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On the Question of Whether Stephenie Meyer Is a Racist

I’ve gotten more than one inquiry as to my response to this post by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez in which she makes, on the surface, compelling argument as to why she thinks that Meyer might be racist. Many spoilers follow:

Valdes-Rodriguez argues the following:

1. Jacob Black is “presented initially as a sweet, normal teen boy from the Paiute Reservation, but we soon learn that he is a werewolf, and that werewolves are the enemies of vampires.” In the comments, Valdez-Rodriguez points to “a historical event in which Mormons used Paiute Indians (and dressed up as Paiutes) to slaughter people the Mormons viewed as taking their land”.

2. “In the final book, Bella must choose between these two boys. Naturally, she chooses the (white) vampire over the (brown) werewolf.”

3. The inclusion of Native Americans is suspect because “you must consider that in the Book of Mormon 2, 5:23, God is said to have placed ‘the curse of black skin’ upon the Lamanites, in order to make them unattractive to the Nephites. .. . Among the leading Laminites mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon is-Jacob.”

4. “In the movie, as with the book, the most evil of the vampires (the ones who are enemies to the white Edward) is dark Laurent.”

Having said that, some of her basic assumptions about the book are incorrect. Jacob’s tribe is the Quileute tribe located in La Push, Washington and not the Paiute tribe which is located in Utah. Paiutes are not mentioned in Twilight at all. This may not make a difference to Valdes-Rodriguez because the mere use of Native Americans as the opposite for the cold, white vampires might be all the imagery that is necessary to form the basis of the argument.

Second, Laurent is not the worst of the vampires. It is James who attacks and nearly kills Bella. James is described as “slighter than the leader, his light brown hair and regular features both nondescript. His eyes, though completely still, somehow seemed the most vigilant.” And Laurent is not dark skinned, merely dark haired and is said to be a “tall, dark-haired man in a manner that clearly displayed who led the pack.” James is the leader of the coven and Laurent is afraid of James.

Third, despite Bella choosing the white boy over the brown boy, in Book 4, Jacob Black imprints on Bella and Edwards’ child who is the most perfect white creature of two perfect white beings. He will eventually be Edward and Bella’s son in law. If Meyers is consciously writing a racist book, then Black would be killed or at least ostracized and not allowed to be united with the most precious of all beings, the child of Bella and Edward.

“In well-crafted fiction, there are no coincidences.” says Valdes-Rodriguez. Therein lies the problem, the ultimate false basis for the argument. Valdes-Rodriguez gives way too much credit to Meyer as a craftsperson of writing. Meyer, to me, is a very unconscious writer, giving virtually nothing but superficial thought to her characters. If she did inspect the themes and mores of her story she may be horrified and not because of the underlying racism but because of the underlying anti feminist message (although maybe that wouldn’t horrify her. I don’t think I can safely make any assessment either way). Meyer is a gifted storyteller but I don’t think she is creating well crafted fiction.

The reason I say this is because Breaking Dawn, in particular, lacks any nuance. For example, a conscious writer would choose to show both the dark side of wish fulfillment and the good side of wish fulfillment, or at least play with the concept of control and wish fulfillment. A conscious writer would recognize that in promoting the concept of free will that imprinting (the magical method of finding one’s soul mate) would be in direct conflict with one another because what could be less about free choice than being magically bonded to someone for all eternity? A conscious writer would realize that a book that has no sacrifice, no loss, represents very one dimensional characters and stories.

Stephenie Meyer is a great storyteller, but there are many other there that are better at their craft. This is not to say that Meyers isn’t racist. She very well could be but I don’t see her stories as unconscious dog whistles.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

69 Comments

  1. rebyj
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 00:33:52

    I think that any novels that reach the popularity as Meyer’s series has are going to come under fire for one thing or another.

    Sorry, I have to ask…… why bring up the Mormon /Paiute issue? Are the vampires Mormons? I have this mental image of them in black suits riding bikes and knocking on doors with little pamphlets for a small (blood) “donation” offering to save your soul ……ironically having lost their own LOL.

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  2. loonigrrl
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 00:43:21

    In well-crafted fiction, there are no coincidences.” says Valdes-Rodriguez.

    I just finished Breaking Dawn last night. I would by no means call it (and the last two books) well crafted fiction.

    But you must consider that in the Book of Mormon 2, 5:23, God is said to have placed “the curse of black skin” upon the Lamanites, in orer to make them unattractive to the Nephites. The precise word used is “black,” the name Meyer chose to give her dark-skinned Native American character. The Laminites, meanwhile, are described in the Book of Mormon as being a wild, ferocious, plundering, robbing, and murdering people, and God punishes all Nephites who marry them by cursing their children with dark skin, too.

    I think she is seriously reaching in her argument. I’m not even sure how to respond to this-I don’t see it at all. If Meyer was racist, then it seems to me that the werewolves, particularly Jacob, wouldn’t be allies with the Cullens. They wouldn’t have saved the vampires and Bella time and again. Jacob wouldn’t even be a part of the love triangle. He certainly wouldn’t have imprinted on Bella’s daughter.

    I also doubt that the name Jacob is synonymous to all that is evil and bad in the Book of Mormon. In fact, I found a wikipedia page re: a prophet named Jacob.

    And what about the ending? The Cullens are joined by the werewolves and vampires of all nationalities to stand against the Volturi. If Meyer meant to write racist propaganda then why would dark-skinned and light-skinned vampires and werewolves fight side by side?

    It seems to me that Valdes-Rodriguez jumped to the conclusion that Meyer was racist and tried to find anything- no matter how preposterous- to support that conclusion.

