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Sunday, June 9, 2013

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My legacy: Woman, person of color, Mormon

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Southeast Park. Columbia, South Carolina. Taken by Robin Foster 2013.
A Mormon woman of color will live to be the legacy that I will pass on to future generations.  They say, "Oil and water do not mix," and this is some combination too in the world's eyes today, isn't it?  From my youth, I have always had a strong personal sense of who I was as a female, a person born among a people of a darker color, and as a child of a Heavenly Father.  I worked to emulate the better examples of people who fit into these categories because I respected them, and they lived lives of great service and happiness.

I am fortunate that in my quest I am transitioning because of age and experience into a role model for those searching to better themselves as I have always searched and will continue to search.  I was always encouraged by my parents to seek to live the highest standards.  How humbled I am that they eventually turned to follow in my footsteps by embracing my faith.  There was no greater gift I could offer them in return for what they gave to me, and now these roles have helped me to find self-esteem and personal satisfaction:

Woman

Otis E. Vance
The examples of my grandmother, Otis E. Vance, and my mother served best early on to help me identify my role as a woman.  My grandmother was present at the birth of each of her grandchildren.  She helped my mother for weeks until she had recovered and was on her feet.

A woman of great faith, she was soft spoken, but boldly interjected her opinion when needed.  She opened her home to me when my parents needed a babysitter.  She was a wonderful cook, and she answered all my questions about her family history.  She always granted my wishes to have her sing and play hymns on her piano.  In advanced years after the loss of her husband, she kept busy with church service and caring for the sick and shut-in in her community.

Edna Foster
My mother instilled the importance of balancing education, work, and homemaking.  She received a Master's Degree in Elementary Education while I was very young.  She took my sister and I along with her to classes, and they used us in class instruction.  At home, she would have me ask her the definitions to words, and I remember her explaining terms like "reverse psychology" in a way that even a child could understand.

I know the power and influence gained by magnifying my role as a woman.  This could be a very controversial idea in the world as we know it today, but it has served my family for generations.

Person of color
Robin Foster




Fortunately, I was not raised hearing opinions about people of different colors or the epitaphs used to describe people of different colors.  Because my views were not clouded, my love for all people was never colored.  I love all people.

I am not afraid or uncomfortable around people of different colors. I have learned as a practice that  it is best not to use descriptions of people as black or white.  Black is the color of a paved road, and white is the color of clouds against the sun.  You will never see people with those skin tones.  So, why refer to them using either color?

Colors used to describe people cause divisions.  When I started private school, I was made aware of this from the names used by others in reference to me.  My father warned me, "If you start crying now, you will be crying for the rest of your life."  His perspective came from living in this world as a person of a very dark color.   Where would the world be if we never began to categorize people by color?

To guard myself against feeling the effects of the bad connotations that people have about people of a darker color, I began my lifelong study of African American history and African American achievers in the fourth grade.  My first biographies read were on the lives of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass who overcame great opposition during days far more difficult than I have faced.  I knew that there was nothing that could hold me back either.

Adrianne


When we had our own child, we taught her of all the possibilities open to her in this world.  She was taught not to let anyone discourage her because of her color.  At the same time, we made sure she mingled with people of every color.  People of all colors have a great love for her, and she is able to work and communicate effectively with people of all colors without regarding what color they may be.








Mormon

Everyone wants to go through life being accepted and having friends.  Friendship was always important to me.  If the way I have perceived my roles as a woman and as a person of color has not limited friendships in this world, the principles I have embraced as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints most certainly curbs the closeness that could exist between me and many people I know.

I have discovered, however, that it is the things that seem to separate me from those whom I have a desire to have closer friendships with that make me the happiest. It is far better to have fewer and truer friends, and I have found exquisite joy in who I am and in what I believe.

Ellis McClure






Even though I meet some rejection by people of my own color when they discover I am a Mormon, I am blessed during the times I spend alone because those are the times I can feel my Savior the closest.  Those are the times I can commune with Him through nature or in holy places.  Those are the times I can feel the most inspiration in my life.  In addition, those who have accepted and befriended me as a Mormon woman of color I treasure and love as pure gold.  Number one on my list would be my dear husband, my best friend, a male, Mormon man of color.  How I rejoice to know that I will spend the eternities with him!

14 comments:

  1. Beautiful and inspiring - just like the author!

    ReplyDelete
  2. . Awesome post from a wonderful person. I will be sharing this on Google + and Pinterest. Take care!

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  3. This is very nice, Robin. It's great to get to "know" you better. Honestly, I guess I'd never even consider the idea of whether or not there were Mormans of color, but, now that I've read your post, I guess I don't recall ever seeing any before! :) It's good to know that you and your husband have found peace and happiness in that community.

    Blessings,
    Renate

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Renate! Yes, there are many African American Mormons. I learned this year that West Africans are joining by the hundreds each week. Their congregations are led by all African leaders. See: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/the-gospel-to-all-the-world?lang=eng

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  4. Robin,

    This is such a wonderfully inspiring post!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-june-14-2013.html

    Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is wonderful, Jana! Thank you so much! I am off to take a look...

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  5. What a truly beautiful and inspiring post! You have educated me as well because I was not aware that there were Mormons of color. Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Such a beautiful post! Thank you for teaching and sharing with us. Sounds like you have a wonderful family. May you all have a beauty, peace and happiness!

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  7. I thank Jana's Genealogy for posting a link to this lovely post. It's very nice to got to know you and your touching story, Robin.

    ReplyDelete

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