Negotiating Difference in the Mormon Context: A Reading of Two African American LDS Women's Autobiographies
Minnesota State University
M.S. Minnesota State University, Mankato 2010 Thesis Gender and Women's Studies
There exists a great deal of scholarly literature about both gender and race issues within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the LDS or Mormon Church. However, very little of this scholarship studies the intersection of gender and race, particularly in the case of African American Mormon women. Thus, I raise the question of how an examination of the writing of Black Mormon women can reveal insights into the negotiation of this particular location. Using black feminist theory, womanist theology, and literautre about gender and race in the Mormon Church to inform my process, I have studied two autobiographical accounts of Black Mormon women in an attempt to answer this question. The unique place where gender and race are constituted in and through one another in the context of Mormon doctrine causes African American Mormon women's experience in the Church to be different from both white women and African American men. This research demonstrates that while these two particular Black Mormon women did indeed address many of the issues and experiences associated with racialization in the Mormon Church, they did not identify gender as important to their LDS experiences. Also, this research supports a hypothesis that in the absence of direct discrimination, misconceptions about race, racism, and prejudice help to support white hegemony in the LDS Church. Finally, this research has revealed a parallel to other African American literature and contributes to a tradition of literature that seeks to identity and address race issues.