Black people, but I can confidently say I am not more dangerous than any other listener of this podcast.

        Thank you to all of the panelists for being a great example for me and my family by sharing your views.

        • Doug July 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm - Reply


          Thanks for the note and for making me smile! I find the tendency right now is to stereotype and cast people all into certain ideas of what a class of people are like. On both sides. I believe all of us are walking around with a lot of inner grief over unexplainable, tragic public acts of violence. Some of us don’t even have the tools to adequately process what we’re feeling or seeing on a daily basis. I wish there would be a podcast on how to process these things; given by a panel of psychologists and sociologists.

          I remember a few years back, following the Trolley Square shootings in Salt Lake, that when the names of the dead and wounded were published, that out of the 7 who were shot, I personally knew 4 of them. It was bizarre and numbing. I asked a psychologist friend how people push through public tragedies. He said, “just keep talking with people”. I found this to be good advice.

          I have so many friends who are of different ethnicities, including LGBTQ friends, straight friends, etc. My hope is to try to treat everyone equally and with dignity. That is my hope for everyone. Your post helped me. Thank you.

  4. Meshok July 10, 2016 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Thank you for coming on the podcast to discuss this really difficult issue. I am writing to recognize how difficult that must be and to relay my sincerest appreciation for putting yourself and your pain out there. It helps so much to hear you put these ideas, feelings, and thoughts into words that can be shared more easily. To give breath and life to ideas that are under exposed. To expose so that we may, indeed, learn more empathy.

    I’m a white woman living in an East coast city that has many racial issues. My own racism sometimes rears is ugly head and when i recognize that, it disgusts me. I find myself having to actively remember it and make decisions to overcome it. If you are white you have never actively made choices or redirected thoughts to overcome your racism, you are only reinforcing it.
    I strive my best to overcome by exposure, exposure, exposure. Exposure creates empathy. It provides opportunity to put words into actions.

    What you said about no one being at the funeral… that is infuriating and shameful.

    Thank you again. I’m sitting here with you in this loss, grief, and anger as are so many. Much love to you.

  5. Matt Faull July 10, 2016 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Expressing my sentiments without sounding trite is perhaps beyond my capabilities. I don’t want to appear banal and so I resort to saying nothing at all. The more we see these senseless killings, the more the sentiments seem to be mere platitudes.

    I think it was Fatimah who expressed the raw emotion of not being able to have time to grieve over one fallen brother before the next brother is killed. Your comments resonated and I understood.

    Darrin, I appreciate your honesty in revealing how difficult it is for you to even deal with white Americans at this moment. Same with Fatimah’s children. Your honesty helps me to understand how my black supervisor, peers, and subordinates are feeling.

    Thank you to Mica, Dr. Smith, and Dr. Salleh for allowing me to eavesdrop on this heartfelt discussion.

  6. Doug July 10, 2016 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Further comment to Sam Rogers comments. In seeking what the official LDS church current position is on blacks and racism, here is what is said on the church’s official website: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form”.

    I would urge Mormons who call themselves active, open-minded and faithful, to understand the church’s currently stated position on racism.

    Sadly, many of us in the past were asked to preach worldwide, that dark skin was a mark of God’s curse and disfavor. We were asked to teach that the bigotry that existed due to a belief that dark skin was lineage that came down from the lineage of Cain; having been a mark and curse given from God due to the slaying of his brother. We were also asked to teach that this curse came from a preexistent life. Because of this, Mormons were justified in acting with racial prejudice.

    Many of us have left the church over this and other issues and policies that are now viewed as simply “theories” by the official church. This oversimplification of past actions and beliefs is reprehensible and inexcusable. While reviewing the church’s position on racial history, the church justifies past beliefs due to prevailing attitudes in U.S. history on race. In other words, ‘prevailing history and attitudes guide us, not the will of God’.

