Blacks find pluses, minuses

King holiday tests Utahns' commitment to diversity

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  • good article
    Jan. 22, 2008 12:15 a.m.

    This is a good article. I'm happy to see not only people in the article having good experiences in Utah but also the commenters all making positive statements about their experiences. I grew up in an area with with a lot of different races - high school was probably 50% non-white - and race was more of an issue the older we got. For example, looking at birthday party pictures as I grow up, there are fewer and fewer black kids in the pictures. I don't know why it was or is but there was just a natural separation. In high school we had student panels and discussions about it, how to deal with race issues and differences. Then I moved to Utah and found many of the same issues don't exist because there are fewer minorities. But I also found there is a lot more ignorance in Utah and when people get mean, they can be really mean, almost as if they know they will win if prosecuted. I guess my point is it exists everywhere and I'm not sure what the answer is. It's a lot harder than just deciding to treat everybody nicely.

  • Anonymous
    Jan. 21, 2008 11:55 p.m.

    People, its just ignorance, plain and simple. Of course there's racism here, especially to black americans, but its because there are so few that live here. However, from what I've seen this community attempts to go out of its way to not be racist. Doesn't mean they aren't racist, just means they're not intentional bigots.

    I'm as white as they come, but I grew up in a very racially diverse city. I went to prom with black girl...but even writing that now feels strange, because I honestly didn't see race in her, I just thought she was good looking. However, even though about 75% of my friends weren't white, we still had racism within our group friends. Mainly just ignorance not blatant hate. Cities like New York have attempted to deal with racism for hundreds of years, but is still far worse than a place like SLC. I don't think Utahns should be hard on themselves, just need to keep pluggin along and educating their children about prejudism (all facets of it, not just racism).

  • Anonymous
    Jan. 21, 2008 9:19 p.m.

    I would like to take a different perspective in this discussion. Here it goes... The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism in the following manner: The theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race. However, the term has evolved to mean bigotry or prejudice. People make ignorant comments, but often they are just that, ignorant comments, and not racist comments (whether overt or covert). Racism (prejudice in all it's forms) does exist, but let us be careful not to lump everything under the word racism. I shudder when ignorant, but well meaning people are lumped in with those who hate. EVERYONE has their prejudices... We should all try to be more understanding of others and also more forgiving when people say or do dumb things.

  • Carl
    Jan. 21, 2008 9:16 p.m.

    Yes, Genesis Group is good thing. They meet on 13th East just south of I-215.
    We just attended the Christmas party last month, and had to move to a larger building for it, with 400-500 people of all shades.

    Another one is a DVD about "Blacksinthescriptures" (by 2 men who happen also to be black). They have a website named after the DVD and ends in .com.

  • Great Resource
    Jan. 21, 2008 8:51 p.m.

    Tamu Smith and many others of us would invite anyone to come to the Genesis Group, where color doesn't matter.
    We meet the first Sunday of every month, at 7pm. You can find us online.

  • Idaho Native
    Jan. 21, 2008 8:46 p.m.

    I don't know what it's like to be judged at a distance of 100 yards, as black and brown people often are. But I have lived with intolerance and discrimination.

    I grew up in Oregon and western Idaho, where my father (a public school teacher) was often the object of discrimination, even lost jobs, because of his religion -- back when they could do that and get away with it. Our family, and other folks like us, were openly treated as lower class by the white, Protestant majority. (So were "migrant workers" which meant Mexicans.)
    My parents saw and treated everyone the same.

    It wasn't until I lived in Chicago, PA, TN, MS and AL, later traveled for my work in CA and Indianapolis, that I saw black people treated like dirt, called names, all the stuff that even laws can not really prevent.

    Then I moved to Utah and met lots of people just like my parents, who treat people as all God's children, regardless of their earthly ancestry. Just like us, these people I met here are white LDS.

  • l
    Jan. 21, 2008 7:50 p.m.

    russ, I see the point you're trying to make, but the word you choose is unfortunately the exact opposite of what you're trying to say. "opaque" means NOT clear or NOT invisible. so opaque = solid color, whereas invisible/transparent = no color.

    if you want to mix the two together, so light goes through, but it has color, it is translucent.

    that didn't have much to do with the topic itself...just a clarification for the comment at 4:34 pm

  • Shelama
    Jan. 21, 2008 7:31 p.m.

    I am 58 years old, white, a Formon (former Mormon), born and raised in Salt Lake City. I have also lived in New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. The only people I have ever personally heard, in my presence, to use the N-word have been Salt Lake City Mormons, most of them in my own family. And it continues to this day. My experience of never having heard that word used in my presence anywhere else in the USA may have been atypical, even in a period of increased racial sensitivity and of political correctness.

    So what is my point? Certainly not that Mormons are the only or the worst racists in the country. Maybe that Mormons are just folks, as good or bad as any, no better or worse. And living in a country poisoned, perhaps permanently, by slavery and racism and its consequences and related failures. On both sides of the racial line.

  • russ
    Jan. 21, 2008 4:34 p.m.

    What an interesting phrase, "people of color." In the academic world back east it came into vogue decades ago and we all over America still live with it. It just confuses me no end. I have color. My skin is not opaque. It has color. It is not opaque. It is not black, white, blue, green, or gold. It is kind of tan but a soft brown tan. That is a color. On any scale, I have "color."
    What is this "people of color" garbage? We all have color, unless we are invisible or opaque?
    Why has society swallowed the phrase, "People of color"?

    I don't know. I just don't know.

  • I want to do better
    Jan. 21, 2008 1:45 p.m.

    I think many of the racial issues result from ignorance. It is easy to SAY treat everyone like you would like to be treated, but it is much harder to DO. I would like to read an article on the top complaints from minorities living in Utah.