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  3. MoJo
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 00:55:40

    I have this mental image of them in black suits riding bikes and knocking on doors with little pamphlets for a small (blood) “donation” offering to save your soul ……ironically having lost their own

    That’s the third funniest thing I’ve read all day. Thanks for making me wake up my kid. ;)

    As to the rest, well, meh.

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  4. Devon
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 06:50:49

    rebyj, I would imagine that she brings up the Mormon issue, because Meyer is Mormon.

    I have a lot of difficulty crediting the argument at all because its author made such glaring errors. “Dark” can be interpreted by the reader, but she picked the wrong character! I saw the movie trailer last night, and Laurent is portrayed by an African-American actor, so maybe that’s where AVR got that from. FTR, in the movie trailer, James appears the worst, and he is Volchok from the OC, one of the whitest shows evah.

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  5. Staedtler
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 07:15:33

    Judging the whole post by Valdes-Rodriguez and her subsequent follow up remarks to commentors, I would suspect it is -she- who clearly has an anti-Mormon agenda to perpetuate here.

    I wonder if this still gives her the moral high ground.

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  6. katiebabs
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 07:55:58

    Meyer racist? I will say bullshit. Her Twilight series is about hope and acceptance. Breaking Dawn may be a bit wacky IMO, but I know that everyone, from vampire, human and werewolf are loved and happy.

    Maybe Rodriguez should read Meyer’s The Host, which is IMO a novel about love and hope for all cultures and species to live in harmony together.

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  7. Kimber An
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 08:30:12

    There are two kinds of racists, that I can tell. The Hater and the Ignorant. Most Haters are beyond hope of enlightenment, but most Ignorants can learn. If I read the book, I might be able to tell if there is any racism going on. However, I don’t like vampires or werewolves (I don’t find blood and fur appealing), so I won’t be reading. I only urge those who do to be objective and patient on the racism issue. A lot of Ignorants are willing to learn, but if we’re impatient they can turn into Haters and there will be no betterment of society.
    ;)

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  8. Christina
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 08:52:24

    I didn’t find the series to be racist, but then I don’t normally look for that to begin with. The problem is that the media picked up and kept slapping our faces with her religion and her dedication to her faith (not watching rate R movies, not working on Sunday, etc.) As soon as they mentioned her religion, many people started to question why she would chose to write about vampires, werewolves and a human girl being caught between the two. If there are any themes to debate to death, they would be the feminist issues in the books, wish fulfillment, making sacrifices to find true happiness and the portrayal of her heroine (I’m probably missing more).

    The quality of her work and her abilities as a writer should be the focus of debates, not on her faith or how she chose to live her life.

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  9. Keishon
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 08:53:16

    Well, the fact that she [Valdes-Rodriguez] got quite a few details wrong in the story to justify her argument makes one question the value of that argument and not give much credence to it. Her details were incorrect regarding Jacob’s tribe, which was the foundation of her argument. She never addressed the error in the comments that I read. I agree that Meyer is a gifted storyteller but craftsman she is not.

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  10. Melinda
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 09:16:52

    Interesting article. I would have to reread this series to make a comment on racism. However, another good topic is how Meyer’s religion influenced many of her decisions on character building, which could include this argument. I have never considered Meyer gifted in either storytelling or craft. I had a problem with Bella, her protagonist, from book #1. This whole Twilight obsession has been troubling, when you consider young girls reading it. I don’t hold with the argument that it’s better to read something, even bad books, than nothing at all.

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  11. Angela James
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 09:40:08

    I haven’t read the books and I’m wondering…can #2 be considered a spoiler?

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  12. Jane
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 09:52:30

    Yes, but I did say at the top of the post that it is very spoiler-ish although anyone who actually thought Bella would choose Jacob hasn’t read the books.

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  13. rebyj
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 09:57:58

    Thanks Devon, I didn’t know that. I would have guessed Scientologist after reading The Host because of all the aliens lol.

    I haven’t read her Twilight series, my 17 year old read the first 2 then got tired of it. As I said, I read The Host and agree with you Katiebabs, I know it wasn’t marketed as young adult but it may as well been (squeaky clean it was!) anyway I can see how your point that hope for all cultures and species to live in harmony together could apply.

    From what I know about Mormonism, they have worked hard over the past few decades to turn around some pretty harsh racial policies and I really don’t see an active Mormon such as Meyers intentionally writing inflammatory racism in her books. It just wouldn’t make sense and bad press for the Mormon church might lead to excommunication. So no, in my opinion I don’t think she intentionaly wrote to sterotype Paiute’s as bad guys.

    The fact is when a book series becomes popular like this one, people will crawl out of the woodworks to use their popularity to push their own agendas. And that may be the case here. If it can spark reasonable and productive conversations like this one then great but I don’t think that was Rodriguez’s intention.

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  14. Rowena
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 10:11:10

    What I want to know is…what Book of Mormon is this scripture from? Book of Mormon 2, 5:23? I didn’t know there was a Book of Mormon 2 and Chapter 5 verse 23? What book is this scripture found in?

    That alone shows me that she’s not as knowledgable about the Mormon faith as she believes herself to be and she doesn’t want to be, so I’m not even going to bother with that.

    Then there are the errors about Jacob’s tribe…how can you take that post seriously after all those errors?

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  15. katiebabs
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 10:20:07

    I would think there would be more shock with whom Jacob imprints with.
    Bleck.

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  16. Keishon
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 10:43:31

    I would think there would be more shock with whom Jacob imprints with.
    Bleck

    Tell me about it. That was enough to make me wait and read this at a latter time.

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  17. Vanessa
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 10:57:42

    What bothers me, aside from the inaccuracies Valdes-Rodriguez used to try and make her point, is that this appears to be another case of a minority pointing fingers at someone else. What if someone noted a paucity of Caucasian characters in Ms. Valdes-Rodriguez’s books and called her a racist?