    As a young missionary in Brazil, I remember the day I was sitting in the shack of an amazing, loving black woman. As I sat there, a personal revelation came to me that God would not hold any person or race accountable for the sins of any ancestor. No more than He would hold me or my ancestors accountable for sins committed by an earlier ancestor. I clearly felt that what I was asked to do in the mission field was clearly wrong. I remember feeling very bewildered the remaining months of my mission over this, as I pondered the many lovely, kind, black people that I knew and who had accepted and helped me. Many who when I was young, fed me and took me in and offered shelter and kindness.

    If God leads the leaders of the LDS church it is vexing to understand why a God who has created a racially diverse world of children, would not inspire these men that all of His children are of equal worth. That all are loved equally. These men are not inspired, nor do they speak for God.

    Oddly, people of color seem to be of enough worth for the Church to proselytize and colonize them to get the church’s membership numbers up; yet the church could justify marginalizing these same people by denying them certain privileges that were afforded to caucasian members. This is hurtful and shameful behavior that cannot be explained away.

    In the 1950’s I clearly remember my mother reading to my grandmother out of the church’s magazine, The Instructor, the church’s repeated position on the evil of interracial marriages. Bigotry within the church was handed down and repeated through statements by every LDS president since Brigham Young. I would urge current-day Mormons to look up these statements. They are heart rending and unbelievable, coming from people who were supposedly the mouthpiece of a loving God.

    Mormons tend to diefy church leaders. This practice is wrong and misguided. Mormons tend to believe that church leaders could never be wrong, that they speak for God and therefore are infallible. Mormons have been taught by leaders, that they are ‘a chosen’ people and ‘a chosen generation’. All of these beliefs are wrong.

    It is understandable why many current day Mormons are racists and justify racism, due to a long history of official racism promoted and promulgated by the official church. If a Mormon genuinely wishes to not be racist, it is important to realize that you have a brain and heart of your own. The church does not own that. You can (and should) develop through intelligent thought and prayerful pondering, your own beliefs on the worth of all of God’s children. Hopefully, a new age Mormon will realize that his/her position on earth is a small one and no more valuable than that of any other of God’s children.

  7. John Dehlin July 10, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Gary – There are a few reasons we didn’t address Mormonism directly in this episode. I can share those with you privately, but please don’t worry. Mormon Stories is not changing from what you know and love. We just occasionally try different things. Personally, I think this episode was very important. And very important for Mormons and post-Mormons to hear. Sorry if you didn’t enjoy.

    • Observant Neighbor July 10, 2016 at 11:16 pm - Reply


      Thank you for this episode. It was needed for all of us who were affected by the violence that is so prevalent lately, whether black or white. We are all grieving in daily life as we barely pass from one horrific incident to the next, with no time to make sense of things. Our hearts have been turned to those who are grieving and have lost loved ones. It was so helpful to hear comments and gain some perspective from a black perspective. It helped me to understand how racism affects the dialogue that so many of our black neighbors have in their homes and daily lives. Things that I was not aware of priorly. The fear of losing a loved one to needless violence is very real to them; in a way that most caucasian citizens never see.

      I have been deeply touched this week by the intelligent dialogue and measured responses of so many wonderful, talented, intelligent black leaders and professionals. Many of their comments were given with sincerity and heartbreak. Most did not lash out with violence or anger. Most were still reeling from these nonsensical acts of violence, as were many of us who are outside of their community.

      Thank you for having the wisdom to bring a podcast like this about at a time where none of us can make sense of these weekly acts of violence. Most of us appreciate the pause taken from the normal Mormon podcast topics, to be able to help process pain, grief and bewilderment. Thanks for giving a platform where this important issue can be discussed and given it’s due weight. It has certainly helped me be more aware of areas where I need to have more empathy and need to reach out more to those who are marginalized.

  8. Lindsay Hansen Park July 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    To those saying this isn’t Mormon enough- get educated. Mormonism has an established and well-documented history of racism, discrimination, and active complicity in prohibiting civil rights.

    If you can’t sit through this, listen and learn- you are never going to understand the LDS church’s history with race. This is context Mormons, especially white Mormons need and we’re never brought up with.

