The Destruction of the Family: American-Style

Carina Hoskisson Wytiaz is a history degree-holder, world-class baker, writer on the internets, hater of Olive Garden, content marketer, and your cool friend.

I have some things to say about Mormons, our heritage as a persecuted people, our “the destruction of the family” language, and people of color. Hold tight.

Mormons and our prophets speak about the destruction of the family as the thing that will bring about calamities foretold and the world falling apart. The family is society’s building block and when that fails, so do we all. Mormons look at the destruction of the family as something beginning in living memory; we’re living in the middle of that destruction. We parse it as the skyrocketing divorces of the 60s/70s/80s, marriages failing (or never starting,) out of wedlock births, gay marriage, or men’s hearts waxing cold, etc, etc. However, most Mormons do not see the bigger picture, which is that people of color, especially African Americans, have been living in a post-family destruction world for hundreds of years.

Slavery, at its very core, destroyed families. Ripping families apart with the inter-continental slave trade, raping women, selling children, denying marriages, separating siblings; a constant, never-ending destruction of family units. After slavery ended, still denying marriages, killing fathers, mothers, and sons, hunting daughters for sport, a deep systemic racism intended to destabilize and suppress African American families, that is absolute destruction of family.

The ramifications of slavery on the fundamental unit of society, everything Americans did to justify slavery and perpetuate it with the construction of racism, are so profound they are with us to this very day. Most white people do not want to think about the lasting, generational impact of slavery: reconstruction, segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynching, redlining, poverty, the war on drugs, and ever-present police brutality, but Mormons should start thinking about all of those things as the destroyer of families and start standing up.

The destruction of the family is not just happening now, it’s been happening for hundreds of years, and you weren’t paying attention until it happened to people you know, in your culture.

We own our Mormon history as a persecuted people; we remember the extermination order, raising the spectre of that time in constant modern conversation, and it was nearly 200 years ago—do you think we really have a leg to stand on thinking that African Americans should let go of more recent events?

Yes, people of color are Mormons, but most American Mormons are not people of color. Mormons have a problematic, racist history with people of color we must atone for, that maybe we are beginning to atone for; I cannot begin to represent. That is not what this post is. That is a longer conversation with bigger experts and longer term activists with authoritative voices in that space, and I’m none of those things; I cede to FemWOC, Mica McGriggs, Sistas in Zion, Janan, and others. My only authority comes from studying Civil Rights at university, holding space, with the willingness to check my privilege and have a seat. This post is about the destruction of the African American family, which is an American story, a story of Christian accomplice; I can bear witness as a Mormon who cares about families, who cares about lifting burdens.
I don’t know that Mormons view the problems of racism and poverty as being rooted in the destruction of family; we’re far more likely to blame people for their circumstances, to call out the symptoms and dole blame, instead of realizing these profound and entrenched issues are the result of what our prophets have said would happen to communities when families are destroyed.

So if you are a Mormon who stands up for the preservation of the family, you better stand up for people of color as their families have been destroyed, are being destroyed, by a legacy we participated in, and by seeing and dismantling systemic problems now. Start listening, start acting, refuse the justifications when black fathers are being shot by police, in front of children, black mothers sentenced to outrageous terms, black children murdered by cops or teenagers by security guards, these are families actively being destroyed. Mormons better stand up. Mormons better witness. Black families matter.

Comments

  1. Thank you for speaking so many words of my heart.

  2. Candice Swartwood says:

    This exact thing was on my mind today as I thought of my many friends at Church who constantly harp on the “destruction of the family” as the undoing of the world, yet fail to get out of their own bubble. THANK YOU for putting it so eloquently.

  3. Human beings pretty much universally overplay the suffering of their own in-group while downplaying that of others. It’s a natural man tendency, you might say. Shouldn’t we try to overcome that?

    The degree to which Mormon culture has internalized self-pity is frankly pathetic. In an essay a few years back, Ken Jennings mentioned a survey of American Mormons in which a greater percentage believed that Mormons are an oppressed group than did so for blacks. I suppose all those stories of cops shooting missionaries reaching into their pockets for their wallets just aren’t getting reported by that biased liberal media!

