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Utah Black History

A Letter to Utah Students
Renée Martial
December 2020

Utah Students,

The need for me writing this letter should be a wake-up call to you all. The blatant disregard for black lives in Utah schools has reached a point of incomparable magnitude. Some students feel uncomfortable going to school for reasons so trivial as their skin color. Alienation because of melanin. We need to do better. When I moved to Utah from Georgia, I noticed the difference in the population. Specifically, the difference in the race of the population. At the time, I had no clue what challenges that difference would bring. In third grade, I wore my hair in braids or twists like most black girls my age. I never felt any different until I moved, and all the girls wore their hair in high flowy ponytails. But I had seen those types of ponytails before, so it didn't bother me. Although I ignored the differences, other kids my age did not. They made fun of my hair, undid my twists and braids, stuck pencils in my hair, and would tug my scalp, then ask if I could feel it. The hair is attached to my scalp, so I could most definitely feel it. They would use my beautiful curly hair as a napkin at lunch, wiping the crust and crumbs into my hair. To this day, no humiliation I face comes close to those days walking down the hall, shaking excess sour straw dust out of my hair, and rinsing out spaghetti sauce in the school bathroom sink. Maybe if the hair were my only trial, I would be okay. But unfortunately, that has not been the case. Throughout my childhood, students left me out of many events. Forced to sit out of birthday parties, sleepovers, and hangouts, I listened to all the other kids talk about how they had so much fun and laugh over their inside jokes. I couldn't participate in the conversations, because I wasn't there. Not because I was a bad friend, or mean, or I was busy that day. I wasn't there because I'm black.

That's it. Let that sink in.

In middle school, a student poured soda all over my phone, tracked mud on my shoes, and yelled racial slurs at me from the bus every day. When I told the principal, he said he'd suspend the student from the school. But the student was at school again the very next day with no repercussions. What about the zero-tolerance bullying policy? Does that policy only apply when the affected party is deemed as acceptable to society? Does it only apply when the affected party is white? Think about the message that sends to a child who expected school leaders to protect them and deal with bullying as they promised. I have been shoved into lockers, spat on, whispered about, discriminated against, excluded, and yelled at for something no fault of my own. I am a person, and I deserve to be treated as such. My classmates have told me that they are just genetically smarter than me because they are white and I'm black. I would get excited to go to school dances, only to have boys refuse to go with me because they "don't date black girls." While I watched my friends experience their first kisses, dates, dances, and boyfriends, I experienced my first rejections. Though schools and teachers talk about how bullying is not okay and should be taken seriously, my experiences, much like those of many other black and brown kids, get disregarded. Racism is bullying in the highest form.

Utah, we need change. Change for the students who feel unsafe or too scared to go to school. Change for the students who don't know why, but know that they aren't wanted at their schools. Change for the students eating lunch all by themselves in the bathroom because they have no friends. Change for the students constantly put in uncomfortable situations, like non-black peers asking for N-word passes (definitely not a thing by the way. If you're not black, don't say it.)

Change for the students who come home at the end of the day fighting the urge to end their life because of the impact of the racism they face at school. Non-black students, do research. It's time to be uncomfortable. Read about what you can do better. There are websites, diversity training, social media accounts, books, and more. Make amends with those you've hurt by racist words or actions. Actively try to make your school a safe place for Black students, and other students of color. The tools for a better tomorrow are out there, and ready to be used. Make your school safe and loving. Be anti-racist.

If you, like me, have faced the racial discrimination and blatant racism of Utah schools, here is my advice for you. First let me say, I see you. I see your struggle. You are not alone. Next, take breaks. School and work will still be there. Your mental health is more important. Going through what we go through, there are times when it all feels too much, and you don't know where to start to collect yourself. And you know what? That's okay. Your pain is real and valid. You come first. Take yourself out of as many unhealthy situations as you can, leave any friend groups you need to, and put yourself first. In a world that cares little for us, sometimes all you have is yourself, so show yourself some love. Be your best friend. Probably my most important piece of advice, having at least one person you can talk to. I had two black friends I knew I could go to, and I honestly don't know where I'd be without them. My final tidbit, though I know it sounds useless and cheesy, is that your situation will improve. I was recently accepted to Howard University, the number one Co-Ed HBCU. I thought I wouldn't fit in since Howard is an all-black school, and I've lived in predominantly white Utah for several years. But I knew I needed to be around people who look like me. I needed a place to be myself. In the first week after my acceptance, I joined a group chat that changed my life. I have friends who understand me. We FaceTime for hours every day and laugh about anything and everything. They don't just want to be friends with me out of pity or to seem cool by having a black friend. I feel that I have a family. They are my people. You will get out of the situation you're in and find your people.

