My unplanned 15 minutes of fame

By • Jul 16th, 2012 • Category: Uncategorized

 

“I saw you on the news last night.”

I never thought I’d get approached with that conversation starter. I’m not a criminal, an embezzler, a politician, a Ponzi schemer or an arsonist. I’m a mother of five, a business owner, a community volunteer and a bit of an introvert. “Trouble” is not my middle name.

Ironically, I’ve known for over a year that July 9-13 was going to be a sleepless roller coaster. That’s how long I’ve been planning an LDS Stake Girls Camp for nearly 400 attendees and leaders. I knew it would take all of my reserves to arrange for my family (including a newborn) at home while I wrangled with nature and adolescents. I didn’t realize mid-July is also when I would wrangle with bloggers, e-mails, TV appearance opportunities and personal attacks.

The excitement actually started on Friday, July 6. I received a comment about how the headline of my recently published editor’s letter (headline has now been changed and apologized for) in Utah Valley Magazine was insensitive. I immediately wrote back. We exchanged a few e-mails, which helped us understand each other’s intentions, experiences and points of view.

Three days later, I was packing skit props, duct tape and water bottles when a reporter from Gawker.com called and wanted a statement. I was caught off guard but explained that the headline wasn’t intended to offend or to make a racial statement. A few minutes later I got a text from my husband saying KUTV wanted an interview about the headline. I called the reporter but didn’t reach her, so I called the producer. Someone answered but couldn’t see the producer at the moment and promised someone would call me back.

Within an hour, I took a deep breath and headed up American Fork Canyon to setup camp — sans cell reception. When I headed back down at dusk to sleep before the early morning camp kickoff, I had missed two calls from the local CBS affiliate. I checked my e-mail and found interview requests from a different TV station and from the most circulated newspaper in Utah. I e-mailed back with a few thoughts and an explanation of my limited schedule for the week due to my girls camp commitments. It may have sounded like an excuse, but I could not be excused from my church responsibilities. However, I was also responsible for a headline that had become headline news.

The headline and photo went viral during the week while I was leading hikers through a rainstorm and singing “Princess Pat” in an outdoor amphitheater. Each night I came home for 6-7 hours to feed my baby and to have my husband give me a brief update on the colorful responses our magazine (circulation 22,000) was receiving around the country.

Now that camp is over (phew!) and I’m reunited with my laptop, I’ll answer the question asked by thousands (even hundreds of thousands) in various national forums and social platforms: How in the world did “Women of Color” become the headline for a photo (shown above) of white women dressed in color?

(By the way, one of the women in our staff photo IS half-Hispanic — her dad grew up in Mexico City. This is not necessarily significant to me nor does it remotely make us traditional “women of color,” but I thought I’d mention it since many of the criticisms call us “as white as can be.”)

Here goes … My headline-writing style includes taking idioms and cliches and turning them sideways or using rhyming words to twist the phrase. For example, the cover story last issue was titled “Wife in the Fast Lane” — it depicted the wife of BYU’s head football coach. The cover story of this current issue is titled “Alive and Clicking” — it features a well-known singer-songwriter who uses a clicker to count her positive thoughts and train herself to have more. For our “Best of Utah Valley” story earlier this year, my editor’s letter was labeled “And the best is history.”

As you can see, my idiom dictionary and rhyming dictionary are often consulted while brainstorming. The genesis of the infamous headline — “Women of Color” — came when I was searching for idioms using the words “women,” “bright” and “color” to go with the staff photo showing our office females in bright outfits (we’ve worn black and khaki in past pics, so this was a welcome change).

When my idiom research reminded me of the phrase “Women of Color,” I immediately selected it because it summarized the photo and article: the women on my staff dress colorfully and add variety and brightness to the magazine and to our office environment. I was fully aware that the phrase “women of color” normally refers to women of ethnic origin. Many have criticized me for being too naive to understand the phrase. Even though I’ve spent most of my life living in Utah and Idaho, I’ve visited 32 states and been around the block enough (via literature, media and education) to know the traditional use of that phrase.

And the phrase itself is not derogatory.

Perhaps that’s one point all of the commenters agreed on — it’s not that this phrase is off-limits. The hullabaloo erupted because “women of color” was not used in its traditional form.

The article and headline were written in the space of about one hour the day before we went to print. I did not spend days and weeks writing what would be the most well-read piece of my journalistic career. This headline was one of 40 in this July/August issue, and Bennett Communications produces about 40 different magazine issues per year (Utah Valley Magazine, BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride, Prosper and more). As a staff, we write more than 1,000 headlines annually, which means things happen quickly in our 12-person office. (Despite the high work load, we still strive for greatness — either our BusinessQ or Utah Valley Magazine has been named “No. 1 magazine in Utah” for several years running by the Society of Professional Journalists.) We love what we do and strive to improve. Some of the comments have been helpful in that regard. So thank you. Others have brought up good questions, such as why there was no ethnicity in the photo. Should we go there?

I absolutely agree that Utah’s demographics (of which our staff reflects) lack traditional “color.” Change won’t occur overnight, but our ethnic population (particularly Hispanic) is growing. I hope our staff can reflect that in the future. I, for one, will do a better job of seeking out more diversity on our staff. Although we have never discouraged diversity, we also haven’t specifically gone to Hispanic or African-American high school students, for example, and encouraged them to pursue our industry and our company in particular. It will take the collective efforts of government, business and citizens to create a more diverse population in Utah.

Although I don’t know what it’s like to be black and I’m not a minority in my valley, I am a religious minority in the United States. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are headline news in 2012. The media have published a mix of accurate and inflammatory articles about what we believe. Having Mitt as a member has elevated the interest level and the attacks toward our church. So in a small way, I can understand minority groups feeling misunderstood and misrepresented by the media. I’ve tried to think through an equivalent headline about the minority group of which I’m a part. What if there were a headline reading “Latter-day Saints” with a photo of New Orleans football players? Or that same headline with a photo of another religion wherein the story talked about their “saintly ways” in these current (latter) days?  I might worry that people would be confused by the term “Latter-day Saints.” I might question whether the author knew the traditional meaning of the phrase. But I can honestly say if the article didn’t demean my own beliefs, I wouldn’t demean the author for using the phrase.

I’m hoping readers can see that my recent article and photo weren’t intended to demean black women. If anything, we are saying we WANT to be women of color. Can we be part of your group? Can we sit at your lunch table?

I’m not trying to make light of the ethnic experience — although I have to admit that when the comments and Google Alerts started coming in, I had flashes of Jay Leno or David Letterman showing the photo and the headline “Women of Color” on their late-night shows. Facial expression. Dramatic pause. Audience laughter. Toss the card. Game over.

But the racial discussion that ensued from my headline is no laughing matter. For those who assume I’m throwing my head back cackling with delight, you’d be wrong. I’ve had my head in my hands and a lump in my throat as I’ve realized I’ve endangered the reputation of myself, my magazine and my staff by a headline that has been misconstrued to be a racial slur. I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the idea of making others uncomfortable.

But here’s the thing. Although hundreds shared their opinions online or in an e-mail, I don’t believe one person clearly articulated WHY this headline was offensive. I’ve heard it was hurtful. I’ve heard it was insensitive. I’ve heard it was wrong. But I didn’t hear why. Although I used the phrase and photo to depict another definition of “color,” my article didn’t mention ethnicity nor mock the black woman’s experience. Please help me understand how this “set back civil rights two decades” and “personally attacks black women.” Although I regret the headline and by all means wouldn’t print it again, the resulting dialogue has been enlightening — and confusing.