  4. As a white Mormon, I very much appreciate you sharing this insight. You are right.

  5. Lady Didymus says:

    THIS. So much. Thank you for this insight and thank you to the fantastic comments so far.

  6. Loursat says:

    Looking for something you can do? Here’s an area where change seems politically possible:

    Black Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. Sentences for blacks are longer than sentences for whites. These differences are partly the result of far harsher sentences for crack cocaine use (primarily by blacks) than for powder cocaine use (primarily by whites). The cocaine sentencing disparity used to be 100:1. Now it’s just 18:1.

    It goes beyond just cocaine sentencing. We continue to imprison vast numbers of nonviolent drug users, and we lock them up for years.

    All of this is devastating to poor American families and especially to black families, given the enormous differences in the punishments meted out to blacks and whites. It continues the legally enforced oppression of black families that began with slavery and continued with Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander wrote a book about it. She calls it “The New Jim Crow.”

    Now there is an emerging agreement among both liberals and conservatives that the war on drugs is oppressive to all and unsustainable. Racial disparities in sentencing need to be eliminated, and imprisonment for nonviolent crime needs to be dramatically reduced. The movement toward these reforms seems to have stalled during this surreal presidential campaign, but if and when some normalcy returns to our politics, let your views be known on this issue. We can help bring a generation of black men back to their families. Change on this is possible.

  7. bseegmiller2016 says:

    Many black commentators point to the start of welfare payments to moms to initiating a decay in black family cohesiveness. The financial incentive to _not_ have a father at home is a price we’re paying to this day.

  8. Sadly the painful legacy of slavery is not only a stain in the US but In Africa itself. Much of the inner tribal warfare goes back to tribes helping white slave traders find and take full tribes to protect their own. It is amazing to me that any person of color is a Christian. While on a mission trip to Ghana I visited a slave castle. It is estimated that a million and a half people were processed through that castle bound to south Carolina for slavery. I remember walking in dark tunnel where they were chained. You could still smell urine in this place of hell. When I exited out my guide said to me. “Look above this chapel. While whole tribes were destroyed and people enslaved they worshipped sang hymns and took the sacraments to forgive each other.” I never felt more shame that has never left me.

  9. One thing I have never understood about Mormonism and indeed of all Christian movements of “restoration” from the beginning of all restorations apostasy begins. If the BOM teaches anything other than the Greatness of Christ it is that. I watch BYU TV all the time its about the only descent channel on TV. But all the talk of living prophets exhausts me a times. Clearly on many issues they were wrong overly moralistic and very very white. It keeps me from becoming LDS. Yet I still love so much of this faith and in many ways have made parts of it my own.

  10. bseegmiller, I think slavery initiated a decay in black family cohesiveness, not government assistance to the poor. What would it have been like to be an enslaved husband or father? How did you protect the woman you loved or your own child? You simply could not. They were the property of another, as were you. What could be more devastating for a husband or father? How would you respond to the futility of your situation? It’s unreasonable (and self-serving for white Americans) to expect that enslaving an entire people for generations will not have effects that are felt for generations after its end – even if we were to assume that all vestiges of slavery disappeared with Emancipation, which they most clearly did not.

  11. Thank you Carina. I see (and understand through Jesus Christ) that the “family” is a whole. Not a microcosm, not selfish exclusive units, but all our God’s children. We are all family as humanity; brothers and sisters. The “destruction of the family” is when we see the world in an us vs. them paradigm. I agree with AMP, the Mormon persecussion complex is pathetic and tiresome. As Mormons, we are complicite in the destruction of this family and honestly, we need to understand our history better in order to atone.

