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Utah magazine owner on 'women of color' headline: 'Lesson learned'

Published July 11, 2012 11:26 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jeanette Bennett got back from Girls Camp Tuesday night and, boy, was her inbox full.

Bennett, editor and owner of Utah Valley magazine, received a boatload of responses to a headline on her editor's column of the July/August issue — the words "Women of Color" attached to a photo of the magazine's staff, seven women whose clothing was certainly colorful but whose skin was uniformly Caucasian.

The juxtaposition of photo and headline (which, by the way, has been changed on the magazine's online version) drew the attention of national website Gawker.com, leading to the heavy response Bennett received.

A few emails have been supportive and "come to my defense and recognized that no harm was intended," Bennett wrote in an email to The Cricket. Most, though, were "harsh and critical."

Bennett describes the bulk of the response:

"Several of the e-mails have been laced with profanity and name-calling. Many have called for me to be fired. Several have had inaccurate references to Mormonism (sister wives, etc.). I find it interesting that these people are upset with me for my insensitivities, yet they are somewhat insensitive in their comments to me. A bit ironic. I've been told several times that I need to take sensitivity training. Many have called me unprofessional, uneducated, uncaring, unattractive and stupid."

Many commenters, Bennett said, are upset that the magazine doesn't employ more people of color — using the more generally accepted definition of that term, meaning people of African-American, Asian, Hispanic or other ethnic heritage. Bennett wrote that she would welcome a diverse staff, but that "I can honestly say that I have never had an African-American apply for a job or internship with us. Our staff reflects the demographics of Utah County, for better or for worse."

Bennett finished by saying she's sorry she offended any readers, and hopes to be able to move on from this incident. "Lesson learned," she added.