Is the goal to celebrate our differences or celebrate our unity? My favorite Martin Luther King quote is, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

This line leads me to believe that our goal is to celebrate unity and equality. If this is the case, wouldn’t it be appropriate to say that no matter the color of our skin, we should all strive to add “color” (meaning vibrancy and passion) to our shared world? If it’s complimentary to say about ourselves, “I don’t see color,” then it stands to reason that phrases or actions that bring races together and point out our similarities instead of our discriminated differences would be seen as acceptable. United we stand, right?

In today’s digital environment, we all have our own press and are lucky enough to live in a country with a First Amendment. We are all entitled to our opinion and to the sharing of it. As I’ve read hundreds of opinions and comments (however painful), I recognize your rights and I am grateful we live in a land where opinions are not only permitted — they are encouraged. While I don’t agree with every opinion that has been shared, I would fight for your right to believe and say what you choose. I hope you will allow me the same privilege.

Even though three words on page 10 of a small-town publication weren’t intended to start a racial discussion, this experience will brighten and enlighten my thinking for the rest of my career. I’m willing to learn. I am willing to listen. I am willing to move on.

 

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79 Responses »

  1. I find this funny. You are the least racist person I know. I think sometimes people overreact about something for the sake of news. You, your husband, and your family, have never treated our black children in a way that I would deem inappropriate. In fact your daughter so much reminds me of you, and she has been a wonderful example and light to our Brianna. Personally, I have thought about color lots in my little family. I have often thought my oldest has beautiful peaches and cream skin, I think Brianna is Dark rich Fudge Chocolate, My middle is the best kind of peanut butter ever, and I think I am Strawberries and cream. Color is found in white people as well as black people. Women of color is not offensive to me. We are all different. Even a group of white women. What makes us different, makes us beautiful.

  2. Jeanette, I’m so sorry! Those experiences are so stressful. I love it when things “hit the fan” at the most stressful times in our personal and professional lives. This blog post is the first that I’ve heard about it. I love the word “color”. I’d love for all of us to be a little more colorful and cheery. But, more than that, I wish that we could all give each other the benefit of the doubt a little more often. Good luck.

  3. Your response to this situation is well-written and I admire you for handling it so professionally. The headline wouldn’t surprise regular readers who have been exposed to your writing style. It’s a shame that so many things that grab the attention of the public are taken completely out of context. People start reacting without even reading the story and it all goes viral. So sorry this happened to you.

  4. Jeanette, I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this. You are one of the sweetest people I know. I hope you haven’t been too hard on yourself. I don’t really understand the controversy, but you know what they say in the PR world…any publicity is good publicity. You are an amazing woman! Too bad everyone can’t know you personally!

  5. That’s a good post.

  6. You are awesome! Sweet and cool. You and your husband built a great magazine and contribute more than most will ever know to the well being of others. Will always be a fan of UV MAG! JC

  7. I also find it funny! I’m a mag editor in Wash DC. As a double entendre joke, it’s REALLY funny. You can safely move on with the knowledge that some people are so easily offended it’s amazing they ever think a real thought. Anybody else says anything to complain, just say, please get over yourselves.

  8. Let me get this straight: you have nothing in common with black people, Jeanette. You don’t even get to claim that, and I do believe you are racist.

    Your religion is not “oppressed.” Mormons are being “exposed.” The difference between “oppressed” and “exposed” is that you are not being held out of employment, public spaces, or withheld access to services on the basis of having done nothing wrong or being born.

    Until 1979 (I believe) Mormon’s refused to grant the status of clergy to black people. You are PART of a religion that WAS oppressing these people.

    And now you “want to sit at their table?” No, you can’t. The oppressors don’t get to turn around and claim the status of the oppressed just because they feel like it. You don’t get to takeover the phrase “women of color” because “oh my god people said things about Mormon’s I don’t like.”

    You are a shill and a idiot. You demean all persons of color who actually DO come from history of oppression, and you mock African Americans to suggest you are in any way living an experience similar to theirs. You, ma’am, are a racist. You may not think yourself one, but then again most racists don’t think so aloud either.

  9. You remain monstrously ignorant of the insult inherent in your words. You seem to have learnt nothing.

  10. Unlike some of your critics, I see no racism in your error. Nor do I see any in your rather well-written apology.

    However, both project a certain ignorance about the world. The label “Women of Color” has long been a rallying point for minority feminists and those that support them, and jokes like yours have the potential to diminish their cause and take away from what are still very real issues.

    That said, you seem like a lovely, intelligent person. Perhaps you could explore race as part of a Utah Valley article. I think it would be fascinating to explore the issues affecting racial minorities in Utah. What kind of isolation must they feel in one of the least diverse states in the nation?

  11. Just another reason why people see Utah as completely shut off from the rest of the world, with racism that’s so deeply embedded in the culture that the citizens can’t figure out why something like this is problematic. Think. Thanks for your apology, but the damage is done.

  12. I tend to think that there was an over-reaction, but if you can’t figure out why it’s offensive, I’ll give an explanation a shot. You already know that women of color refers to women of ethnic origin. In this country, that is often associated with minority status, historical discrimination, and particular experiences of hardship. You could say that the phrase has dual meaning: the reference to skin tone is superficial, the reference to a colorful/troubling past is more deep. When the phrase is co-opted by a group of mostly white people, I’m sure some people see it as a self-important sense of entitlement rearing its head. It’s nice to think that our country’s past is the past, and that discrimination is gone and everyone’s healed, but it’s not true. Instead of refusing to see color, perhaps honoring and respecting diversity is the way to go. In the struggles for equality, everyone does not become white and male. If the only time you see color is in clothing, you might be missing something very beautiful indeed. And while you may not have previously considered your publication a thing with reach, now you know: in the digital age, everything has the potential to go viral.

  13. Next time, have everyone wear black. You can use the headline “Black people.” You’re welcome.

  14. They “sit at your lunch table” line didn’t help your case… :-(

  15. From the brilliant people at gawker.com: The “women of color” headline isn’t offensive so much as galactically and comically dumb. Sort of like comparing membership in a religious minority that until fairly recently barred black people from the priesthood because they had been cursed by god to the experience of being black. Or using the metaphor of seeking permission to sit at a lunch table with members of a different race to suggest that, as a white Mormon woman, you are being segregated from “women of color.”

  16. The Gawker page directs people to come and read this post. They call it “thoughtful” and “heart-felt”. I concour and am glad I came for the read!

  17. Stung’s comment is fantastic, and strikes at the heart of this whole issue.

    There are a couple of nice explanations for Jeanette about why the headline was insensitive on a funny post written by one of our staff at Act Classy.

    You can find it and join the discussion here:

    http://www.actclassy.com/2012/07/ready-made-headlines-for-the-clueless-white-magazine-editor/

  18. Comparing your plight as a “minority” when you’re a Mormon living in Utah to that of actual minority groups that have endured centuries of discrimination is absurd. Have Mormons lived in slavery? Have you had your family divided and sold to the highest bidder? Have you ever been denied a place in a restaurant or been kicked out of your seat to allow someone of a “higher class” to have your place? Is there even a derogatory slang term for Mormon?

