Stigmatizing the community...
Jan 31, 2013 | 3014 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Kelly Greene Vagts and I held our wedding here in Moab, we invited people from all over the country to come join us here – to celebrate our marriage and to enjoy the splendor of the area. They were all overjoyed by the beauty, but they wondered if we truly connected with the community because to get from the ceremony site to the reception they drove past the “Negro Bill Canyon” sign. There was a lot of conversation on why that term would be used. Even more significantly, a few of our friends whose skin is not white were not comfortable going into town by themselves for dinner, fearing they would be treated poorly. I am completely serious about this and not proud. We all know that people from all over the world visit our area and enjoy great hospitality while they are here, but an out-of-towner would not know this. On a dark, quiet night in January, our friends did not feel welcome because of that sign on state Route 128.

The name “Negro Bill Canyon” places a stigma on our community as racist and intolerant. It does not show that we are open and welcoming, nor does it show respect or appreciation for a diverse population.

Is this how we want our community to be represented? Are we really putting our best foot forward?

I don’t believe that our community is racist or intolerant; I believe we are a very positive and supportive community with incredible values to share with each other and our many visitors. We have much more to gain by promoting the positive sides of our community than we do through the use of a name that represents different treatment for people of color. The fact is that other names in the county do not qualify the person’s name with the color of his or her skin. This differential treatment does not represent equal and fair treatment.

There is no downside to the use of the name “William Grandstaff Canyon” and there should be no delay in making this name change. I call upon our county council, our city council, our mayor and all other individuals in decision-making positions to support this change out of respect for William Grandstaff and out of respect for our community.

—Thatcher Vagts


Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.