  12. You’ll forgive my having no concern for anything piggy backing off of Black Lives Matter when we hear this:

    “Suspect “wanted to kill cops, wanted to kill white people… he was angry for Black Lives Matter”- Dallas Police Chief, during press conference this morning

    Yes, those families matter. No, I don’t hate them because of race. But the Black Lives Matter movement and goals are ALL racist, and largely against all the things my family is/stands for. Trying to making emotional connections uniting my LDS beliefs to the Black Lives Matter movement is disgusting to me and I reject it outright.

  13. John Mansfield says:

    Consider Table 4 found in “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940–99,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 48, Number 16. In 1955, 20.2% of non-white children were born to unmarried mothers; in 1980, 49.0% were. In that year the reporting of race changed from child to mother: 49.8% of non-white mothers were unmarried in 1980. That peaked in 1994 with 59.8% non-white mothers were unmarried. Percentages specifically for blacks only go back to 1969, but for that year the percentages were 32.5% for non-whites and 34.9% for blacks, and the percentage in 1955 for blacks would have also been close to the non-white percentage. The percentage of births to black mothers that were to unmarried mothers peaked at 70.4% in 1994.

    Summarizing and approximating, in the forty year span from 1955 to 1994, the portion of black children born to unmarried mothers more than tripled from 20% to 70%.

    (A URL link to the CDC report will follow in a subsequent comment, so as not to embargo this comment.)

  14. John Mansfield says:
  15. Jax,
    You seem to find a lot about BCC disgusting. I wouldn’t read this blog if I were you.

  16. N. W. Clerk says:

    RJH,
    You seem to find a lot about the Church disgusting. . .

  17. Not true. What’s your point?

  18. Clerk: out of line.

    Jax: also not welcome.

    Let’s please keep on track and be respectful of the OP.

  19. This topic has been on my mind for several years. I’m a white man from a small town in Idaho that was 98% white. We had no persons of color or non-members in our ward boundaries. I served a mission and married a beautiful African American girl in the SLC temple. It was 18 years after the church changed it’s “policy” or “doctrine” (there’s still some debate as to which it was) on allowing African American men to hold the priesthood and African American women to go through the temple. We’ve been married for 20 years this month and have 6 beautiful children. Are our children white, black or mixed? That’s a topic for another post.

    Over the last 20 years, I’ve stayed with her grandmother in Harlem when I worked in NYC. She’d take me around the neighborhood and introduce me as her grandson. I’ve listened to her grandfather from the Bronx telling stories of being a bodyguard for Mrs. King and protesting for civil in the 60s. I’ve been on family reunions with over 200 relatives from as far as the Bahamas. Her father is a Baptist minister and an Army Chaplain. I’ve stayed with her brother, who graduated from UCLA with a double major in Political Science and Economics. He then went to into the marines and served multiple tours in Iraq. Her grandfathers served in WW2. It’s an amazing family I married into.

    We have recently been doing genealogy for her side of the family. Her mom’s side of the family immigrated from the Caribbean, mostly Bahamas. Her dad’s side, as far as we’ve been able to trace, lived in Maryland and many were more than likely slaves. One of her great-great-great grandmothers had 6 children: 3 black and 3 mulatto (according to an early 1800’s census). As I put names to these ancestors and think of the struggles and environment they were born into. It brings tears to my eyes. Why, would a loving Heavenly Father, allow a “Christian” nation to be built on the backs of the oppressed?

    I say all this as background and what my experience has been. Today, I constantly hear comments in church or on comments on LDS blogs perpetuating stereotypes about African Americans. They spew out statistics on % of black children born to unwed/single mothers. They talk about it all boils down to the breakdown of the family.

    Let’s look at the African American family as it pertains to the LDS church. For over 120 years, the African American family couldn’t participate in the crowning ordinance of the Mormonism. They couldn’t be sealed as a family. I know how important that ordinance is in Mormonism. Imagine how things would be different if African Americans, who are probably the most religious group in the US, could have fully participated in the Gospel from the time they were freed from slavery to today. You would have 3-4 generations of “sealed” families. Imagine if you and your family was prevented from being sealed for time and all eternity.

