Saturday, September 27, 2008

I got this forwarded email from a well-intentioned source who meant no harm. This created the following exchange:
RE: Photography shoot for the LDS Curriculum Department

Dear Talent File Participant,
I apologize for the extreme tardiness of this request. I have been given the assignment to find "non-Caucasian" families and singles to attend a photo shoot this Sunday, September 28th. It was my desire to glean help from the surrounding wards, thereby not taxing our talent pool yet again, with requests for ethnicities. However, the members in that area have not responded to the call, and I am now desperate for help!
Would you, or ANYONE you know, be willing to attend this small photo shoot for Church Curriculum? (By "ethnic," at this point, we'd be grateful to have anyone with a dark tan!)
Here is the information I have available:
Project: Photographs for the new "Gospel Principles" manual to be released in 2010.
Setting: A Ward Sacrament Meeting
Needed: Ethnic Minorities (non-Caucasian) who can follow directions in English. Singles are welcome! Families are welcome! All children need to be accompanied by at least one parent.
Location: LDS Chapel located at 1925 Gunderson Lane, Holladay, UT
Date: Sunday, September 28, 2008
Time: Please arrive between 3:30 – 3:45pm. (No later than 3:45pm.)
Duration: Until about 5:00pm.


This is the reply I sent:
Hello. I just received a forwarded email requesting "ethnic" members for a photo shoot. As a person of color, I find the manner of this request quite insensitive. For your future reference, next time you put out an all-call for "ethnic minorities," please don't say "by 'ethnic,' at this point, we'd be grateful to have anyone with a dark tan!"
Also, my skin may be dark, but I am able to "follow directions in English." I followed them just fine during my undergrad studies at BYU and during my graduate work. Your assumption that members of the church with dark skin are unable to follow rudimentary directions in English is quite offensive. I would have hoped that the general population of our church would be more enlightened, if not especially the leadership and those working for church media.
Please be more sensitive- or at least less openly ignorant- when making future requests.

They responded quickly, but CC'd to everyone in the whole world. Basically, they told me that they are "sorry I feel this way."
Here is their response:

I am sorry that you took offense where none was intended. Many "ethnic minorities" come from other countries. If I were in China, I would not be able to follow directions in Mandarin, and that would rule me out. [If you were in China, the directions would be given in Mandarin AND English because that's how ignorant Americans demand everything.]
Again, no offense was intended, nor have I received any feedback from anyone but you that this language was offensive.
[clearly, because people with dark skin apparently can't read English]

You know, offense that isn't intended is just as ugly and often more insidious. So basically, they don't MEAN to be ignorant, but they're going to be anyway.

If they are really having such a hard time finding "ethnic" people, perhaps they could just use Caucasian people and put them in blackface, since they already did that in "Testaments." That's right. Instead of finding an actual "ethnic" person to play the lead role, they put the lovely (and Caucasian) Joy Gardner into blackface for the role... or would the more correct term be "brownface"?


Wendy said...

I love how defensive they are. Perhaps no one else was offended because pretty much everyone they sent it to was white- they did say they couldn't find anyone ethnic, after all.

But here's another thing I don't get: there are Spanish-speaking wards (where many of the ward members also speak some English), there are neighborhoods that are largely ethnic in which there are wards where they could find participants, and there are groups that are designed specifically for LDS people of certian ethnic backgrounds- why don't they use these as a resource instead?

Cristy said...

Bwa ha ha! OK, I"m soooooo sorry for this idiot who wrote that stupid email! Get this: My Mother-in-law is Tahitian/Chinese. The other day this older gentleman knocks on her door and says "So are you the maid, or gardener or something. What is this, what's going on here.... anyway, I wanted some of those Dalia's in the front yard." Yea, insult her then ask her for her flowers. Idiot.

Peoples stupidity never ceases to amaze me...

DrummerGirl said...

In the original email, the lady said, "It was my desire to glean help from the surrounding wards, thereby not taxing our talent pool yet again, with requests for ethnicities. However, the members in that area have not responded to the call..."

Hmmm... maybe they haven't responded to the call because she offended the heck out of them with her ignorant email? Or perhaps because they view their cultural heritage as something more precious than just having a "really dark tan." Just a thought...

Kristine said...

Yeah, when I saw the "dark tan" thing, I was so ticked off! I'm a French/Canadian/Scottish/Irish/British American with a hecka dark tan! Can I be the next Lamanite Woman even though I clearly have the European facial features and American accent? Hopefully the viewers are so dumb that they wont notice.

Serious! That bugged in Testaments! I'm not an idiot and I couldn't stand the movie when I saw a bunch of Asians, Tongans, Caucasians with some brown cover-up to play Native Americans. My Navajo sister-in-law didn't like that, either. What? You can't find talented enough Native Americans to stand and touch the hands of Jesus?

It's just like the movie, 'Pearl Harbor'. For whatever reason, they only used thousands of white people to look up at the sky as the Japanese flew overhead. Maybe they couldn't find any Polynesians to look up at the sky and say, "Oh crap."

So I guess if you have dark skin, you're "ethnic" and, if you are a Peruvian with white skin, you're not ethnic enough for an LDS ad. Better hit the tanning salons all you white people!