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  18. KerA
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 11:01:10

    “In well-crafted fiction, there are no coincidences.”

    All by itself, that statement is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a while. Reader interpretation injects a whole world of meaning an author never intended and could not possibly anticipate, creating coincidences that have nothing to do with quality of craft. If a reader wants to find racism in any book, she will manage to do so. But even if that book is entitled Racism: A Novel, it’s a logic-defying leap from “the author wrote about racism” to “the author is a racist.”

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  19. Jane
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 11:02:50

    Vanessa – in Valdes-Rodriguez’s defense, I think she was trying to articulate an argument based on the depiction of certain minority characters and not just on the mere exclusion or inclusion of them. For me, the inaccuracies that form the basis of her hypothesis is what craters her argument.

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  20. Emmy
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 11:26:38

    Meyer’s characters are a misbegotten collection of one dimensional twits and pedophiles. The entire series is more 6th grader daydream than fantasy, as it has so generously been called. The most poorly written, ill conceived series of books I have had the displeasure of reading in recent memory.

    The story itself, racist? Not so much.

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  21. MCHalliday
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 12:57:12

    The discussion of whether there is a “Book of Mormon 2″ aroused my insatiable ‘need to know’. So after researching, I discovered the reference made to “Book of Mormon 2″ is not that the Book is the second of two, but rather indicates the The Second Book of Nephi, Chapter 5, Line 23, in the Book of Mormon.

    I just quoted the line but decided to delete it, it’s wholly not in keeping with my ideology.

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  22. SusanL
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 13:53:06

    I think Ms Valdes-Rodriguez is stretching to reach this conclusions, given all the inaccuracies in her arguments regarding the books/contents.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but Ms V-R’s concerns seem to be focused on Ms Meyer’s religion. Ms V-R seems to be venting this on Ms M, possibly because she is an available public figure in Ms V-R’s own area (author).

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  23. Maya Reynolds
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:00:35

    I haven’t read the series so I don’t feel qualified to comment on the validity of Valdes-Rodriguez’ arguments.

    However, I do know that–as an Anglo–I’m simply not as sensitive to issues of race as are my black and brown friends. There are actually times when I’m tempted to mentally roll my eyes when one of them makes a comment I regard as being hyper-sensitive on the subject.

    That’s when I have to remind myself that the males in my life frequently complain that I’m hyper-sensitive to the discrimination of females.

    It’s easy to make assumptions about another’s motives or to impugn them personally, but to use a cliche appropriate to this discussion, until we walk in their mocassins, . . .

    Of course, the same could be said of Valdes-Rodriguez.

    I’m gonna stop here before I make myself crazy.

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  24. JJ
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:01:16

    The more troubling aspect here is how Ms. Valdes-Rodriguez conflates Mormonism with racism. Excuse me, but what? She uses Meyers’ religious background to explicate her points, but that to me is just a faulty thesis.

    Now, I would agree that Meyers’ Mormonism comes across extraordinarily strongly in her work. My dad’s family is Mormon (he is not, therefore I was not raised Mormon), but the concept of being bonded to someone for eternity (imprinting, Bella and Edward being soul mates, yadda yadda yadda) is a large tenet of Mormon faith. (To go off on a tangent, this is how the issue of polygamy came into existence: when a husband and wife marry, they are “celestially” or “eternally” married and “sealed” together. Although they both can only be sealed to one partner at a time, in the afterlife, they could theoretically be sealed to several others if they were widowed or divorced.) I would never say that Mormonism is anti-feminist, per se, but they have much more conservative values than we do and I think it comes across very strongly in Meyers’ work. (Babies. BAAAAAAAAAABIES. BABIES!)

    I would say her books are anti-feminist though, but not consciously. Bella actually makes me physically ill. Grow a spine, please!

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  25. Pepper E
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:05:33

    I think Valdes-Rodriguez needs a history lesson before she starts spouting off her theories (of which, I don’t really care about since I never read the books).

    1) I’m guessing she’s referring to the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Which is a trifle more complicated (and controversial) than her brief summary. It happened during a time of huge tension and conflict between the Utah territory and the Federal Government. In fact, the US Army had been mustered and sent to Utah–and the Mormons feared it was to crush them, destroy them, and destroy their temple. This was not unprecedented–the same thing happened to them in Missouri and Illinois. Which is why they moved as far west as Utah. There were rumors that the Fancher-Baker wagon train had participated in different acts targeting Mormons (and this was around the time Parley P. Pratt was murdered and shortly after the prophet Joseph Smith was martyred). That doesn’t excuse the massacre, but it was not about “stealing their land”.

    3) Jacob was not a Lamanite. Jacob was Nephi’s brother, and he and Joseph were born in the wilderness. When Lamen and Lemuel left Lehi and their brother Nephi, Jacob and Joseph did not follow Lamen and Lemuel. They stayed with Nephi and Jacob became a prophet. The followers of Lamen and Lemuel lost the priesthood that had been given to Lehi and his descendants, and they were marked as a sign that they did not have the Priesthood. Now, that doesn’t mean that all followers of Lamen and Lemuel (or the Lamenites) were always evil, and it doesn’t mean the Nephites were always good. Throughout the BoM, they trade places several times, until they’re all wiped out. I’m getting away from the point, though which is that Jacob was never a Lamenite and there are no evil Jacobs in the Book of Mormon.

    Now, the Mormon church does have a history of racism. Hell, history nothing–some of the most racist people I know are right here in Utah and go to church every week. And while I was raised in the church, complete with Sunday School and daily Seminary instruction, I am no longer a member. But it just really chaps my hide when people talk out of their ass and pass off false information to “win” a debate. Of course, I might be more sensitive now because all of this has brought up a lot of discussion about Mormons and Mormon beliefs and most of it is wrong, wrong wrong. Like, for example, it isn’t against LDS belief to read about vampires, or write about vampires, or even watch movies about vampires!