    I don’t think there has ever been a group of people more deserving of the Gospel of Jesus Christ than the newly freed slaves. But the full gospel was withheld. It was not only withheld, it wasn’t actively preached for another 110 years. I think to this day, the church still focuses much more resources outside the US than inside the US. It’s time for the Church and we as members of the Christ’s church to take some responsibility and be extra caring, extra empathetic, extra kind, extra gentle, extra love to our brothers and sisters of color. The oppression and withholding of blessings they’ve experienced simply because of the color of their skin is mind boggling.

  20. Sister Chris says:

    GTG: Your post is the most beautiful thing I have read today. Thank you for the gift of your words. You have changed my perspective and helped me see this entire issue differently. God bless you and your family. God help us all to see and live as the Savior would.

  21. Morthodox says:

    GTG-
    WOW, your thoughts are precisely what I was thinking in the temple the other day as I was doing some ordinances. Can anyone even imagine what a difference having temple blessings would have meant to those who were coerced into building this country with their physical labor?! And to everyone else in any benighted time? Thank you for your wonderful, heartfelt comment.

    I’ve been reading a book that explains in painstaking detail, based on personal diaries, ship’s logs, political records, etc. how slavery was a part of colonial America from the very beginning. I had tended to think of slavery as beginning much later in our history, centering on the production of “king cotton” in the South. It is sobering to read that in the early 1600’s, Puritans systematically traded Native Americans to the West Indies to work on sugar plantations, while trading or stealing Africans and people from the Carribbean. The Atlantic slave trade literally drove the colonization of New England. There wouldn’t have been enough people to work hard enough to get this country going before starving. As LDS, how are we supposed to reconcile this with our beliefs? Especially that “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” ? (2 Nephi 1:6) I think about this a lot, especially during all the jingoistic testimonies during fast and testimony meeting around the Fourth of July, and the patriotic hymns we sing absolving us of any fault. I’m not a scholar. I am aware that eight sitting U.S. presidents owed slaves, including many of our revered Founders.
    As skillfully pointed out on another recent post on BCC, referencing James Baldwin, we carry history within us and it is present in all we do. The key point, for me, is that unlike God, we do not have all things “continually before (us)” (D&C 130:7). So yes, we are unconsciously controlled by history in many ways to the point of making us ignorant and apathetic to the suffering of others.

    How can we do better?

    (The book I referred to is called “New England Bound” by Wendy Warren).

  22. Gosh, I love this piece. A few lightbulbs went off in my head as I read it. Thank you.

  23. Excellent point. But I feel like you completely forgot about immigration laws that can tear families apart, as well as wars, refugees fleeing in the Middle East and elsewhere, and other problems that will become systemic if we don’t address them now.

  24. bseegmiller2016 says:

    Keki, I wasn’t speaking of what had happened — which is there for all to read about — but what is _continuing_ to happen, and happened in some of our lifetimes. I hear hypotheticals in your response (what would…), and they are certainly to be considered, however, ignoring what _modern_ blacks say about how destructive certain governmental policies have been — what purpose is that? That we (whoever _we_ are — the speakers of that) still know better than they? Isn’t that presumptuous on our part?

    Also, what purpose is miring ourselves in the troubles of the past, rather than strengthening what exists today? We have to move forward, no matter what. I hear that in the blacks that I’m around — strength occurs in standing and moving forward, not in being angry about the past. The expiation of white guilt — is that purchased by expressing misery about the past? I’m not sure that’s a good way, though it seems popular in some circles.

  25. bseegmiller2016 says:

    Something certainly happened in that interval.

    From http://blackdemographics.com/households/marriage-in-black-america/

    “In 2012 The U.S Census Bureau released a report that studied the history of marriage in the United States. They discovered some startling statistics when calculating marriage by race. They found that African Americans age 35 and older were more likely to be married than White Americans from 1890 until sometime around the 1960s.”

  26. bseegmiller2016: Hmmm… quoting statistics about the decay of the African American family. Well, I can quote statistics too that show policies that made sure the majority of African Americans remain in the lower economic classes of the United States of America, thus affecting their family structure.