    Perhaps the reaction to your headline was a bit overreaching, but seriously, you’re going to defend yourself by putting yourself into a fictitious minority group? Your attempt to defend yourself does nothing but strengthen the arguments against your original misstep and show how really out-of-touch you are.

  19. Just apologize and admit you used a poor choice of words.

    When criticism like this is coming at a national level from so many people, you should pause for a moment and consider it. Because your ‘racism’ or whatever you’d like to call it obviously exists in a blindspot that you’re not aware of or able to speak to.

  20. Besides being completely clueless about why your headline was offensive, judging by your 2nd paragraph you also have no idea what the word “ironically” means either.

  21. Most of what I know of Jeanette comes through my sister, who currently lives in Atlanta with her husband who teaches math in a school that is >90% black, and has recently worked at Bennett Communications for Jeanette. Nothing but praise of Jeanette has ever come from my sister’s mouth. She respects and admires Jeanette and the staff whom they direct. My sister and her husband are not racist. In fact, I’m not sure anything gets them more fired up than racial and educational inequality. I trust my sister and her comments about Jeannette involving her loving and good character and do not see her as a racist or naive.

    Like Jeanette, I am white. I am a member of the same faith as Jeanette. I spent three years attending an Australian school that had students from 63 different countries. I understand diversity and I understand racism. I’ve watched kids move back to their home countries as a result of racism. I’ve seen kids physically and emotionally brought to the edge of life and although I was not bullied at a level anywhere near many of the kids at my school were, let’s say that “f***in yankee” wasn’t my favorite nickname. I know that racism still lives boldly in our society, especially in Utah (I live here now but was raised in Ohio and Arkansas) and I don’t claim to understand or fully relate to black women and the offense that may have been taken by the headline. I’m sure that many people were offended.

    Jeanette now knows that the headline shouldn’t have been published, that it offended people and that she should have been more careful. She knows. She gets it. I understand that we all have a freedom of speech and that opinions can be expressed but the incessant attacks, immaturity and cruelty have offended HER, I’m sure.

    I’m not defending the original headline, argue if it was or wasn’t racist, or even argue if Mrs Bennett has a valid plea to be accepted by “women of color” even though I could do all of those things. I am simply pointing out that the very first message she received did the trick. All those who comment negatively now are doing something equally and probably more wrong and offensive. The time to teach her has passed. She’s already learned from the mistake and maliciously attacking her now is not only hurtful but completely and wholly useless.

    Jeanette, I’m sorry for the negative press you’ve received. It has in no way changed my view of you or your family.

  22. Matthew 7:15

    Jesus warned us of the man who founded your religion. You have been deceived and as Jesus warns us:

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s
    clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    I am sure your leaders have found ways to explain this away, but it saddens me that so many have put their faith in someone OTHER than Jesus.

  23. It’s understood in most of the country that “Women of Color” refers to African-American women primarily, and secondarily to all non-white women. However, the first meaning is almost always the way in which the term is used, and it’s usually used in a politically correct manner aimed at denoting respect for minority women. That’s why people found it objectionable–a term usually used to show linguistic respect towards minority women was used to connote an exclusively white group of women. Thus, although you did not know it, you used the term in a way that seemed deliberately disrespectful toward the minority group for which most people use it as a term of respect.

    Most likely the people who wrote you (or about you) to complain and attack simply felt hurt by your words. I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of your headline, and that may be why you did not actually apologize in this blog post. However, I’m also sure you didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Yet not actually apologizing will just let the unintended hurt grow. A good way to stop that and heal the situation might be, simply, to heartfully blog, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Then everyone can move on from a good place.

  24. Pete, your comment is unnecessary and counterproductive. Jeantte has her beliefs, and this is neither the time nor the place to criticize them.

    Also, judgmentally quoting bible passages without knowledge of their background is the most childish way to argue.

  25. I just have two comments to add.

    First, I would like to suggest that anyone who used the expression “of ethnic origin” to reconsider the meaning of this phrase. Women of color refers in part to racial or ethnic categories, and in part to skin color – ie, women with darker skin and/or women from racial or ethnic groups typically considered “non-white”. But as white people, we have an ethnicity. Mine is English, Scottish, and Welsh. Yours may be something else. But part of the problem of racism is white people seeing themselves as ‘non-ethnic’ and establishing white as the ‘norm’ and all other ethnicities as ‘other’. The reality is that we are all different points on the same wheel of humanity.

    Second, to my point about ethnicity and to your poor choice of words in asking if white people can “sit at your table” with women of color, I strongly recommend you read the book “Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” by Beverly Tatum. She discusses racial identity development for both people of color and white people in a very readable, relate-able way. The book honestly changed my life. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Kids-Sitting-Together-Cafeteria/dp/0465083617

  26. You ask for some clarification in the last paragraph of your post here, so allow me to do what I can to elucidate to you why so many have had such a visceral reaction to this headline.

    You are absolutely correct when you say there was nothing racist about it. That is true, racism implies an uneven or discriminatory view of members of different races. Suggesting that your original article was discriminatory against anyone is patently false. However, your decision to use the phrase “Women of Color” for such an article belies a deep lack of understanding and empathy for the experience of minorities in this country. This lack of understanding is further demonstrated in this post when you ask “If anything, we are saying we WANT to be women of color. Can we be part of your group? Can we sit at your lunch table?”

    The answer is No. Loudly and resoundingly.

    The reason? You haven’t earned the right. See, the thing about calling anyone a person of ‘color’ is that for a long time “colored” was a racial slur. Being a person of color meant a great deal more than being a “Passionate and vibrant individual”. It meant that according to the laws of the land you couldn’t sit at the same lunch counter as white people. It meant you couldn’t send your children to the same school as white people. If we go a touch further back in our national history being a person of “Color” meant that federal law defined you as 3/5 of a human being. Much more recently your own church prevented people of “Color” from holding the priesthood, and taught that people with dark skin were marked by god’s disfavor. The reason people were and are so upset about your headline, when attached to a picture of a group of well educated, professional, affluent white women (and the one who’s half Latina) is it seems to be another instance of white culture absolving itself of its sins and ignoring its own history. Claiming that we all can some how be “people of color” is appropriating language that for a very long time was used as an excuse to exclude a whole section of American society from full enfranchisement.

    You are not a woman of color. No one that works for you is a woman of color. None of you have experienced genuine discrimination (I’m sorry, your “I’m a Mormon, and therefore understand being a minority” is another example of your lack of understanding as to what constitutes genuine discrimination.). The fact that you did not consider any of this when selecting such a headline is not racist, but it is insensitive, bordering on naive.

  27. You are a disgrace. Your religion was invented by a fraud. You have not overcome anything. You are just a privileged woman that can not recognized her own privilege.

  28. Oh jeez. You really opened up a crapstorm. Welcome to acknowledging your own privilege, and as part of the rest of the world, I welcome you to a lifetime of never being certain of your own righteousness again. (It’s good, actually. Uncertainty and discomfort mean you’re growing.)

    Try reading this: http://www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1662103.pdf

    It’s a touch problematic, but it’s a good place to start. Good luck. Your heart is in the right place, but your awareness needs to catch up.