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  26. JaimeK
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:10:15

    Oh boy! People kill me. I am in complete agreement that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but do they have to be so damn dumb? I mean srsly! This reminds me of the JK Rowling “oh my gawd, dumbledore is gay, we are going to infect our children” crap that went around.

    I have read Ms.M’s books. I do not see, nor smell racism. Yes, as a writer your personal beliefs can bleed in (no pun) to your writing, however, I just don’t see it the way this Ms. Valdes-Rodriguez does. I agree with others posted here – it seems like a big stretch to find something that doesn’t exist.

    I finished that paragraph 3 or 4 minutes ago and I keep re-reading and shaking my head. I guess if I were to really give my honest opinion of this whole thing??? It would be WTF!!!

    Peace.

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  27. Lejcarjt
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:11:02

    I don't mean to change this topic of conversation away from SM and her books, but I did want to correct a couple of misconceptions on Mormonism.

    It just wouldn't make sense and bad press for the Mormon church might lead to excommunication.

    Bad press does not lead to excommunication. There have been a few, very rare cases where it did. These were over-the-top issues rather than a normal member of the church disagreeing with official church policy or someone doing/saying something embarrassing. Frankly, most people constantly embarrass themselves and others. Human nature. Most excommunication happens because of adultery.

    On 2 Nephi 5:23… I want to get to the heart what is really objectionable. If you read the entire passage it equates black skin with people who commit sin so that they can be differentiated from the people who are following God. Do we believe this happened? Yes. Do we believe that this is also what happened to Cain? Yes. Do we believe that it has any barring whatsoever on people of various skin colors today? No. Because one of the primary tenets of our religion is that a person is only responsible for their own sins and own life. So any curse of Cain's or anything else is Cain's problem (even if his children have different skin color because of it, that is not a fault, a negative to them. It’s just skin color.). You have to judge the person in front of you by that person, and not their parents or their parents' problems. (ie. We are not responsible for Adam and Eve eating the apple either, but none of us are living in the Garden of Eden.)

    By today's standards, judging a person based on skin color is not okay (and of course Mormon's agree with that. Only 50% of the church is white anyways.). But historically (until very recently for pretty much 100% of the planet) skin color was everything, and for a lot of people it still is. Like it or not, ALL of our ancestors were racists. Doesn't mean we are today. Doesn't mean SM is by default.

    (I'll shut up now. I really don't want to take over the thread. I just like things to be clear rather than muddled when talking about the things that are important to me.)

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  28. JaimeK
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:12:52

    Gooooo Pepper!!!

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  29. MoJo
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:22:49

    I would say her books are anti-feminist though, but not consciously.

    JJ, the very unconsciousness of the anti-feminist and sexual subtext is what’s most troubling to me as a Mormon who didn’t grow up in the “Mormon corridor” aka the “Intermountain West” aka Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada (and some parts of California). It troubles a good portion of the Mormon women I know who’ve read this, but again, this is a regional/geographical thing.

    I’ve said before that I firmly believe she didn’t know what kind of sex she was really writing (again, I am only speaking to Twilight) and others have thought that not possible in today’s society, but I stand by that. I only wish she had done it on purpose, because that would be a clever and deliciously wicked joke. But no, I don’t think so. Such widespread naivete is most assuredly possible amongst the membership, particularly west of the Rockies.

    There are a lot of moments in life when that’s refreshing and necessary and rejuvenating to the spirit, don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to be around such guilelessness, without the mist of cynicism and sarcasm. However, this only highlights the weaknesses inherent in a willingness to insulate oneself from society to such an extent.

    Way to go, Pepper!

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  30. Pepper E
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:25:34

    Frankly, most people constantly embarrass themselves and others. Human nature. Most excommunication happens because of adultery.

    And usually, excommunication (and disfellowship) aren’t done to punish the member who has sinned. Somebody who is excommunicated isn’t barred from returning to the Mormon church.

    Also, even if SMeyer did something horribly embarrassing to the LDS church or that reflected poorly on her church, the whole organization wouldn’t come down on her ass, like it’s the Utah mafia or something. If she’s committed a sin, it falls to her and her bishop (and if it’s really egregious, her stake president) to discuss it, pray over it, get counseling for it, repent, and move on. Writing a book about vampires (racist or not, sexist or not, sexy or not, paranormal or not, violent or not) is not a sin. If she had revealed the Temple rituals in Breaking Dawn, she’d have to answer to her stake president (and she’d be in serious trouble). Short of that, though? Nothing.

    Thanks JaimeK!

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  31. rebyj
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 15:40:20

    Bad press does not lead to excommunication. There have been a few, very rare cases where it did.

    Tis why I said ” might” lead to excommunication. It does happen, rarely as you say, most recently the man who created the calender with the Mormon man hunks. I’d say it’s a reasonable concern given how popular Meyer’s is. My original point being in the context of:

    I really don't see an active Mormon such as Meyers intentionally writing inflammatory racism in her books. It just wouldn't make sense and bad press for the Mormon church might lead to excommunication.

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  32. Barbara B.
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 16:45:39

    Vanessa said-
    “What bothers me, aside from the inaccuracies Valdes-Rodriguez used to try and make her point, is that this appears to be another case of a minority pointing fingers at someone else. What if someone noted a paucity of Caucasian characters in Ms. Valdes-Rodriguez's books and called her a racist?”

    I really hate the phrase “minority” as it’s used in the U.S. It’s basically come to mean non-white instead of a numerically non-dominant group of a population. It’s used here in a very disdainful way, in my opinion. I would imagine that people with this mindset would travel to non-European majority countries and consider the people there minorities.