    I want to know specifically what whites commonly say and do most often to offend people of color. Please comment if you can; we all need to learn.

  • White in Africa
    Jan. 21, 2008 12:19 p.m.

    In the West I have over the years had some very dear black friends. Then 2 years ago we came to Benin for work. Yes there is racial comments we have had aimed at us. To my dear friends, now I understand more how difficult Racial comments and feelings are difficult and hard. That is in the church or out, here in Benin

  • Mom
    Jan. 21, 2008 12:18 p.m.

    I have 2 grown sons and a nephew (all black) in their 20's who have reciently moved to Utah under various circumstances, all incredibly talented in different venues, and well educated, one teaching at BYU. I will be curious to see what their experiences are. Another son did his undergrad studies at BYU 3 years ago and did have all kinds of stories to tell both positive and negative. I can't pretend that I don't worry, but they are strong, articulate and generous in nature so they will be fine.

  • Clint
    Jan. 21, 2008 12:13 p.m.

    I would like to commend Mia and others who excel in the opportunities that are made available here. I had the chance to work side by side for a Utah County company with Mia a number of years ago, and was very impressed with her professionalism, enthusiasm, knowledge, foreign language abilities, etc. I am glad to see that she is doing such a great job representing our voice here in Saratoga Springs.

    - Clint

  • A funny story
    Jan. 21, 2008 10:52 a.m.

    When I read this story, I walked down the hall to ask a coworker of mine who's black if he'd read it. We've worked together for 10 years and have grown to be good friends. He's from Chicago, has an MBA, and is a program manager at our company (we make medical disposables), married with two little boys.

    I asked him "is it tough to be black in Utah?"

    His answer made me laugh: "No, actually it's great. Utah is the best-kept secret in America for black folks. Everyone here is so anxious to prove they're not racist that they go out of their way to be nice to us."

  • Hendrix
    Jan. 21, 2008 10:29 a.m.

    Oh yes my heros are Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jordan, Martian Luther King Jr, and BB King! I am white, LDS, and love everybody. Can't you just feel the love.
    We need to look forward and move on and leave all the hate behind. If anyone wants to hate they should be thrown in jail. There is no excuse!

  • Led Zeppelin
    Jan. 21, 2008 10:24 a.m.

    I remember President Gordan B. Hinkley saying it was a problem in the Priesthood conference and it needed to stop! It was the topic of the year and said that any racial remark by a man would make him unworthy of the Priesthood. I am white and my wife is Latina. It is a problem and it needs to stop. My wife is treated differently but it has nothing to do with the church. There are many bad examples in the church that should not hold Temple recommends. But for the most part I have seen positive in the LDS church. At work and everywhere I go in Utah most the racism has been by Mormon-haters. people who just think negative and nothing good to say about anyone who is different. Anyone who hates at all is an extremist and that is totally wrong. nobody has a right to discriminate!

  • robert petersen
    Jan. 21, 2008 9:44 a.m.

    I would like to know what constitutes a black person? As a child I thought there was some racism in the 1930'. My best teen friend who helps me with me computer is about 40% black. His father is white and his mother is about 60% black. In the old days if you were 1% black you were black, but now I don't see it that way. I'd like to mention that all the "racism" is not from LDS folks. after all nearly 40% of our citizens are non members.

  • What is NEW??
    Jan. 21, 2008 9:14 a.m.

    Sorry, but this issue is OLD. I have Latino blood. I don't look it, or speak with any indication. I am the full blood Mexican-American. I grew up in the 60s in CA. High school had a stigma for the type that discriminated and associated us with people who were dumb or lazy. I was neither and progressed farther than some of my peers. Then I moved to UTAH. I had no problem being a homemaker and most of my peers accepted me. Imagine that. But in the work place, it was a different story. I look back now, twenty years later, and it is IGNORANCE and lack of associating with "people of color." Although I dislike that connotation, because I am fair skinned!There is just an underlying intolerance of those "rednecks" who think they are better than those in the above categories. I am educated, and it burns others minds that someone can rise above their mediocrity, as I can tell they had no desire to be better than they are. These types are in the minority. For the whole, Utah is tolerant, kind and open minded. It is those few who discriminate.

  • samhill
    Jan. 21, 2008 9:14 a.m.

    I grew up in an area of Salt Lake that was much more racially diverse than most. Many neighbors of Latino descent and a few African. "Race" was an unknown concept. I had no experience with racism until I was about 11 and attended a summer camp in the Uintas on a sponsored trip for "underprivileged” kids from elementary schools in the area. One of the kids from a different school was black, kind of small and had a facial deformity caused by a burn. We shared a bunk house with about twenty other kids including the usual assortment of bullies. One day I came into the building while one of the bullies was harassing the black kid. I thought it was because of his face and in defending him I came very close to decking the bully, which, because I was the biggest kid in camp, was enough to get him to back down. It wasn't until the day we left camp that it was pointed out to me that the bullying was because of race. It had never occurred to me and was my first experience with racism.

    I considered it stupid then and even more so now.

  • leadership
    Jan. 21, 2008 8:28 a.m.

    The leadership quality this woman has is a huge influence on her children. I wonder if her children would be elected class president in other places too, but because they are good leaders. She must be doing great things as a parent.

  • JWK
    Jan. 21, 2008 7:38 a.m.

    Its too bad that people see differences and not similarities. I have lived overseas where being American is not viewed as being popular. I can understand, if only in part, the statement made in the article.

    I moved to the South from Utah many years ago and I find that all people really are the same. Yes, there is bigotry where ever you go but you don't have to be a part of it or even enable it. In the South this bigotry is on both sides of the race isle.

    I am encouraged by those who shake off the bigotry and rise above those who would put them down, whether on purpose or out of ignorance and lack of tact. We all are God's children and should respect each other as such.