TW: Brief mentions of sexual assault in this conversation
Dr. LaShawn Williams (EdD., LCSW, MPA) is on the faculty at Utah Valley University, where she teaches students studying social work. LaShawn was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and faced many challenges associated with being a black child and then black woman in a predominantly white church community (in the United States) from the 1980s to the present day. In this episode she freely and forthrightly shares about these sorts of challenges as they played out in her life and that of her family. But most of all, the conversation involves how these challenges (and a wonderfully supportive parents) led to her developing a fierce sense of her own right to question things and use her voice to speak up for things that so many of us fail to even notice, let alone think about. She also shares how so much of this power and confidence emerged from a deep spiritual life and connection with God and Jesus Christ—one that was often severely tried but never severed.
As a result of this confidence, she and six other black women formed the Black LDS Legacy Committee, which earlier this year began to put on events that brought forward the history and firm roots of black people in Mormonism right from the beginning on through now. And it was through the Committee’s determination to tell these stories that the Church itself embraced their ideas in such strength that they became one of the driving forces behind what became the “Be One” event that occurred in the Conference Center on June 1, 2018, acknowledging and celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the 1978 revelation that officially restored to black persons what LaShawn and many others already knew, that all are equal before God, and they should be recognized as such by access to the temple and its covenants and blessings, as well as priesthood power and leadership. It is terrific that in this episode we have a chance to hear pieces of that story—and about what she and the rest of the members of the committee are planning to do next.
In the final section of this two-part episode, LaShawn and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon discuss spiritual work, inner work, Godwrestling, and how and why we are all called by God/Life to re-examine everything and come to better grasp who we are as divine beings who, as is natural, allowed our veiled understanding of this deep truth become clouded by life’s ups and downs and various messaging to the contrary that we let influence us and further bury this sense of our noble birthright. The focus, of course, is on ways we can and the importance of going into these difficult spaces, into our woundedness, into the roots of why we often refuse to believe that we are infinitely worthy. It’s a terrific segment, as is this whole interview.
Please listen and ask questions or offer comments below! Thanks!