    If you can’t or won’t understand these issues now, we don’t want to hear you use the priesthood/temple ban as a critique. Ever. If you can’t give the energy and empathy to understand this issue today, your critique of yesterday is pretty empty.

    • Janna Taylor July 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Amen and AMEN…

  9. Kim July 10, 2016 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    I listened to this episode and want to thank Mica McCriggs, Dr. Darron Smith and Dr. Fatimah Salleh for being so open, honest and raw. I will tell you that as I have watched the videos of police killings and brutality on black men and women, I have been absolutely stunned. It is disgusting and disturbing. I believe it has been going on for years and technology is now just providing us the ability to see it. Even more, I am disgusted that we can now see it and we still have so many white people screaming that it is not only ok, but somehow justified! It is not justified!

    I agree with Dr. Darron Smith, we white people are racists. I am racists. Not overtly, and I don’t want to be! But I do have unconscious biases that expose themselves through my words and actions. The one thing I really wanted to do while listening to this podcast was to LISTEN. I tried really hard not to judge their statements, but rather just LISTEN. I have never been a black person in the United States so how can I discredit their stories or pain? I can’t! What I can do is just LISTEN and try and learn. By doing this, I hope to change myself and increase my ability to really see myself and how I contribute to their pain.

    One thing I have to call out is on John. Your statement that the podcast had gone over an hour and if we want people to listen, we need to wrap it up really caught be off guard. I am an avid listener of Mormon Stories and most of the stories are 1-3 parts and cover 2-6 hours. Why is it that we have to keep this topic to an hour or people won’t listen? Do we as white people really only have the capacity to think outside of ourselves for only an hour? We can listen to white people for 2-6 hours, but when we are called out for our behavior we can only listen for an hour? If that is true, that says a lot and it is not good.

    Personally, I could have listened and learned for several more hours and hope that this dialogue continues.

    Again, thank you to all of you on this podcast. I see you, I hear you, I cry with you and I mourn with you.

    • John Dehlin July 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Will do more on this is the months and years ahead. For sure. On the other hand, making things short is important for many. So plan on my doing both from time to time.

      • Quanah Parker July 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply


        If you decide to do more of these podcast you need to challenge the myths and inaccuracies mentioned in this podcast. Just like you’ve done with Mormon myths you need to fact check a lot of the statements referenced by these apologist. For example: systemic racism, % of blacks shot by cops vs. other races, criminal acts by race, % of cops in major cities that are black, Is the BLM narrative accurate?

        In addition, I was deeply sadden and hurt that you reference the shooting of the Dallas Police Officers at the very beginning but didn’t come back to it again. As a Texan, and more importantly, as a human you owe it to these officers to tell their story. BLM contributed to their deaths and this simple fact needs to be told.

        As was pointed out in the podcast “you’re either for human life or you’re not.”

  10. John Dehlin July 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    FYI to all – Given the sensitivity of this particular issue, I will only be accepting comments in this post that express empathy and support for the panel.

    In my view this is not the place/time to debate hand gun policies, politics, or to draw attention back to the white experience.

    Please respect this request, and know that we will do our best to find other ways to discuss these issues at another time, in another context.


    • Robert Hodge July 11, 2016 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Of course John it’s your forum, and you can do as you please. But the problem is that “empathy” is in full abundance on this terrible issue. You find empathy everywhere. But the hard truth is that much more is needed because empathy, condolences, moments of silence, and prayer will never address the root problem. Actions must be taken to change the gun culture as well as to address the obvious racial prejudice that has given rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Also, if you look around you will see a significant white backlash. This something that some of us warned about. Black lives Matter has cemented a black racial context when the problem is really much wider in scope.

      As for me, I will raise my voice for change at every opportunity. But of course I will respect you wishes on this matter even though I think this forum could be a force for positive change, especially in view of the strange silence of the Mormon Church (other than to show “empathy” for the victims and their surviving families and friends.

