Monday, June 16, 2008

Racism in Utah and Idaho

A company in West Jordan has been selling Obama Monkey Dolls...
Ouch. Not a good thing for Utah's reputation.
I'm not sure if it was racism or stupidity (or, most likely, a mix of both). The company has apologized (kind of), and they've discontinued the doll, but still...
It reminded me of an incident while I was teaching...
I told my students to write a half-page opinion on evolution, and one student wrote that white people were created directly by God, but everyone else evolved...
(The assignment did not address human evolution, but most students focused on that aspect of it anyway).
I was certain that racism was rare in Utah, or at least confined towards Latinos. But based on many of the comments on the Deseret News forum (there's an article about the doll), I'm afraid that's not the case.

4 comments:

Tim said...

The company, by the way, complains (in the Deseret News): "It's okay for there to be hundreds of thousands of Google sites containing references to our current president's resemblance to a chimpanzee. However, it's not okay to make that same association regarding our possible next president. Isn't this the very definition of hypocrisy? We find this to be both obvious and curious in the same breath."
Looks like they're not too sorry about it, after all.
At least they're not LDS.

Cougarg said...

Well, that doesn't mean a darn thing unfortunately. You would hope that it would, but it does not. I've read quite a bit of racist and otherwise offensive comments on message boards and forums from people that claim to be LDS.

When I went back to Florida a few years back, I spent time with some old friends. Their dad was my first bishop when we first moved there. They were very conservative, patriotic, and strong members of the church, and still are. But I was struck by some of the comments that came out of their mouths. I found it to be quite racist at times.

Even my own mother will make a comment that strikes me as a bit prejudiced towards one minority or another. It's nothing as offensive as these dolls, but it is odd.

Unfortunately, these attitudes are strongly ingrained in our society, LDS or not.

the masked mallard said...

I heard some talks the other day given by a couple of senior missionaries who had recently returned from service in Africa. While they certainly weren't saying anything directly derogatory about Africans, there were still comments that had (unintentional) implications that I wasn't totally comfortable with. These were sweet, wonderful people, and I know they had experienced great feelings of love for the people of Africa (both black and white).

I think there are a lot of factors that can contribute to racism or racist leanings among Latter-day Saints, the most obvious being the (never official) doctrine that blacks are the cursed seed of Cain. Other assumptions in the standard LDS paradigm that play into it may seem more benign: for example, beliefs 1) that America is a land blessed above all others, 2) that the truly righteous will be materially blessed, and 3) that "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" = one way of life, one worldview, and one culture. I don't think that these ideas are completely wrong, but they are at least oversimplified; those who blindly commit to precedents like these rarely face their logical implications, simply because of how hard it is to get outside the protective bubble of their own preconceptions. Even a mission abroad doesn't usually shake a person enough to make them reevaluate their fundamental assumptions on the world.

the masked mallard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.