Last week I got called and asked to speak at the Social Justice Symposium at Langston University Tulsa today. They told me to bring back the book, and they gave me booth space to sell some. How kind was that?
I was asked to speak about the impact of white privilege and violence on children.
So I invited Mary to join me and share her story:
We shared our story of how we became a family, her experience of being told she was white but wasn’t, our experience of her brown self being adopted by my white self, and our efforts at teaching her (and Anber) about black history and current events. We talked about the things people say to our rainbow family in public, things people assume about our children, and how hard we work to learn what we aren’t even aware of sometimes. We talked about learning to braid her hair and reading all the black culture and history books we can find and going to libraries and museums as we travel. We talked about what a miracle it was to find some of her black family, and how grateful we are for black friends. We shared about her response to Terence Crutcher, the privilege video the kids made, and how we invited the police into our neighborhood so that they could be in our community if they are “helpers”.
We shared our story and did our best on very little notice. I hope it was okay!
My chaplain friend David, who is from Mongolia, came to hear us speak!
Other topics at the symposium included Minority Youth at Risk, Social Justice and the Media, Spirituality and Healing Through Mediation, Systemic Change, Transgender Rights, the Post-Slavery Industrial Prison, Human Trafficking, and Responses to Injustice.
I shared that on social media, and got some really mean comments in my inbox.
I was surprised by such terrible things being said to me. My beliefs include reaching out to others and learning from others and being safe for those who need rescuing, or just the kind of friendship the Savior would have offered. So learning from them and dialoguing with them and exposing them to a positive experience with my faith tradition seems really important.
“Hi, my name is Emily, and I’m a Mormon and a nice person.”
Anyway, it was just being present together, and learning together.
I met good people, and learned lots, and made many new friends.
Mary learned, too, as she met people of other faiths and gender issues and racial backgrounds. She was very polite, asked good questions, and we talked a lot about differences and similarities and about the covenants we have made – including her baptismal covenants – and how to be kind to people, even those with different ideas or preferences or struggles or challenges.
Her favorite, though, was her new blind friends! She learned all about Braille and you can even see a video on our YouTube channel about her learning to use a cane! I told her that’s what Nathan’s mother did her whole career!