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Monday, March 2, 2015

Can a Dark Skinned Woman Find Love in the LDS Church? - Part 1: The Race Card

Dear Bro Jo,

In a lot of ways I'm the typical YSA.

I'm a 23 year old girl, slowly growing tired of the "dating" phase of life.

And for me that's mostly because I'm not doing much dating.

I can't quite put my finger on why I'm hardly ever asked out, but I'm starting to think that it's because I'm Black.

Now I don't use the race card often, but I'm pretty sure I'm justified here.

Here's some back story: I've been a member all my life and I grew up in a small branch with a transient population.

When age 16 rolled around I started dating, but I never dated LDS guys because there weren't any.

By the time college came around it was apparent that dating outside the Church wasn't the way to go, but I thought I'd be ok. I was going to BYU and there would be tons of guys for me to date, right?


Three years in the dating capital of the world and I hardly ever got asked out. I couldn't understand it.

By default, I stood out in a crowd, so I didn't go unnoticed, just undated.

Some friends suggested that maybe I was too outspoken, so I tried to tone it down a bit. Somehow I still managed to scare guys off before any words came out of my mouth. I literally had guys tell me that I was intimidating, but they "couldn't quite figure out why."

On the few dates I did go on, it was normal to hear things like, "I've always wanted to go out with a Black girl" as if I was something to be crossed off of a bucket list before they found a girl they actually wanted a relationship with. I know that when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me, but is that my fault?

Is it fair that my blonde-hair-blue-eyed friends get asked out by guys who have genuine interest in them and I'm stuck with guys who "think mixed babies are cute?"

Should I settle for whomever just because so few guys are willing to date inter-racially in the first place?

I don't have a racial preference.

I don't mind being the token black girl in the ward; its what makes me who I am. I just want a Celestial marriage like anyone else, and I know that that's a righteous desire.

If I'm overreacting or over thinking this whole thing, please let me know. I really need some help making sense of this.

- Chocolatey

Dear Little Sister,

Can I start by telling you that it's a little weird for me that your letter addresses a perceived racial divide and yet you sign your letter as "Chocolatey"? (FYI, the spelling is correctly "Chocolaty", no E. Not sure if that was on purpose or not.)

I'm with you in that I never had a racial preference when I was single, either . . . but I sure found that a lot of girls did.

I asked out girls because I thought they were attractive and fun and interesting and smart and impressive . . . but I got turned down more than once by someone whose reason for not going out with me was that our backgrounds, race, or coloring was different.

Take a look at my photo, and you'll see that I think that kind of prejudice isn't limited to one color or race or another.

I don't know . . . maybe those girls were using the color thing as an excuse . . . maybe they just didn't want to go out with me . . . it's certainly possible!

Do you think it's possible that you have a chip on your shoulder about this whole thing?

I mean, are you putting a vibe out there that is making people uncomfortable so that even those guys that do ask you out feel awkward and nervous?

Despite what you're perceiving at BYU (which isn't correct, by the way), the makeup of the Church is not entirely Northern European.

Neither is your school.

Frankly, I find your characterization that "when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me" as offensive and off-putting.

And I say that with love.

Maybe you need to get out from behind the Zion Curtain . . .

Sure, I find it disturbing the percentage of 20-40 year old married women in Utah County that think one needs to be light-haired, underweight and on good terms with a plastic surgeon . . . but that's not true for most of the Church.

Trust me.

I get letters like yours all the time from girls at your school. They're upset that they don't get asked out enough, the guys they do date are not whom they're attracted to (and / or possess some other glaring flaws), and now that they're "getting older" they're worried that they'll never get married. I'm not sure what race they all are, but I get so many of those emails that I'm sure not every writer looks just like you.

What can I tell you? Guys can be dumb.

Especially in the Church. How a man can go to the Y, or the Y of I, and not find a great girl to go out with every single week is beyond me.

Some of them complain to me that y'all are:

1. Scaring them off because you put too much emphasis on the importance of a first date.

2. Not giving them a chance because of how they look (sound familiar?)

3. Setting standards that no man can live up to.

Look, I'm not trying to dismiss how you feel; what I'm trying to point out is that you're not alone, that guys complain about the lack of dating just like girls do, that other girls your age and where you live are having the same problems you are and it's not because of their race.

Remember this: most students at BYU don't get married while they're there.

It's a statistic that baffles me . . . but it's true.

So chin up!

Not all of the guys in the world will be dumb forever!

Even I had a brief moment where I was smarter than Sister Jo . . . that's the day I proposed and she said "yes".

It will happen for you.

Try to be a little less wounded.

Try to be a little more open and understanding.

Stupid and offensive as it may be, isn't it possible that when a socially awkward and dumb guy comments to you on a date that he likes the idea of "mixed-race babies" that he's not trying to be racist, but hoping you'll give him some consideration by trying - albeit in a lame way - to say that he could picture the two of you together forever and having children?

Maybe it's not a bucket list . . . maybe it's a life-long dream. Isn't that possible?

Keep your options open.

Be the type of person you want to marry.

I suspect that if you focus less on race, others will too.

And don't do what you feel some of these guys are doing to you! 

Don't dismiss a guy as a non-possibility simply because of his background or coloring . . . whether he's darker than you, lighter than you, or you match. (Is that possible? Have you ever met two people that were a perfect color match???)

I feel that what's really important is that all girls find a man who:

1. Is a worthy and active priesthood holder

2. Knows how to work and will work hard

3. Will cherish and protect you.

And the list of what's important stops there.

And, no, I don't think you should settle for anything less.

- Bro Jo

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