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  33. J.
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 17:26:05

    This is a very interesting topic to read about, but what I really find alarming is the recent MTV interview released. Essentially, it’s the “fans” fault the book didn’t live up to expectations because they hyped it up too much. (Have I missed the memo that says it’s a bad thing to hype up a book you love?!) Apparently so! But then, it also seems there’s an insinuation that if the book didn’t make sense to you, you don’t “really love” the characters. WTF?

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  34. Randi
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 18:28:29

    J-

    do you have a link to that interview? Cause if that’s the gist, it’s very LKH of her. hhahahahahah.

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  35. Heather
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 18:55:43

    Okay I am going to say one thing and one thing only here. I am writing a romance book and there is a lot of sex in it. Now are you ready for it I’m Mormon and in very good standing with the church. *GASP*

    Sorry just had to say it.

    Some people are just ignorant of others and apparently Valdez-Rodriguez is.

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  36. MoJo
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 19:03:56

    Heather, me too. And my characters are Mormon.

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  37. Anion
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 19:19:53

    (To go off on a tangent, this is how the issue of polygamy came into existence: when a husband and wife marry, they are “celestially” or “eternally” married and “sealed” together. Although they both can only be sealed to one partner at a time, in the afterlife, they could theoretically be sealed to several others if they were widowed or divorced.)

    Actually, JJ, with all due respect, the issue of polygamy came into existence because the first Mormons were polygamists, here on Earth; Joseph Smith received a revalation that told him he should take more than one wife and other men should, too (now, I don’t recall offhand if this was something he was told by the angel Moroni or by God or what, as I am not Mormon, but the situation as you describe it is the current one, not the original one.) When the US gov’t made polygamy illegal in 1890 (if memory serves; I’m too lazy to Google), the then-LDS President suddenly received another revelation saying the practice should be abandoned, and ever since then actual on-earth polygamy has been grounds for excommunication, although as you pointed out it is still possible to be polygamous in heaven–whichever Mormon level of heaven you happen to be on, I would assume. I’m not Mormon, I’ve just known a lot of them and done some studying on my own/question asking, the way you do when you’re curious about a friend’s religion.

    I’m not particularly a fan of the Mormon religion on the whole, for personal reasons. But I dislike seeing any religion attacked in this heavy-handed, inaccurate, offensive manner (by which I mean Valdes-Rodriguez’s). I seriously doubt Meyers is a racist, and even if she is, being Mormon has nothing to do with being racist.

    As a somewhat conservative person I grow more and more weary every day with the intellectually lazy assumption that conservative automatically=racist/sexist/homophobic/secret pigfucker/whatever other slime you want to throw. As a Pagan (yep, a conservative Pagan, whaddaya know) I am extremely leery about anyone making rash assumptions about religions or their followers and spreading them casually about like they were true, or making blanket statements about the followers of a religion all having the same thoughts, feelings, ideas, or whatever. As a writer I am offended by the idea that others will try to use me and whatever success I may find to push their own agendas without any basis, without caring what their assumptions (which to me border on libelous, but I’m certainly no lawyer unlike some people here :)) may do to harm my career, my reputation, or my family. Calling someone a racist in today’s society is extremely serious. It is not an accusation to be made on the basis of half-truths or not being happy they didn’t write the book you wanted them to write or people it with the types of characters you wanted them to people it with.

    Beyond that, I think this is a silly cry for attention on behalf of Valdes-Rodriguez, and that sadly there’s enough real racism in the world to be upset about without stuff like this muddying the waters and making it easy for people to belittle or ignore very real occurences of racism.

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  38. Anion
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 19:32:34

    Sorry, I said “first Mormons” up there when I should have said “early Mormons”.

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  39. J.
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 20:26:50

    Randi –
    Here it is:
    http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1592457/story.jhtml
    I’m still kind of sitting here just saying “What…..?”

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  40. mia madwyn
    Aug 08, 2008 @ 21:16:11

    It’s very clear that the real prejudice here is from Valdes-Rodriguez and it’s against Mormons.

    For the record, I’m not Mormon.

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  41. Chrissy
    Aug 09, 2008 @ 02:43:39

    I didn’t really find racism or even the anti-abortion or conservative preaching others have spoken about. But I think these books are not healthy after having read the first few. And I’m a little shocked that I seem to be the only one bothered by Edward being almost 100 years old, wooing a 17 year old. He LOOKS like a teenager. He isn’t one, and he doesn’t act like one.

    I’m equally disturbed by his abusiveness, and the celebration of melodrama as love. This isn’t a love story.

    If my kid asked, I’d hand him or her PC and Kristen Cast’s books in stead. Way better and much more realistic characters!

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  42. Shreela
    Aug 09, 2008 @ 04:49:09

    Black hole!

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  43. MCHalliday
    Aug 09, 2008 @ 14:49:56

    Influenced by many factors but simply put, opinions/perceptions are largely formed through environment, experience and education.

    Opinions may have played a role in Meyer’s works (refering to the adage, ‘write what you know’) but they are fiction, after all.

    Add readers interpreting with their own perceptions and the result is numerous opinions in the offing.

    Perhaps, the question is whether or not it is valid to air/blog one’s perceptions. Is it fair to the person scrutinzed? Or the practise of free speech (without regard to repercussions) and perfectly acceptable?

    Flexing my cynical side, it could be a means of promoting interest in the books following Twilight.

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  44. Helen Burgess
    Aug 09, 2008 @ 16:01:26

    Nothing to do with Mormons. The ancient egyptians bad god/devil was a redhead. So do we beware all those flame haired fiesty heroines?

    Readers may be interested in a review in a UK paper Telegraph.co.uk/endpaper of Breaking Dawn, the last line of which is “at least it’s not Bratz”. Make of that what you will.