  11. H July 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Seriously? They’re all Mormon. Racism is a Mormon problem. It lies at it’s roots and continues today. Not very long ago in the church’s past there were “Black” branches in the south. There continue to be Spanish and Tongan branches. As a missionary in Eastern Europe, there was a Gypsy branch. Why? Is anyone really being helped by this segregation?

    I sat in a PEC meeting about ten years ago and the stake was split and a “Spanish” ward was created. I asked the bishop why we segregate in the church. Everyone looked at me like I was speaking, umm Spanish. The bishop asked are you serious? Yes!!!! Why? Why can’t these our “brothers and sisters” simply be accepted into the ward boundaries where they live? Why not help them learn English? That is a skill that would help them advance in our country. Better employment, education, etc., but instead we separate them and put some white guy who speaks Spanish in charge, or in their branch presidencies to oversee their branches. Why do we segregate bishop? The bishop replied, “I don’t know. That’s a good question”.

    I submit because we white people weren’t and are not comfortable with people of color around us. Racism is a Mormon problem! It was a big reason I left.

    One of the only problems I had with the podcast was “racism is a white problem”. There are racists in every race. I believe Mr. Johnson who murdered five police officers said he wanted to kill white people, especially white cops. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, that’s kinda racist.

    While the shootings of the two men by police appears horrible, all the facts aren’t out yet. If the policemen who shot these men are proven by the facts, to have broken the laws they were sworn to uphold, then they will go to jail and deservably so.

    I’ve worked in law enforcement for eight years. I don’t ever want to be in the situation to pull the trigger on anyone, nor do I know anyone who wants to. We carry guns not to kill, but to protect. Protect ourselves and you! Who does anyone call when they are threatened? Who do you call after an accident? Who do you call in the most dire of circumstances? The first on scene are people like me. We are given limited facts. We don’t know who, or what we are going to confront in every emergent scenario and we are expected to be perfect.

    Are there bad apples? Of course! They are in every group! In eight years of serving our country, I can honestly say and you don’t have to believe it and I don’t care if you don’t, I have never seen any of my colleagues abuse anyone. Have I tackled, punched, kicked people? Absolutely! It’s part of the job when needed.

    Has there been police brutality in the past? Yes. Is there now? Yes. And it disgusts me! Are people killed when we go to calls? Unfortunately and sadly, yes. People of all races are shot and killed by us, but we are also shot and killed by people of every race. It’s not a person’s race that we (I) judge during an encounter. It’s the person’s actions. Did you just strong arm rob a store? Did you brandish a weapon? Did you stab someone? Did you rape that kid? Did you kill that family with your car because of what you smoked or drank? Did you shoot someone while robbing that store? Did you just punch your wife because she looked at you wrong? I can go on and on and on.

    In the end though, it’s my job. It’s my chosen profession. It’s my problem. I chose to be the guy who you are going to call when you are in dire straights and I will come. You don’t even need to say thank you, most don’t. Maybe everyone could think of us enforcing your laws too? I don’t know anyone in my chosen profession who wakes up in the morning and says, “I can’t wait to go to work today so I can shoot someone”.

    That all being said, I did appreciate what the the panel said. Racism is disgusting! There is nothing more deplorable. I believe we all have our own prejudices because of how we were institutionalized.

    Unfortunately, I had to hear black people weren’t my equal growing up Mormon. I heard my Bishop call a Black man a N$&@#% during a church basketball game. I was disgusted and embarrassed because my black friend who I brought to play with me was standing next to me. When I apologized to him he replied,”It’s ok, he’s just ignorant”. It wasn’t ok! It was pitiful. Half of my friends growing up were people of color, not at church, but at school. My first crush was black, and she is still a friend today. Do I say this to get street-cred because I have black friends, because most of my colleagues are people of color and from different ethnicities? Maybe. Unfortunately, I had to hear my Grandpa drop N bombs and my Dad spew Brother Brigham’s disgusting rhetoric, which he still believes is true because of what he was taught growing up.

