For me, watching the Olympics this year really reaffirmed my joy and wonder at the incredibly different and beautiful forms that the human family can take. I am continually amazed and delighted at the colors people come in.
(photo by Sarah Leen for National Geographic)
... towards what? What, really, would my Father in Heaven (whose skin color I do not know) have me think about race? Apparently, He would have me not be prejudiced in advance towards someone because of skin color, so maybe this is the lesson in which to bring up past teachings in our church by way of inoculating young people against the kind of racism many Mormons (unfortunately) perpetuated during and after the priesthood ban for black members. Maybe it's the time and place to say: look, we didn't always do this so well, and maybe we've still got a ways to go, but doctrinally we do not preach racism, and if we're practicing it, it's a sin. Such a lesson might draw on some of the ideas covered recently on other LDS blogs reflecting on the recent 30th anniversary of the end of the ban, could profitably use some of the material on the Genesis Group website, and might end with President Hinckley's denunciation of racism in General Conference (April 2006). By the way, great post here on how white Mormons weren't considered white by outsiders in our early history, and on race in Utah.
Every lesson should have one core point. This one's is, "each person is divine and eternal," but there's a second part implied, which is that "each person comes in different packaging, and the reality is that we use or have used those physical markers in ways that sometimes harm, denigrate, or disrespect others." What am I, a Christian, a Mormon who carries both Christian and Mormon histories with me, supposed to do with that? Am I supposed to be color-blind? Color-aware, so I can rectify past wrongs? Post-racial, whatever that means? Celebrate my own race, and encourage others to celebrate theirs (i.e. be "multicultural")?
Which leads to me to all sorts of unanswerable questions, like - why do we teach that, unlike gender, race is not an eternal characteristic of the soul? Why are there races, anyway? Does God really change them at will, as suggested in the Book of Mormon, or was that a one-time case for a specific people at a specific time, or should I bend backwards to read those passages (e.g. 2 Ne 5:21) as metaphorical and not literal? What am I supposed to think about, and teach others about, race?