Emmet looking DISGUSTED in the Lego Movie. Image: Warner Bros. Discovery.

I Regret To Inform You That TikTok Found the Worst Lego Knockoffs

I decline. [Disrespectfully]

As someone who didn’t grow up with money, I’m firmly pro-Lego knockoffs. In addition to their accessibility, other Lego-type materials have existed forever because people like to build things, including children. Also, Lego has become a brand like Google or Kleenex, where the word itself comes to reference many things that serve the same purpose. However, some things push the limits, and these knockoffs from the Mormon community are one such example.

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Before getting into why these are so awful and offensive, let’s start with the name of the company— Brick’em Young. I see the first vision, okay. The brand is named after Brigham Young, the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. the LDS Church, a.k.a. the Mormon Church) and the most famous person associated with the religion. The former governor of the Utah territory is the reason the Mormon community grew into a large industry, and the state’s main (and infamous) university is named Brigham Young University (BYU).

However, “brick” is also a verb used in relation to throwing a brick at someone or something, and more famously online in regards to a very erect penis and the sexual activities related to it. Now, why would you name a toy company aimed at kids “brick ’em young!” Do we see the problem here? Especially in a religion that has a child sex scandal every other year, to say nothing of the child brides and the predators, who aren’t held accountable because the church has been caught suppressing stories to protect predators.

Mormon Lego, not-Lego Sets

Anyways, the main issue beyond the terrible name is the sets they actually sell. They have the expected sets of different temples and biblical stories. Because it’s the holiday time, they’ve been pushing nativity scenes, and that’s why I’ve brought you here today.

@the_jenc I got questions #weird #lego #legotiktok I’m not #exmormon but I feel like y’all will want to see this#greenscreen ♬ original sound – Jen

Yes, you saw that correctly: The “traditional” nativity scene is very, very white except for two of the wise men. Unfortunately, this is a common thing in most religions that utilize nativity scenes, including Catholicism and Protestantism, despite the story being set in the Middle East. The real kicker is that, if you take issue with it, the Mormon not-Lego company has got you covered with an “African Nativity” and “Asian Nativity”—white is the default, and everyone else is “DiVeRsItY.”

In the African Nativity, the wife has lighter skin than the husband (because, of course, colorism is free) and the scene is set in a hut. The Asian Nativity scene looks like a generic scene of China, but I can’t be sure. I can’t with these. The more I see them, the more I want to scream.

Racism in the LDS Church

This is equally disgusting and very much not surprising. Mormons of all races and ethnicities exist because, like Evangelicals, they are proselytizing people. There are so many memes about the men and women dressed up with a Bible or other religious text in hand, knocking door to door. Missionary and colonizing work is big both here and abroad. Also embedded in the Mormon religion’s founding is that Black people are the “cursed” children of God and fence-sitters in a Holy War. Yeah, so we should be so lucky as to get a racist-ass, knockoff lego set.

According to The Washington Post, “[Young] enforced it enthusiastically as the word of God, supporting slavery in Utah and decreeing that the ‘mark’ on Cain was ‘the flat nose and black skin.’ Young subsequently urged immediate death to any participant in mixing of the races.” While the 1982, anti-Mormon cartoon The God Makers has been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of the faith (by many people, not just Mormons), the section about Black people lines up with popular Mormon belief before the 1950s.

https://youtu.be/6XoOnSVnnLQ?t=107

Within the church, Black people weren’t allowed to be priests until 1978, and the religion’s main publisher continued to print a 1950s book defending the ban (Mormon Doctrine) until 2010. In a 2016 survey, 62% of self-identified Mormons say they either “know” or “believe” this ban to be God’s will. The number was 70% among non-white Mormons, though there’s likely a larger margin of error because of the small sample size.

As with other communities experiencing racism and anti-Blackness, this isn’t something that’s just “dying out” because young people are expressing softer versions of the same views. One of the most popular non-sports or Greek-related college group TikTok accounts is the Black Menaces at BYU, and they reveal to the world how bigoted beliefs still permeate the LDS church by asking basic questions regarding gender, race, and sexuality. They even have a knockoff game inspired by Billy Eichner, where they ask students to name a Black historical figure, which goes about as well as the Lego set. The questions extend to Mormon history, like when they recite a quote and ask who said it—Brigham Young or Adolf Hitler?

Related to the priesthood question and status of progress, many students will make excuses for the policy and say it’s a “product of its time” while claiming the church and community aren’t racist anymore—and offering just as much imagination as those janky bricks.

(via TikTok, featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.