  29. I wondered how this would be addressed, people should be thanking you for taking this serious enough to make such a thoughtful insight into what happened. It was clear to me that there was nothing racial to that headline, but there will always be people who make something out of nothing. This whole thing is unfortunate, but anyone who knows your staff will know that your magazine is full of the nicest, friendliest people they will likely ever meet.

  30. Hmmm…I came across this story via Gawker while browsing and I found it funny and sad. At first glance I was confused by the title and thought “Women of Color” was meant to be derogatory. I believe that is what people initially found offensive. I think they thought it was a veiled insult; however, reading the article would have cleared that up…lol.

    After I read the article, I realized the title was a failed attempt at wit with a subject matter that does not lend itself to be witty. While “women of color” is a pretty broad way of describing a woman of any race that is non-caucasian. I think one of the connotative meanings of “color”, as used to describe race here in America, equates to the struggle to gain racial parity. Which is why showing a group of lily-white women, who have probably never experienced one iota of the personal struggles of people of true “color”, with the term “Women of Color”, ticked a lot of folks off. Again, I’m sure it was construed as some sort of insult to the struggle as a whole.

    This incident has opened some good dialogue and for that I am always happy. Yet, the author of this piece says, “It is complimentary to say about ourselves, “I don’t see color.” I hate to be the one to tell her, but only white folks say that and think it’s a compliment. People of color know they are seen for their color every day. Once the author learns this. I believe the next witty phrase she attempts that draws any parallels to race will be well thought and executed.

    Peace!

  31. The following is a bit long and intricate and hopefully as you read, you will understand the reasons I mention what I mention in hopes that it will assist you in your personal inquiries. Prejudice is a complicated thing whether towards gay men, other races or towards women of color. The problem is that much of it is blind prejudice. As someone else said, I don’t think you are prejudice, but more ignorant, unexposed, and thus unable to really understand the pain and the terminology, etc… So I will offer from my own experiences and conversations in a way that may be of use/value for you and whomever else may happen to read and/or benefit from your personal understanding as it evolves..

    To me there is something beautiful about this conversation in that it is raising awareness and how wonderful for the magazine as a whole to be developing greater sensitivity, as well as for you personally. I have personally put my foot in my mouth on more than one occasion, and this error may be one of the greater elements of education, not only for you, but for others in the community.

    I have lived in the South among people and heard prejudice statements that baffled me towards blacks. I lived in a major city during after 9/11 and saw one of my favorite Middle Eastern shops close down most likely due to prejudice in the area following the attack of 9/11. I have friends who live in the most diverse areas of this country who discuss things with me regularly. I have lived among Mormons who are a majority in Utah, certainly in Utah Valley and heard statements about how gays are child molesters, out to attack families and ruin civilization. Likewise, I have heard things about people who are hispanics destroying the country with their culture (one that I personally love) said over a dinner table.

    I am a gay white male living in Utah Valley. Just to say those words often conjures up all sorts of horrible fears and assumptions in a lot of people. For some, they assume I am a child molester. Others assume that any pain in my life is some sort of thing based on personal choice and sin. I know what it is like to sort through the intricacies of what is one’s personal identity, what is projected from others, what is internalized through media representations good and bad, and perceptions of what is personally possible. These are things that people of color go through all the time. It is not just about the color of their skin, but about their ethnic identities, their psychological internalization of others’ perceptions, the things said to their kids, the judgment of their accents and so many other factors faced regularly.

    I know how complicated racial and cultural identity can be. I know how complicated it can be to find things internally to validate you in the midst of simple statements and people who may not be prejudice saying things that in no way understand or have compassion for the experiences people go through, whether my own or those I am around.

    I do not personally specifically know the discrimination that ‘women of color’ face on a day in and day out basis, but I do know prejudice and I know ignorance as well. I have faced both and continue to face both on an almost daily basis both in regards to my own life and the life of others who I tend to appreciate and understand sometimes in ways others do not. I face judgments and assumptions, condescending statements, ignorant statements and so many elements that are baffling to me, to the point of often isolating myself from others who say that they ‘love me’ or ‘want to get to know me’ but are painfully ignorant.

    I have learned that it is often in my best interest to spend less time with Utah Valley Mormons as a whole, because often they are so isolated in a very white centric and Mormon Centric world, even if they have visited other countries or gone on missions. This does not mean I have not met and connected deeply with some Mormons or that I find all Mormons to be intolerable. Often I gravitate to people who have lived in a place where they are a minority as a Mormon and/or been around a lot of other Minority groups where the experience becomes less about one mainstream culture and more about many subcultures. Friends have often not only visited other places, but lived in other countries or spent extensive time in other countries.

    As an outsider, I have (or have had) friends who are Hispanic, Indian, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc… Some have been women, some have been men, some have been attracted to the ‘same gender’ while others have been heterosexual. What we often share is the feeling of being an outsider and the feeling of not being understood. One element is the prejudice element, another element is the cultural outsider element.

    When it comes to prejudice, there is the conceptual side and the experiential side. There are things to understand. When one is in a minority in Utah, for example Hispanics, and people say things about illegal aliens for example, it is hard for people not to internalize and feel like outsiders. It is hard to have a sense of self worth.

    Then, I think this is what I have not heard articulated well so far, to have a white person use the term in a ‘cute’ way referring to a group of white women, it goes beyond skin color and to a sort of halloween kind of thing almost, like ‘look at us in color’. It cheapens it somehow. It gets complicated as prejudice is less there for some and more there for others. Mistakes like you made seem inevitable.

    (This ties in, but will take some lead up…) Mormonism is a religion and a way of life. It is a state of mind and those within the religion tend to really love it. Those who are outside of it may not like it for a variety of reasons. In some cases it is political. Many women of color are single for example and may even be Mormon and face a lot of discrimination in that regards. Others face judgment for moving to America, having so many kids, needing church assistance (even though plenty of white people in big houses get church assistance), etc… The instinct for a lot of Mormons is to judge people for their ‘sins’. These are things outsiders often hear, ‘your life isn’t working because of your ‘sins’. A woman who is struggling to make do hearing things like that from the community and/or contending with it, often struggles. People often have compassion more for people of their own culture.

    Not all women of color in Utah Valley (who are likely those who would encounter the headline) are Mormon. Some are Catholic (there is a large Catholic Church in Utah Valley as you know). Some are perhaps not religious at all, or watch televangelists, Oprah, etc… Some are Hindu (and go to the Hindu temples in Utah Valley and SL Valley), and certainly plenty of others are a variety of other races. So then, they face discrimination for their religious color as well. They face discrimination for their foods, their music, etc…

    The complication can be that many people enjoy their culture and their color, but even if only 1/20 people feels something and 1/100 says something, that adds up. It wounds them. It happens enough to cut pretty deep. It makes them extra self conscious, extra self aware. etc…

    I don’t think you set back anything as far as the women of color movement. That may be my ignorance. If anything, I think through this conversation you are likely advancing understanding for yourself and others. I think a bridge is being formed of sorts, a dialog that is important and fundamental for the evolving culture of the valley. Probably a lot more articles and conversations could be had even in small ways to explore the diversity of the valley further. I don’t read every issue, but for example, I heard there was a gay male couple sharing their house in the magazine at one point, and I appreciated even knowing just that.