    From http://newsreel.org/guides/race/whiteadv.htm

    “The government set up a national neighborhood appraisal system, explicitly tying mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated communities were ipso facto deemed a financial risk and made ineligible for home loans, a policy known today as “redlining.” Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% went to whites. Of the 350,000 new homes built with federal support in northern California between 1946 and 1960, fewer than 100 went to African Americans.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/03/26/the-racial-wealth-gap-why-a-typical-white-household-has-16-times-the-wealth-of-a-black-one/#30e795b26c5b

    “In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.”

    I know. I know. Let’s just move on and look to the future. Forget the trials, struggles and oppressions of the past. Church members can sit back in their wealth more than likely accumulated by favorable government policies, their ability to assimilate to the mainstream (their white), their multi-generational blessings from “full” membership in the church and wonder why certain groups struggle.

    My point is let’s have a little empathy for POC and realize it’s going to take real effort, communication and love on the part of the members of our church and our country to make real lasting change.

    “…And they had all things in common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift… neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ and heirs to the kingdom of God” – 4th Nephi.

  27. bseegmiller,

    It was a mistake to punish black men in poverty by denying families welfare if there were husbands in the house. It was our “white privilege” speaking. We should have supported these people instead of punishing them. We should have helped. Any rational person would have considered that alternative.

    Some decades ago in conversation with a white father, who was incensed that he could not get government welfare when he was down and out because he was living with his wife. Shouldn’t we be incensed for all those poor black men who, in a state of unrelenting poverty, were forced to leave their families so they could live?

  28. MDearest says:

    This is healing for me to read. The OP is a much-needed application of our doctrines regarding family, a breath of truth in a field of what sometimes seems to me the idolatry of family perfection. But GTG at 9:19 distilled it further into something so refreshing to read today. I’m going to come back and read it again when my social media gets so ugly as it’s been the past few days.

  29. Bseegmiller, thank you for taking me to task, I appreciate your response. I certainly do not discount the views or experiences of any particular black commentators. But I think I can safely conclude that one or two African Americans do not authoritatively speak for their entire race. So despite comments of certain black individuals, I don’t feel I was being presumptuous to argue that slavery itself was a more primary contributor to the disintegration of black families than the rise of the welfare state. I concede that my hypothetical questions (5:32 am) were not entirely articulate, but my point was simply to consider the hand my country has willfully played in pushing black fathers away from their families. When I consider this, I do not conclude that the real problem is that we’ve been too generous.

  30. Mark Brown says:

    Our willingness to reference births to unwed black mothers and think that explains much at all is disgraceful and needs to stop. Births out of wedlock are much more closely associated with class and education than with race.

    Yes, unwed children born into poverty present a vexing problem. It often becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, but we should be ashamed of ourselves to even bring race into the equation. When we account for income levels and education, there is very little difference between white people and black people. Let’s knock it off with the racist excuses.

  31. There are several problems discussed above that have contributed to family destruction some of which targeted the black community. As the stats have shown, most of the family destruction in the black community occurred after the major civil rights gains of the 50s & 60s. Let’s look at the major contributors and determine the involvement of the LDS church collectively or individually.
    1. Drug abuse. The LDS community as a whole is one of the least impacted by drug abuse (including alcohol) in the nation. Church teachings are explicit in this regard and members tend to follow this counsel. The laws that have a disparate impact on the black community, like increased mandatory sentencing for crack dealing, were proposed and pushed by non-LDS advocates of the black community. The LDS church is one of the best vehicles in avoiding this problem.
    2. Government welfare benefits subsidizing single mothers. This is another program pushed primarily by non-LDS individuals. The top church leaders at the time that many of these were passed were neutral or opposed to these programs. ET Benson was stridently opposed to the perverse incentives. On the other side, LDS welfare is tied to building self reliance and keeping families intact. The LDS church and individual members have made positive contributions here as well and not pushed the worst programs.
    3. General government discrimination, including Jim Crow laws, etc. The LDS had minimal involvement in most Jim Crow policies, but also did not push strongly to eradicate them. This is probably a neutral.
    4. General societal discrimination. Mortgage redlining is one policy that was mentioned. Plenty of others are implied above. Few if any LDS participated in redlining, mostly because there were few integrated neighborhoods in predominant LDS areas. In most areas before civil rights, there were few LDS in the most racist areas, mostly in the south. Plenty of small ways to participate in discrimination, but beside the PH ban, not much institutionalized that kept black people from progressing like everyone else.
    5. General outreach. Limited outreach before 1978. More recently, the LDS church has worked in all parts of the US and preached forever families and #1 & #2 above. Generally a net positive.

