an archive of unsettling histories, mythistories, and mystories
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
In the Book of Mormon when Mormon God cursed the formerly “white and delightsome” Lamanites with “a skin of blackness” He did so to make them “not enticing” to the white Nephites. He went on to warn them that if they “mixeth seed” with the Lamanites their posterity will inherit this curse. Dark skin is scripturally reified as something divinely placed to discourage social and sexual intercourse.
This white-fear of Black sexuality is embedded in so many white-supremacists myths, stories, and lynchings. The KKK film screened by the US President Wilson in the White House was about this white-fear. Emmett Till was lynched nearly 100 years after Thomas Coleman was lynched, both, by white-supremacists who weaponized this religiously, culturally, and legally supported fear.
“Settler colonialism destroys to replace.” White-heteropatriachy fulfills the “replace” half of this process.
As the US Manifested its Destiny through the Homestead Act they intentionally preferenced reproductive heterosexual N. Euro-settlers. Contemporaneous laws limited immigration from any region deemed not white.
Settler-sexuality is about blood i.e. race. US Christianity is as obsessed with sexual purity as they are / have been with racial purity. Eugenics is often used to control the types of bodies which populate a nation–to create a great race.
White-supremacist/nationalist conspiracy theories around eugenics abound
––From the Great Replacement to Depopulation to National Suicide to White Genocide to the Family Proclamation’s warning “that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
––From immigration to interracial marriage to homosexual marriage to trans kids to anti-vaxxers to soy-boi feminization to birth control / abortion to ableism
All of these are about our fears of losing our dominance (which is tied to our fear of others doing unto us as we’ve done unto them) through sexuality.
This is all still with us.
“Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and the White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now...We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency...toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.”
- First Presidency, George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, David O. McKay (1947)
After Mormons and all US Americans lost their right to enslave Africans (unless they arrested them, then it’s 100% legal) they spent the next 100 years fighting for their right to be segregated from them in order "to preserve the purity of the race that is entitled to hold the Priesthood,” as First President J. Reuben Clark put it. These segregationist “separate but equal” laws and practices are known as Jim Crow laws
Even as Joseph Smith went back and forth on whether he supported Euro-settler enslavement of Africans or not, he was clear about segregation.
“Had I any thing to do with the negro, I would—— confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.”
- Joseph Smith, 1943
This call for legalized segregation was openly supported until 1963 by this church’s leaders, especially David O. McKay, J. Reuben Clark, Henry D. Moyle, Ezra Taft Benson, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Mark E. Peterson.
A root of segregation that is rarely addressed when colonists talk about this history is its sexuality. A major purpose of segregation is to avoid interracial intercourse–social and sexual. Just as in the Book of Mormon, when Lamanites are cursed with “a skin of blackness” it is to make them “not enticing” unto the white Nephites who are warned that if they “mixeth seed” their children will inherit this same curse.
As Mormons made enslavement of African and Indigenous persons legal they made intermarriage between Euro-settlers and descendants of Africans illegal. Fourteen years later, Utahns murdered newly freed Black man Thomas Coleman 14 years later and pinned a note to his body warning all Black men to stay away from white women. Interracial intercourse was and would be illegal in Utah for another 97 years.
Three years before Brown v. Board of Education, a California Mormon wrote to her First Presidency asking if, “we as Latter-day Saints [are] required to associate with the Negroes or talk the Gospel to them….” Their replied, “No special effort has ever been made to proselyte among the Negro race, and social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes should certainly not be encouraged because of leading to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden.”
Directly on desegregation in schools Clark told the Relief Society President: “Since they are not entitled to the Priesthood, the Church discourages social intercourse with the negro race, because such intercourse leads to marriage, and the offspring possess negro blood and is therefore subject to the inhibition set out in our Scripture.”
In 1946 First President J. Reuben Clark spoke about Black people they way current leaders talk about queers: “We should hate nobody, and having said that, I wish to urge a word of caution, particularly to you young girls. It is sought today in certain quarters to break down all race prejudice, and at the end of the road, which they who urge this see, is intermarriage. That is what it finally comes to…(D)o not ever let that wicked virus get into your systems that brotherhood either permits or entitles you to mix races which are inconsistent. Biologically, it is wrong; spiritually, it is wrong.”
This doctrinal segregation continues on today in the "Aaronic Priesthood Manual" (found on this church's website) in which this church "recommend(s) that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally.”
The preservation of white-supremacy and the supposed “purity of the race that is entitled to hold the Priesthood” is deeply embedded in the religions mythologies, doctrines, practices, policies, and the bodies of those who attend to it.
I am nicholas b jacobsen, an artist, researcher, historian, educator, and organizer. I am a trans-non binary Euro-settler raised in the Nuwu lands of so-called Utah. My family has been Mormon and Utahn for as long as either of those concepts have existed. My ancestors sacrificed everything--their identities, homelands, jobs, health, & safety to become Mormon, Utahn, U.S. American, & white--to settler their Zion. They also sacrificed their humanities as they committed genocide against Kuttuhsippeh (Goshute), Timpanogos Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Ute, Nuwu (Southern Paiute), and Diné (Navajo). Because my ancestors made my home through Indigenous genocide in their home/lands––I take it as my personal responsibility to unsettle what my ancestors settled, while helping my fellow settlers do the same through reading, writing, art, and community building.