Black. Lives. Matter.

In hopes of a better future,
Renée Martial
Writer, "Hey Let's Talk"

Brigham Young, February 5, 1852

Legislative joint session; views on slavery, the curse of Cain, blacks and the priesthood, and blood atonement. Reported by George D. Watt. Romney typescript available.

I rise to make a few remarks. The Items before the house I do not understand.

The principle of slavery I understand, at least I have self-confidence enough, and confidence enough in God to believe I do. I believe still further that a great many others understand it as I do. A great portion of this community have been instructed, and have applied their minds to it, and as far as they have, they agree precisely in the principles of slavery. My remarks in the first place will be upon the cause of the introduction of slavery. Long ago mama Eve our good old mother Eve partook of the forbidden fruit and this made a slave of her. Adam hated very much to have her taken out of the garden of Eden, and now our old daddy says I believe I will eat of the fruit and become a slave too. This was the first introduction of slavery upon this earth; and there has been not a son or daughter of Adam from that day to this but what where slaves in the true sense of the word.

That slavery will continue, until there is a people raised up upon the face of the earth who will contend for righteous principles, who will not only believe in but operate, with every power and faculty given to them to help to establish the kingdom of God, to overcome the devil, and drive him from the earth, then will this curse be removed. This was the starting point of slavery. Again, after Adam and Eve had partook of the curse, we find they had two sons Cain and Able, but which was the oldest I cannot positively say; but this I know, Cain was given more to evil practices than Abel, but whether he was the oldest or not matters not to me. Adam was commanded to sacrifice, and offer up his offerings to God, that placed him into the garden of Eden. Through the faith and obedience of Able to his heavenly father, Cain became jealous of him, and he laid a plan to obtain all his flocks; for through his perfect obedience to father he obtained more blessings than Cain; consequently he took it into his heart to put able of this mortal existence. after the dead was done, the Lord enquired to able, and made Caine own what he had done with him. Now says the grandfather I will not destroy the seed of Michael and his wife; and Cain I will not kill you, nor suffer any one to kill you, but I will put a mark upon you. What is that mark? you will see it on the countenance of every African you ever did see upon the face of the earth, or ever will see. Now I tell you what I know; when the mark was put upon Cain, Abels children was in all probability young; the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the priesthood nor his see, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth. If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon the, until the residue of the posterity of Michael and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the priesthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from Michael's seed. Then Cain's seed will be had in remembrance, and the time come when that curse should be wiped off.

Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of priesthood; Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one particle of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more. In the kingdom of God on the earth the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in Government. The subjects, the rightful servants of the residue of the children of Adam, and the residue of the children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of seeing to the posterity of Cain; inasmuch as it is the Lords will they should receive the spirit of God by Baptism; and that is the end of their privilege; and there is not power on earth to give them any more power.

You talk of the dark skin, I never saw a white man on earth. I have seen persons whose hair came pretty nigh being white, but to talk about white skins it is something entirely unknown, though some skins are fairer than others; look at the black eye and the jet black hair, we often see upon men and women who are called white, there is no such things as white folks. We are the children of Adam, who receive the blessings, and that is enough for us if we are not quite white.

But let me tell you further. Let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, that brings the curse upon me, and upon my generations, - - we will reap the same rewards with Cain.

In the priesthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the priesthood upon themselves but the entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them. -it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren. A man would shudder should they hear us talk about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, although the true principles of it are not understood.

I will add one thing more. It is not in the power of a man on the face of the earth to take more life than he can give, that is a proper son of Adam. How many times I have heard it said, and how many times has it been reiterated in my ears, and in yours, that to take a life, is to take what you cannot give; This is perfect nonsense; What do I do by taking a man's head off after he is condemned by the Law? I put an end to the existence of the mortal tabernacle; but the life still remains. The body and the spirit is only separated, this is all that can be done by any mortal man upon the face of the earth. Can I give that life? I can, I can make as good tabernacles as any other man, if you do not believe it, go and look at my children, therefore that saying is nonsense. We form the tabernacle for the eternal spirit or life that comes from God. We can only put an end to the existence of that tabernacle, and this is the principle of sacrifice.