    Overall, the marriage statistics show that the black community was very family oriented post slavery and all through Jim Crow. The black family then took a huge hit at the end of the civil rights era. Most likely causes: #1 & #2 above. The LDS church is one of the most effective vehicles for combating drug abuse and government welfare dependency. Big time positives. Problem: the LDS church had limited engagement with the black community until 15 years after the societal problems began to scourge them. The PH and temple ban limited the preventative measures that the gospel could have provided.

  32. This post is excellent. This. From kidnapping Africans to bring into slavery, to breeding slaves like one might breed horses, to breaking up families whenever a sale seemed in the best interests of the owner, to the KKK, to Jim Crow, to inadequate substandard schooling, to “the War on Drugs” … Whitey has been attacking African-American families ever since there were African-American families. And Rich Whitey/”The Owners” have been attacking ALL non-rich/non-elite families since at least the Powell Memo, the Southern Strategy, and the election of Reagan and his cronies. >( Meanwhile, So Many Mormons (including top leaders) identify as Republicans, even though that party is the one that’s doing the most to continue all those ways of attacking families.

  33. THANK YOU for this post. I’m a black LDS man of 15 years and just left living in Utah County.

    We need to find a balance between culture and our doctrine and how we feel towards minorities.

    Came across this while trolling…

    “Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to hunt you. We’re going to trap you. We’re going to tear you from the arms of your mother and call you cargo.

    We’re going to beat you. We’re going to put you in a crouch under an all-day sun and deform you. We’re going to forbid you to read. We’re going to lash your skin with salted leather if you read. We’re going to rape your daughter if you read, or if you ever dare to stand up. We’re going to tear your son from the arms of his mother, and we’re going to burn you alive if you look for him. We are going to kill you.

    We’re going to kill your children. We’re going to leave your daughters to die in the mud after birthing our children. We’re going to crush the bones in your children’s hands with the weight of great buildings. We’re going to brand your children like beasts, raise great buildings on their backs and call them lazy. We’re going to celebrate those buildings as our accomplishment.

    We’re going to write laws in those buildings that make it impossible for your grandchildren to enter them, or vote, or read or keep a family together. We’re going to mock them for not being able to do those things. We’re going to kill them. We’re going to dare your grandchildren to vote, or love, or read. We’re going to pull their bowels from their bodies or drown them or hang them when they try to do those things. We’re going to tell stories of their ignorance and wickedness when they don’t try.

    We’re going to kill your great grandchildren. We’re going to taunt them with dreams. We’re going to tell them what to dream, then mock them for dreaming those dreams. We’re going to shackle their hands with their bootstraps. We’re going to flail our arms and ball our fists and redden our faces in roaring incomprehension that they don’t have jobs, or know the value of an education.

    We’re going to burden them with our fear. We’re going to drop the unmeasurable weight of our failures on them and laugh when they bend their spines. We’re going to insist they straighten up. We’re going to laugh at their names and erase their faces. We’re going to steal their expressions of pain and call them our own. We’re going to force them to deform themselves, to take the shape of our nightmares, to swell to the size of demons and make us fear for our lives instead of theirs. We’re going to sigh about this on occasion.

