When Confronted By Blackness

If my words offend you, then I have struck a nerve

When an individual encounters a dangerous situation, they tend to take the flight or fight approach to conflict.

The fight approach signals that the person is prepared to wage “rain and hellfire” against their opponent as they seek to defend their rights. They refuse to back down, even if the odds are stacked against them. Instead, their turn to brute force in an attempt to triumph over their opponent. Like the captain of the Titanic, they are prepared to go down with the ship even at the risk of their own lives.

Another approach is that they take the flight approach which signals that they should immediately find an “out” in hopes that their need to escape will hopefully prevent them from meeting a grim or violent end. They proudly accept the title of “chicken”, clucking loudly as they make sound decisions based on their own need for self-preservation.  

Then, there are those who choose neither, they instead freeze, praying that the moment will pass. Fear consumes them with no other emotion making sense in that present moment.

For many members of the church, we exist between the parallels of flight and freeze. We support interests that are tied to our faith. We hold tight to what feels familiar and safe, refusing to enter into the real world where the dark shadows of morality exist.  

This weekend, another mass shooting occurred in Buffalo, New York. In another senseless, heinous crime, ten black lives were lost due to the cowardice of a white supremacist. Countless lives were woven together by their newfound trauma and the survivor’s guilt that will plague them for the rest of their lives.

As I watched the shooter being escorted towards the police vehicle, my teeth gnashed together in sheer disgust as I waited for the media stations to spin the story into victimhood for the perpetrator.

I stopped expecting people to care. Why would they care if nothing affected them personally?

It was no surprise when it came. Like pouring rain, the cries of sympathy descended as new anchors blamed the problems on a disturbed child.

It didn’t matter that he had been under surveillance for a year. It didn’t matter that he had killed an animal. It didn’t matter that he believed in The Great Replacement Theory. It didn’t matter that he was on online forums talking to other white supremacists about his sordid, racist views.

None of it mattered. He was white and he was right. And according to some, he deserved our sympathy.

I thought of what would happen if the shoe had been placed on the other foot.

WHAT WOULD WE BE THEN? Would a person of color be granted the same luxury to hide behind their skin? Would they receive sympathy for their misguided actions?


We would be the target of the world’s disdain. We would be the killers, the gangbangers or even the terrorists with the sickest motives ever known to man. We would be the gangsters, the whores and the scuffed up, worthless shoes discarded by humanity once they had worn our soles into the ground.

There would be no sympathy for us. We would be tossed to the wolves, waiting on them to descend to tear into our skin until nothing remained but dusty bones left to disintegrate.

As the scales tip further away from true equality for people of color, society deems that unless proven “acceptable”, that one must remember their place. So, we exist, through the eyes of whiteness, warped beyond recognition as the world shivers when confronted by blackness.

When confronted by blackness, most choose to resort to their biases and misconceptions. There is no Resting Bitch Face allowed for a black woman. Without a warm smile and professional attire, a young black man is more likely to be shot than a white counterpart. To smile is to be seen as warm, loving friendly or even trustworthy. Failing to do so highlights the discomfort of those who wish to associate their racist biases with their own need for comfort.

When confronted by blackness, we become the brunt of microaggressions, and racially insensitive language is automatically assumed to be humorous. We will be the brunt of the joke, expected to take the insults disguised as funny for the sake of being agreeable. We are torn apart by words intended to sting and cause maximum damage. Then, we are left bare, our bones bleached by the sun as vultures of racist amusement circle again, looking for more pain and uncomfortable discomfort to inflict.

When confronted by blackness, many scratch their heads as they try to understand how marginalized people claim to be educated. It will always puzzle some that some black people do in fact have valid opinions and are able to contribute to the dialogue.

When confronted by blackness, we become the style to be emulated without recognizing the beauty and pain behind our history. We become trends, and blueprints but never the contributors, muses, or inspiration. We are torn apart for our natural features which are praised on other races. Our beauty is rated on the scale of Eurocentricity and praised for how well we conform. No one sees the burns of the hot combs soothed by Vaseline or the chemical burns from perms and relaxers. All they see is the outer reflection of conformity staring back at them behind pained eyes as we form complexes around our Afrocentric features.