What was the cause of the antients drawing up hundreds and thousands of Bullocks, and Heifers, and Lambs, and doves, and almost every other creature around them, of which they took the best and the fattest, and offered them up as sacrifices unto the Lord. Was it not for the remission of the sins of the people. We read also in the new Testament that a man was sacrificed for the sins of the people. If he had not you and I could have had no remission of sins. It is the greatest blessing that could come to some men to shed their blood on the ground, and let it come up before the Lord as an atonement. You nor I cannot take any more life than we can give.

Again to the subject before us; as to The men bearing rule; not one of the children of old Cain, have one particle of right to bear Rule in Government affairs from there own transgressions, and I cannot help it; and should you or I bear rule we ought to do it with dignity and honour before God.

I am as much opposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it is abused. I am opposed to abusing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children, and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortal beings of the human species. Under these circumstances there blessings in life are greater in proportion than those who have to provide the bread and dinner for them

We know there is a portion of inhabitants of the earth who dwell in Asia that are negroes, and said to be jews. The blood of Judah has not only mingled almost with all nations, but also with the blood of Cain, and they have mingled there seeds together; These negro Jews may keep up all the outer ordinances of the Jewish religion, they may have their sacrifices, and they may perform all the religious ceremonies any people on earth could perform, but let me tell you, that the day they consented to mingle their seed with Cannan, the priesthood was taken away from Judah, and that portion of Judah's seed will never get any rule, or blessings of the priesthood until Cain gets it. Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will summon the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishopric, and all the elders of Israel, suppose we summon them to appear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with us and be partakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to destruction,--we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood until that curse be removed.

Therefore I will not consent for one moment to have an African dictate me or any Bren. with regard to Church or State Government. I may vary in my views from others, and they may think I am foolish in the things I have spoken, and think that they know more than I do, but I know I know more than they do. If the Africans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what business have they to bear rule in the State and Government affairs of this Territory or any others?

I the Government affairs of States and Territories and kingdoms by right God should Govern. he should rule over nations, and control kings. If we suffer the Devil to rule over us we shall not accomplish any good. I want the Lord to rule, and be our Governor and dictator, and we are the boys to execute, I shall not consent for a moment to give way to a Gentile Spirit of contention, which is the cause of angry--------Difference to the alienations of every Good feeling. It is for you and I to take a course, to bind our feelings together in an everlasting bond of union inasmuch as we love the Lord, which we ought to do more than selves. Consequently I will not consent for a moment to have the Children of Cain rule me nor my Bren. No, it is not right.

But say some, is there anything of this kind in the Constitution, the U.S. has given us? If you will allow me the privilege telling right out, it is none of their damned business what we do or say here. What we do it is for them to sanction, and then for us to say what we like about it. It is written right out in the constitution, "that every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty one years" &c. My mind is the same today as when we were pouring over that constitution; any light upon the subject is the same, my judgement is the same, only a little more so. Perhaps I have said enough upon this subject. I have given you the true principles and doctrine. No man can vote for me or my Bren. in this Territory who has not the privilege of acting in Church affairs. Every man, and woman, and Child in this Territory are Citizens; to say the contrary is all nonsense to me. The Indians are Citizens, the Africans are Citizens, and the jews than come from Asia, that are almost entirely of the blood of Cain, It is our duty to take of them, and administer to them in all the acts of humanity, and kindness, they shall have the right of Citizenship, but shall not have the right to dictate in Church and State matters. The abolitionists of the east have cirest them, and their whole argument are calculated to darken Counsel, as it was here yesterday.

As for our bills passing here, we may lay the foundation for what? for men to come here from Africa or elsewhere; by hundreds of thousands. When these men come here from the Islands, are they going to hold offices in Government No. It is for men who understand the knowledge of Government affairs to hold such offices, and on the other make provisions for them to plow, and to reap, and enjoy all that human beings can enjoy, and we protect them in it. Do we know how to ameliorate the condition of these people? we do. Suppose that five thousands of them come from the pacific Islands, and ten or fifteen thousands from Japan, or from China, not one soul of them would know how to vote for a Government officer, they therefore ought not in the first thing have anything to do in Government affairs.

