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Friday, June 24, 2011

"Forget about it Jake - It's Chinatown."

Earlier this week the producer of a local television show came across my blog and asked if I would be willing to be on the show for a segment about raising non LDS kids in Utah.We'll be talking (honestly) about raising non-LDS kids in Utah." she wrote. I must admit I was thrilled to have an opportunity to finally express to a wide audience the challenges my family and so many others face on a daily basis. The day before the show, I requested an agenda so I could be prepared for our discussion. The segment was to be only 6 minutes and I wanted to be sure I could fairly and succinctly express my experiences. When I received the agenda I was shocked!!!!! The topics to be discussed included(and I quote):

"--the religious saturation is not unique to Utah"

"--get the LDS perspective on interaction between groups"

"--talk about the benefits of the LDS culture"

I was a bit confused to say the least. Remember, this segment was meant to be 6"honest" minutes about raising non LDS kids in Utah. I was flabbergasted that we could not go just 6 minutes without having to give the LDS perspective. Don't we Utahns get that every day?

And although there are benefits of the LDS culture which I have written about here in this blog, I don't think that belongs in this very short segment. So.... I called the producer and shared my concerns and said I really was not interested in participating in the discussion if this was the direction she wanted to go. She was very nice, and explained that they were just concerned about this being one sided and so the panel would include one of their other producers who was LDS. What??? Should I be on a panel about raising kids with disabilites? I think not as I don't personally have any experience in that area. To ask an LDS mother about raising non-LDS kids is comical!!!! It was clear there was not going to be anything "honest" about this round table.

The next day I watched the segment in hopes that maybe I was wrong about the shows intentions. Sadly, the 6 minutes were what can only be described as "fluff" which portrayed the issue as almost a non existent problem. If us outsiders just go to Primary and LDS camp we will be just fine and accepted by our neighbors. What a load of crap! It is so sad that this show was afraid to be "honest" and inform people how hurtful some behavior can be.

My desire to go on the show was never to say anything bad about LDS people - it was only to educate them that sometimes outsiders have hurt feelings about exclusion and judgements whether intentional or not. If they could have focused on those issues maybe some changes could take place. Instead, as usual, the issue was glossed over and down played. I felt sick after I watched the show! Still I was relieved I had not participated. First of all, I would have looked like an idiot as my mouth would have been hanging open and my eyes bulging. Secondly, anything I might have said would have looked like I was putting a damper on the perfect world these people described.

Anyway, I guess for now Utah society will continue to ignore others and their feelings and opinions. Maybe that will never change...

Forget about it Jill - it's Utah!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"How Dare You! She's a Nice Lady!"

Today's Op Ed section in the Salt Lake Tribune included a typical self rightious letter from yet another judgemental Utahn. Have a read:

Unhealthy "Idol" Music

"I watched the recent finale of “American Idol,” and I am happy about the two finalists Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Both are winners in my eyes, for their music and wholesome personalities.

Nevertheless, I was shockingly abused by much of the emotionally unhealthy music presented during the show, and by all the immodesty and erotic dancing. I hope Americans realize that immodesty is visual profanity.

“American Idol” blocks out verbal profanity. Sure wish it’d have the sense to block out the visual profanity, erotic dancing and unhealthy music.

Better yet, I wish it forbid them in the first place.

“American Idol” is as out of control in its moral values as Congress is in its deficit spending! '"

Merlin Ross

Really???? How many judgements can one human being make in a few paragraphs. I do agree that both Scotty and Lauren are lovely young people with loads of talent and I also enjoyed their "wholesome personalities". However, that is where Mr. Ross and I part ways. He was "shockingly abused"??? How exactly was he abused??? Last time I checked he could change the channel on his television set anytime. I guess someone must have had him chained to his couch and made him watch the "emotionally unhealthy music...immodesty and erotic dancing". Just curious...what exactly is emotionally unhealthy music???

Mr. Ross believes immodesty is "visual profanity". Huh??? I suppose he must be an authority on what is "immodest". The beehive state loves to spout that "Modest is Hottest" and is often critical of those who choose clothing with bare shoulders or exposed thighs. Clothing is a personal choice and it really is not appropriate nor nice for others to make assumptions about someone based on those choices.