    There is a world in Utah Valley as you inevitably know as far as cultural restaurants, people from out of country and out of state. I have friends who are barely able to be seen as ‘not white’ who struggle because culturally they are different, or a friend who struggles because he is brown and knows that sometimes even if not conscious people will assume he is the problem if there is a conflict. He has seen people assume things about him enough that even if they say it is not the color of his skin, it is there.

    Things like headlines like that feel a bit like a group of white folks are mocking people. It is in some ways subtle. Some gay men are resentful about the ways that gay clothing and music has been coopted by straight people who remain prejudice against them. Some Indians are resentful of anyone who does yoga and doesn’t have any understanding of the Indian spiritual roots that it came from. People feel like white people (and Americans) often just take things and act entitled and a lot of cultures are angry and hurt that people take things without understanding them, respecting them, etc…

    People of color in my experience are often aching to share and be appreciated on a more ‘real’ level. They love to share their culture, foods, etc… They just don’t like to have it stolen from them or trivialized or turned into ‘catch phrases’ that have them feel like it uproots what they have worked towards.

    Women of Color, People of Color, etc… runs deep. I don’t think you need to fall all over yourself apologizing forever. You certainly cannot please everyone, but some things are more likely to wound and upset people than others. Whether understanding the journey of women of color, people of color, gay men, or any specific minority group, you are not going to understand it all quickly and you are not going to understand it all experientially perhaps ever. Each person in the group has their own nuances of experience, identity, etc…

    I like how you have handled it by sincerely asking to understand. Utah Valley needs some big doses of diversity education. Utah Valley even among Mormons has long been a place where people have their prejudices about it. Salt Lake people talk about not wanting to visit (whether Mormon or NonMormon). People say things like “Send your kids to school there, but don’t live there.” (told to me recently by a Mormon who grew up out of state and lives now in Utah). Utah Valley has a reputation for being particularly prejudice and ignorant and arrogant and isolated in terms of thought.

    I personally find there is a lot more going on, but to understand that reputation in terms of how people who live in Utah Valley even who are either not from Utah Valley or have lived elsewhere (some Mormon, some not) view the valley, may help you understand their own conscious or unconscious prejudices which are likely there triggered further by a headline like that.

    I personally applaud your Magazine just existing and think that alone is progress and has the potential to heal and be a voice of development in this valley that is much needed. The Mormon history and foundation of Utah Valley is the strength and weakness of the valley – strong in that Mormons have formed elements that are unique and respectable, weak in that people get a false reality in relationship to the outside world and there are issues like the LDS abuse of power (at least as many perceive) in Provo regarding the MTC building which you almost inevitably know about. There is a mix of respect and resentment from it.

    There is a lot of emotion for people that brews under the surface in different subgroups. So, a statement like that can be a bit of a lightning rod for those emotions. Not that you personally deserve it, or need to take it personally, just maybe as you work with the emotions that come out on that or other issues, to understand the emotions that are underneath. Externally, with all the Mormon churches around in a religion where diversity is a white Germany guy among the top 15 people leading with no visible people of color in the leadership of an ‘international religion’ people resent it. They don’t feel understood and Utah Valley exists as something of a flagship of LDS religious community.

    Mormons are a minority in the larger world, but the majority element in Utah Valley gives a sort of strange minority experience. Having grown up Mormon, but being gay, I have an experience of being both insider and outsider, so I know elements of what occurs. The ‘chosen people’ psychology of Mormonism is different than for someone who is black and has family history of slavery, or experiences racism in quantities many white people assume does not exist or don’t understand the nuances of. Also, people sometimes sadly project and assume it is there when it is not, but often are aware of it being somewhere that it is not. I myself have done that. It gets complicated. I have been working to understand prejudice for years as it is experienced in my own life and as it is experienced and observed related to friends and friends of friends, as well as the larger human experience.

    There is a group called “Empathy First” started recently which I think has a Utah Valley chapter. They may be worth looking into for you as they are focused on understanding diversity of experience in other cultures and communities. Maybe you could at some point write an article about that group or experiences from that group.

    Even after all that which is longer perhaps than your original posting here, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but hopefully have given you places to look at, think about, etc… There a rabbit-hole there to go down. And a lot worth learning about, where you can over time. As a journalist, this may be one of the things you look back on years down the road and consider one of your greatest gifts/blessings.

    All the best in your efforts.

  32. I appreciate your efforts to clarify how the cover and headline occurred. I am not here to cuss you out. No hate, no insults and no calls for lighting folks up.

    As an African American woman I want to chime in on why the headline and the photo caused people to blink repeatedly. I have to say looking at the photo there was a psychic disconnect.

    You know, it has been kinda rough for people of color. We have so many folks that want to be blind to seeing our ethnicity aka ” I don’t see color, I see the person.” Not really true, but I’m not here to get that fire going. Another trope is “I’m American, dammit, why can’t you be too?” I am American with ancestors from Africa. I don’t want my history expunged.

    No, of course you did not mean for that meaning. Yet your headline or photo did that. In addition, with the bitterness and mendacity of the current political campaigns it certainly feels like open season on anyone not white, Caucasian or so called true American. It was, in a way, a reminder of how a term is appropriated by another ethnic group presents it as their own definition.

    There is a disconnect. There was a WTF moment that seem to imply resonance with the desire to turn this country back to 1945 or earlier.

    You as a writer and editor know that words have a life and an energy of their own once published. That is what happened to your headline. For some of us it was hurtful because we were not present in that photo. We were erased but the term remained visible embracing folks that rosy cheeks and straight flowing hair.

    It is like have the a traditional Caucasian church choir (any choir, not specify any that might happen to be in Utah) attempting to sing One Nation Under A Groove. It is possible to for the choir to sing the words. It would be a similar psychic disconnect. It would resonate poorly.

    That is what happened. The photo and headline resonated exclusion. Exclusion sometimes generates anger. Or sadness. Or maybe confirmation that we have much more work to do to understand each other.

    I suspect that there are people of color in your community that could write for your magazine. You might have to look past your usual social networking groups. You might have to shift your perceptions that they are not present.

    Perhaps there is something about the mag that discourages contributions from people of color.

    That would be a good place to start looking within.

  33. Please do yourself a favor and Google “color blindness.”

  34. Please tell me that this is some sort of brilliant social satire, and not real. Right?

  35. I’m black and I approve of this message.

  36. You are being racist. Sorry, but, true, And you can’t help but, be racist because this is what has been taught by leaders of the church going back to Brigham Young. The fact that you want to say people are being “too sensitive,” should clue you in to your racism. That’s the most favorite idiom of Mormons who don’t want to accept responsibility for their beliefs that are quiet hurtful. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK

  37. @ Josh

    Since you asked, Josh, there is component of Americans being insensitive to Mormons in America. Mid 1800′s Mormons were forced to cross the Plains, precisely because they were Mormon and Nothing. Families were divided because they practiced Polygamy.

    In fact interesting enough, even today, In Salt Lake City where some families still practice this (Under the radar, of couse) “nice Mormon Families” will call these families “Plig” which is a nasty derogatory term.

    That being said, Mormons like to claim that people pick on and bully Mormons all the time, mostly because of misconceptions, and then on the flip side say that other groups are being “thin skinned” when they bring up concerns like race. And or other hot button issues like baptized Holocaust victims like Anne Frank.