What the Gentiles are doing we are consenting to do. What we are trying to do to day is to make the Negro equal with us in all our privilege. My voice shall be against all the day long. I shall not consent for one Moment I will call them a counsel. I say I will not consent for one moment for you to lay a plan to bring a curse upon this people. I shall not be while I am here.

Orson Pratt, 27 January 1852

Speech against Slavery Delivered in Territorial Legislature

"I am opposed to that section and wish to make a motion in relation to it but previous to making it I beg leave to state my views in regard to slavery of the African race.

It has been considered by almost every state and territory that slavery was a great evil. I presume that almost all the slave holders in South look upon it as an evil and as a very great evil. Consequently it is not merely the white headed abolitionist of north that considers this, but it is the individual whose fathers entailed upon them this evil that[i] considers it in such point of view. Though they are in possession of thousands of dollars of human flesh, they have common sense to know it is a great [evil][ii]. "How [to] get the curse of slavery out?" Myself not prepared to say.

Slavery does not exist here, we are not under the necessity of legislating and designing plans to get rid of evil, but we stand in same relation to fore fathers that introduced slavery into the southern states. They,[iii] pirates that went to Africa, purchased Negros and made them slaves in United States. They introduced the evil. And who is the most under condemnation? The children that have this evil riveted upon them and know nothing of the manner to get rid of it or the individuals that introduced [it] in into the country. Everybody reflects upon the individual that introduced this abominable tyranny are the individuals most responsible before God. Shall we then assume the same position in this, our young and flourishing territory that those pirates that trafficked in human blood and pulled the slave from his native land, tore him from his wife [and] children and bound him out in foreign country to serve there all the days of his life? Shall we introduce this evil in our midst? No. I hope wisdom, light and intelligence enough within the bosoms of this honorable council to spurn the idea [with] indignation.

It has been argued that the curse [was] brought upon them by the Almighty. Admit it, has there not been many curses pronounced upon certain nations and people by Almighty. And when other people step in and inflict that curse upon [them], have they not been cursed for doing [so]? Yes, there may be curse upon a people and when that curse is pronounced by the authority of the priesthood [of the] Almighty, unless he designates the individuals to inflict it, they come into condemnation if inflict it. Example: we will take one of the first individuals that committed crime; we will take Cain. The Lord cursed him with a mark. [He/Lord?][iv] did not curse him to slavery but cursed him with a mark. And no doubt he had forfeited his life for laws of God, same as now by slaying his brother. But sir, were the brothers of Cain those that were then numerous upon the earth? Were they justified in stretching forth their hands to put Cain to death? Lord upon this subject [note?] whosoever slayeth Cain vengeance seven fold[v]. Here then, we perceive a curse may be put upon a man and by the authority of Almighty and if an individual undertakes to inflict that upon without being commanded by the same individual that put the curse there, [he] exposes himself to vengeance. Some people carried out then supposing that Noah, after having been intoxicating[vi], that they should serve Shem and Japheth. He did not Shem to bind him down in servitude. They have taken that upon them to do this thing. To execute the curse of Almighty upon that race without being commanded to do it and they will have to be punished for rising up and inflicting this curse upon descendants of Adam.

As another example, Israel by their transgressions subjected themselves to curses. As [a] nation, their transgressions exposed them to some [severe?] curses[vii] ever upon the human family. What were they? Not [only?] disease, sicknesses and death, dispersion, disasters. Tongue cannot name. They were to be cursed by all the nations of earth and buy them and sell them as bond men and bond women. Notwithstanding, it was pronounced by the authority of Almighty placed upon them by the everlasting priesthood that does not justify [anyone] that lives to lay their hands upon Israel. Neither does [it justify anyone] to lay their hands upon descendants of Canaan. Those very nations that inflicted this curse pronounced upon Israel have to be called to account and vengeance taken upon the gentiles double. The Lord has to turn the iniquities upon their own head and we have numerous example of this in the dealings of the Lord with different nations by because of curse pronounced upon them. Look at Nebuchadnezzar that was called the golden emperor, who stretched out his hands and brought them in subjection. The prophets told Israel that Nebuchadnezzar should come upon them and lead them away [from] captivation into Babylon. It came to pass. Was Nebuchadnezzar justified? No sir, he was not. Neither was his nation justified. But because they did it, because they executed the fierce wrath of Almighty upon Israel notwithstanding they should be the very individuals, yet they did without being commanded by the Almighty. Yet they did it, destroyed them up and thy [visage?] of it be [seen/sin?]. Why? Because they inflicted curse upon that people. They done it without an authority. Shall we assume the right without the voice of Lord speaking to us and commanding us to slavery into our territory? Shall we be guilty of taking our own flesh and blood though there may be curse upon them? Shall we introduce [it/slavery] into this young and flourishing territory?

