Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Saratoga Springs

Twice a year the LDS church holds a conference where the leaders present the latest in religious guidance for the world’s Mormons. Much of it is feel-good stuff about everything being nice. I rarely watch much of it so my impression of it is skewed. I imagine much of it to be like the Republican National Convention recently held in Tampa Florida. In fact I imagine many of the same people speaking at both events.

I should really make a list of everyone and make notes about their messages, but I probably won’t. It would require listening to multiple dusty speeches. What I do know from my cursory examination is that there were an incredible amount of Mormons on stage. This was no accident as the GOP wanted to highlight now nice Mormons, and by extension their nominee, are. The GOP has apparently wholeheartedly embraced the LDS church as its own.

I should point out that I (and every other Utah resident who wants their vote to count) have been a republican for many years. I think it is about time that the GOP embraced the Mormons, and expanded their religious base from just the simple flavors of Christianity. The Mormons wholeheartedly embraced the GOP decades ago, and it is about time that they got some reciprocal love.

And talking about Love

I listened to one RNC speech by a Mia Love. She is the Mayor of Saratoga Springs, a small bedroom community nestled between the Provo and Salt Lake areas. Saratoga Springs had a big fire called the “dump Fire” caused by exploding targets igniting brush while some folks were target shooting at a dump near town.

The dump fire caused evacuations in nearby Eagle Mountain; another bedroom community. Eagle mountain is known for its rumored polygamist homes and its low percentage of blacks. When small bedroom communities spring out of nowhere they often appear to be owned by a particular developer. Bigg Homes was the developer for Eagle Mountain.

I think “Bigg Homes” is a great name for a developer that specializes in McMansions.

Bigg Homes got in a bit of a bind for advertising Eagle mountain by pointing out (amongst other things like clean air and great views ; Utah has a lot of this stuff you really should come out and see for yourself) that is had: “Black race population percentage significantly below state average." On the Bigg Homes website the words “significantly below” were bolded for emphasis. Bigg homes took down the offensive statement and David Adams (Bigg’s co-owner) said to the Salt Lake Tribune: "We apologize if that offended anybody. It wasn't our intention … Frankly, it is offensive to me, too."

Mia Love is running to become the first African American female congressperson in the state of Utah. The community of Eagle Mountain will be in her district.

Love was born in Brooklyn to Haitian-Immigrant parents just three years before the LDS church lifted their ban on African Americans in “the priesthood” (which in the LDS church is a title usually conferred on boys shortly after their 8th birthday). She was raised in Connecticut where she met a Caucasian Mormon missionary in 1997 who spirited her off to Utah and planted three children in her. Seven years after landing in Utah she was on the city council for Saratoga Springs, and four years after that, in January of 2010, she was Mayor.

Saratoga Springs was incorporated the same year that Mia came to Utah. It is over 21 square miles in size. This puts its population density at slightly less than one-and-a-half persons per acre. Eventually Saratoga Springs hopes to grow to a population of 100,000. That would bring its density up to almost seven-and-a-half people per acre. This would still be well below the national urban average of 1,200 people per acre.

Mia was speaking at the RNC to show that there are African-American women both in the LDS church and in political office for the GOP. Mia is recognized for many things in addition to her being dark skinned. She received support from the Susan B Anthony List for her anti-abortion stance. In fact she has distanced herself from politics based on her skin color by vowing to “join the Congressional Black Caucus and try to take that thing apart from the inside out”.

I was directed to listen to her speech by someone who compared her speech to that of Barak Obama’s at the 2004 DNC. I saw it a couple days later, and was not incredibly moved by it or her delivery of it. However, I knew that storm clouds were gathering as she spoke.

Not only literally in the form of hurricane Isaac near Tampa, but literally in the form of thunderstorms over her town of Saratoga Springs in Utah.

The rain came down and washed the fire-stripped hills into the streets in torrents of mud. Cars were washed away in the brown goo. Several people’s basements were actually filled with mud.

The next day Mia’s full-color picture graced the Salt Lake tribune. She was wearing a pink Aeropostale Tee-shirt and denim Capri pants. Though she was shorter that the three sparkly-fresh white folks in the picture with her, she commanded their attention. She points off into the distance. I imagined her saying to the man in the canary-yellow shirt: “that mud over there is real icky, and if you get any on that yellow shirt you will never get it out”


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