Mr. Ross also claims the show had "erotic dancing". He must be referring to Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Both performances were fabulous in my opinion and I don't expect Mr. Ross to agree - that is what makes the world an interesting place. What I do find offensive is his moral judgement of these artists. Anyone who has watched Idol this season has seen that Jennifer Lopez is an overwhelming kind and caring human being. Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about Lady Gaga also knows she is abundantly generous and loving to ALL her fellow men and women. It seems clear whom is behaving badly and it is not any of the women on American Idol. So, I say to you Mr. Merlin Ross,


Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Are You Talkin To Me"

I have never understood the habit of name calling in our society. When people don't agree or don't like something it is all too common to use derogatory labels in reference to the supposed offender. It is unfortunate how often I witness this ugly behavior from young people here in Utah. I am constantly reminding the teenagers who come into my home not to say "that is so gay" when they refer to something they don't like or think is stupid. Most of them are fairly well trained by now - at least at my house. However, recently I have had to call them out for their consistent use of the word "Jew" when addressing my kids. I see it on their facebooks and yearbooks and hear kids address them by their name followed by "Jew". My kids don't like it and neither do I. Why is this necessary? Why do we have to put labels on people who are different? We don't say "Hey Joe- Mormon - would you like a slice of pizza?" That would be silly, not to mention rude - yet it is how my children are addressed quite often and I have finally had it with this ridiculous behavior.

I am motivated by the recent commercials put out by which are a fabulous public service and point out how insulting words can be. They directly address the term "that is so gay". I hope the message will go even farther in illustrating that labeling and name calling in general is hurtful. For too long, we have all accepted these sayings as harmless behavior. I choose to confront those who use terms that are hurtful to any particular group even when it is not my group. I hope I can be rational and calm in my discussions - but honestly there are days when I feel just like De Niro


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"There's No Crying in Baseball!!!"

Much has been said about the roles of men and women in society. Here in Utah, I have found that women are defined by their specific place in their family and community. Much of that identity has been advocated by the Mormon Church’s beliefs about the woman’s duties as wife and mother. As a woman who gave up her career 20 years ago to stay at home with my two children, I clearly do not have a problem with choosing those roles instead of a career. My objection is that those who make different choices may be criticized for them. In many ways, Utah is decades behind in women’s issues.

I remember one evening a few months after we moved to Draper, a man knocked on my door wanting me to purchase groceries from his home delivery service. I kindly told him I was not interested and he replied, “Why don’t I come back when your husband is home and speak with him about it.Excuse me!!! My husband has no interest in those decisions and the idea that somehow I could not make any decision without him was insulting. I told this salesman so and he just looked at me like I had appeared out of some futuristic movie where women had a voice in their own lives.

Last week while substituting at an elementary school here in Draper, I attended an assembly to encourage students to participate in the “Fun Run” to raise money for the school. To add to the excitement, 2 BYU football players came to speak. While I am not a BYU fan, I think having players from a local college team speak to students is a great idea. Kids love to see them and imagine themselves someday in those uniforms. However, this assembly was about more than just the “Fun Run” and I was astounded and offended by the comments from these players.
First of all, in their bios which were on the big screen in the gym was information about where they had served their two year missions. Why is that important? Would it be relevant in a public school to say where you had your Bar Mitzvah? I think not!!!! One of the players even spoke about how great it was to teach the Gospel for two years. Good to know, but inappropriate in a public school where like it or not, not everyone has plans to go on a mission. Remarkably, this commentary was not as objectionable as what was about to follow.

This young man proceeded to talk about the goals he had as a child in elementary school and to encourage fitness in all the young people listening. Fantastic right??? He spoke about his goal of getting good enough to bounce a basketball a couple hundred times without stop. Sounds great! Here comes the zinger – so he says you should set similar kinds of goals and “girls – you could learn to do the splits or something”. I literally almost fell off my chair. Had I entered some sort of time machine and been transported back to the 1950’s – nope I am just in Utah. Seriously, my daughter can bounce a basketball better and longer than most of the boys she knows. What the hell was this kid implying?