    Again, the panel was great. Their perspective is appreciated because we can all learn from it. I did and Thank you! I’m sorry the black community is bleeding. So is mine.

    I hope this makes sense, I’ve been awake for about 24 hours. It was a long night at work. I hope one day we can all be judged not by the color of skin, or where we went to school (Go Devils), or our chosen professions, but truly by the content of our character. I believe a very wise man once said something similar.

    • Observant Neighbor July 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply


      Thanks for your well worded comments about those who serve to protect. I agree that there are bad apples in every group and class of humans. We are all grieving this needless violence. Oddly, more white people are shot statistically in one year, than blacks. It does not excuse racial prejudice, fears and acts of unfair violence against someone due to skin color. Apparently the Dallas shooter did not care who he fired at when he was firing into the crowd in Dallas — white, black, hispanic, jew, christian, muslim, moms with strollers, police, citizens — and he was a misguided, young, ex-military, black man with deep seated emotions. We’re all trying to make sense of it. We probably never will.

      Thank you for your service to the citizens of your local community. I hope you will be able to serve safely in your duties. Many thanks.

    • Lori July 24, 2016 at 10:17 am - Reply

      H, I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I want to respond to your comment. Racism is a white problem because white people have the power institutionally. People of all races may hold prejudices based on race, but they do not have the power to systematically oppress another race of people, white people (at least in America) do. Our country has always been run by white men, and so not surprisingly our society is structured to favor them. Thankfully, we have been slowly evolving towards justice for all, but we certainly are not there yet.

      You say that the officers and their actions will be investigated and if they are found in the wrong they will receive a just punishment. This is simply not so as we have seen over and over again officers who kill or otherwise mistreat black people, ON VIDEO where we can all see the injustice, and the officers get no or a very light punishment. This is because those officers are evaluated within the unjust, racist institutions developed by white men. There is no justice for the offending officer or their victims and this is why black people are rightfully campaigning for their lives to matter as much as others, because within the system as it is now, they do not.

      Take another look at your comment and see how differently you evaluate officers who unjustly kill or hurt people and the person who killed the officers in Dallas. The officers are just bad apples one finds in any group. The murderer in Dallas is a racist problem. I would submit that the Dallas murderer is the bad apple and the officers are the racist problem.

      I loved this podcast. It was painful and emotional, especially to hear the hopelessness of Dr. Smith. I fear he is justified in believing that the needed change will not come in his lifetime. I hear so many people expressing this outrageous notion that we should fear black people, never giving them the benefit as an individual judged on their own actions. I have resolved to be more vocal, show up with and for the oppressed and do whatever I can to push for change.

  12. Janna Taylor July 10, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Absolutely one of the most powerful and perhaps the most important MS episode thus far. Eye-opening. Mind-expanding. I look forward to more like it on the same topic.

  13. Ksmith July 11, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Listening to this podcast and reading the comments reminds me exactly why I do not go to church any more. Thank you for helping me remember why I do not participate in a corporation/ church that has hid it’s new race beliefs in a small essay that is difficult to find. It hurts my heart. Thank you John, Mica, Darron and Fatimah. I felt my ignorance while listening to your pain. I will try my best to do better.

  14. David July 11, 2016 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Aren’t Black people, racist too?

    • Kelly July 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      While black, Hispanic, Asian, native-American, and other minorities can be just as prejudiced as white people, but they cannot be as racist as white people because they do not hold political, economical, and institutional power. That’s why it’s different. I don’t like when Darron says all white people are racist because I don’t think I’m racist, but yes I definitely have white privilege, which I never thought existed until I got married to someone who is not white.

  15. Randall Brower July 11, 2016 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    “All white’s are racist!!!” – Darron Smith. That really makes me want to come to the table. Way to alienate the very people you say have to fix the problem.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Janna Taylor July 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Your comment demonstrates the reason Dr. Smith rightly feels no compulsion to coddle us white folk into getting our “poop” together on this issue.