WHEN CONFRONTED BY BLACKNESS, we become the “niggers”, the “boy”, the “ghetto” and the “ratchet”. Chains of slavery still rattle around our necks and ankles as we are reminded that in years past that we were considered inferior. Nobody cares to understand or comprehend the struggle of blackness and instead, we sink further down the echelons of society, shoved to the bottom as society reminds us of our place.

I have a dream that we won’t go backwards.

On the other hand, when we are confronted with whiteness, we are expected to coddle, support and protect even from the most heinous of acts. We are expected to bear the brunt of the failures of parents and the child’s own accountability.

No one cries for the black child, but we should be expected to carry poor Timmy’s cross. No one cries for Brandon who holds a gun, but tears stream down haggard faces for poor Aiden and his mental issues. Nobody says a prayer for Dequan whose life was cut short, but a hotline of prayer requests comes in droves for poor Kyle who just had to be dealing with something dark in his life.

As time goes on, we rewind our efforts. Still, we hold hope for a day that never comes, confronting our blackness with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Even as blood mingles with our tears for those we have lost.

Ramona Morris
Ramona Morris
Ramona is a very sassy day saint from the island of Barbados. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors degree in Marriage and Family Studies as a BYU-Idaho online student. In her free time, you can find her running away from her friends who all ask for advice and watching way too much Netflix and Korean dramas .


  1. As far as I know, there are no statues or murals depicting an heroic Timothy McVeigh. George Floyd, on the other hand….

    • What a strange set of examples you chose. As I’m sure you know, there are millions – literally millions – of statues and murals celebrating white supremacists around the world. These include “great men” who raped and killed and authorized policies that destroyed communities and civilizations. At my alma mater, the University of Virginia, a medical school building was named after a prominent eugenicist until 2017. It was well-known that he was an intellectual leader and advocate in a movement that actually forcibly sterilized Black people, and yet this well-respected U.S. academic institution carried that name for 45 years. The idea that there is no celebration of white people who have done monstrous things in a society infused with systemic racism and white supremacy is ridiculous. Even Timothy McVeigh is seen by some extremists as a hero these days.

    • I actually had to google who this man is. He’s a hero to who again? Maybe just you. But I’m worried that your definition of hero is shallow at best.

    • I find it interesting that you push back when someone who has obviously experienced life differently than you own. Perhaps your life would be better if you took the time to see what other people face. Compassion is always the answer.

  2. Thanks for this, Ramona. This double standard of compassion for white perpetrators and blame and suspicion for Black victims is unacceptable and shows up again and again in public discussions.

  3. This is a hugely bitter post. It appears you’re cocooned in your thinking, glad to have read it but it only emboldens my views on why some people can’t balance when a chip is on the shoulder.

    • This is a hugely bitter comment. It appears you’re cocooned in your thinking. Can’t say I’m glad to have read it but it only emboldens my views on why some people can’t bother to listen to anything outside their own experience.

      In all seriousness, what a bizarre and needlessly cruel response to the author, who has taken the time to describe pain and suffering for her and other Black people that most readers of this blog can never fully know. We are called to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort and bear up one another’s burdens that they may be light. A comment like this not only refuses to minister but appears to seek to add to the burdens of a person and group who are already hurting. Again.

      How can someone respond to a post about the horrific murder of 10 Black people because of their race with an accusation of bitterness on the part of those most harmed? Here’s the reality: bitter are the white supremacists who choose to feel threatened by the very same people they marginalized. Bitter are the nativists who oppress laborers and immigrants and descendants of slaves and indigenous people while hoarding opportunities for themselves. Bitter are the imperialists and colonizers who destroyed nations and economies and cultures and then picked off the resources and cultural practices and benefits they wanted for themselves. Bitter are those who sit on the sidelines in the face of injustice and sneer at those who experience violence and police the tone of their grief. That bitterness is worth being ashamed of; Ramona has nothing to apologize for.

    • Harrison, thank you for your “lovely comment”. Thank you for the continued attitude that perpetuates these white nationalist mindsets to continue. Thank you for the passivity of thought that scares you when a woman of color speaks her mind (especially a black woman). Thank you for the fear that makes CTR classes spark feelings of dread inside you. Thank you for you highlighting how my thinking is warped by the limitations that you have placed upon me since I touched a sore spot in your poor cold heart. Thank you for giving me the exact response I wanted with this post. You did well. If you had the brain capacity to think beyond your surface level comprehension, you would recognize that there is no chip on anyone’s shoulder. You would recognize that this post inspires deeper thought and self reflection. But apparently since I struck a nerve, let’s talk. Unless you have been in the shoes of a minority, you will never understand the struggle. You will never understand the pain. You will never understand the dread and the anguish inside when something like this happens. So please return to your scriptures because that’s as far as your mind goes (i.e. surface level). Have a good day.