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  45. Mac
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 03:40:05

    Someone I know had a serious problem with all the Brazilians being portrayed as “wild” and “from the jungle.”

    That’s all I got.

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  46. Tinny
    Aug 25, 2008 @ 13:56:51

    I would like to address all those people who are saying that Stephanie Meyers books are poorly written.

    Please rememeber that these books are aimed at young adults, who won’t be looking for every flaw and blemish in the stories they read.

    I have this very day just finished reading the entire Twilight series and I was captivated by the fast moving plots and action sequences. I’m sorry to all those who didn’t enjoy the series, all I have to say to you is that you must have a very poor imagination.

    My only moment of uncomfort when reading the series was when the character Bella changed roles in the story, and it unnerves me that a character that was once catergorised as a victim suddenly takes the leap to heroine.

    Going back to the original point of this discussion, I disagree absolutely that Stephanie Meyer is racist. Yes, Jacob Black is decribed as ‘dark’, but how do you describe someone who is part of a native american tribe? In colouring, their skin is darker than the average ‘white’ american.
    Another point to mention is that the stories of spirit people and shape shifters do come from native american myth and ledgend. So shouldn’t it make the most sense that the characters inspired from those myths should be the people who tell them?
    As for Bella choosing Edward over Jacob, isn’t it obvious from the start that her heart belongs to Edward? If Stephanie Meyer is racist for making that decision then am I not also racist because I’ve never dated a dark skinned man?

    For all those who have not read the books, I will give you one piece of advice: read the books as stories that you can imagine in your head, not as a bunch of words on a page.

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  47. Mireya
    Aug 26, 2008 @ 07:58:09

    Tinny, paranormal romance is my favorite category of romance followed by historical romance. It is precisely because I have a BIG imagination that I prefer those two genres. I don’t think that labeling those of us who didn’t find Twilight anything special is either accurate nor fair.

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  48. Sonelle
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 19:01:30

    Why do people think that Bella is such a bad female role model? I’ve heard people say that this story is anti feminist, but I just do not see it like that.

    She is a girl who is the one taking care of her parents. I see her as smart and wise beyond her years. She is sure of herself and she knows exactly what she wants. When did these characteristics suddenly make a person weak? I find it so silly that people keep saying that she’s so weak…the girl is surrounded by vampires with superhuman strength. Wouldn’t we all come off a bit weak around them. In my opinion, Bella is a good role model for young girls because there are so many young people out there who are lost and are too busy trying to change themselves to fit in with others.

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  49. Courtney
    Sep 01, 2008 @ 22:03:04

    Stephenie named Jacob after her brother so…..

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  50. Alicia
    Sep 14, 2008 @ 20:28:45

    1) As much as I love Jacob, Bella fell in love with Edward first and loves him more. She didn’t pick Jacob just he doesn’t have white skin.

    2)She named Jacob after her brother.

    3) The evil vampire is James, not Laurent. And James is white, not dark skinned.

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  51. Kat
    Oct 11, 2008 @ 12:30:58

    Stephenie Meyer had a great idea. She is neither a great storyteller or a great writer. I couldn’t get past 50 pages because it was so badly written. I kept telling myself “stick it out” because it has to get good at some point considering all the adulation. Uh uh!

    I could see the appeal if I were 12 years old again. I think it’s great that younger people are more inclined to read because of writers like JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer but they’re terrible writers.

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  52. Drew Armstrong
    Nov 11, 2008 @ 10:55:16

    Um, do any of you who are claiming Mrs. Meyer to be a racist have a clue as to what her husbands first name is? Figure it out… Look at the dedications in Twilight… Poor writing means un-enjoyable writing… There are all sorts of styles and if you want to take an american novelist class at an upper division university level you are not going to be reading Fablehaven novels, Levin Thumbs or Harry Potter… these are stories… not “All’s Quiet on the Western Front” and never were intended to be. They are fun… we don’t all go to the movies to watch Oscar nominees only… we go for fun… these were fun. I just read all 4 this past week… Totally fun. (By the way… the first 3 chapters of Twilight were dry and boring… Stephanie herself said she was surprised that it got picked up by her agent after she read the first 3 chapters… It gets better…)

    Look… I like Titanic, No Country for Old Men, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind and Chicago… But I also enjoyed the Simpsons Movie… who doesn’t like spider pigs? This is fun… it is not designed to show up in an American literature class 45 years from now.

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  53. Sam
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 03:44:30

    Valdes-Rodriguez got certain things quite wrong on Mormons:

    a) they did not dress up as indians to kill people
    b) “Jacob” is not a Lamanite, and not dark skinned
    c) Laurent’s dark skin could just be a comparison: the Cullens represent good, and Laurent represents evil

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  54. That's important?
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 15:26:11

    She’s racist, and I’m not just talking about Alisa’s text, the point is in Bella and Edward’s honeymoon at Esme Island (In Brazil, btw.)
    She make we, the brazilians, look like trash, she says something about that Brazilian Vamps are anti-social, i don’t remember that correctly, but I just HATE breaking dawn, and I guess that good part of the Brazilians (who are so crazy like Americans about Twilight) will hate this too.

    Unhappy, in Br, we just can read Breaking Dawn like e-book, here we just have New Moon and Twilight. I’m really hoping that when the fourth book appear here people think like I think, what’s the meather? Why some people have this bad-imprection with my country? We are just NORMAL.
    And we’re happy and nice people, I swear. Just telling people who is always saying bad things about 3rd World Countries or is Racist to know better that countries/people. I’m a white-brazilian girl, but that don’t changes nothing. I just LOVE my country, with all problems we have here.

    Sorry for take it personal, anyway.

