• In light of the LDS Church’s history of race in America, American white supremacy and global white supremacy and anti-blackness, how does/can the LDS Church promote the goal of Zion- cultivating a spirit cohesion and unity- while at the same time allowing for inclusivity and diversity and is it possible?
  • Would Janan Graham-Russell rather give up pizza for the rest of her life or change her last name to [Sean] Spicer?

All these questions and more are discussed in light of the upcoming Mormon Studies Conference at Utah Valley University entitled, Multicultural Mormonism: Religious Cohesion in a New Era of Diversity.  We are so happy that in this episode of The Racism 101 podcast that Janan Graham-Russell, a presenter at the upcoming Mormon Studies Conference at Utah Valley University, is able to chat with Dr. Darron Smith and Miguel Barker-Valdez.  Here is more information about the conference.

March 29th – 31st, 2017
Classroom Building, Room 511
Utah Valley University


Like the early Christians, Mormons are admonished to “go into all the world to preach the gospel.” This requires the American-born religion to “translate” its faith and practices into many different cultural contexts. This has led to debates about how to distinguish between core doctrines and rituals and the particularities of Utah-based Mormon culture. How does a religious body promote cohesion and unity while at the same time allowing for inclusivity and diversity? To what extent is it possible for multiple cultures to work authentically in a single religious community? Can these identities thrive within a common “gospel culture” and maintain their unique languages and customs? To what extent are they vulnerable to cultural assimilation and alienation?


Dr. Darron T. Smith is a faculty member at the University of Memphis in the Department of Sociology. He is frequent political and cultural contributor for Huffington Post on various issues of inequality in the form of racism, classism and other systems of U.S. based oppression. He has also contributed to various forums from Religion Dispatches and ESPN's Outside the Lines to The New York Times and Chicago Tribune op-ed sections. Dr. Smith’s research spans a wide myriad of topics on including healthcare disparities, Religious Studies, Race & Sports, Stress & Mindfulness, Transracial Adoption and the Black Family. His current research focuses on healthcare workforce discrimination involving African American physician assistants. His is the author of, When Race, Religion & Sports Collide: Blacks Athletes at BYU and Beyond, was recently released to critical praise in November 2016.

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