      • Will being a black, Gen Z Mormon in an area where my kids go to school with one other member of the church class as a minority?
        If so, that’s me! I just choose not to be a victim and not to be defined by struggles I have and do encounter. I am more than this.
        Having recoiled at my comments I realise they could’ve been hurtful and I apologise for that.

    • In my experience it is white men who push back the hardest when they encounter someone whose life experience is different than their own. It breaks my heart when people bear their souls of what they have endured only to be attacked again by someone who had not faced, or experienced, what they have.

      True Christlike compassion includes full empathy for what others have faced. To get to that level of empathy it takes us getting uncomfortable and seeing things from another perspective, rather than digging in deeper with our own beliefs and life experiences.

  4. It’s incredibly telling that two people who have apparently never commented before, and who fail to use their real names, have decided to address this post on recognizing white supremacy. I would thank them for the real-time example of white supremacy, but we have so many of those that we really don’t need more. When confronted with blackness, they did what oppressors always do—they resorted to oppression.

  5. Ramona this is so powerful. Thank you for taking the time to put out your heart. The events in Buffalo should inspire rage. If this post is more offensive than the actual event (as some commenters seem to say) then that is a clear indication of someone’s heart and values.

  6. Ramona, thank you for this post. I have been searching for words to try and express the level of depravity and awfulness of the white supremacist attack in Buffalo, and you have done it so powerfully.

  7. Thank you for your post, Ramona. I love how you used the fight, flight, freeze analogy. For so many years, my white supremacy helped me feel safe vacillating between flight and freeze. It is hard work but so enriching to push my boundaries and expand my view of community and who I protect. This is a powerful reminder to keep pushing.

  8. Powerful words, Ramona. And a powerful call for white members of the church to move past the initial flight or freeze response and enter real moral causes.

  9. Whenever I hear of incidents like the recent TOPS shooting, my first thoughts are always for the victims and their families.

    My second set of thoughts is always about the families of the perpetrators. Were they part of the problem? Or were they simply oblivious, choosing to ignore or make excuses for what should have been obvious red flags? Or were they totally unaware of any problem? 9An example of this is the Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999. I later read an article by the mother of one of the shooters, and my heart went out to her.) Sometimes the parents of the perpetrators suffer as much as the parents of the victims.

    My third set of thoughts is always for the perpetrators. I have great sympathy for them–but not because of either their supposed or real background or any excuses or cries they proclaim. I find it particularly ridiculous that someone who live-streams killing ten people in a well-planned event should or even could go to court and plead innocent for something the whole world know that he did. Instead, I feel great sympathy for what the perpetrators might have become. They were and still are all children of God, but they have made really terrible choices. Talk about selling a birthright for a mess of pottage! I think of a line from a novel I read many, many years ago: “God must be sad.” I shake my head and wonder at what point they will begin to realize the enormity of their terrible choices and perverted thinking. They are to be truly pitied, but for totally different reasons than those that their defenders proclaim.

  10. Thank you. This is powerful. The image of micro-aggressions that leave a person bare bleached in the sun captures the truth that though micro-aggressions may be small, they cause immense damage and pain. Thank you also for bringing up fight and freeze. I freeze when confronted by the reality that there are people who have any sympathy for a perpetrator of something so heinous because it’s terrifying to face what kind of society we live in.

  11. Thank you, Ramona. I know speaking with friends, we were sad that nothing was mentioned over the pulpit in our congregations and wards regarding this act of white supremacist racist terrorism. Thank you for exposing the double standard and racist biases in our church/society/world. It’s not okay.

  12. This is beautifully written and powerful. As a white chick there’s so much I’m incapable of understanding simply because I will never be able to walk in your shoes or those of any other black person, but articles like this help so much as I do my best to be able to be sympathetic. So thank you. I hope others can be as touched by your words as I am! ♥️

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