    I guess what I’m saying is that Mormon People can’t have it both ways, they can’t say that people hate us just because were Mormon and then totally disregard other peoples feelings. That’s rude, that’s duplicitous.

  38. Jeanette, as many can see from the nasty vindictive and childish responses, liberals are racist spoiled children begging for attention. They are jealous of anyone and everyone who is happy and successful. Take getting called racist as a badge of honor and a sign of true independence from this sick world. One major word of advice : never ever give loser reporters any response. Trust me, the more you ignore liberals and race beaters the happier you will be as they are all about tearing things and people down. They are the ultimate bullies.

  39. … the more you ignore liberals and race baters …

  40. As a minority woman who lives in Utah, this response and the headline are absolutely maddening. It makes me so angry and livid I can’t even see straight. Living in Utah, surrounded by Mormons, does not in any way make me feel that Mormons know what it means to be a minority group or discriminated against. They blatantly insert their religious beliefs into every aspect of Utah–the state legislature is run by Mormons, the laws are made in a way to support Mormon beliefs, the PUBLIC schools have “seminary” time allowed and credited for the students of the Mormon faith, the new City Creek center literally KICKS YOU OUT if you aren’t wearing “Mormon appropriate attire.” In a state that is 90% Mormon or Mormon-influenced, and lacks diversity so much that I knew one black person in high school and I was one of 5 Asian students, to have the audacity to claim that you, as a white Mormon who lives in Utah, might know what it is like to be discriminated against is completely absurd.

    What you should be admitting is that you made a judgement that lacked sensitivity and made a mistake. If you simply apologized instead of comparing the criticism of Mormons in the media to being an ethnic minority group, then people would understand it was a mistake and let it go. By trying to half-way apologize and half-way defend your headline, you come across as someone completely ignorant who STILL hasn’t learned her lesson.

  41. No, it is not a compliment to say “I don’t see color.” That’s an example of white privilege. You don’t HAVE to see color, do you? It’s not something you even have to think about at all, much less on a daily basis. If you truly want to understand the experience of “people of color” than please don’t fall into the BS trap of “colorblindness”. Read this, and understand (maybe a little bit): http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-36-fall-2009/colorblindness-new-racism

  42. Can I be one of YOUR kind of women of color? I know I’m not a person of color in the traditional sense but since you guys seem not to care for traditional definitions of that, how about you let the whole woman thing pass too? I mean, granted, I have NO uterus. And the way I define woman is “like a man mostly and not different in any real way. I mean maybe some physical stuff once a month but really that stuff is overblown.”

    I know. That doesn’t seem right to you. But consider, my completely different definition is as valid as your definition of “women of color” as pretty white mormon ladies and one woman who half grew up in Mexico.

    In that spirit can I sit at your lunch counter? I can? Great. Now I’m going to go use your bathroom. Before I got to your lunch counter I went to Taco Bell. You’re not going to want to go in there for a couple of hours. But that’s what being a man – I mean a woman – is all about.

    Stay strong chicks.

  43. I think the ugly responses to ugly race biters is pathetic attempt to shut down dialogue. If Utah is so culturally diverse, why does BYU have a poster claiming racial diversity without one single person of color or ethnic diverse background?

  44. From now on I am going to take the advice of Mel and see color everywhere and therefore judge someone according to skin color. After all, how dare Mormons want to work, work hard, and become successful. With that in mind:

    I am really uncomfortable with Mormons, because I see so many Mormon ghettos and gang bangers as well as unwed Mormon mothers and welfare cheats. Those Mormon flash mobs and unprovoked street attacks against white and Asian peoples really frighten me. Also, the Mormon inability to speak correct English and stay at school to get a better education is very frustrating. The worst is when they cut off the head of their women for talking with the opposite sex. Yep, those Mormons really are a drain on America.

  45. Jeanette – I don’t know you, but I would like to give you a hug and say everything is going to be all right. At some point the people that are so indignantly worked up over a stupid gaffe will move on to attack another faceless victim they find on the internet, but you will be left with the scars of their words. You might have offended people with your choice of words, but they are proving that they are no more tolerant, accepting, or loving with their own words. You will move on from this having learned a painful, yet valuable lesson. I don’t think any personal attacks will teach the attackers anything.

    Dear Internet: Be nicer. Be forgiving. Accept apologies. Look for the good. And quit being such jerks.

  46. Dumblibs

    Your comments scream racism so loudly and your either really, really stupid to see it, or you don’t want to, So, all the best to you and yours live nicely in your bubble. Prime example of Mormon bigotry at its finest,

  47. Did you really say sit at the lunch table with minorities? In school, it was ALWAYS Whites that left the table if blacks sat down!

  48. Diane, I know they scream racist. That is the point. I don’t mind getting called racist. It has no power over me to be called that. Call me raaaaaaaaaaaaacist at the top of your lungs. All I will do is snicker that it has you so out of sorts.

  49. Jeanette,

    I’m loathe to add on to the pile on, particularly because I think previous commenters have answered your question (As to why the phrase, in this context, was offensive – to some) quite succinctly and rather eloquently. Some of the reasons covered have included your seemingly lack of insight regarding your own white privilege, and the problematic assumption that it is good to “not see color” (if you don’t see color, it explains why you have difficulty recognizing the unique experience of people of color). I just wanted to add one reason that I have not yet heard explained.

    Your use of the phrase “Women of Color” feels offensive and ignorant (though not racist in my opinion) because it feels like it discounts not only my experience but also my identity. As people have said above, words carry weight. The label Woman of Color is a specific term society uses to label me, in education, at work, and within all our public and social systems. In turn, it is the label I have internalized and now use to identify myself. It is not just a phrase to me, it represents my identity: as a woman of color. That identity includes the experience of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization in the media, in government, in academics, in literature and within our society. It feels very personal to me, to see it used, rather flippantly to represent women who do not carry the weight of the historical and lived experience attached to the phrase- who do not deeply connect with the connotations and concepts that the phrase “traditionally” represents- feels like a co-opt and a devaluation of my identity. It feels like my identity is being marginalized, being rendered invisible…again.

    I applaud your attempt at empathy, but I do not think your experience as a religious minority is comparable to my experience as a woman of color. For example, every random stranger that you meet or pass by in those 31 states you visit, do not immediately know you’re mormon, and judge and act upon the assumptions and stereotypes they might have of mormons. As a woman of color, I do not have that Privilege.

    Full disclosure, I am a woman of color who was raised in Utah County (Provo/Orem), as such, I suppose it was easier or at least less shocking for me to see your mistake and simply sigh and move on- because this is par for the course when you grow up as a black woman in Happy Valley.

    Peace and love.

  50. I read that you are going to be talking with Sistas of Zion this Sunday. I’m interested to see how that goes since I really admire and respect Tamu, one half of the group.

  51. Oh, sweet girl , just say I’m sorry I didn’t understand what the phrase meant. I have limited life experience and live in a bubble. This article on how you come up with your headlines and I’m so busy doing stuff for my church doesn’t addresses the issue . I am also a white Utah Mormon but I find your casual use of a historically sensitive reference to women jarring, insensitive, and embarrasing.

  52. Jennifer if you find a toungue in cheek headline so horrible, maybe it is you who has limited life experience and live in a bubble. Most sane people shrug, if they pay attention at all, and go on with more important things like earning a living and taking care of their families.