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  55. Holly
    Dec 10, 2008 @ 19:00:56

    I think the fact that people are even debating this, is purely ridiculous! Stephenie Meyer is NOT a racist. People are just questioning this because Stephenie is mormon. And its not a surprise that Mormons aren’t the most popular religion group. That is why people are making such a big deal about it. If J.K. Rowling was Mormon, people could argue the same thing. Stephenie probably was just making up a name for Jacob. She probably would be horrified if she found out people were saying such hateful things. Is it really that necessary to bring religion into everything? Also, I disagree. Breaking Dawn was a refreshing and true to the story book. It was the best book in the entire series. It allowed the characters to mature and to really develop. I applaud Stephenie for sticking to her guns and writing the novel she wanted to. Stephenie Meyer is an amazing writer. That is why she is so succesful. And… as with success, comes criticism. The only reason people are saying such hateful things is because some don’t like the fact that a Mormon can be so succesful. As for those people, your rage and jealousy is something I pity.

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  56. celamba
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 12:45:20

    I think the discussion on whether Stephanie Meyers and her books are racist is ludicrous. As someone who has read the books I didn't see any. I read the books with some trepidation but tried to keep an open mind while reading them. Most of Valdes-Rodriguez's arguments seem to stem from the fact that Meyers is a Mormon and not the books themselves, not to mention she has inaccuracies in her allegations. The only racism I see is that of Valdes-Rodriguez and that against Mormons. I can't really comment on Mormons as I don't know much about them. Besides what does Stephanie Meyer's religion have to do with the book? Everybody believes in something even if it's nothing. I don’t see Valdes-Rodriguez commenting on her own religious beliefs.
    Also Jacob is named after Stephanie Meyers brother and is considered a good guy in the book (I mean he's Bella's best friend). As for Bella choosing the “(white) vampire over the (brown) werewolf” well it had nothing to do with racism it was because she cared about the Vampire more and she even says that if she hadn't met Edward she would have been most likely with Jacob (see other books). Also in the book(s) the most evil of the vampires is not Laurent but the tracker. There are quite a bit of white evil vampires in the books. Besides villains and heroes come in all shapes and sizes, to imply an author can't make a villain a minority because that would make them a racist is ridiculous. While I believe the book(s) had its critisms this is definitely not one of them and I can only conclude that Valdes-Rodriguez is attacking Meyers from a position of ignorance. Some people will only see what they want to see.

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  57. Susan
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 07:45:52

    Yeah, ditto what Celamba said, entirely. As for TWILIGHT being an unhealthy read for teen girls, I gotta say, having BEEN a teen girl, that that first love experience is the most intense, reckless feeling there is and I sure didn’t act circumspectly and did become absorbed with all things HIM. Women, especially young women, are very invested in their emotional lives and when we are truly besotted the practical, cerebral rules can fly out the window. TWILIGHT may not have a PC feminist POV but it’s more or less honest from a female emotional POV. Juliet didn’t exactly make some great, pro-feminest choices either, but we celebrate R&J as great romance literature and not a cautionary tale of damaged teen co-dependency.

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  58. Melissa
    Dec 29, 2008 @ 00:49:18

    I believe everyone is looking into this crap too much. If you can pin point moronic things as such, it is probably because you are a racist. Does it really matter?

    Plus, in my opinion, if you are too afraid to say things like black, it’s probably that you are the one that is racist. (I just used black as an example) I don’t know if you understand what I am implying….

    I don’t believe Stephanie Meyers intended for it ‘seem’ racist. You only find things like this if you are looking for it. Mormon stupidity and such.

    Also, all this bull about how these books aren’t great influence to teen girls– news flash! It’s pretty hard for a girl to go looking for a vampire boyfriend. It’s just literature… and it’s fake, to an extent, like many other books out there.

    This is a stupid topic. Let go of all this racist bull….

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  59. CezQuixote
    Jan 13, 2009 @ 21:16:47

    Hmmm? I thought that could be the case, but I don’t think it is done intentionally or maliciously. I just think that Stephanie Meyers wrote what appeals to her subconscious. Consciously, she did stir in the mix, vampires, and lycans. Also, possibly realizing how it might seem and that perhaps this could suffice as inclusion. She wrote what she knew about, and what would probably attract the most interest. Lots of people of color, including me, have just come to expect that, and accept it. Others might choose to dwell on it, and that causes fairly useless pain. Yet, it’s easy to say just throw these thoughts out the window, but eventhough things have changed, you know it’s (those who can’t tolerate different ethnicities) still out there. If it isn’t addressed or considered, all that has been conquered would be diminished, erode, and allowed to flourish once again. And, there are those people still, who wish it were. Not just in America, but when in the past, and in other lands, and cultures. Just my point of view of course.

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  60. Ms. Grepperud
    Jan 14, 2009 @ 15:47:34

    This is utterly absurd.
    Jacob is never portraid as anything other than a nice person, who makes mistakes like every human does. He is loved within the twilight community, and if someone hates him its merely because he puts Edward and Bellas relationship on a test. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is native american. I would also say that I am positive that Stephenie Meyer feels as strongly about Jacob Black as Edward and Bella. She has expressed her love for this character on several occasions, and I truthfully belive her 100 %. The fact that Edward ends up with the girl is that they “have to be together”. It is actually written in the saga that in a world where Edward didnt exist (which would be a “normal” world, since he is something unnatural.. jake is that as well, but being a werewolf was always a part of him, unlike edward) Jacob and Bella would be very happy together.

