“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).
A post on Feminist Mormon Housewives by a biracial Mormon validates the wisdom of President Kimball. Kalani, who identifies as half Tongan and half Swedish white, writes of the challenges she's faced in being accepted, particularly by Tongans. Here's the critical excerpts of her post:
I suppose I should start by saying that I am half Tongan and half “palangi,” or “white” (specifically Swedish). In Tongan, they call biracial people “hafekasi” or “half cast,” and can I just say that being biracial is freaking hard?! Author Lani Wendt Young said it best in her novel "Telesa: The Covenant Keeper", when she said that the biracial lead character was “too brown to be white but too white to be brown.” It’s a very strange feeling to be an “insider” and an “outsider” at the same time. All my life, I’ve been told by the Tongan community that I am “too white to be Tongan.” I can honestly say that I’ve never felt uncomfortably different around any group EXCEPT for Tongans. It’s so weird and hard to explain. I feel like I can walk into a room full of people of all ethnicities and feel like I can fit in, but if I walk into a room full of Tongans I’m like a fish out of water. I’m different. And not “different in a good way.” Different in a “look at her...she doesn’t act right” kind of way.
And so, when the time came for me to graduate from high school and venture into the big bad world all alone, I was very ill-prepared to deal with the incredible disapproval I received from the Tongan community because I “didn’t know how to act.” Being biracial felt a lot like walking through a mine field where other people knew where the landmines were, but they were not very forthcoming about that knowledge. Amongst Tongans, I’ve often felt “damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.” If I did or said the wrong thing, other Tongans talked about me and my family, and said I wasn’t taught right. If I asked what the right thing to do was, other Tongans talked about me and my family and said I wasn’t taught right because I had to ask. It felt like a lose-lose situation every time.
A commenter weighs in with a similar experience:
anonymous "palangi" says:
July 31, 2014 at 11:51 am
I can say that marrying into the culture I have never felt more inadequate or discriminated against then when I’m with my husband’s Tongan family. Luckily it’s becoming so much more common to be biracial so I’m not too worried about my kids trying to fit it. Plus my half white kids are way beautiful and that cannot always be said about full white or full Tongan kids…
For the record I believe in gender roles to a point, but to each their own.
This is exactly what President Kimball anticipated. And since people still experience this type of discrimination in 2014, it shows the wisdom of the LDS Church in continuing to caution young LDS members against interracial marriage. The intent is not discrimination, but awareness. Marriage and family can be challenging enough as it is without further cluttering it up with racial issues. But most important in the mind of the Church is for members to marry within the faith.
Too many young people find it difficult to distinguish between being in love and being in heat. In the same lesson, President Kimball gave some principles that should guide our selection:
“In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that, of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness” (“Marriage and Divorce,” p. 144).
In the final analysis, seek the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit, and let that Spirit be your guide.