  53. “Can we be part of your group? Can we sit at your lunch table?”

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..you’re digging yourself into such a deeper hole now…lol

  54. So basically, you stick by what you said, right? And you dig the hole deeper by talking about how underprivileged *you* are. Your post confirms *everything* I would have thought about the person behind this mistake. Except that I may have thought that person would be willing to learn from her mistake, not publish this defense and entrench herself deeper and deeper into her own blindness and racism, no matter how well-intended your racism may be.

    I would invite you to think again about this.

  55. And it came to pass that dumblibs did not shrug and go on with more important things like earning a living and taking care of her family, but instead whiled away the hours insulting people in the comments on Facebook. THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE!

  56. Oops! Translation error! When I was translating the above comment from the Reformed Egyptian, I confused the hieroglyph for the word “Facebook” with the word “Blog.” Oh well, I may be a Prophet, but I’m still just a man! Sorry about that.

  57. WOW! I find it sad and kind of appalling that so many are choosing to be offended by something with NO offense intended. In your self-inflicted offense, you are now being intentionally offensive and hurtful! I see comments from people who appear to be so self-centered I would not be surprised to find they are offended daily by the innocent and non-intentional comments and actions of others. If you are looking for offense, you will find it! There are better and more important things to spend your time and energies on. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has struggles – how about we give you the benefit of the doubt and you do the same for others. It is time to move on!

  58. There is so much you could learn if you listened to those willing to educate you.

    Protip: Saying something offensive and then whining at people for “choosing to be offended” is not called “taking the moral high ground,” it’s called “being a troll.”

  59. Mormons are SUCH a repressed minority.

  60. I think Carl pretty much said it all! One of the best pieces on race I have read in awhile. As an academic trained to objectively study religious sub-cultures the Mormons sure pose a problem. Since moving here I have been reading histories and newspapers to understand the modern church/culture. I keep thinking they are not their “grandfather’s keeper” and the crazy ideas, thoughts and actions of the 19th and 20th Century Mormons shouldn’t be held against the more modern Mormons. “They don’t think that way anymore…” Then I read something written by an obviously intelligent and educated Mormon and realize despite all the PR to the contrary, the education and smiles the same cultural narratives and blind spot thinking continues. I lived with the Amish for 10 years and they had folk ignorant views on race because they stop school at the 8th grade and live in isolated areas and so often get their views of race from “the English”. They are curious and when you explain the issues they get it. So despite all the fancy BYU educations and the owning of the media Mormon culture holds on to its backward 19th Century social structure and ideology that makes it very difficult to think about the problem of race. I don’t think anyone thinks you are a racist in the 1950′s KKK sort of way. Just because you are a nice person and give time and money to the church doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to think about race. I think you publishing this is great. People get to think about the problem of race and the closed world/minds of Mormon culture.

  61. Wow lady… All you had to do was apologize for your slip up and everything would have been fine. Instead you go on a defensive rant which misses the point entirely and even tries to make yourself the victim. Grow up.

  62. Jeanette, I do not think you intended this to be a racist tagline, but the problem you have is that you are part of an insular religious culture living in one of the most non-diverse areas of the country. You really need to get out more and see the world. Realize that there is more to life than just girls camp and Mormonism. Your good intentions are not the point, they say the way to hell is paved with good intentions. Sorry, but you are just an incredibly naive person, otherwise you would have known that this would be offensive to so many people.

    Worst of all, your actions make the whole Mormon Church look REALLY BAD. I am a member as well, and I am embarrassed. The Church has done so much to reach out to the African american community since the policy banning blacks from the priesthood was finally reversed in 1978. And you have single-handedly set us all back at least 10 years. Thank goodness not all Mormons are as clueless as you are.

  63. I think it is unfair to say Jeanette is responsible for making the Mormon church look bad or set it back 10 years. She is a product of an ideology/church/political and economic system. When a church controls the government, education systems, economy and media in a state that has politicians who are 95% Mormon this passive soft ignore the past, ignore history, lets all just get along, and I don’t see color-which is the the is dominant political line the Republican Party in America she can be forgiven. Lots of Americans have the same backwards views.
    The church is obviously concerned about its image and how it appears so that it can be accepted for political power. When the church is facing questions about its handling of money and the building of a 2 Billion dollar mall I think the national exposure of a white upper middle class magazine dedicated to the worship upper middle class consumption talking about race is more problematic. It only reminds people of the very real prosperity gospel that the church teaches. If you follow the dictates of the church and obey the leaders you will be graced by god and that if only everyone would just become Mormon we wouldn’t have poor people. That message doesn’t help in trying to be seen as mainstream.

  64. Jeanette,

    I’m not going to thrash you. I think you will be far more accepting of my comment – should you read it – if I ask nicely and speak diplomatically.

    I know what it is to not know what your own privilege is. I know what it is to not even know the definition of the word privilege that is under discussion. Someone posted a pdf to the paper that started it all back in 1990, but I’d like to link you to a briefer list of the same, upon read-through, should help you understand the privilege you hold simply by being born white.

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html#daily

    We all enjoy privileges we neither see nor realize, unless we strive to learn about them.

  65. After years of experience in what you call “journalism” you should, no, you NEED to feel ashamed. I agree with this comment:

    “Let me get this straight: you have nothing in common with black people, Jeanette. You don’t even get to claim that, and I do believe you are racist.

    Your religion is not “oppressed.” Mormons are being “exposed.” The difference between “oppressed” and “exposed” is that you are not being held out of employment, public spaces, or withheld access to services on the basis of having done nothing wrong or being born.

    Until 1979 (I believe) Mormon’s refused to grant the status of clergy to black people. You are PART of a religion that WAS oppressing these people.

    And now you “want to sit at their table?” No, you can’t. The oppressors don’t get to turn around and claim the status of the oppressed just because they feel like it. You don’t get to takeover the phrase “women of color” because “oh my god people said things about Mormon’s I don’t like.”

    You are a shill and a idiot. You demean all persons of color who actually DO come from history of oppression, and you mock African Americans to suggest you are in any way living an experience similar to theirs. You, ma’am, are a racist. You may not think yourself one, but then again most racists don’t think so aloud either.

  66. Carl, thank you for your insights as a Utah County “outlier.” It’s good to know that, even in the face of discrimination and ignorance, you have kept your heart and mind open. My hat’s off to you!

  67. @Porter

    The WORSE part of all of this is that is makes the Mormon church look bad? really? I find your ideas much more HYPOCRITICAL and dangerous. Your concern is the effect of what she said on the impression outsiders have of the religion more than the ideas she expressed or the politics of race and its impact? It is WORSE than issues of how Mormons think about race and treat minorities or the poor? I find that perspective much WORSE than anything she said.

    Jeanette merely expressed a view that is very common in your religion. Don’t kill the messenger or try to sweep the problems under the rug. She is being sincere in trying to deal with the issue of race and its impact. I don’t think you are given your statement. The bigger problem is that the church rather quietly changed its position on allowing blacks into the priesthood. No explanation of why it was considered a revelation from god or a prophesy has been offered by the church. Did one of the untouchable men who have a direct connection to god and have to be obeyed get another vision? Doing so would raise questions about the foundation of the church and the power of the priesthood, but would go a long way to addressing the complicated social and political issues that produce the views of white Mormons that are very common. At the Democratic caucus I heard several good liberal Mormon delegates make very disparaging statement about Hispanics. That being said when Mormons stop voting for the Republican party and embracing libertarianism at a very high rate, which are havens for those with backwards views on race, at a 95% rate we can say the church is making progress in coming to terms with the problem race rather than being effective in managing IMPRESSIONS.