      (Sorry, John, couldn’t help myself)

  16. Kelly July 11, 2016 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you for addressing this issue. My heart is so saddened by these events. Because this is Mormon stories, a powerful documentary was made about the militarization of police (by byu film makers) based around the life of a Mormon from centerville, ut (dub Lawrence) who was a sheriff and founded the centerville swat team. 30 years later that same swat team killed his son in law in a controversial stand off. Dub’s mission now is to hold police officers responsible for their actions and demilitarize the police. It’s called “peace officer”. It would be great to have Dub on Mormon stories

  17. Jill O. July 11, 2016 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    This was powerful and insightful. Thank you for helping open my eyes to the systemic racism that I’m a part of. I hope to hear more from all of you. And I need to do better.

  18. Lisa Angel July 12, 2016 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Thank you Darron, Fatimah, and Mica for sharing your pain.. I am sitting with you in your grief. The first time I heard Darron say all white people are racist, I was not angry. I was deeply saddened because I believe he is right. Ialso am 50 years old and I am from small town Utah. I have never had a friendship with a darker hued brother or sister. I do believe black lives matter and I believe there are a lot of us who do. I believe that we are tired of the racism as well, we just do not know what to do. I understand that you are grieving , but help us white folk. Tell us how to help. I am willing. I do have hope. I believe we can trascend the state that we are in if we work together, again I am willing!!!!!

  19. S July 12, 2016 at 4:57 am - Reply

    I had the opportunity to bring 2 of my children to the Freddie Gray Funeral. The services were powerful. His death (among the many others) was heart wrenching. Rev Jamal Bryant delivered the eulogy. I have never heard the word of G*d been preached in a more piercing way. It is worth the time to listen and to try to feel the Rev. is trying to explain.

  20. Terri July 12, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for this episode. I grew up in the south where, in my experience anyway, the issue of race seemed like the elephant in the room to me as a kid.(I’m white) I started out by being curious as to what all the unspoken tension was about, which tension I began to learn to take on. I tried to push back in the only way I knew how as a white person in my community and that was to speak out when I saw an injustice and to cultivate friendships with people of color.

    I am digesting this episode still (listened to it yeaterday.) Some things were hard to hear as when Dr. Darren said that he doesn’t have hope that whites as a group can change because there’s nothing in it for them. I felt defensive but also sad and fearful that he is right. But I still want to have hope, so I’m digesting what your panelists have shared. Thank you for having this panel. Thank you panel members for being so open, so frank and honest, sharing your true feelings and getting down in it. I need to hear it as defensive and sad as I get with it.

    I have a statistical question: Does anyone know-verifiably-what the statistical membership of the the LDS church is broken down by race or color? As a world wide church, it would “seem” that we in fact have a larger percentage of people of color than white, yet our leadership at the highest levels “seems” to only be white.

    I put seems in quotes here because it’s my perception and I am curious to know if there are statistics compiled that show – much like the EEOC reports we submit in the workplace- membership and leadership at various levels as well as leadership at “executive” levels, broken out by race. I think it would be interesting to see how our leadership representation stacks up as a world wide organization. Thank you.

  21. Mark Hudson July 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    As a teenager, my world was split in 2 parts. Almost everyone at church was White, while my school had students and teachers of almost every race. The pre 1978 restrictions the church imposed on Blacks were very troubling to me and I only agreed to serve a mission after the ban was lifted. My parents didn’t understand because they were raised in places with a very high percentage of Mormons, and didn’t have any non-white friends. My point is that my parents agreed with and supported these church leaders because they didn’t know any better, while I pushed back as hard as I could because I knew from personal experience that the church was wrong. It was and still is very personal to me. Go and find someone who is different from you and offer your friendship. You will be surprised how much we all have in common.