All I know is I am glad my children were not raised in a place where “heroes” are presented to them at school and then they are subtlety told that they cannot be like them because they are different. Is this the message the public schools want to give to their young students? I hope not, but frankly, this assembly said that if you are sitting out there and you are not of our faith or our gender than you will not be one of us. I wanted to take my little first graders back to class and tell them that is untrue, but I could not do that for several reasons. First of all, I doubt I would be asked to substitute there again and secondly I can’t honestly say that if they are different they will not be treated unfairly by their friends and community. I left school that day very angry and heartbroken.

Yes, boys and girls are different. People are all different! So what. Why must we stick to certain roles just because we are in a certain group? I challenge my daughter to be athletic and challenge my son to dance. I hope my daughter is strong and my son is sensitive. I hope to see them choose their own roles, both traditional and non traditional. I do not want them to have limits based upon their gender or their faith. I want them to be happy and free to choose their own path. I want them to embrace who they are and their differences. So, why can't we can just accept all people where they are and maybe, just maybe even "crying in baseball" would not be so terrible after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Snap Out of It!!"

It has been quite some time since I have written here and most of my followers may have stopped checking in on this page. Sadly, I am inspired today by some very disturbing events at Alta High School. My daughter graduated from Alta two years ago. Alta is a good school with many excellent teachers and staff. As a result of the 58 college units she earned there, my daughter will be able to graduate from college in 3 years. I am grateful for her high school education. However, she was very unhappy at Alta. She was often treated badly by her fellow students because she was not a part of the predominant culture. Some teachers and staff also added to her alienation. Almost daily, she heard negative remarks about her differences and it was extremely hurtful. Her yearbook is full of comments about her being “a Jew”. Of course, everyone would say they were not meant to hurt her or to be negative yet they still felt the need to point out she was not like them. Her experience led my younger son to attend a different high school in hopes he would have a better experience.

When I heard about the current racial tensions at Alta I was not surprised. For those of you unfamiliar with the recent events here is a brief synopsis. At an assembly to show school spirit each grade level was to wear a different color to display their school pride. The junior class was designated white. One student chose to wear a white pillowcase over his head with eyeholes cut out. The pillowcase resembled a KKK hood and this same student was apparently making the Heil Hitler sign as he paraded around. This action was upsetting for many students especially one biracial young man who took his concerns to the administration and the blogosphere. Since these events, racial tensions have flared. Text messages are circulating at Alta with KKK and Nazi symbols which read “Alta Pride”. Sides have been drawn and it is an ugly environment. Extra police have been called to campus to ensure safety.

It is time for these issues to be dealt with by the school. I strongly support Dr. Doty and his push to educate students about the dangers of bigotry. This is indeed a great teaching moment!!! However, at a meeting this morning at Alta, I heard parents and staff complain that this incident has been totally “overblown”. Many feel it was a harmless prank and are outraged. Hate symbols can never be seen as harmless and hearing people say so this morning brought me to tears. It is easy to say something is harmless when it is not directed at you. Too many Utahns think their way is the only way and do not take kindly to others pointing that out. If the KKK had strung up a few Mormon missionaries from a tree, we all know white sheets would be outlawed in this state. For example, at one middle school, a student wore a T-shirt which read, “Choose the Left”, a play on the LDS “CTR” meaning choose the right. This student was sent home and could not wear the shirt again. So, it is not OK to say I am different – I do not belong to the predominant culture, but donning a symbol of hate publicly is just a harmless joke by teenagers who don’t know any better. I call “BS!!!!”

Discrimination is alive and well here in the Beehive state and that is clear by reading the horrible things many in the community are saying about the biracial young man and anyone who supports him. Racial slurs are abundant and he is being called a liar. I hope he remembers that change only happens when someone stands up for what is fair and right. I applaud this young man and all those who stand behind him. Their courage will be worth the backlash. If this incident enlightens even a few then progress has been made. I believe to the bottom of my toes that we can do better and we will if more people speak out. For those of you, who choose to keep your head in the sand or who belittle this incident know this – change is coming to Utah whether you like it or not. So here is a little piece of advice -

“Snap out of It!!!!”