    We’re going to pretend to not understand your great grandchildren. We’re going to wonder what their problem is, and then we’re going to kill them. We’re going to kill them by crooking our fingers. For putting their hands in their pockets. We’re going to wish we didn’t have to kill them, though, so that should count for something. We’re going to kill them yesterday, today and tomorrow. We’re going to hunt them, we’re going to trap them, and then we’re going to kill them.

    And we’re going to want you to get over it.”

  34. pconnornc says:

    Mark Brown/GTG, I can’t read bseegmiller’s mind, but you might be unfair in the harsh criticism of sharing statistics. There is value in looking at information like that, and I don’t think anyone is positing it as the only word on the subject or even that it gives a definitive conclusion.

    Those statistics to me suggest that the African American community may have been making strides at strengthening the family (this is the topic here) post-slavery (and I don’t believe anyone is denying or down playing the ravaging effect it had on families), something happened over that 40 year period that seems to reverse post-slavery progress.

    Was it welfare economic polices, increased drug addiction/war on drugs, a more damaging form of less overt racism? My guess is that it was all of the above.

    The good news is that the gospel offers any of us damaged by our history, our culture or our mistakes the opportunity to rise above.

  35. John Mansfield says:

    Friday morning I shared the data that the portion of births of black children that were born to unmarried mothers more than tripled from 20% to 70% over the forty-year span from 1955 to 1994. I didn’t give any interpretation of this, preferring in this case to separate my opinions from the bare factual data, and to allow other readers the privilege of considering the data themselves. Commenters GTG and Mark Brown found my comment offensive, so I will give my interpretation of the data; I don’t know if that will increase or decrease their dislike for my sharing statistics.

    The essay here by guest writer Carina Hoskisson Wytiaz tells us that the teachings of the LDS church warning of the destruction of families is misguided, that focusing on changes in behavior that harm families misses a bigger issue: the damage to black families due to slavery and more recent racist actions. However, the experience of black families in America over the past century has been no more uniform with time than that of the nation as a whole. During the period that illegitimacy among whites increased manyfold, so did illegitimacy among blacks. American blacks in the 21st Century would be better off with the family patterns of mid-20th Century blacks than with the patterns of 21st Century whites. Of course that goes for whites as well: American whites in the 21st Century would be better off with the family patterns of mid-20th Century blacks than with the patterns of 21st Century whites. As harmful as slavery and racism are, the changes in sexual behavior that the LDS church counters with its teachings have been a larger factor in harming families, including black families. It will benefit all to receive and heed those teachings.

  36. Rachael says:

    CIM, I am crying, what you shared in your post is so horrible and so true. I wish I could single-handedly change history, change the present. What was done to African Americans is so, so wrong. I can’t believe there are people on this thread trying to blame single unwed mothers for what is happening. Unwed motherhood is the result of poverty, poverty in this case, is the result of systematic, widespread and on-going racism. If we are to be true Christians, racism can have no place in us.

  37. Ms Wytiaz thank you for your call to stand up. I learned about the destructive influence of slavery, Jim Crow and racism on families in graduate school. I hope that I have tried as an individual to care about families and to lift up all families, but maybe more especially African
    American families. But I agree, when we stand up for families by encouraging marriage between men and women, or by fighting alcoholism and drug abuse, we must also stand up with our African American brothers and sisters in the ways they are fighting to protect families. Thank you again for the clarity of your call.

    El Oso, I didn’t hear Ms Wytiaz criticizing the good in Mormon beliefs. So your claim that Mormons didn’t participate in the more recent attacks on the family in the form of drug abuse, welfare subsidizing single mothers or discrimination misses the point. I don’t believe she accused us, I think she called us to fight the attack on the family from a front that we do not often recognize. As you said, many Mormons don’t live in places to see. So now that we do see, we should stand with all of our brothers and sisters in the world fighting attacks against the family wherever they come. In fact, this is the kind of thing we are being called to do through the new efforts to promote service in the community. That might be by reaching out to refugee families or by using the website JustServe to find ways to serve others.