    Yours sincerly Ragnhild Grepperud

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  61. Steph
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 08:27:03

    well over the arguements that Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez said i like to say that its completely a invalid arguement.. reason why spoiler although already been mentioned .. Bella choices Edward because she is love with him .. she cannot live without him .. they are tied together and all that .. not because he is white.

    also about Laurent okay he is black and he’s with the bad guys in a sense it doesn’t make meyer racist as .. SPOILER .. in breaking dawn .. the Cullens get vampires to help them and they do get multinatinal vampires in the story as you would say as the ‘good’ guys i.e the amazon clan even irish vampires .. so that arguement doesn’t really count either .. so tbh .. it’s a load of crap about meyer being racist cos she aint .. not at all her story’s are based on love and tragedy .. not about being racist at all ..

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  62. anissa
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 20:41:43

    I really don’t think her religon has anything to do with this. It is the content of the book. For one there is parts of the book that implies she believes in the common stereotypes. In Breaking Dawn when bella goes and gets the pass ports the man she gets them from is a choclate color. Now the illegal action would be performed by some one of color. My daughter read this book and went off she threw it away. I took it out the trash and read it ( I paid for it ) it was kind of offensive . As for the series it slef i think it kind of drifted away from the point The last three were okay ,could have been better Breaking dawn the best apart was the sex in my daughters opion . What keeps the attentions is edwards love for her and how passoniate he is i thought it could have been better as a writer

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  63. anon e. mouse
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:51:38

    Joseph smith sensing a disaster that would come upon the Jews in Uerope, he sent a prayer warrior (an apostle of Jesus christ our lord and saviour) not to convert them but to desperately try to convince them (the jews) to immigrate to Israel or zion (the american continent), this he believed would be a better safer place for them, as they progressed to increasingly higher state of consciousness. This would culminate with the return of Jesus to the Jews specificly at Jeruselam because of they’re purified hearts. Behind the scenes the lds church has done many things also to protect Jews as it is capable. My nephew was in the u.s. army and was assigned to Gaza (Israel). He volunteered to be the person who kicked the doors open and to be the first person into the houses of suspected Jew killing terrorists. I was not suprised to find this out. I know his upbringing. I also know he is part native american. The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints has a complicated past. It also has an extremely involved theology. Those that don’t understand this might try to attack us just so they can feel superior. But if they are so high and mighty would they be the first one through the door, when those inside have guns and swords and grenades and booby traps, and suicide jackets? If my part native american nephew is a racist then I can only pray that everyone in this country is as racist as he is.

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  64. anon e. mouse
    Oct 23, 2009 @ 16:57:53

    Joseph smith sensing a disaster that would come upon the Jews in Uerope, he sent a prayer warrior (an apostle of Jesus christ our lord and saviour) not to convert them but to desperately try to convince them (the jews) to immigrate to Israel or zion (the american continent), this he believed would be a better safer place for them, as they progressed to increasingly higher state of consciousness. This would culminate with the return of Jesus to the Jews specificly at Jeruselam because of they’re purified hearts. Behind the scenes the lds church has done many things also to protect Jews as it is capable. My nephew was in the u.s. army and was assigned to Gaza (Israel). He volunteered to be the person who kicked the doors open and to be the first person into the houses of suspected Jew killing terrorists. I was not suprised to find this out. I know his upbringing. I also know he is part native american. The church of Jesus Christ of lds has a complicated past. It also has an extremely involved theology. Those that don’t understand this might try to attack us just so they can feel superior. But if they are so high and mighty would they be the first one through the door, when those inside have guns and swords and grenades and booby traps, and suicide jackets? If my part Native American nephew is a racist then I can only pray that everyone in this country is as racist as he is.

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  65. JAMIE
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 20:23:55

    I know I am getting this years after the first post… Stephanie racist??? She is married to a mexican for heavens sakes! They usually have “darker skin” don’t they? People are over sensitive, I am a decendant from mormon-cherokee indian people. On one side of my family we were driven from our native land. The other driven for our religion, I don’t think it hurts me now today. AT ALL. My ancestors suffered, I am proud of them and have a safe home now because of history changing for the better. Mormon and Indian people were mostly allies…

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  66. Juli
    May 31, 2010 @ 14:09:00

    After reading the Twilight series and “The Host”, I don’t really think Stephenie Meyer is racist. She does, however, seem to have a deep seated hatred of redheads… maybe a redhead stole her boyfriend once. Also, she seems to have a horrible fear of aging, as evidenced by Bella’s paranoia on that subject and by the fact that the herione of her “adult” novel was barely out of her teens.

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  67. LeiaOrgana
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 02:23:08

    One, Laurent was described as a Southern European type. He was not portrayed as black or otherwise nonwhite in the book. Even if he was, how would that make Stephanie Meyer racist? Are you suggesting that it is racist to have nonwhite villains and that it is allowable to only have white villains, particularly those of a Nordic complexion?

    Two, so what if Bella chose white Edward over nonwhite Jacob? Is it really considered racist now for a white woman to chose a white man over a nonwhite one? Whatever happened to freedom of choice and to the right of having one’s own personal preferences? Geez, if this is what antiracism has degenerated into, then antiracism has become no more than a code word for antiwhite.

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  68. LeiaOrgana
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 02:28:58

    @Julie: Because Victoria was a redhead doesn’t necessarily mean that Stephanie Meyer hates redheads. Maybe she does, but I’m saying you can’t really assume that kind of thing just because one of her villains happened to have red hair. That’s kind of like saying that JK Rowling hates blonds because all of her blond characters in Harry Potter are either malignant, unpleasant, or loony. . .

    Hmm . . .

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  69. LeiaOrgana
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 02:37:52

    @Susan: I think you hit the nail right on the head as to why women like Twilight. It’s a love story that everyday women and girls can relate to, but which clashes with what modern feminists would prefer us to relate to. The average lovelorn teenage girl is more likely to fantasize about a Bella and Edward type romance than say, Red Sonja and Conan.

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