The states look upon us as tyrants. Slavery is a great evil. We would that we were rid of this great evil and when they saw us voluntarily stretch forth hands and introduce it into a territory where it does not exist. They would blush for shame. Even the slave holder would when we have the privilege of keeping it out. I will admit we have the right to introduce it here. This is not to be disputed. The expediency of thing [when?] in situation we are legislating in [a?] capacity of people who desire to serve God - in [a?] capacity be the most benefit to nations abroad. Is it not known to this honorable council the light in which slavery is looked upon by almost every enlightened nation or heathen? They look upon it with disgust. They may be individuals in those countries that are starving to death. In their midst, they look upon binding a man for life to bondage and slavery. They look upon it in different light from what many others look upon it. They consider it one of worst of evils. Do not we wish to have influence among them for the sake of their salvation [and?] wish to find access to parts of Europe, to first men of Europe, and be the means in the hands of Almighty to bring them to the knowledge of truth we believe? Is not this our desire and intention, where it can be expedient for us to suffer slavery to come into this territory? When we can vote, it would not be and sign to keep it out. Why, it would give us a greater influence among the other nations of earth and by that means serve save them.

Shall we hedge up the way before us by introducing this abominable slavery? No. My voice shall be against it from this time until the bill shall pass. If you are determined to pass it, I look for the welfare of nations abroad that have, who will never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we make a law upon this subject, I know their feelings upon this subject. I have conversed with them many nations upon the subject of slavery and I do know their hearts are bound against it. Paul off eating meat[viii] because he desired the salvation of his brethren. Shall we not desire the slavery[ix] of inhabitants of Great Britain and inhabitants of world so much as to keep slavery out of our midst [whereas?] no slaves come in our state or territory in a [illegible]? I venture to say all the Negroes come here never have power in this territory to that degree. Make our laws reach after them and feel after them and take hold upon [them?], the same as every other citizen comes here in this territory. But [the?] idea of making one man accountable for another by bonding him 2000 dollar [bonds?] [is?]something I do not believe in and should not [be?] [passing?] a legislative assembly that make the pretentions as we do as a people. If [a?] Black man comes into this territory and, transgressing those laws, we can make him smart for it. And we must be weak and poorly indeed if we cannot make the law to bear upon all that come in here if we are commanded by the Higher Power by the Almighty. To inflict the curse upon the poor outcasts of Cain justified in doing Israel, the Lord had commanded them to destroy the Canaanites from the land. Certain nations came up from a far country with a lie in their mouths and their lives was forfeited. They had been commanded to destroy those nations. A covenant was made by the higher authorities of Israel found they were they. Their neighbors did not destroy them but placed them in slavery. For instance, we will take these Africans. It is not because of the sins [of the] present race of Africans they are damned to slavery. Sins of fore fathers, the same as poverty and distress, is bequeathed to the generations of drunkard[s?]. It comes upon them in that light.

Very well. Shall we take then the innocent African that has committed no sin and damn him to slavery and bondage without receiving any authority from heaven to do [so] that they and their children shall be servants to us and our children? The idea is preposterous in my mind and I feel most indignant when I think that we as a new territory, after we ourselves have been damned to slavery in states but came out here to enjoy the [religious?] for us to bind the African because he is different from us in color [is] enough to cause the angels in heaven to blush let me [and] my garments be clear from this Mr. President.

[i] Word may be wiped out
[ii] Watt apparently missed this word in the process of moving to a new line, as shorthand reporters occasionally did.
[iii] Probable intent is the.
[iv] May also be an ink blot or crossed out word.
[v] See Genesis 4:15.
[vi] See Genesis 9:20-27.
[vii] Probable intent is: some of the most severe curses.
[viii] See 1 Corinthians 8.
[ix] Obvious intent is salvation.