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Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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addictively empowering outrage
The New York Times printed a brief sort of throwaway "Detroit comeback" piece about businesses in Corktown a few days ago. It dedicated a few lines to each of five small businesses. It was quickly derided (by Aaron Foley of Jalopnik, for example) for not featuring businesses owned by "Detroiters of color". The writer of the NYT piece (a native of Grosse Pointe) has since apologized.

I am asking you this sincerely: Should the writer have inquired the ethnic background of each part-owner of every business, and change her write-up based on this information? It would be hard to tactfully gather this information, but maybe that should be a journalist's job. For what it's worth, I believe Daisuke Hughes (one of the owners of Astro's Coffee, one of the businesses featured) is Japanese, but I don't know if that counts as being "of color".

(That's not Dai.)

Another question: Whom should the writer have covered? Foley mentioned Rachel's Place, a resale shop on Pine Street specializing in women's vintage clothing, opened in 2009 by Rachele Leggs. I haven't seen another suggestion in the morally indignant outrage pieces.

Another candidate could be Le Petit Zinc, a restaurant on Trumbull Avenue owned by Charles Sorel, opened in 2008. Sorel was not mentioned in this week's NYT piece, but he was featured in a NYT piece exclusively about his restaurant in 2009. And that article only mentions Phil Cooley once ("The owner of Slows, a barbecue place nearby, not only helped him get his permits, but also built tabletops for him at no cost.").

So who else did that evil, horrible woman maliciously leave out? I don't know who owns each business in Corktown or their ethnic heritages, but I believe there are many of owners of middle-eastern descent--the owner of the car wash behind my house is Samir Olabi; Louay Hussein runs Metro Tech on Leverette and Brooklyn; and the Detroit Athletic Co., the Corktown Tavern, and O'Blivion's are owned by members of the Khalil family (whose ancestors are from Syria). But does middle-eastern count as being "of color"?

Were Rachel's Place and Le Petit Zinc the only places omitted from the Corktown piece?

humble opinion...

Yes. They should have inquired. And really, it doesn't take much. In the most segregated place in the US, we are very sensitive to race, and should be. It is important to look at the whole spectrum intentionally, or privilege wins out every time. But, that's just me.

Now, that doesn't mean that it was malicious, but... as a writer for the NYT..... it should honestly be a no brainer. And yes, all persons of color count as persons of color... But They just didn't do their homework is all.

Again, just my opinion...

Edited at 2014-06-26 05:19 am (UTC)

A journalist should be:
Writing all the time
Writing all the time because they are curious
Writing for wisdom
Writing to show a picture of something that can only be decribed in words
Writing because they understand the bigger picture
Thinking and able to translate that into writing
Very organized!
A messenger

A journalist should NOT be:
Someone who just writes to see themselves write
A shitty listener

Those are just a few thoughts. There are some really great people that are really fit to write about certain things, because they know and care. I think to acurately represent a community you should write about so many people. Write as much as you can, because a company like NY TIMES is going to chop it up and edit it down. Kind of like when they trim shrubbery into looking like bunnies.

I think YOU are a fantasticamazingexcellent writer, Paul.