Readers write: Recognizing the influence of Black moms and BTS

Letters to the editor for the August 16, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss how families choose vacation activities and the pop music industry.

Look to the mothers

I’m writing in response to the July 5 cover story on “The outside divide.” I worked on a client project in the early 2000s where the National Park Service was trying to entice people of color into visiting national parks. An opinion survey from that time indicated that the people to entice families into the outdoors were mothers. Mothers were the decision-makers for family vacations and recreational activities, and mothers of color were often afraid of the great outdoors.

While I’ve been to a few state parks in Illinois, such as Starved Rock, I have never visited a national park. As a Black woman, I’ve also never been camping; neither has my mother or sister – even as Girl Scouts. Our view of camping is that it is a way to pretend to be homeless. So the angle that you missed is, what are the various organizations doing to encourage Black adults to visit the great outdoors? Get the adults outdoors and the children will follow.

D.Y. Simmons
Redlands, California

Giving BTS its due

It’s really disappointing that, in the July 26 article “Pop music: Fewer gatekeepers, more opportunities” about the music charts and democratization of the music industry, there was zero mention of BTS, the artist that held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for seven consecutive weeks over Olivia Rodrigo (who, along with the many musicians mentioned, is great).

The lack of respect for the current biggest pop artist in the world – and their organization HYBE, which is fundamentally changing the music industry – is surprising coming from the normally internationally cognizant Monitor and sadly reflective of the wider racism within the music industry. I expected better from this wonderful publication.

Emily Ellet
New York

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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