  68. Ryan & Marcus are cyberbullies. You can give your opinion in a civilized manner. Only very immature people disagree by calling someone an ‘idiot’. This may be off-topic, but I will say that cyberbullying is not ok.

    As for the remark that Mormons are exposed, not oppressed – that statement is in need of correction. I ask you to consider that Mormons are one of the only (if not the only) religious groups in the U.S. that could be legally (according to a governmental order) shot dead, and many were. Their belongings were stolen from them, they were covered with burning tar, their temple burned down, etc. I’m not very well-versed in Mormon history and even I know that. Perhaps what you mean is that Mormons aren’t oppressed today as they were THEN, but you’d still be wrong: near Palmyra, NY people still line the streets and shout crass comments at adults (and at children!) as they attend a Mormon theatrical pageant (someone told me this would happen, so I attended one year and sure enough it did).

    But really even the above is off-topic. The question is, was this journalist racist? No. Maybe aloof or just mistaken in making the connection, but her intentions were pure. Then correct her kindly. By doing it with an air of arrogance, self-righteousness, and of the most base crude anger you prove that you don’t want her to change. You just want to degrade another human being and pull them down. My American values have taught me – help persuade someone to your side if you think they are wrong, don’t destroy them online. The sun and the wind had a contest to see who could get the coat off the man. The wind blew fiercely and the man held his coat tighter. The sun only glowed pleasantly, and the man removed his coat. A great moral – kindness and warmth, even in discussion and conflict, help us teach others truth.

  69. Don’t listen to any of these liberal fruit cakes. You are happy and wonderful and loved. That makes these sad self-hating losers angry and upset. I think you should feel proud they are going absolutely bonkers over a simple headline. Ignore them. Mock them if they don’t shut up (they will certainly mock you and then claim moral superiority). Stand up to them as they have no control over you. The best thing to do if you don’t have the strength is smile, bob your head as if listening to the bile, and walk away knowing the childish bully talk is meaningless. Its better to live in a bubble and be happy than be worldly and angry all the time. They are never going to like you anyway, so why should you care?

  70. I have read all of the comments on here with my mouth gaping open. This woman made an honest mistake, with no harm intended, with nothing mean said in her article and yet, all of these comments are beyond rude, hurtful and attacking her personal character, her religion, her abilities, etc and worst of all done on purpose.

    So which is worse—a person who made an honest mistake with no malice or you attacking her back on purpose with a Texas size truck load of malice?

  71. Speaking as someone who has written literally thousands of newspaper headlines and edited thousands of stories, I can say that isn’t a headline I would have written or used, and if I had seen such a headline before publication I would have spiked it. But I’m also certain that somewhere in my career I unwittingly wrote a headline or edited an article in such way that it was needlessly offensive to someone, perhaps even racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted in tone.

    This is all a long way of saying saying that we writers and editors are human and as such are prone to fallibility. The best you can do (and it’s what you’ve done) is apologize, do your best to make amends, learn from the mistake and move on. And if critics can’t accept that no harm was meant and that you’ve learned something in the process, then that’s their problem, not yours.

  72. Stephanie

    I find it odd that you call Ryan and Marcus cyber bullies, yet, you left out dumbliss, he’s been using the same language, yet, you chose to leave him/her out of your bully comment, is this because this person sides with your view point?

    Sharon

    People are not personally attacking this person, they are trying to get her to really truly understand the problem of race, not only in this country but, within the context of Mormon faith. The writer states that she is a minority. No, she is not, given recent reports, Mormonism is no longer a minority religion in American. so, she misrepresented that fact right from the get go.

    Second, as a white middle class woman, she can go anywhere in this country without being stopped or asked to produce papers because of her skin color. Anyone who reads the newspapers or listens to broadcast news knows this is indeed happening in Arizona right now, to AMERICAN BORN CITIZENS who are not white and if they do not possess drivers licenses or papers, local authorities have the option to hold them for 48 hours.

    I don’t know if you are racist or not, but, the fact that you don’t understand what is happening to your brothers and sisters in the gospel around you(people who are vastly different than you) suggest two things, 1) You could indeed be racist and just no realize it, or 2) are just clueless (not meant to be mean spirited) as to what being a minority is really about.

    the BoM has language which clearly states that people of different races other than white to be of lesser caliber and status of the chosen people. Prophets from Bring Young, all the way up to 1970′ have used race as a means to keeps African Americans (particularly Male) from enjoying the full benefits of the gospel

    If it looks like a duck, quack likes a duck, Its a duck Yes, I’m a proud card carrying liberal and guess what the gospel tells me that its okay, and if you read the CHURCH HANDBOOK OF INSTRUCTIONS it says that members are free to choose their own political persuasions but, there are members like those who have commented on here who try to state this is wrong. Just like there saying the church does have a problem with race. BLEH

  73. Porter,
    I would be interested in your response to what I wrote about you saying the worse thing about all of this is how this is that it hurt the image of your church. She didn’t set anything back. The church is to blame for the racism that is such a problem here. Jeanette responded…

  74. Here is a proposal that would help deal with the problems of race in the Mormon church and Utah County. Swap the students from BYU Hawaii with those in Provo. Since the Provo campus is 99% white and Hawaii campus is mostly people of color. The church could show it is serious about addressing issues of race and the sheltered people of Utah County could be exposed to race. It wouldn’t be all that effective because the students would be Mormon and would be all polite and never challenge the prophesy and visions or political views of the Republican white males who run the church but it would be a start.

  75. I have been reading this blog and what I have been reading saddens my heart as my brothers and sisters are using such hurtful words and phrases. This woman (Jeanette Bennett) is a beautiful woman both inside and out. I recall many of the lessons in which Christ has taught “I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but for you it is required to forgive all men”. This lady has apologized profusely and yet like ravenous wolves has been attacked. I urge you to ponder the scriptures and think what would the Lord would have you do concerning this our sister. Christ also taught that if a man trespasses against you seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying I repent thou shalt forgive him. After reading this who hath the greater sin, he that hath committed the sin or he who hath not forgiven the sinner. We are all learning here upon the earth. Let us all remember why we are here on the earth.

  76. Diane,

    I find it incredibly disheartening that the only thing you knew about me was that I was defending Jeanette Bennett. And yet, you called me a racist and clueless. You also seemed to insinuate I was a white mormon woman living in Utah. How do you know I am not an African American woman living in Georgia? It would seem that by you assuming things about me and the only thing you know is that I defended her would make you much more clueless and racist than me.

  77. I am at a loss for words. Do these “offended” people actually take themselves seriously?

    Nah. No one could possibly be that insipid.

  78. [...] In case you haven’t heard the story, the fiasco involved the headline “women of color” to describe the photo at left, which features no such women to speak of. After being criticized on gawker.com earlier this month, the headline went viral and the editor (whose name I am not publishing here because I think she is probably a very kind person who is genuinely trying to understand why her headline was offensive) wrote about her “unplanned 15 minutes of fame” on her public blog. [...]

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