    • Doug July 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply


      Well worded and presented. These are my feelings as well. Thanks for your courage and belief that a loving God loves all of his children equally, and that we can each have our own inspiration and beliefs, independent from our Sunday place of worship. God is totally okay with this. He’s told me so! :)


  22. Vanessa July 15, 2016 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I wanted to write this comment to Dr. Smith. I can’t imagine what you have gone through in your life and I am saddened that you believe that there is going to be no change. I have seen change in my lifetime and I have seen change in the last few years. It has not been enough. I do however believe that there is beginning to be an educated dialogue that has begun that is hopeful. The more people that understand that there is a systematic oppression set in place the more people can fight it. I didn’t see it because I didn’t know that it existed, but now that I am aware I can be an ally and help. I believe that if most people knew that the social construct was so unbalanced they would fight to seek equal justice. It is in white peoples best interest to change this social construct, a rising tide raises all ships.

    I just wanted to say that there are more white people than you know that love you, care about you, and will fight for you. I would take a bullet for you and so would my family and friends. I send much love be and peace to you.

  23. Rebekah July 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you to all of the panel for being willing to share your pain and experience so openly. I can’t imagine that it is easy by any stretch. I cried listening to it. The pain is so devastating! I want you to know that I hear you. BLACK LIVES MATTER. I value black lives just as much as my own. I know it may sound like lip service given your experiences but it is true. I don’t see you as being here for my entertainment. My friends who are black are honestly better people than I am. I have learned so much from our friendships. I hate that they are stereo typed.

    I also have to say, to any others that may be reading this, the man that shot the police officers in Texas was not a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement was to peaceful for him. He was a radical. If we want black people to believe us when we say not all white people are like the mentally ill white man that walked into a black church and shot people then we need to also believe that not all black people are like the mentally ill black man who shot those police officers. No double standards!

  24. Michael Surkan July 22, 2016 at 8:44 am - Reply

    It is clear that many black people suffer greatly by many of the racist biases in our society, and my heart goes out to them. I also hope we can all work together to achieve social justice. It was so moving to hear the panelists on this podcast talk about how much racism impacts their lives on a daily basis.

    One of the things this podcast got me really thinking about is whether the language we use to discuss racism and inequality is really sufficient. Darron raises a good point about how ALL white people are racist, from the point of view that they will necessarily have a skewed view of reality and privilege. However, this all-encompassing definition of racism has the unfortunate side-effect of eliminating personal responsibility for “racist” attitudes. When all white people are “racist”, then there isn’t any difference between a white person who spouts epithets at blacks and burns churches and the white people who move to mixed-race neighbourhoods and encourage their children to have black friends.

    Maybe we need new terms to describe these different forms of racism so as not to lose the nuance of personal responsibility in our own behaviour.

    • Lisa Middlemas August 9, 2016 at 6:26 am - Reply

      I disagree. A good analogy comes to mind with alcoholism and sobriety: a sober alcoholic is still an alcoholic, even though they may not drink. So it is with racism, no matter the nuance of belief, or action.

      Until societal systemic structures of racism are gone, with a fully equitable society for all, then we, who benefit from that systemic societal structure, must all be considered racist, regardless of how little or how much we support or do not support various forms of discrimination/violence/etc.

  25. Valerie July 27, 2016 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I am a white female. I am sorry for my ignorance. I thought I wasn’t racist, but I can see where I never even understood or acknowledged what has happened and what continues to happens. My heart is in shreds over the events that are just now coming to light, but that have been going on forever. I wanted to believe that we as a country have moved past this ugliness of racism, but I can see that I became part of the problem. I grieve for my brothers and sisters of color. I grieve for the prejudice that hasn’t gone away. I grieve for all the innocents who have lost their lives. I grieve for the mothers, fathers, family members who live in fear simple because of their color. It is repugnant to me. I will work to NOT be apart of this racist mindset anymore.

    I sit with you in pain.

  26. Lisa Middlemas August 9, 2016 at 6:13 am - Reply

    This podcast was so so so so good. Thank you for sharing your pain, your insight, your struggle, and your hope. It is my desire that every white Mormon, and even every white American, would listen to this and learn from it.

    May we all take your words and change ourselves and our actions and our communities and our society.

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